BEND, OR -- Another deadly crash east of Bend has some calling for improved safety on Highway 20, east of Bend. On Sunday, a John Day man was killed at Hamby Road when he reportedly pulled out in front of an oncoming pickup. In December, a Bend man was killed in the same area (above).
Peter Murphy, with the Oregon Department of Transportation, says the intersection with Hamby and Ward roads is considered a high priority, "We can take steps, such as making bigger signs – we have, out there. We’ve lowered the speed limit in that area, too." But, he tells KBND News more will be done, "The first thing we can do at that intersection is what we call a road audit. We’ll put engineers right there, who physically watch traffic for a period of time and then develop solutions based upon what they see."
Deschutes County Roads Director Chris Doty says his department is working with ODOT on that audit, "We will collectively sit down, put our heads together regarding what can be done at the intersection, both from a low-cost, near-term perspective – things that can be done immediately – to kind of that long-term perspective and ultimate improvement that we need to design and budget for. So, it’s having a shared ownership in the solutions." He adds, "Everybody recognizes that we need more capital improvement at that location and that we’re probably looking at a higher cost solution to improve safety there. A roundabout’s been discussed." But, he notes it’s very early in the conversation.
Murphy says congestion is the biggest problem, "We have a lot more traffic, so it leads to situations in which there’s a lot more conflict, if you will, on the road." Doty agrees, "What we see out there is we see urban level traffic occurring at an intersection that’s rural in nature and rural in design." And, he expects it will lead to an urban-type solution. "As a state highway, certainly it’s ODOT’s call as to what ultimately happens there, in regards to the county road intersection. But, we want to work together to come up with a solution that works for their system [and] works for our system, but overall just makes it safer."
Click HERE to listen to our full conversation with ODOT's Peter Murphy about Highway 20 safety.