Based on public feedback, the Oregon Department of Transportation made significant changes to its preferred plan to address congestion and safety concerns along the U.S. Highway 97 corridor through Terrebonne.

The largest change is placing a roundabout at the Lower Bridge Way intersection to circulate traffic north and south, rather than make the northbound traffic head south first, toward a U-turn, then travel north.

Having to use the U-turn to travel north was a major complaint for many residents at several public hearings this year. The roundabout will address those concerns, said ODOT Project Manager Cari Charlton.

“That was one of the major concerns for the folks in Crooked River Ranch,” she said.

The roundabout will be built directly west of the highway and be connected to on- and off-ramps to the highway. Other new additions to the plan include building sidewalks and bike lanes on each side of the highway. In addition, state transportation officials are considering lowering the 35 mph speed limit on the highway through Terrebonne and adding pedestrian crosswalks across the highway.

The basic flow remains unchanged. As originally presented in January, the proposed corridor will have two southbound lanes on the existing highway and two northbound lanes using 11th Street.

“We have worked really hard together with the community to come up with the best concept to meet the goals and objectives of the project while still meeting the needs of the business owners and the community,” Charlton said.

The next step is to present the recommended plan to the Deschutes County Planning Commission in July and then to the Deschutes County Commission. Once approved by the county, the plan moves to the Oregon Transportation Commission for final approval.

Public comment will be welcome at the county and state meetings.

A final plan is expected to be in place by the end of the year. Construction is scheduled to start by 2021.

The motivation behind the plan is to address the projected traffic increases on the highway as the region’s population continues to grow. By 2040, the average daily traffic use on that section of highway is expected to double from about 16,500 travelers to 32,000, according to ODOT data.

The budget for the project is $20 million, which was approved by the Legislature in 2017 to create safer access through Terrebonne.

— Reporter: 541-617-7820, kspurr@bendbulletin.com

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