▶️ Metered signal plan on hold for busy Bend roundabout

By ANYSSA BOHANAN
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS

Try going through the Bond/Reed Market/Brookswood roundabout at any point in the day, and you’ll find plenty of traffic.

The testing of traffic signals at the roundabout at the beginning of March showed mixed results.

“We found that it was beneficial during what we consider the morning rush hour, but that it wasn’t very beneficial in the PM,” said Ryan Oster, Engineering Director with the City of Bend.

The testing proved successful enough that they planned to recommend buying the $600,000 testing meters at the roundabout instead of spending $4 million to $5 million to add additional lanes to the area.

But now, three months after completing the $30,000 test, Oster says COVID and budget cuts within the city of Bend have placed that recommendation on hold.

“Really, we don’t know what the traffic patterns are going to be six months or a year from now and there’s lot of interesting developments in society right now with telecommuting, and we also have a big high school that’s planning on opening in the fall of 2021,” said Oster. “There’s just a lot of variables that it wasn’t a good choice today to go and spend money on that.”

Oster says that though their current plans have been put on hold, they’re looking to also make future recommendations for other busy roundabouts in the city.

“This intersection along with a handful of others in town, we’re just getting to the point where it’s hard to expand them any bigger than they already are,” said Oster. “We want to try and accommodate it in the existing footprint as best we can.”

Oster says they’ll do another bout of testing in about a year and present recommendations to the city then.

City of Bend braces for budget shortfall of up to $14.5 million

The City of Bend is bracing for a two-year revenue shortfall of between $7 million and $14.5 million due to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, City Manger Eric King said Wednesday.

“The City’s revenues come from people in Bend and visitors, and our region has experienced high unemployment, a drop in tourism and business closures,” King said.

King expects to discuss the budget issue and potential reductions at Wednesday night’s City Council meeting.

According to a release from the city, shortfalls could begin affecting the City’s budget this summer.

“The City of Bend collects different revenues at different times, so the full budgetary impact of COVID-19 on the City of Bend will be unknown for many months,” the release said.

Anticipated Citywide revenue shortfalls as of today include:

  • $5.4 million to $11.4 million shortfall from room tax revenues;
  • $400,000 to $1.3 million shortfall from lower property tax collections;
  • $700,000 to $1.2 million shortfall from fines and citations; and
  • $650,000 shortfall from highway gas taxes.

In April, King asked department heads in the city to submit budgets with cuts up to 10%. Proposed cuts included hiring freezes on vacant positions, reduced contractual services, reduced facility improvements, and delays in projects among other things.

Formal budget adjustments are scheduled for approval on June 17.

“Unlike some segments of the economy that were immediately impacted, the City has time to plan. We are working to avoid layoffs as long as possible to continue providing core public services with the resources we have,” said City Manager Eric King.

You can livestream Wednesday’s city council meeting at www.bendoregon.gov/councilagenda

Bend Water Filtration Facility Struck By Lightning

The City of Bend’s Water Filtration Facility was struck by lightning Thursday night while crews were there working on other storm-related issues.

Staff worked until 11:30 and was on site again Friday to troubleshoot and make repairs, according to a tweet from the city.

Today, Public Works Director Paul Rheault said six different electrical components were impacted last night but most were repaired.

“The main one knocked out seven actuator valves that actually handle the water that comes from our springs up in the mountains and that piece of equipment right now is out of operation,” he said. 

The entire City is currently using groundwater with a return to surface water by Monday or Tuesday as the cooler weather should keep water demand down.

Rheault says this is a perfect example of why it’s important the city has more than one source for its drinking water.

Ground water is pumped up from the aquifer using wells. Surface water is captured from a surface stream, river or spring. In Bend’s case, surface water comes from Bridge Creek.

 

Bend Announces New Fire Chief

Bend Fire and Rescue Battalion Chief Todd Riley Wednesday was named the sixth Fire Chief in the department’s 100-year-history.

Riley will replace Chief Larry Langston, who is retiring in October.

Todd Riley

“It is an honor to be selected to serve our community in this new role,” Riley said. “I am excited to build on the innovative work started by Chief Langston and to continue to improve the service we provide our growing community.”

According to a news release from the city, Riley has more than 20 years in fire service with 16 of them at Bend Fire and Rescue.  He became a full time firefighter with Bend Fire and Rescue in 2002, after previously serving as a firefighter/paramedic with the City of Sacramento. 

