Proposals to reshape NW Galveston Avenue into a bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly corridor are expected to be presented to the public in September.
Traffic of all sorts along the 51⁄2-block stretch between the Deschutes River and NW 14th Street has been on the rise in recent years, and residential streets to the north and south are regularly lined with parked cars drawn to such newer destinations as10 Barrel Brewing Co., Brother Jon’s and The Lot.
Nick Arnis, head of the city’s growth management department, said traffic counts performed by the city indicate Galveston Avenue is the most heavily walked stretch of street in Bend outside of downtown.
Arnis said the central question for the task force is how to make the best use of the roughly 80-foot-wide right of way. The road is about 56 feet wide, Arnis said, and is likely to remain so — but, a new-look Galveston could include replacing the center turn lane with a median, as well as adding wider bike lanes, on-street parallel parking and curb extensions designed to slow traffic and make it easier for pedestrians to cross the street.
Beyond the edge of the curb, the task force has been looking at closing the handful of gaps where no sidewalk is available, as well as considering street trees and new lighting that illuminates the road and sidewalks without excessive light pollution.
Arnis said the task force has narrowed its list of options for the street down to five or six, and it hopes to have no more than three by the time it brings them before the public.
Bend City Councilor Sally Russell, who is also a Galveston-area property owner and a former member of the task force, said the anticipated construction of the OSU-Cascades campus a little over a mile south of Galveston Avenue points to the need to improve pedestrian and bicycle facilities on the city’s west side.
Russell that said while most of the ideas under consideration for Galveston Avenue would reduce traffic speeds, the improvements could make it easier for neighborhood traffic to get on and off Galveston Avenue.
“If you can move traffic slowly and steadily, instead of shooting down it at 35 or 40, it might facilitate more traffic getting onto the road from the side streets,” she said.
Arnis said other projects near Galveston Avenue, notably the Bend Park & Recreation District’s plan to build a covered ice rink at the old Mt. Bachelor park-and-ride off SW Simpson Avenue, all but guarantees that nonmotorized traffic in the area will continue to rise.
“I think having OSU, having the park district locate the ice rink on the property they have, makes for a lot more possibility of walking and biking,” Arnis said.
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