The first phase of improvements on the Wilson Avenue corridor are nearing completion. Construction of a roundabout at SE Wilson Avenue and SE 9th Street near Kiwanis Park has closed the busy intersection for months, much to the frustration of motorists and local businesses.
The roundabout was scheduled to open by the end of May but labor shortages in the construction industry and other factors have delayed the project.
“We ran into some right-of-way issues and some franchise utility coordination issues,” said Sinclair Burr, City of Bend senior project manager. “A bunch of little things piled on top of each other and delayed the opening.”
All businesses near 9th and Wilson are accessible during roundabout construction but not with the usual ease customers might expect.
“They are frustrated,” said Harley Thurow, general manager of Green Leaf Garden Center. “We try to guide them in as much as we can and give them directions around the construction, directions they can access us the most easily from. It seems to help if they give us a call and get someone to direct them through.
Friendly traffic controllers direct people to the businesses they are trying to access.
“They pull up and I ask them what business they need to get into,” said Sheila Hart, traffic control supervisor for K & E Excavating. “I get on my radio and talk to my equipment operators and truck drivers and let them know I have one that needs to get in and they get out of the way. They make access for anyone who needs to get in or out.”
Several businesses I spoke with said they’ve experienced declines in foot traffic and some losses of revenue.
“There was some impact. People have had a really hard time getting here,” Elizabeth Liederman, owner of Aloha Blinds & Designs. “Luckily we’re not like restaurants. If people can’t go there, they’ll find someplace else. If they need to find us, we can bring them on in.”
The revised construction schedule has the roundabout at 9th and Wilson opening by the end of June.
Get used to delays on Wilson Avenue because another roundabout at 15th and Wilson is scheduled to begin construction by the end of the year.
Watch our report from September 2021 below about why Bend always considers roundabouts