Allie Colosky
The Bulletin

The City of Prineville is moving forward with a plan to redevelop Third Street, its main street through town.

The city has coordinated its vision of improvements to the downtown corridor with the Oregon Department of Transportation’s necessary upgrades to the signals and technology on the road, which is also U.S. Highway 26. The collaboration will now be made possible after the state passed a $5.3 billion transportation bill in July.

The city’s longtime vision for updating the Third Street corridor will come to fruition in 2020, but both parties are optimistic about the working relationship, said city manager Steve Forrester.

“The city is encouraged with how well we are working with ODOT in developing this strategy to the maximum benefit of the community involved,” he said. “We are leveraging dollars from the state in this one-time shot that fits along with ODOT’s schedule. It’s much more efficient.”

The city’s downtown strategic plan committee started its discussion about what the community wanted to see downtown early last year and then they were approached by ODOT, said planning director Phil Stenbeck. “ODOT had insight to present the plan to us and to team up with them on the project,” he said.

With the city focused on more cosmetic details of concrete colors and types of streetlights, ODOT is focused on upgrading the traffic signals and making the wheelchair ramps on the sidewalks compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

When the state Legislature passed the house transportation bill in July, the city had the funding necessary to put the redevelopment plan in action.

The committee brought its plan to two planning commission hearings and finally to the Prineville City Council, where the plan was approved Dec. 12.

“We have been interested in upgrading the signals that haven’t been upgraded for years, and we will finally have a chance to do that,” said ODOT region manager Gary Farnsworth. “That was the extent of what we had in the works and probably couldn’t do a lot more than that with the funding available. Now we are starting to launch into design and moving in the direction of construction.”

ODOT will contribute $1.8 million to the traffic signal upgrades, which requires moving a fiber-optic cable underground. In coordination with ODOT’s construction schedule, the city will contribute $3 million from the state stimulus package to the project.

In addition, the committee chose to replace street lamps in the area that have been in place since 1958, Stenbeck said. It also chose plain gray concrete to replace the sidewalks and trashcans that will be redesigned with artwork.

The plan will also reduce vegetation to only four species of trees and will include bell-shaped street lamps with internal drip systems for hanging baskets of flowers. The goal was to create a more open-space concept in the downtown corridor and reduce light pollution, he said.

“They had to decide what they wanted it to look like and whether the community wanted a downtown that looked like Sisters or Bend, and they decided they wanted their downtown to look like Prineville,” Stenbeck said.

— Reporter: 541-617-7829, acolosky@bendbulletin.com

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