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Bend begins effort to pass $190 million transportation bond measure

(Update: Adding comments from luncheon audience, city manager)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- One day after Bend city councilors unanimously agreed to ask voters in May for $190 million in transportation bonds, community members were gathering Thursday to learn more about the proposal from city officials.

NewsChannel 21 spoke with attendees at the luncheon Thursday, hosted by the League of Women Voters. Speakers included Mayor Sally Russell and City Manager Eric King.

"In Sisters, we have a gas tax, and it's been really helpful in getting projects done, but I understand that the amount thats needed for Bend is significant," said Andrea Blum, a LWV member from Sisters.

"I came to this meeting because I have not yet decided to vote on the bond and I was convinced that I probably will vote," said Annis Henson of Bend.

At Wednesday night's city council meeting, several speakers expressed support for the bond measure, which is estimated would cost the average Bend homeowner $170 a year for a lengthy list of projects.

The bonds would be repaid by an annual assessment on real property. It's estimated to cost property owners an average of 47 cents per $1,000 of assessed value each year of the repayment period.

The city says the financial impact of the bond during the initial years would be minimal, amounting to at least $30 a year, but average $170 a year over the period bonds are issued.

"We wouldn't issue all this debt at once," King said Thursday. "We would do it in four different series so these projects would be completed over a 10-year period."

Russell said, "We have made sure that when we had people, we had Central Oregon Landwatch, we had the Environmental Center, we had the Chamber, we had the Realtors all testifying in support of this. I mean, this works for a really broad group of stakeholders and residents."

Other topics community members brought up for the city to consider with the transportation bond funds included adding more street lights to dark neighborhoods for safer driving and walking conditions and adding flashing lights to crosswalks where the speed limit is 45 miles an hour.

Moey Newbold, with Central Oregon LandWatch, said Wednesday night the bond package would serve all transportation modes and all types of users.

Scott Wallace, representing the Bend Chamber of Commerce, agreed, saying the bond package would also address the needs of businesses in the area and enable easier connection between east and west.

The bonds, comprised of up to $190 million, are expected to go toward improved traffic flow, east-west connections and neighborhood safety improvement projects across the city.

The bond projects include: 

  • improvements to roads, intersections, and key east-west corridors,
  • neighborhood safety improvement projects,
  • a connected cross-town bicycle network,
  • sidewalks and safe crossings for access to schools, parks and jobs,
  • sidewalk infill on key routes,
  • contributions to improvements on US 97/the Parkway, including redesign and construction of interchanges and on/off ramps, and
  • transit infrastructure improvements and matching funds for transit system capital improvements.

Learn more and find an interactive map of the projects at this city web page.

Bend / Election / Government-politics / Top Stories
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Rhea Panela

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

Comments

26 Comments

    1. Or the 52¢ per gallon gas tax. Millions get absorbed into thin air. If it’s like the parks bond, they will blow it on signage, sidewalks and fences.

    2. Lotto dollars are not nearly enough to do anything significant state wide, not very much at all is collected. Not sure why you think it’s enough to build roads and schools all over the state!

  1. Vote no.

    Propose a bond for improvements to city streets only that are arterials or collectors and I’d support that. No City bond for state highway improvements as that’s why we have a state gas tax.

    Don’t hike my property tax bill for tens of millions for bicycle improvements and transit.

    1. As usual you don’t know what you are taking about! posting fake facts just makes you look dumb! Hopefully no one will believe your garbage and will seek out the truth about this band and the projects! There a few matching funds for projects on intersections of state roads and Bend roads and that’s it!

      1. This is all about encouraging people to walk or ride their bike so it will make it easier to drive so less people walk or ride their bike. Cars will win aside from a few dings from running over pedestrians between NWX and a destination grocery store or yoga place.

        1. Have looked at the map of projects? of course you haven’t because very little is slated for walking and biking routes. Why don’t you try reading for once and stop running your mouth in ignorance!

        2. people drive, it’s what they do. Folks moving here ion late don’t think we even have a traffic problem. And with the invention of smartphones its no longer safe to bike commute

      2. Sigh. Look at City’s own website. Bike/ped improvements: $19 million. Midtown bike/ped crossings: $12 million.

        I could go on, but you’ve obviously joined the cadre of Bend’s War on Cars.

        1. no you can’t go on because that’s about it! and those ped improvements are linking sidewalks around and through areas of the city improving the Greenwood and franklin underpasses and a bridge over the parkway. Yes totally trying to eliminate cars from the city. Wow you poor put upon driver what will you ever do? Is that really a war on cars, how dumb!

  2. I just took a look at the list of projects. All that I looked at appear to address a public need. However (and this is a big “however”) aren’t systems development charges supposed to provide funds for these types of projects? I think the City needs to explain why we need another bond measure instead of using the existing SDC system.

    1. I think what you’ll hear as an answer is – they need both. The SDCs pay for much of the work, but like the existing big road projects already underway, there is a gap. (For example, developers can be required to pay for improvements beyond the property boundaries, but they get “credits” to be repaid as the work is done by the city – in other words, they pay for more than their project’s off-site impact, but they get a “refund” for the part their project didn’t cause.) Of course, they can drown you in numbers to, presumably, prove it. Whether folks will “buy” it… we’ll see.

      1. we won’t ‘buy it’ as we cannot trust the City to properly spent the funds, there is zero accountability. The way they handled the gaa-tax vote takes away all credibility

  3. Looking at and reading the list of projects, there looks to be some “creative accounting” (a scam?) in place somewhere. Why is a Roundabout listed as the same price as a signal? $3.5 million should buy one heck of a set of lights I would think. Nine projects designated as a roundabout or signal so if they just put in a number one lights at a million each, that leaves $22.5 left over for ??????? (Slush fund?)

  4. I guess there a lot of idiots in this town who enjoy traffic, unsafe crossings for kids, lack of transit, or continuous bike and walking routes across the city. Like it now? just wait ten years without any of these projects!

  5. Or there a lot of people who are fiscally responsible and not so casual about spending other people’s money or saddling them with debt.

    As for the tens of millions to spend on bikes, why spend fulltime money in a parttime mode? The highways in Bend already have bike lanes as do most City arterials and collectors. Fill in those gaps and call it a day.

  6. Why would you vote to give a completely inept bureaucracy $190 million to waste? The City of Bend has consistently proven its ability to mismanage a wide range of projects: the Southern California bus purchase and lawsuits, the Bend Bulletin property purchase and sale at a huge loss, the Sewer project and lawsuits, the water project and on and on. If you want $40 million in road/sidewalk improvements, $50 million in general bureaucracy, $50 million in consultant fees and studies, and $50 million in attorney fees and general waste, it is probably a good idea.

    1. So when are you running for council to save us from the evil do-badders in the city? Seems like you know it all and I’m sure your made up accounting here is very accurate!

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