Julia Shumway
The Bulletin

Fixing a dangerous northeast Bend intersection, addressing traffic flow at a busy southwest Bend roundabout and rebuilding a northwest Bend street at risk of collapsing because of a deteriorating stormwater pipe are part of $32 million in transportation projects the Bend City Council wants to address during the next two years.

City councilors said Wednesday they were comfortable with the staff-prepared list of transportation projects, some of which will be completed in 2020 or 2021. They’ll revisit the list while preparing the city’s two-year budget over the next few months.

Because the council decided last week to raise more revenue to accomplish city goals surrounding transportation and housing, more projects can get done, said Tom ­Hickmann, the city’s engineering and infrastructure planning director. He divided projects into three tiers.

“Right now, based on the funding we have, we can do all of these projects,” Hickmann said.

Top 4 priorities

Fixing the intersection of Neff Road and Purcell Boulevard is expected to cost about $5 million and could be finished in 2020. The Oregon Department of Transportation considers the northeast Bend intersection among the most dangerous in the state, and it’s a frequent crash site.

In February, the council voted to pay $1.1 million to a Nebraska firm to design improvements.

“That one we’re in good shape on and set to begin construction on next year,” Hickmann said.

City staff also requested about $750,000 to improve traffic flow at the Reed Market Road and Bond Street roundabout. Options could include adding lanes or some form of signal to the roundabout — something similar to a metered on-ramp for highways in busy cities.

“If signals prove to work, you’d be giving preferential treatment to certain directions of traffic at certain times of day,” City Manager Eric King said.

Fixing the roundabout, which could be done in 2021, is a quick way to fix some issues on Reed Market Road while recognizing that other issues will still exist, King said.

Another high priority is paying $1.5 million to the Oregon Department of Transportation to add and rebuild sidewalks along U.S. Highway 20 within city limits. The state department has a planned project to repave the section between Greenwood Avenue and Empire Avenue, upgrade traffic signals and replace curb ramps to make them accessible for people with disabilities.

The city partnering with the department means construction can happen at one time and makes sense when considering the department is replacing curb ramps, City Councilor Barb Campbell said.

“They’ll be curb ramps to nowhere,” she said. “The sidewalks through there are virtually impassable.”

The last of the four top priorities is budgeting $500,000 to use for neighborhood requests for safety improvements. Residents can submit service requests asking for things like fixing potholes, changing speed limits or marking bike lanes and crosswalks.

Secondary priorities

By 2022, the city’s utilities department plans to fix a deteriorating stormwater pipe under Newport Avenue between 9th Street and College Way, at a cost of about $6 million to $7 million. Along with that project, it would cost about $4 million to fix the road after digging up the pipe and filling in missing sidewalks.

“We’re at a point where we cannot continue to ignore the stormwater problems in this area,” Hickmann said. “There’s no structural integrity left in the pipe, to the point we’re worried about roadway collapse.”

Another goal is improving the Simpson Avenue and Columbia Street intersection, which is now a four-way stop. This is expected to cost about $1 million and be part of a partnership with the Bend Park & Recreation District and Oregon State University-­Cascades to fix other intersections in the area.

Fixing that intersection will clear the way for housing projects in the area, Bend Community Development Director Russ Grayson said. He said some have been proposed but didn’t get built because the developers couldn’t afford to improve nearby intersections.

“We don’t need traffic studies to tell us we’re having problems at these intersections,” he said. “It’s what we’re going to do about it.”

Lower priorities

Cost estimates for projects lower on the list are less exact and may change, Hickmann said. A roundabout at Butler Market and Wells Acres roads is expected to cost about $3 million and could be completed in 2024.

Improvements to the Reed Market Road and Third Street intersection, including adding dedicated left-hand turn lanes on Reed Market Road, are expected to cost about $5 million and could be completed in 2024. Campbell and City Councilor Bill Moseley said they’re interested in seeing if any improvements can be made more quickly and less expensively by upgrading the traffic signal.

“People experience traffic congestion, and they don’t really care if it’s a turn lane or a light,” Moseley said.

Improvements at the Ninth Street and Wilson Avenue intersection are expected to cost $4 million and could be done in 2024. The intersection, though flat, is more expensive than others because a railroad is close by.

For about $2.5 million, improvements could come the intersection of Conners Avenue and 27th Street near St. Charles Bend by 2024. Social services including the Deschutes County health building are in the area, and drivers can’t make left turns from Conners Avenue because of traffic at some parts of the day.

Finally, $5 million could be used to extend Chase Road in southeast Bend east to connect with Brosterhous Road. That, along with plans to extend Murphy Road east to 15th Street, would provide more east-west routes in southeast Bend.

“It’s part of that theme of getting better connectivity on the east side so you don’t have everything funneling to Reed Market,” King said.

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

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