Following many discussions about improvements needed on U.S. Highway 97, the Oregon Transportation Commission voted unanimously Friday to approve money for several projects designed to make Central Oregon highways safer.
Holding their monthly meeting at Sunriver Resort, the commissioners approved three amendments to the 2018-2021 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program.
The first adds $22 million to the U. S Highway 97 and Cooley Road mid-term improvement projects, which will realign and route the highway at the north end of Bend .
Their second decision added adds $3.6 million of Federal Lands Access Program (FLAP) funds to the Highway 97 South Century to U.S. Forest Service Boundary Project, to improve a stretch of Highway 97 from South Century Drive to Vandevert Road.
The commission also agreed to add to the U.S. Highway 20 at Ward/Hamby project, to add a planned roundabout to Highway 20 east of Bend at Ward/Hamby roads.
ODOT Region 4 Manager Gary Farnsworth, said now that the funding has been approved, work will begin.
” The next step is to deliver. We have property to acquire, ” Farnsworth said ” We have projects to design, to get ready for construction as soon as we can. ”
Farnsworth said there will be checkpoints along the way with Deschutes County and the city of Bend, but the funding for all the projects is now secure.
Bob Van Brocklin , chairman of the Oregon Transportation Commission, called it a spectacular result for both the state and the region.
” This not only makes important transportation improvements for transportation movement sake, but also it opens up economic opportunities to develop land, and for them to make not only public but private investments that should lead to greater employment opportunities, a stronger tax space in the region, and a healthier community. ”