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.”

Road Closures in Bend

Some big changes are in store for drivers on the City of Bend’s west and northeast sides as everyone comes back from the summer break.
The 14th Street Reconstruction Project is being funded by a voter-approved transportation bond that was passed back in 2011, but it’s just now entering it’s final phase of construction.
Beginning on Tuesday, the stretch of 14th street between Galveston Avenue and Albany Avenue will be closed in both directions, so detours will be in place to wind around to the west to avoid the construction. However, that isn’t the only road closure planned for Bend residents.
Beginning September 10th, Empire Avenue will be closed between 18th Street and Purcell for stage one of the Empire Corridor improvements. Those improvements will include reconstructing the existing roadway, widening Empire to include medians and a turn lane at Desert Sage, adding sidewalks and curbs, widening bike lanes, and installing new landscaping in between the curb and sidewalks.
This stretch of Empire is expected to be closed to all traffic until at least early December, and future projects could include a new roundabout at Empire and Purcell, and the extension of Empire all the way through from Purcell to 27th.