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Bend marks a quarter-century since its first roundabout; now there’s over 50, with more to come around C.O.

(Update: adding video, comments from City of Bend, Deschutes County Road Department)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The intersection of Century Drive and Colorado Avenue in southwest Bend is where the first roundabout in Bend was installed, back in 1999.

The concept of roundabouts was brought to Bend by Brooks Resources Chairman Mike Hollern.

"He was really interested in not putting in a traffic signal there. There were some really pretty, really nice large Ponderosa pines in the middle of the of the road," said city Transportation Engineer Robin Lewis. "And he also had this vision for roundabouts, because he'd traveled frequently and he'd seen them work in other in other places."

Now, 25 years later, the city of Bend has over 50 of the traffic circles -- some two-lane --and they plan on adding more in coming years, as does Deschutes County. ODOT also has gotten into the roundabout "lane" with Bend-area projects in recent years. 

Another roundabout, for example, is coming at the intersection of Wells Acres and Butler Market roads.

City Senior Project Engineer Matthew Jaroslawski said, "Wells Acres has a stop sign and that Butler Market does not have any kind of traffic devices going east and west. So traffic starts to back up on Wells Acres quite a lot. And just to alleviate that, we're putting in a roundabout right there."

They hope to begin construction by the winter of 2024.

In addition to traffic improvements, they hope the roundabout will reduce the number of accidents, as they have elsewhere, in the city and in Deschutes County as well.

Deschutes County Road Department Director Chris Doty said, "With our roundabouts, we have upwards of probably a 70 to 80% crash rate reduction. And the severity, of course, you know, much less than that. And so it's it's the quantity and it's the severity that that that reduces with roundabouts because the great equalizer that slows people down."

Lewis said, "They really take the the serious of the fatal injuries out of the equation. There might be some fender-benders, some minor injuries, but the -- you know, just those T-bone crashes go away."

The next county roundabout coming along will be at the intersection of Powell Butte Highway and Butler Market Road, right by the Bend Airport.

Doty said, "That's the first kind of significant intersection that drivers will hit coming from Prineville towards Bend. Because of that, you have a lot of traffic conflict, high-speed conflict. So the roundabout is going to solve that safety issue that we have there, and also provide a better entrance into the Bend Airport, as a turn lane will be constructed there."

We can also expect more roundabouts throughout Deschutes County within the next four to five years, according to Doty. Three of these would be located in the Three Rivers-Sunriver corridor.

They also mentioned they are looking at building a roundabout just west of Terrebonne, heading into Crooked River Ranch.

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Jillian Fortner

Jillian Fortner is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Jillian here.


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