Allie Colosky
The Bulletin

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REDMOND — Frontage roads running parallel to U.S. Highway 97 in Redmond could create a solution to safety problems drivers face when going to area businesses.

The idea, one of several solutions being considered, was presented at an open house hosted by the city and the Oregon Department of Transportation, part of the lengthy process to improve the safety and accessibility of the highway through the south corridor of town.

“We know that what’s out there just isn’t working,” said Tom Shook, transportation planner for HDR Consulting.

“There’s a lot of conflict involving the safety of drivers turning off the highway as well as businesses.”

The boulevard would leave the main highway for through traffic while frontage roads on either side would allow drivers to safely turn into businesses along the highway.

“It doesn’t just pull local traffic off the highway to have easier access to businesses; we can also look at adding sidewalks and bike lines through this corridor,” Shook said. “This would improve livability.”

The Redmond South U.S. 97 Corridor Plan started in 2010 and addresses the stretch of U.S. Highway 97 between Yew Avenue and Odem Medo Road.

Constructing frontage roads would remove the need for a center turning lane. For most Redmond residents, using the center lane to turn off the highway — or even to enter traffic — is known to be quite dangerous, said Marti Hicks, of Redmond.

“Don’t turn your wheels left if you’re in that turning lane because if someone behind you isn’t paying attention, they’ll push you right into oncoming traffic,” she advised.

Hicks has lived in Redmond since 2009 and said the lack of safety and the increase of traffic through the south corridor makes her and her friends avoid the highway.

“We’ll go grocery shopping at 7 a.m. just so we don’t have to deal with it,” she said. “You can hear the traffic on the highway from my house, so you know it’s just getting worse.”

The plan is a collaboration with the city, ODOT, their consultants and business owners along the highway. It addresses many issues that are the result of growing tourism and additional traffic.

Wednesday’s open house presented the public with maps, statistics and surveys regarding car accidents and the flow of traffic on the highway and allowed the public to leave comments and feedback on the plan.

Nearly 30 community members attended the open house at City Hall, writing on maps with sharpies and speaking with staffers. The design to construct frontage roads — or boulevards — on either side of the highway is the most promising design, though the project team and stakeholders are still studying solutions, Shook said.

“What’s out there isn’t working,” said Michael Duncan, ODOT project manager. “There’s problems with safety and long delays and access to the business. We hear that loud and clear.”

The design for the Redmond South U.S. 97 Corridor Plan is not completed or funded. As concepts are selected, funding will be addressed.

“We have this unique opportunity to get ahead of change whether it be growth in population, types of vehicles or different businesses,” Duncan said. “These things will happen. So we can either steer (change) or be at the whim of it.”

Stakeholder committee meetings will continue through the year and a second open house is scheduled for late 2018 or early 2019.

— Reporter: 541-617-7829,