BEND, OR -- Empire Avenue, between 18th and Purcell, opened temporarily Tuesday afternoon. But, only to pedestrians. The city of Bend held an open house to show off the nearly complete stretch of road, following months of work. Project Manager Sinclair Bur talked with visitors about, "What we've accomplished so far, what we have planned coming up in the near future with the rest of Phase One, but also give people information on what's coming with Phase Two of the Project."
The stretch of Empire closed in September. It's expected to reopen to vehicles by Monday. Joe Mesarich lives nearby and says construction has gone smoothly, "A couple times, the house shook when they were starting to dig it; we could feel that, But I think it's worth it because we don't have to go to a park, we can just walk right on the sidewalk. We've got good sidewalks; that's good."
Cricket Campbell moved to a neighborhood just off Empire during the Summer. She's pleased by the changes, "What I really see as a local resident here is the pedestrian safety, bike safety, just overall flow seems like it's going to be much better." She tells KBND News the city was very forthcoming with information, and she believes project management really took their needs and wants into consideration. Campbell is looking forward to the next phase, and improved accessibility, "The next thing will hopefully be some, maybe, bus routes or bus transit in here. [It] Would be super nice to have that option out here, as well. I know that's much needed and wanted by the residents that I talk with."
The second half of Phase One is now underway, including construction of a roundabout at Empire and Purcell. Then, Bur says, Phase Two will be broken in to four parts, "Improvements to Purcell from the north side of the canal, south down to Butler Market; some improvements to the Purcell / Butler Market intersection; the extension of Empire through Pine Nursery Park down to Butler Market; and then improvements to the intersection at 27th and Butler [Market Road]." The entirety of the Empire Corridor Improvement Project should be complete in 2021.