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 https://www.oregon.gov/odot/projects/pages/project-details.aspx?project=R4BendParkwayPlan.