Transportation and the OSU-Cascades expansion

City officials and faculty discuss their plans

By Tyler Leeds / The Bulletin

Who’s doing the work

OSU-Cascades has hired the following firms to design the first phase of its campus development. This phase will occur on a 10-acre plot and will include one academic building and one to two residence halls.

ContractorS

• Boora Architects, Inc. (Portland), lead architect

SubcontractorS

• BBT Architects (Bend), local architect

• Froelich Engineers (Bend), structural engineer

• PAE (Portland), MEP/energy/technology/lighting

• WH Pacific (Bend), civil engineering

• Walker Macy (Portland), landscape architecture

• Sparling (Portland), acoustical

• Rider Levett Bucknall (Portland), cost estimating

• Shalleck Collaboratve (San Francisco), audio/visual

City officials and an Oregon State University-Cascades Campus instructor gave a presentation Wednesday on the university’s plans to minimize the impact of its planned four-year, west-side campus on Bend’s transportation.

The presentation, which was held in a completely full Brooks Room at the Downtown Bend Public Library, was organized by the League of Women Voters and Central Oregon LandWatch. A noticeable portion of the audience was audibly skeptical of the university’s selection of 56 acres near the intersection of Southwest Chandler and Southwest Century Drives. The presentation was led by Matt Shinderman, an instructor in the school’s sustainability program and the co-chair of the Campus Expansion and Advisory Committee, which advises the university on planning for the campus. Representing the city were Brian Rankin, Bend’s principal planner; Nick Arnis, transportation manager; and Colin Stephens, current planning manager.

Shinderman began by acknowledging that “we don’t have a lot of details yet, but they are coming together as we speak.” The bulk of the presentation dealt with discussing the areas of best practice the university is researching and the different stages the university’s growth will proceed through.

“We recognized that wherever we located the campus, there would be an impact on transportation,” Shinderman said. “Our goal is to find ways to reduce that impact.”

Shinderman said the university is looking into how to attract a high percentage of students to stay on campus and incentivize alternative modes of transportation. He also said the success of OSU-Cascades in minimizing its impact on traffic lies in part with the university’s ability to partner with the city, county and Cascades East Transit.

“An upgrade to the transit system is necessary, and we’ve recognized from the beginning that we will have to make this a regional process that includes everyone, especially Cascades East Transit,” he said.

The Bend officials spoke to the city’s role in studying transportation demand and the university’s application process for development. According to Arnis, in 2014 the city will begin developing a plan for the future of Bend’s transportation system on the entire west side. Rankin, meanwhile, discussed the different public input opportunities for the university’s initial development and later master plan development.

The university’s initial development, consisting of two to three buildings, will be on a 10-acre wooded plot. Rankin described the public input session for this site’s plan as “relatively light, the same you would have for a new theater or commercial development.” However, Rankin did note that an appeal could lengthen the process.

“For the university’s master plan for the entire 56 acres, there will be a much more significant process,” Rankin said. “It’s a project looking at needs 20 years into the future, and there will be more opportunities to bring in people’s input.”

During a question-and-answer session, roughly half of the questions were outright critical of the university, on issues including transparency, a lack of specific proposals and the west-side campus location. The event’s moderator, local attorney Bill Buchanan, reminded the audience multiple times to stay on the topic of transportation.

West Bend resident Kathy Graham asked what would happen if transportation studies found that 1,000 students wouldn’t impact traffic, but a student population of 5,000, which the university hopes to hit by 2025, would overwhelm local streets. She ended by asking whether before such a study were complete, if “the train had already left the station” on the site selection.

Shinderman responded by explaining how the west Bend site best met a set of criteria, including price, access to amenities, size and attractability. When multiple audience members began loudly reiterating Graham’s question, “Has the train left the station?” Shinderman said, “For all intents and purposes, yes.”

Bill Eddie, who said he lives by the proposed campus, expressed skepticism about students being able to find nearby affordable housing.

“We’re right now doing research on campuses that have achieved having a high percent of students live on campus, and we’re looking into which mechanisms we can duplicate here,” Shinderman responded.

After the presentation, Graham said she felt the lack of specificity in the proposals to minimize traffic was “patronizing and condescending.”

— Reporter: 541-633-2160, tleeds@bendbulletin.com