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Driver hallelujahs: NE Bend’s Neff-Purcell intersection, closed for project last February, reopens Monday at noon

Longer-than-planned improvements project at NE Bend's Neff-Purcell intersection were in the home stretch this fall
KTVZ file
Longer-than-planned improvements project at NE Bend's Neff-Purcell intersection were in the home stretch this fall

(Update: Adding city announcement, planned late-December opening of Purcell Blvd. extension)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – The long-delayed reopening of the rebuilt intersection of Neff Road and Purcell Boulevard in northeast Bend, pushed back months by many surprises found underground, is set for next Monday at noon, City Manager Eric King announced at the end of Wednesday night’s city council meeting.

“Drum roll, please,” King said, saving the good news as the last of his announcements for the evening, bringing cheers and “whoo-hoos” from some councilors and others still on hand.

Detours for the project have been taking motorists well out of their way since last winter, and so the impacts have been many -- and several months longer than planned. 

The reopening will occur nearly 10 months after the February closure of the key east-west route for residents, shoppers and those needing to visit St. Charles Bend and other medical offices in the area.

At the time the work began, city officials said it was expected to take until mid-summer to complete the improvements, aimed at easing numerous safety concerns at the sloped, busy intersection. But some warned it could take longer -- and it surely did.

Turn lanes were added to three of the four legs, along with replacement of the signal system, considered temporary when it was installed 30 years ago. There are also bike and pedestrian improvements and some leveling for ADA-compliant crossings.

City Engineering Director Ryan Oster talked about how crews had been finding surprising layers of work done long ago, some the city had no record were there.

"Every day, we ran into something new out here," Oster said in October.


Here's the city's official announcement of the reopening, and the expected late-December opening of the new Purcell Boulevard connection between Neff and Butler Market roads:

Neff-Purcell Intersection to Open Monday, Dec. 11

The City is pleased to announce that the intersection of Neff Road and Purcell Boulevard is scheduled to open at noon on Monday, Dec. 11. Please drive carefully as the contractor completes sidewalks, landscaping and other finishing touches. Expect intermittent lane shifts with flaggers and use designated pedestrian access routes.

In a vital area of Bend and with proximity to the St. Charles Medical Center and multiple schools, the reconstructed intersection improves traffic flow and safety for all modes of travel.

The new improved intersection added separate left-turn lanes, new southbound and westbound right turn lanes, wider shared-use paths, street lighting, accessible curb ramps and missing gaps of sidewalk to create a continuous pedestrian corridor. It also includes new options for people riding bikes to easily get off the street to use shared-use paths and crosswalks at the intersection – similar to roundabouts.

“The upgrades at Neff and Purcell create a safer intersection for everyone,” said Mayor Melanie Kebler. “I’m excited that we are completing this important north-south connection.”

The project, originally scheduled to open earlier this fall, ran into delays when crews found old, unmapped infrastructure remnants, gas, communication and power lines for example, deep under the road.

“We really want to thank the community for its patience with this project that we know has impacted a lot of travel this past year,” said Ryan Oster, Engineering and Infrastructure Planning Department Director. “Building a project of this magnitude within an existing roadway brings challenges to even the best laid-out plans. The end product will be a great improvement to the area for all types of road users.”

In addition to the intersection, the project includes completing a modernized Purcell Boulevard from Full Moon Drive to Courtney Drive, including widening the roadway, building sidewalks, and also adding bike lanes on Purcell Boulevard between Butler Market Road and Robinson Street. The Purcell extension is anticipated to open late December, connecting Purcell between Neff and Butler Market.

Travelers accustomed to using Daggett Lane for cross-town travel will be able to instead use Purcell, a collector street designed for higher traffic volumes. Please drive slowly and stay alert: this new section of Purcell is a residential collector road with a 25 mph speed limit.

The Purcell Extension portion of the project is primarily paid for by voter-approved 2020 Transportation GO Bond funds. The intersection improvements portion is paid for by City Capital Improvement Program funds and the Department of Environmental Quality’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund. Both portions included funding contributions from utility funds (water, wastewater, and stormwater) for infrastructure improvements.

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