(Update: Adding video, comments from engineer)
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – In the next 20 years, Bend is expected to grow by about 28,000 households and more than 27,000 jobs.
John Bosket, an engineer with DKS Associates, said Thursday that on an average day, there are between 20,000 and 50,000 vehicles using the parkway.
“You can see volumes in the mid to high 60,000(s) during your busier months of the year, and most of those trips -- about 90% -- are beginning or ending their trip somewhere in Bend,” he said.
The Bend Metropolitan Planning Organization met Thursday to review investment strategies and progress on the U.S. 97 Bend Parkway Plan.
The plan is aimed at making commuting through Bend quicker and safer.
“When you have poor travel time reliability, it means it may be very hard to really know how long a trip is going to take,” Bosket said. “One day, it may be 20 minutes, the next day it may be 30. You never really know what you're in for.”
The draft plan will now go to state and local agencies, including the city of Bend, Deschutes County and the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development, for a 30-day review and comment period.
A study of the area showed there were frequent crashes at the intersections of Cooley Road, Powers Road and Pinebrook Boulevard.
Studies also showed shorter gaps, a lack of acceleration lanes and not enough merging distance led to unsafe driving maneuvers, which is why road officials are considering removing access to the parkway from Hawthorne and Lafayette avenues.
The MPO also reviewed alternative mobility targets, which are aimed at helping reduce the need for state and local investments while still allowing local development plans.
The goal of the alternative mobility targets is to reflect more realistic financial requirements.
ODOT planners collected responses in 2018 from 1,799 citizens who brought up 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.
There are 29 projects included in tier one, which is the short-term tier expected to take 10 years.
The first 10 years would include improvements to the south end at Murphy and Powers roads, as well as better off-ramps at Reed Market Road and Hawthorne Avenue (where a short "right-out" onto the parkway would be eliminated).
There are 21 projects in the medium-term tier two and one project -- an active transportation crossing at Wilson Avenue -- in tier three, which is expected to take place in years 16 through 20 of the parkway plan.
The second phase would add ramp meters, an overpass at China Hat Road and new technology alerting drivers to weather warnings and speed limit changes.
The third phase would add a pedestrian and bike crossing at Wilson Avenue.
Road officials said between now and likely December, they will be sending plans out for formal review and comment.
They also gave the policy board and its technical advisory committee about a week to receive final comments before they start formal revisions.