BEND, OR -- The Oregon Department of Transportation is asking for public input on a major highway project near Sunriver. "We have the opportunity here to create a divided highway and be safer," says ODOT's Peter Murphy.
Murphy tells KBND News engineers are considering several designs that would divide Highway 97 near Vandervert Road. "What we’re doing is separating the lanes by a pretty good-sized median. A lot of folks remember when we had a two-lane highway up and over Lava Butte and down into Sunriver, and the kinds of crossover crashes we would have there. That’s why we’re separating the lanes by about a 100’ median, is the idea here." But how that division accommodates cross-traffic, wildlife and a small hill in the area is up for discussion. And, there's the issue of accommodating the neighboring Deschutes National Forest. "We like to consider ourselves partners with the Forest Service, and they’re part of this project, as well; it’s on their land. There’s a good relationship, there’s timing, there’s interest, there’s a proposed [wildlife] undercrossing; I mean, there’s a lot of energy that’s moving forward on this particular project."
ODOT is asking for feedback on the design for the highway, in particular how dividing the roadway will impact how drivers make a left on to Highway 97 from Vandervert. "What we want to do is have people take a look at what we’re proposing – one of which is to come up from the west to the highway and take a right turn and go ‘out of direction’ a little ways, and then come back and go north from there. It’s where we can make it easier, safer, better. It’s not really that far out of direction but it creates a much safer situation."
The agency will accept online feedback through a virtual open house, through Tuesday, February 28.