By BROOKE SNAVELY
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY
Looking to ease congestion at one of Bend’s busiest intersections, the city next month will test the use of metered signals at the Reed Market/Bond/Brookswood roundabout.
“I think it will work,” said Project Engineer Deedee Fraley. “There are other cities that have implemented this. Richland, Washington has a metered roundabout that reduced delays tremendously.”
The testing will happen the week of March 2-6. Metered signals hold back vehicles in one lane approaching the roundabout to improve traffic flow on another leg where the congestion backs up traffic.
“Once it turns green, you’ll go through. You still yield as you enter the roundabout,” Fraley said. “What that does is create gaps to allow legs with more delays to get through roundabout.”
City officials believe metered approaches, similar to what you’ve probably seen on freeway on ramps, are expected to improve congestion and public safety and reduce neighborhood cut-through traffic.
“The idea is that metering vehicles entering the roundabout will relieve congestion,” Fraley said. “We don’t want drivers to worry: This is not a test that drivers can fail. We’re just trying to see if this truly does improve traffic flow in at this location.”
As many as 17,000 cars pass through the intersection each day – most of the time without much of a delay. But during during the morning and afternoon commutes, it can be extremely busy.
Tests will occur on all four legs of the roundabout as cars approach. The lights will be back about 100 feet from the roundabout entry.
People who ride bikes or walk through this intersection will travel as normal except when a driver or a biker in the vehicle lane gets a red light; then that person stops and waits for a green light before approaching the circle.
Emergency responders are looking forward to the change. They’ll be able to remotely trigger a green light in the direction they need to go.
“This will enable the use of emergency vehicle detection which can stop traffic on all approaches to the roundabout except where an emergency vehicle is coming from. It can give emergency vehicles priority access through the intersection,” said Larry Medina, Deputy Fire Chief of Prevention “Bend Fire & Rescue believes, outside of adding an additional lane to the Brookswood/Reed Market/Bond roundabout, metering this roundabout will significantly improve response times and increase safety.”
It will cost about $30,000 to rent the metered lights and test them. The city expects it will take about a month to analyze if traffic flowed better with the lights then officials will decide whether to install them permanently.