LAPINE, Ore. - People living in La Pine are finding out it's a challenge to walk and get across Highway 97 safely. But some safety improvements in the works should help.
Brian Earls owns three businesses in the area and told NewsChannel 21 on Monday that he has seen several schoolchildren crossing the busy highway.
Earls said traffic has increased through the area, and some drivers don't follow the speed limit.
"I see a lot of kids jetting across the highway on their bikes and running, and I've often thought, 'You know, one of these days, one of those kids are going to get hurt,'" Earls said. "Because they're just not paying attention and the traffic is more than ever today, than it was 10 years ago.".
Oregon Department of Transportation spokesman Peter Murphy said the department has to make it safer for people to cross the highway.
ODOT is launching a $10 million road project that will repave Highway 97 from Sunriver to Highway 31.
The project also will improve safety in the downtown La Pine area by adding sidewalks on both sides of the highway, along with four crosswalks, which will make it easier for people to cross the highway.
Murphy said making these improvements and having medians in place will force drivers to slow down while driving through La Pine.
"We needed to make this improvement to the highway, just for starters, so we talked with the folks at City Hall in La Pine," Murphy said. "We worked among ourselves to try and come up with the best idea, and this really will be a fun and good improvement to that area down there in La Pine."
ODOT also plans to purchase a 1.5-acre dirt lot at the intersection of Huntington Road and Fourth Street in La Pine.
According to La Pine City Manager Cory Misley, the idea is to create a transit-city center where people can get on Cascade East Transit buses.
Misley said the project still needs public input, but he hopes it will include parking, restrooms and charging stations for electric vehicles.
There is no timeline on when this new transit center will be completed.But the road construction should begin next spring.