He was promoted to Fire Engineer in 2006, named Fire Captain in 2013 and was named Battalion Chief in 2016. Last year he completed completed the necessary components of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program.

“Battalion Chief Riley has the skills, heart and tenacity that will provide strong leadership,” said City Manager Eric King. “Most importantly, he has a fierce commitment to the people we’re sworn to serve.”

 

 

New Roundabout Set to Open at Empire & Purcell in Bend

The new roundabout at Empire and Purcell in Bend will officially open Monday morning, ending the first phase of a $60.4 million project to improve the infrastructure on Bend’s north side.

It’s been a long-time coming for motorists in the area as work on the roundabout and improvements to Empire Avenue and Purcell Boulevard started back in September 2018. City officials say more than 1,000 cars will go through the roundabout each day during the peak hour of 4:35 and 5:35 p.m.

City of Bend officials and other dignitaries will be on hand for a ribbon-cutting event at the roundabout Monday morning. The road will officially open at 10:15. 

According to a press release from the City of Bend, the cost of the north end work is too large to be funded locally. The city, Deschutes County, and Bend Chamber of Commerce worked with ODOT to win the grant, one of the biggest of the grants recently awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

“Winning this grant shows how well Deschutes County, the City of Bend and ODOT work together for our common good,” said Gary Farnsworth, ODOT Region 4 Manager. “Our success at the federal level wouldn’t have happened without the help of our local government partners.”

The $60.4 million grant helps reach the $171 million in funding needed to design and construct the U.S. 97 Bend North Corridor Project.

The City of Bend committed $5 million for improvements to U.S. 97 and U.S. 20 and $25.4 million in Bend’s Capital Improvement Program for Empire Avenue – largely derived from recently-increased transportation system development charges. In addition to the federal grant and the City’s investment, the State of Oregon committed $57.5 million, Deschutes County contributed $13.7 million, and about $2.7 million comes from private funds.

“When funds are available, Bend can deliver,” Mayor Sally Russell said in the release. “Bend is working with citizens and other partners to find funding that will improve safe, reliable transportation options – from local greenways to corridor improvements to regional highways. We recognize there are needs all across the City, and are looking for funding to get things done.”

Supper Club: Mayor-Elect Sally Russell’s Plans for Bend

Central Oregon Daily’s Curtis Vogel sits down with Mayor-Elect Sally Russell to talk about current issues for Bend residents, including wage inequality, city growth and tourism, and the conversion for some from septic to the city’s sewer system.

A special thanks to our Supper Club sponsor, Selco Community Credit Union, for giving us the time and resources to talk about the issues that impact our region with a new edition of Supper Club every Tuesday night on Central Oregon Daily.

Bend Prepares for Winter

City of Bend has transitioned their staff and equipment over to their winter schedule in preparation for this year’s first potential snowfall, forecasted for this weekend. Central Oregon Daily’s Anyssa Bohanan checked in with city officials to see how the city is preparing to keep roads clear and how you can help.

Supper Club: Discussion with Bend City Council Position 5 Candidates

We are only four Tuesdays away from the November election and we continue our conversations with candidates. For this week’s Supper Club, Central Oregon Daily’s Curtis Vogel sits down with Andrew DavisGena Goodman-Campbell and Victor Johnson, the three candidates vying for Bend City Council Position 5.

A special thanks to our Supper Club sponsor, Selco Community Credit Union, for giving us the time and resources to talk about the issues that impact our region with a new edition of Supper Club every Tuesday night on Central Oregon Daily.

Supper Club: Preview of Bend’s State of the City, Part 2

Bend’s Mayor, Casey Roats, and City Manager, Eric King are delivering the State of the City on Tuesday evening at Ten Barrel Eastside. Before that, they sat down with Central Oregon Daily’s Donna Britt for a look at some of the challenges facing the city.

Supper Club is sponsored by Selco Community Credit Union.

Supper Club: Preview of the State of the City Address

The State of the City Address is coming up next week and Bend Mayor, Casey Roats and the city manager, Eric King, sat down with Central Oregon Daily’s Donna Britt for a preview of the State of the City in this week’s Supper Club.

Thanks to Casey and Eric for joining us. If you want to watch the State of the City in person, you can see it next Tuesday at 10 Barrel Brewing‘s eastside location at 5 p.m.

A special thanks to our Supper Club sponsors, Selco Community Credit Union, for giving us the time and resources to talk about the issues that impact our region every Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon on Central Oregon Daily.