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ODOT plans online survey on Bend Parkway changes

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, richard.l.williams@odot.state.or.us, (541) 388-6084; Alia Burck, ODOT Community Liaison alia.burck@odot.state.or.us, (541) 388-6037.

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Jordan Williams

Jordan Williams is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Jordan here.

Comments

18 Comments

  1. The citizens advisory panel was pushing to shut down exits last time i heard, typical war-on-cars mentality… busy roads should be expanded (for all types of travel) and not closed, what a dumb theory

    Honestly the simple fix is just to make the fast lane for THRU TRAFFIC and the slow lane for LOCAL TRAFFIC in this busy downtown area

    1. It’s awesome! Being notified was a big part of the wars that went on for days. I think a little bit of banter is ok. Disqus got rid of all the channels because they were tired of getting complaints reports and flags. I like the comment and move on site the way it is now…I do wish we could add photos and such. Overall, it’s a much much much better site now. I like what you’ve done here so far. The upvote downvote thing was also a problem causer… glad it’s gone

    2. I don’t know why my other replied posted here and to Barney.

      You are exactly right though. The BLM and the forest service do the same thing and it’s time we start holding these people accountable for that crap

  2. BArney are you going to add an alert system if someone replies to a post. I know I asked this before but I forgot what story I asked it in because I didn’t get an alert to your reply.

    1. As I said, we are using WordPress comments, which doesn’t have that feature. I am hoping we can either find a way to add it, or… well, I hope we can find a way, there are other WordPress-based comment systems, and I’ve made the request. Sorry, I know up/downvotes are also missed.

      1. It’s awesome! Being notified was a big part of the wars that went on for days. I think a little bit of banter is ok. Disqus got rid of all the channels because they were tired of getting complaints reports and flags. I like the comment and move on site the way it is now…I do wish we could add photos and such. Overall, it’s a much much much better site now. I like what you’ve done here so far. The upvote downvote thing was also a problem causer… glad it’s gone

        1. Thanks Danial. Appreciate the … “upvote.” I’m not saying we’ll move on, and I did wake up to 24 comments for the first time this week. But we’ve had 438 all week, that was usually a day’s worth, for better AND worse. If our ‘site views’ also weren’t down I wouldn’t be looking into the comment changes as a factor. (I’m told that’s inevitable on a big site change, at first.) Some are still having trouble signing up for comments… anyway, thanks again for the kind words!)

          1. Notifications are a big thing with some. Hard to reply without them. I’m ok with it because it brings me back to the site to check. With disqus, lots of comments come thru the notifications page and people don’t have to go to the story but for the original post. Hundreds of my comments have never been made on the z21 site, just the originals. Replies were always thru disqus

  3. I would think that the planners would have forcasted the growth of this area and designed a parkway that makes sense, you know – with proper merging lanes on and off. I just hope it’s not the same planners who are responsible for the 17 million tax payers dollars bridge to nowhere in la pine!

  4. Definitely close Hawthorne and Lafayette since no one goes 45 mph and only corvette should be entering there during peak hours. No on ramp meters required. Learn how to merge.

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