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ODOT considers closing, limiting Bend Parkway exits to downtown

Say safety, speeding concerns prompted the proposed changes

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The commute to and from downtown Bend could change and become more hectic in some places in the next few years, in a bid to make the Bend Parkway safer.

The Oregon Department of Transportation is proposing several changes to the parkway, including removing or restricting some of the right-in, right-out exits to downtown Bend and the Old Mill District.

Other elements under consideration include an interchange near Powers Road, widening the parkway's shoulders to help with speed enforcement and the possibility of on-ramp meters, to better space merging traffic.

The exits off the parkway onto Hawthorne and Lafayette avenues would stay open. However, ODOT officials say they are considering removing accessibility to the parkway from those two streets.

"There's nine right-in, right-out intersections on the parkway, and we plan to close most of them," Rick Williams, ODOT Region 4's principal planner, said Tuesday. "Hawthorne and Lafayette, we're proposing to keep open the exit off the parkway into the downtown area."

"Our biggest focus is on safety first, and then mobility second," Williams said.

NewsChannel 21 visited some downtown businesses to learn what employees think about the proposed changes.

Mindy Aisling, executive director of the Downtown Bend Association, said accessibility downtown has always been an issue, taking into account factors such as parking, multi-day festivals and street closures.

Aisling, whose group is co-sponsoring a forum on the parkway changes next week, said the proposed changes would also affect downtown employees and people who live in adjacent neighborhoods, not just visitors to the area.

"I think we are going to see more traffic, particularly on Wall and Bond streets," Aisling said. "We want to make sure all the business owners downtown, as well as neighborhood residents, know what to expect in the next five years, or the next 25 years."

Suzy Reininger, the owner of Leapin' Lizards Toy Co., said it isn't the traffic flow changing that she's concerned about.

"It's something we're having to contend with, and I think parking is probably a bigger issue at this point," Reininger said. "You can get to downtown, but where are you going to park?"

ODOT, in partnership with the Downtown Business Association, the River West Neighborhood Association and the Old Bend Neighborhood Association, will host an open house on Monday to discuss the proposed changes. The open house will take place from 9 to 10 a.m. at the Liberty Theatre, 829 NW Wall Street.

The topics covered will include:

  • Proposed closures of right-in / right-out Parkway access
  • Proposed ramp metering
  • Proposed Parkway interchange projects and TSP projects between Revere Avenue and Colorado Avenue
  • Possible impacts to Central Core circulation and East-West congestion
  • Possible impacts of cut through traffic on downtown and adjacent neighborhoods

For more information about the parkway project, visit the ODOT website at

Central Oregon / Deschutes County / News / Top Stories

Rhea Panela

Rhea Panela is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Rhea here.



  1. The #1 problem is the stupid right hand turn onto the highway at 3 specific locations. People who cannot drive and have no judge of speed just take a right and don’t take into account that cars are going 50mph+ and sometimes faster! Some people can responsibly take that right turn but most have no idea what they’re doing.

  2. It’s “proposed” but it’s been in the works for years. The parkway was never done right and should have never gone so close to downtown, but that’s what everyone who was here wanted 25 years ago. The traffic studies show that too many local trips are happening on the parkway that is actually a highway, so they are forcing us back on the city streets. It is for safety and to let the highway flow better.

    1. It was a fight back then, ask anyone who was here. It went to the ballot at least once. And any changes will be a fight probably as well, as we live in a fractious, divided society where too many hate govt. and everyone thinks they know better.

      1. The idea of closing public infrastructure without substitute, because its popular and/or successful, is a uniquely oregonian coping strategy as far as i can tell

      2. I moved here when it was under construction, but I heard of the discussions. Letting the citizens have input works so well doesn’t it? look at Terrebonne, nothing happening. If the parkway had been built around Bend it would be moving much better and be safer. It was building a bad bypass through downtown that caused this problem in the first place and probably what ODOT said all along! well fast forward to now and there is too much traffic and the road is unsafe so they have to close the dangerous parts. ODOT jobs is not local traffic it’s highway traffic as I’m sure you are aware!

        1. OK feel free to disagree that state land use law (and neighbor/business opposition) wouldn’t have sunk a bypass. Redmond’s bypass is in town, ours would have to be so far east… again, it’s easy to blame govt. when put in no-win situations.

  3. A wider parkway is a good idea and it should allow travel at normal freeway speeds befitting the parkways grade-separated structure, however widening it just to allow more police traps for thg j.g e current artificially low speed limit is the definition of backwards thinking

        1. Traffic enforcement can be done without a pull over lane, if the lights come on you take the next exit to pull over safely and if your to stupid to use that common sense then you deserve another ticket for that too.

  4. “Our biggest focus is on safety first, and then mobility second,” Williams said.”

    And there is the problem, design it correctly like the highways in other states where you have exits lanes and merge lanes

  5. To bad they don’t enforce the laws like speed limits on the Parkway & City Codes like parking the wrong direction of flow of traffic it against City code & Oregon State driving Law’s Both Redmond & Bend fail to to enforce State & City traffic law’s People won’t slow down They run Red lights race other people on Reed Market where it narrows down to one lane Park in front of Fire Hyd’s & Mail Box’s People that do this need to be fined a min of $250.00 T he Parkway was very poorly designed from the get go But the City of Bend will still complain they are short of money The money there start fining the dim whit’s that can’t follow State & City Laws

  6. How about making an exit/entrance for Greenwood and closing Lafayette, like should have been done when the thing was built? Kinda dumb not to have an interchange for the major East route from Bend. Just put a bypass around Bend on the East side from 97 at Deschutes Market to Lava Butte IF not from the High Bridge to Lava Butte.

    1. I agree Oregonn8tive – there needs to be an exit ramp for direct access to Highway 20. It blow my mind there is no exit for a major east route and not even a good way to get to it from any exit. I’ve given direction to many lost cars and semis on Newport Ave./Shevlin Park Rd. looking for Hwy. 20 east.

        1. Yes, it would be and it should have been built at the time of the Parkway’s construction. One of the reasons for the parkway was to get truck traffic out of Bend and off of Third street but failing to provide a way for trucks to get from/to the Parkway from Hwy 20 without going through town was an “oversight” on someones thinking. At least make a dedicated “truck route” if not an interchange.

          1. Those who lived here remember the wrestling matches and compromises. NO way to make everyone happy. Any major link between 20 and the parkway would have pushed the thing so far out of budget, but… it’s not like that wasn’t discussed. It’s like those who think ‘just build a bypass around the town,’ without considering state land use laws to prevent sprawl that prevent such routes (and of course, the businesses in town, large AND small, who would scream about the loss of pass-through business – understandably!)

  7. Being someone who went to the meetings in the 90s about the construction of the parkway I remember the government brainiacks saying the projections on the project were that it would be obsolete by 2010. So there you go.

  8. on-ramp meters – a good way to create congestion that might not already be there. A good example is the one on the on-ramp from 213 onto 205 southbound in Clackamas – long ramp, downhill grade – even the trucks can get up to highway speeds for merging, then they put a stop sign at the bottom, then when it turns green there is no possible way for traffic to get back up to speed before merging so the actual merge slows the freeway traffic – just created a jamb because of the slow down. Not to mention the extra fuel burned to get back all the momentum that was lost due to the sign. But as was suggested above – they know best right……

  9. Perhaps the Bend PD should patrol the parkway more than the nothing they do now? Any time I see a Popo on the parkway it’s usually a Sheriff or State car. Guess they are to busy sitting in the Safeway parking lot on 3rd BSing with each other?

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