(Update: Adding video, comments from ODOT Region 4 planning)
ODOT plans dozens of improvements over 20-plus-year timeline
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- With increasing traffic congestion, high-crash areas and multimodal transportation challenges, changes are underway for the Bend Parkway and other main streets in the city.
"We’ve looked at safety, mobility, congestions, accessibility, walking, biking, transit," Oregon Department of Transportation Region 4 Planning and Programming Manager David Amiton said Wednesday.
Amiton said the agency is planning about 50 projects, some of which will be combined, to address a range of issues along the Bend Parkway.
"The parkway serves a lot of valuable functions, in terms of moving people and goods and freight," he said. "But for a lot of folks, it also represents a barrier."
If you've driven on the Bend Parkway lately, you’ve likely seen construction ramping up for the Bend North Corridor Project.
"That work is constructing a new alignment for US-97," Amiton said. "It is installing roundabouts on US-20. It has a number of bike and pedestrian improvements, like multi-use pads and enhanced crossings.”
The Bend North Corridor project that began last fall is one of many projects that are part of the US 97 Bend Parkway Plan, aimed at helping reduce crash rates and facilitating better travel. Two roundabouts are in the works at Robal Lane and Cooley Road, replacing the traffic signals.
"We know what we want to do at the north end of town. We have funding for some of it," Amiton said. "Let’s figure out what improvements are needed through the rest of town."
According to ODOT, the US 97 Parkway Plan is a multi-phase planning process to improve safety, mobility, and active transportation and transit use on the Bend Parkway between Tumalo Road and Baker Road, most of which is in the city limits.
Some improvements include on and off ramps and some adjacent roads toward the south end of town.
Changes will also be made to existing to bridges and interchanges, and there will be new bike and pedestrian crossings.
Overall, the work could take more than 20 years to complete.
“It was important for us, as we put the Parkway Plan together, to make sure it was comprehensive and serving people driving and people delivering freight, which it does, but also serving residents and visitors who are walking, biking," Amiton said.
For now, the priority projects are the Bend North Corridor and the Third Street Project that goes from Empire Avenue to Greenwood Avenue. The project on Third Street started about six years ago and is nearing completion.
As far as the work done so far on Third Street, Amiton said they've covered a range of improvements beyond "repaving Third Street. It's included new sidewalks, it included ADA ramps, new buffered bike lanes, new enhanced pedestrian crossings, transit improvements.”