By HANNAH SIEVERT
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
With a cut of a ribbon on Wednesday, Mayor Sally Russell officially opened three roundabouts in northeast Bend to traffic.
The day marks the end of a two-year plan to improve the safety and accessibility of the Empire Boulevard Corridor.
The changes are long overdue and will improve safety in that area, according to City Manager Eric King.
“It helps relieve congestion, but it also helps provide important connections for those that walk and bike in the areas,” King said. “Including those folks that have their kids go to Ponderosa school. Although school is not in session right now, we have made significant improvements for those kids who want to walk to school.”
Some city staff hope to get right back to work on other transportation improvements with similar benefits.
“My hope is that both projects are seen as a success by the community, and possibly that success can be translated into future support of a bond,” Sinclair Burr, project engineer for the City of Bend, said.
The city just needs voter approval in November for a $190 million dollar bond measure to get dozens more projects started.
“The transportation bond is really aimed at doing more of what this project is doing, of connecting the community and providing better east west connections,” King said.
The bond would fund a variety of transportation projects without raising homeowner property taxes until 2022.
Katy Brooks is co-chair of the Go Bend Political Action Committee, which has put together a communication plan to help the public understand Bend’s transportation needs.
She said she’s confident the bond will pass on November 3rd.
“What we’ve been hearing steadily from the community is that Bend traffic problems are not going away, and they’re going to get worse,” Brooks said. “We have to do something about it now.”