Proposed solutions range from more lanes and exit closures to ramp meters, wider shoulders
(Update: Adding Peter Murphy quotes and video)
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Highway planners with the Oregon Department of Transportation said Friday they plan to gather more online feedback on proposed solutions to congestion and safety problems on the Bend Parkway.
The proposals are part of the final phase of the U.S. Highway 97 Parkway Plan, which ODOT said has been aimed at identifying cost-effective, achievable improvements for motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists and others who use the parkway.
The busiest month of the year in 2009 saw about 46,000 cars traveling on the parkway at Empire Boulevard. Nearly 10 years later, in 2017, the busiest month had nearly 61,000 cars pass at the same spot. That's about 15,000 more cars traveling on the parkway.
That increase has not gone unnoticed.
“In the past five years, we have seen 20% more traffic on the parkway," ODOT Region 4 spokesman Peter Murphy said Friday. "A 20% growth over four or five years is an extraordinarily large amount of growth on any highway system.”
Parkway users are encouraged to learn about the possible changes and provide feedback through an online open house and survey. The survey link will be available at bit.ly/US97BendParkway from November 26-December 15.
The Bend Parkway stretches between Empire Boulevard and Murphy Road. Over-crossings for pedestrians and bicycles, as well as auxiliary lanes, interchanges and widening the shoulder area on the parkway, are among the ideas that are being discussed by planners.
Another point of safety emphasis is the perpendicular access points like NW Lafayette Avenue and NW Hawthorne Avenue. Because drivers have to go from zero to 45 mph with no on-ramp, it can become dangerous.
Other corridor-wide changes could include fixing or closing problematic roads, making changes to signals, adding ramp meters and improved signage.
There’s no specific timetable for the improvements. Murphy said the plans realistically won’t be completed for another 20 years.
Here's more background that ODOT provided Friday:
In the fall of 2018, ODOT planners collected responses from 1,799 citizens who reaffirmed many of the problems identified in the Parkway study, including:
- Frequent congestion and delays throughout the Parkway.
- Problems with traffic signals, intersections, and Parkway access.
- Safety concerns for people who walk and bicycles along or across the Parkway.
The Parkway Plan is being developed in cooperation with the Bend Metropolitan Planning Organization and the City of Bend, which is currently updating the Bend Transportation System Plan.
The final plan recommendations will be incorporated into the Bend MPO Metropolitan Transportation Plan.
For more information, contact: Rick Williams, ODOT Project Manager, email@example.com, (541) 388-6084; Alia Burck, ODOT Community Liaison firstname.lastname@example.org, (541) 388-6037.