(Update: Adding video, comments at open house)
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- ODOT is about to begin a major project to improve traffic and pedestrian safety on U.S. Highway 20 between Bend and Tumalo. On Wednesday evening, the agency held an open house in Tumalo to provide details and answer questions about the two new roundabouts and other elements.
A steady stream of community members showed up to see the plans at the two-hour open house Wednesday evening at the Tumalo Community School gym, viewing the various displays and having their questions answered by ODOT and Deschutes County staff.
A Bend resident who lives by the Old-Bend Redmond Highway said, "It feels like you’re risking your life to go from Old-Bend Redmond Highway to go to Highway 20 south towards Bend.”
Construction on the roundabout at Old-Bend Redmond and Highway 20 is set to start next month. The goal is to have it finished by March of next year.
Work on the the other roundabout at Cook Avenue in Tumalo is set to start a few months after that, and includes a pedestrian under crossing. If everything goes as planned, it will be completed by next June.
I spoke to people at the open house to get their reactions.
"I've never been in an accident at either location," Tumalo resident Mark Herbert said. "There have been some times I had to scream on the brakes to avoid someone crossing on the other side."
Tumalo resident Shannon Dietsch said, "I'm hopeful it's going to alleviate some of the dangerous aspects that the highway's been having. I think it's going to be very easy to get used to them. I'm very excited about the bike lane that's going to be put in."
ODOT Area Manager Bob Townsend said, "Everyone wants to see an improvement. If they just have to put up with delays for up to six months to get it done, I think most people are pretty willing."
Another Tumalo resident, Dan McDevitt, said, "It’s going to be an inconvenience, but it’s something that probably needs to happen, just for the amount of traffic that's on the highway."
If you were not able to attend the open house, there is an online version that will be live until October 12.
Here are the improvements ODOT has planned:
• Repaving U.S. 20 from MP 14.31 to 17.39.
• Bridge deck improvements on the Deschutes River Bridge.
• Two roundabouts at the intersections of U.S. 20/Old Bend-Redmond Highway and U.S. 20/OB Riley Road/ Cook Avenue.
• A bike/pedestrian undercrossing at U.S. 20 and 4th Street in Tumalo.
• A shared-use path from Cooley Road to the intersection of Old Bend-Redmond Highway.
• The extension of two eastbound lanes on U.S. 20 from the Old Bend-Redmond intersection east to milepost 17.23.