Julia Shumway
The Bulletin

A deal between developers and the city of Bend is needed so that crews can completely rebuild 14th Street — including a section the city doesn’t have money to finish — between Newport and Simpson avenues by the end of the year.

A 2011 bond measure meant the city of Bend has $5.4 million to reconstruct two portions of 14th Street: a section between Albany and Simpson avenues that was completed late last month and a portion between Newport and Galveston avenues that is expected to wrap up by early September. The city still doesn’t have the money to pay for the middle stretch between Albany and Galveston avenues.

“There’s that missing middle piece,” City Manager Eric King said. “We just didn’t have funds to get the whole project completed.”

But on July 18, the Bend City Council will hear a pitch from developers: They want to use $1.4 million they owe in fees for the impact their outlying properties will have on roads in the middle of Bend to finish the remaining section of 14th Street this year. If the council approves that proposal, work wouldn’t start until later in the year, after the north section is done.

“We would have a complete corridor all the way from Newport to Simpson,” King said. “There is a hope that by the end of the calendar year that we would have this whole corridor complete.”

Completing the middle section after the city’s done with the other parts of construction is intended to be easier on businesses and residents, King said. But at least one business has already suffered irreparably from summer construction.

Chelsea Whitaker, who purchased Sip Wine Bar on the northeast corner of 14th Street and Galveston Avenue a year ago, said she lost about 40 percent of her business because of the road construction. Whitaker’s property was next to a 10-week Cascade Natural Gas project that restricted traffic on the north section of 14th Street beginning in March. The utility needed to move a pipeline before city work could start. Shortly after the gas project finished, city crews moved onto the road next to Whitaker’s business.

While regulars still visited, Whitaker said road closures caused her to lose customers who would stop by for a glass of wine while driving elsewhere.

Access was hit-or-miss, she said, and construction caused customers to avoid the bar’s patio. Whitaker closed Sip on June 28, and she doesn’t plan to reopen.

“The decline in sales made it virtually impossible for me to just pay my rent,” Whitaker said. “It got to the point where I couldn’t buy wine, make payroll and pay bills.”

Ben Hemson, the city’s business advocate, had been talking with businesses in the area since long before construction began.

The city relaxed its sign codes during construction, and crews maintained driveway access to businesses in the area.

“It’s a real bummer about Sip,” Hemson said. “We met with them not long after the Cascade Natural Gas work and they were struggling.”

Hemson said most other business owners the city has talked to have spoken positively about the construction, but they have all felt a pinch.

Henry Abel, who works at Pine Mountain Sports on the northwest corner of Simpson and Century, said construction hasn’t had much impact on business.

Pine Mountain Sports sells a lot of backcountry equipment, and Abel said its clientele is adventurous enough that a detour won’t deter them.

“We figure that if people can’t navigate a couple-road detour, they’re probably not coming to our store anyway,” he said.

He said he appreciated that the city made it a priority to build sidewalks and curbs when rebuilding Century Drive/14th Street because it’s now a lot easier to walk, bike or drive in the area.

“It’s been fantastic,” Abel said. “We’re pretty excited about our new sidewalks and new roundabout.”

The roundabout at Simpson Avenue and Century Drive reopened in mid-May after closing April 9. Contractors replaced the roundabout’s cracking asphalt with concrete.

Construction crews moving to the north haven’t helped dust on some of the unpaved stretches of road near 14th Street, said Jerry Gilmour, who lives on the corner of NW 15th Street and Hartford Avenue.

City and Cascades Natural Gas construction on 14th Street has meant more drivers who live in the area use Gilmour’s dirt road.

Gilmour said the city’s treated the road with magnesium chloride since he complained in May, but the dust hasn’t abated.

“It’s about the same as before, only a little worse because it’s drier,” Gilmour said.

— Reporter: 541-633-2160; jshumway@bendbulletin.com