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Bend council eyes May ballot for transportation bond

The city of Bend continues to look at ways to improve transportation in the growing community, and that could mean asking voters next spring to pass a bond to fund new projects.

The city is looking at a long list of transportation projects that aim to improve issues the city is seeing. City councilors went over the details at a meeting on Monday.

Over the past two years, the city has been analyzing transportation needs, and in May it conducted a survey to find out what issues drivers are facing on the roads.

That survey found that improved traffic flow, planning for future growth and fixing intersection bottlenecks are top priorities.

Mayor Sally Russell told NewsChannel 21 why the city wants to move forward with multiple transportation projects.

“It’s really a response to everything we’re hearing from everyone, and from some really deep and stringent modeling that is going on,” Russell said. “So these are not ideas that we are pulling out of the sky. These are projects that are coming forward from people that are talking about them, and we’re putting them in the model and making sure that the modeling we are doing shows the outcome that our community really wants to see.”

Some of the projects that could be included in the new bond are better access to the parkway, alleviating east-west congestion and better pedestrian and biking access.

If councilors decide to go forward with a bond measure, it could be on the ballot in May.

It is still too early to say just how much that bond will be for, but it is likely going to be upwards of $100 million.

With that being said, the city will still need funding form other sources to accomplish the long list of issues and a price tag at least twice that big.

Russell said Monday the city could get more funding by partnering with other funding sources.

“It’s important for people to understand that this is going to take place because we’ll be partnering with ODOT,” Russell said. “We’ll be looking for state funds, we’ll be looking for federal funds to leverage whatever comes in in a bond — really to be able to do more with less.”

Russell said with projects already underway like Empire and Murphy corridor improvements, and the possibility of a transportation bond, the future of Bend transportation could look very different.

At this point, the council appears to be in favor of putting a bond on the May ballot.

But the city will still look for more community feedback on the bond, and ultimately councilors would decide in January whether to move forward with a money measure.

If you would like to see a list of possible transportation improvement projects, click here.

KTVZ 2019

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