BEND, Ore. - (Update: Clarifying nature of Oct. 22 meeting)
Deschutes County commissioners and Oregon Department of Transportation officials met Monday to revisit the effort to make safety improvements to U.S. Highway 97 in Terrebonne, after a recent split commission decision stalled plans for a couplet and other elements. First up: Another round of public input.
The county and ODOT set Tuesday, Oct. 22 as the date to meet with a small group of area residents and businesses to discuss potential changes. A public meeting would follow at a later, undetermined date.
High traffic volumes have raised community concerns and safety issues. Oregon's lawmakers have allocated $20 million to make road improvements.
Some possible solutions include a bypass, a couplet, traffic signals and an overpass at the Lower Bridge Way intersection.
ODOT said the main goal heard from community members is to maintain the spirit of the community while incorporating safety improvements.
"I think the biggest concern from the community is that we maintain the community feel, the fabric of the community stays in a way that is meaningful to them," said Gary Farnsworth, ODOT's Region 4 manager.
"At the same time, dealing with all the traffic that's coming into the area on US 97, whether it's passing through or going to the recreation sites like Smith Rock State Park, we need to find a way to balance those interests and needs."
County commissioners said it's been a long process, with many factors to take into consideration.
"It's kind of been a complicated effort to get improvements along that road with limited funds that work for everybody," said Commissioner Phil Henderson, the board chairman. "I think this was a lot of progress today, because the state, the Oregon Department of Transportation has come back and said they are going to try to meet with some people there in the community."