Given the problems the city of Bend faces, re-creating Third Street is hardly the community’s No. 1 priority, though it shouldn’t disappear from the to-do list entirely.
Officials have said, for example, that they must delay work on expanding the city’s urban growth boundary until at least 2017. The delay will give the city time, those officials say, to tackle two critical issues that must be resolved first.
Until the city has made major strides in upgrading its water and sewer systems, officials want to put off working on UGB expansion. They’re correct in noting that the city generally cannot expand into areas not served by those systems, but it seems reasonable to believe that upgrades and expansion plans could be tackled simultaneously if the city chooses to use its staff and resources that way.
We’re also troubled by the notion that the city should get to work now on Third Street because the state now will allow it to consider things beyond traffic management when doing so. Third Street remains one of the busiest routes in Bend, and unless the city also plans to create a second north-south alternative to it, any redesign must put traffic flow at the top of the agenda.
That’s going to be expensive. All those 20,000-plus cars that real estate agents say go past businesses along Third have to go somewhere, after all, and we haven’t heard an outcry demanding that money be spent to spiff up Third before more critical tasks are accomplished.
Does Third need a face-lift? Yes. Does it need one today? Probably not. With so many critical and expensive projects ahead of it, a Third Street redesign can be put on the back burner for now.