Hwy. 97 through Terrebonne couplet option proves divisive
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Oregon Department of Transportation officials and Deschutes County commissioners still have yet to finalize a chosen path forward for safety improvements on U.S. Highway 97 through Terrebonne.
On Monday, commissioners and ODOT met to review input received at a recent public meeting regarding which option would best suit the needs of residents.
ODOT reported an attendance record of 196 people, and 106 households present at the meeting. There were 66 households from Deschutes County and 40 households from Jefferson County.
At the meeting, two options were presented: a couplet alternative vs. an interchange at Lower Bridge Way. Earlier this year, a motion to move forward on the proposed couplet failed for lack of a second by a fellow county commissioner.
Even though more than half of the respondents were in favor of the couplet vs. the interchange only, many are still unsure of whether the couplet will be the project supported by the county.
"I think it's because they are very concerned about their citizens, particularly in Terrebonne and about how those folks are affected directly by any changes that we make to the system, said ODOT Region 4 Manager Gary Farnsworth. "Those can be very emotional, and significant and real for individuals, and I think they are doing their best to take all that into account."
Farnsworth shared that if the commissioners are not in favor of moving forward with the couplet, he recommends the interchange-only option, calling it the least costly alternative.
"The alternative that we have today suggests that there are a lot of improvements that we can make, including an interchange at US 97 and Lower Bridge Way, which is the most significant ... of the improvements," Farnsworth said. "We can still accomplish that, without compromising the question of where we are at with the couplet proposal."
HB2017 allocates $20 million to the updates made on US 97 through Terrebonne.
Once a final decision is made on a design, improvements are expected to begin early 2020 to meet the funding's construction requirement.