▶️ Green light nears for several Bend transportation bond projects

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On Wednesday night, a complex plan took center stage at the Bend City Council work session.

The Transportation Bond Oversight Committee (TBOC) presented a 5-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) to use money from the $190 million transportation general obligation (GO) bond approved by Bend voters last November. 

The list of 21 projects was selected after extensive community feedback through the Transportation Plan Update.

“This is a really long time coming where we’re actually going to get started on some of these much-needed transportation projects,” Councilor Melanie Kebler said.

One of the projects slated first is improving the Wilson Avenue corridor.  

“Which projects were sequenced first was where we saw the greatest need,” Councilor Anthony Broadman said. “So far we’ve accepted all of the staff and TBOC recommendations about which projects our community members need the most.”

The Reed Market railroad overcrossing is the most expensive item on the list, set to take up $40 million, but not scheduled for completion until after the 5-year window.

 

“I think there was a little confusion about what the timing was going to be on actually finishing that very large project, and as staff told us last night, there was never any intention that that would be able to be finished in the next five years,” Kebler said.

“We have to do some other projects in order to make sure we’re not cutting off the entire southeast corner of Bend,” Broadman added. “That Reed Market work is going to take probably two construction years, two seasons.

“It’ll be closed for some time, so we need to make sure we have other routes, other detours in place, to make sure that it’s a successful construction project.” 

The plan is just a couple of weeks out from potential approval. 

“On December 15th, our next meeting, our staff will bring back that full package to us as an official Capital Improvement Plan for the next five years,” Kebler said.

“They will make the one change we requested to move some money up into those first five years to accelerate planning for the Reed Market overcrossing, and then we’ll have any further deliberation we want to have at that meeting and then we’ll take a vote to approve that project list.”

Plans for the following five years aren’t in the works just yet.

“I would expect that the planning process for the second five years…will start relatively soon, certainly well before the end of the first five-year period,” Broadman said.

“It’s going to be a work in progress moving forward,” Kebler said. “This was just the way to get started and say ‘here’s right now what we think we can do in the next five years, let’s get moving, and we can always adjust as we go and make any changes we need to.'”

Broadman said the money from the bond is a relatively small part of the amounts they will need for transportation over the next couple of decades.

“We fully expect to use federal dollars and ODOT dollars through the state,” he said. “The bond source of revenue can’t be used for maintenance, so it’s important as we develop the infrastructure that we continue to maintain it at a world-class level, and that’s going to be from other funding sources.”

Some other key priority projects include the Midtown Pedestrian and Bike Crossings, and Butler Market Road and Boyd Acres Road Improvements.

They also include better east-west connections that will reduce drivers’ time behind the wheel and improve Bend’s livability and safety.

Other priority routes targeted for traffic flow improvements include U.S. 97/Parkway, Third Street intersections, Empire Avenue near U.S. Highway 97, Butler Market Road and other key routes.

The committee’s full recommended timeline and list of projects can be found at bendoregon.gov/tboc.

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