(Update: adding video, comments from project engineers)
Traffic flows through traffic circle at Columbia Street and Simpson Avenue
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- What once was a four-way stop is now a lot easier to get "a-round." City leaders say the roundabout at SW Simpson Avenue and Columbia Street -- the city's newest traffic circle, which opened Friday afternoon -- will now be safer and more efficient for drivers.
A key reason for the project was to help Bend Fire & Rescue, which has a station nearby.
Deedee Fraley, the city's principal engineer, told NewsChannel 21 on Friday that peak traffic times makes it hard for Bend Fire & Rescue to answer calls quickly.
"Having this roundabout instead of a four way stop, I think they can get through a lot faster," she said.
That's why a Bend fire truck was the ceremonial first vehicle to drive on the roundabout.
Bend's 42nd roundabout is the second new one that's opened this summer.
Fraley says she's happy it's complete.
"Pretty much ecstatic that we're at the finish line," she said.
OSU-Cascades and Bend Park and Rec partnered with the city to build the roundabout. Engineers say it was needed before the area could be developed further.
With OSU-Cascades just up the street, the roundabout will also impact students and staff.
Jarrod Penttila, project manager for OSU-Cascades said, "A number of our students and faculty and staff ride their bicycles to work, and then also some drive."
OSU-Cascades plans to continue expanding its campus, which could add more traffic in the future.
Fraley says the new roundabout wouldn't have been possible without the help from both BPRD and OSU-Cascades.