(Update: Adding video, comments from area manager, Bend resident)
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- More road construction is coming to Central Oregon, including some long-sought safety improvements, such as a completed median barrier on Highway 97 between bend and Redmond.
The Oregon Department of Transportation just released a draft of its next three-year plan. The project list for 2024 to 2027 focuses on improving highways, accessibility, and public transportation.
ODOT plans to complete a median barrier on Highway 97 between Bend and Redmond, adding one at the O'Neil Highway Junction and a new roundabout at Highway 20 and Locust Street in Sisters are three large regional projects that made the project list
The Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan or "STIP" guides where ODOT spends state and federal money.
Central Oregonians are no strangers to construction on the roadways, and a sizable number know it's needed to make travel safer.
Bend resident John Aceti said Wednesday, "I'm a believer in safety."
ODOT Area Manager Robert Townsend said, "We're always hoping for more (funding), but at the same time, we've got the right projects that we need here -- a few safety projects, some larger capital investments and in the multi-modal system."
Townsend pointed to one of the most significant projects, the Bend-Redmond Safety Project that will enter Phase 2 to complete a center median barrier on Highway 97 between Bend and Redmond, to reduce the number and severity of cross-over crashes, while also providing turn-around options. The estimated cost for the project is about $11 million. The first phase was completed last year.
"Everybody goes five miles over the speed limit," Aceti said. "But then there's those that get a little crazy. So I really believe it would be helpful to have this barrier. It would benefit everybody."
Construction for the project is expected to start in 2025.
The other top 2024-27 ODOT projects on the list in Central Oregon include a median barrier on Highway 97 at O'Neil Highway, which is estimated to cost nearly $3 million. There's also a new roundabout planned at the intersection of U.S. Highway 20 and Locust Street in Sisters, which is estimated to cost $7.25 million.
ODOT also plans to install a pedestrian refuge island at the intersection of Highway 97 and NE Cedar Street in Madras, including illumination and crossing signs, estimated to cost about $475,000.
" Our dollars just don't go as far now because projects cost a lot more over the last, you know from the pandemic to just other inflation factors," Townsend said. "So that's more a key factor than that. You know, as we get money, we just can't do as many projects with it."
ODOT last week released the more than $3.3 billion 2024-27 draft STIP to the public, with a public comment period open through the end of April.