One of Deschutes County’s most dangerous intersections is one step closer to getting a fix.

On Monday, Deschutes County commissioners voted unanimously to contribute $500,000 to the Oregon Department of Transportation’s plan to improve the intersection at U.S. Highway 20 and Hamby and Ward roads east of Bend.

The intersection is a top priority for the state. There have been 23 accidents reported at the intersection — two of which were fatal — since 2012, said ODOT spokesman Peter Murphy.

About a quarter of all crashes happened while one vehicle was turning either onto the highway or another road.

“The problem for cars is the turning motion or when they are trying to cross,” Murphy said.

The $500,000 will go toward development and design of safety improvements at the intersection. The money will also help the Department of Transportation buy sections of the right of way that may be required to make the changes.

Although the project — estimated to cost $3.9 million — won’t get state funds until 2021, getting the design done in advance will help make sure construction begins as soon as possible.

“It’s our No. 1 intersection in our region from the Columbia River to the California border,” said Bob Townsend, a representative from ODOT.

While supportive overall of improving the intersection, Commissioner Phil ­Henderson questioned whether a roundabout — a solution ODOT is considering — would be the best approach in an intersection this busy.

“The more busy a place gets, the more people dislike them,” Henderson said.

The state over the next year will conduct field surveys, environmental studies, traffic investigations, preliminary engineering and design work before bringing the final plans back to the county for review.

— Reporter: 541-633-2160, bvisser@bendbulletin.com

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