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BEND, OR -- Crews will begin work next week on a new highway median, south of the Bend city limits. The median will stretch from Lava Butte north to Romaine Village Way, with a break to enter the High Desert Museum. 

 

Peter Murphy, with the Oregon Department of Transportation, says the project will increase safety on Highway 97. "Traffic volumes, particularly down there at Lava Butte, have been just skyrocketing. Last year, in 2015 was a 17% increase over 2014. And, this year, we’re already probably 5% above that." Murphy tells KBND News, "Putting medians in the middle, between two opposing lanes of traffic, you minimize the impacts of a crash. So, instead of somebody crossing from the southbound lane to the northbound lane, you kind of redirect them. That’s what those barriers do; they redirect that vehicle back into the same direction of travel. So, you may still get into a crash, but you’re going to be directed away from the oncoming travel."

 

Traffic barrels are already in the area, an work begins in earnest on Tuesday. "What we’ll be doing is changing the traffic pattern in the area, by using those barrels to kind of control the flow. Depending on the work that’s taking place, they’ll be shifted either into one lane or, they’ll have two lanes but they’ll just go in a different, slightly out of the ordinary travel pattern," says Murphy. "Motorists simply need to be heads-up in the area and be aware of the traffic changes that are coming, so they’re not taken by surprise."

 

Nighttime paving will occur in August, and the $6 million project should be done by late October. Click HERE for more information.

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