TUMALO, OR -- The Oregon Department of Transportation is considering changes to Highway 97 between Bend and Redmond. While it’s still very early in the process, ODOT’s Peter Murphy says the agency wants to improve safety, "You’ve got increasing demands placed on the highway, there’ve been some crashes that we don’t like to talk about; nobody does. And, so, what we’re trying to do is, short of putting billions of dollars into the highway, what can we do with what we have available? So, we have asked for some input."
The public is invited to weigh in on what’s needed, at a community meeting, Wednesday evening. Murphy says ODOT has some ideas, "Maybe increased lighting, other kinds of improvements that are smaller or less expensive than the big ‘let’s do this whole median barrier all through the highway system,’ and build backage roads and frontage roads. Those kinds of things may be in the offing, but in the short term, what can we do to make the highway safer?" He tells KBND News a nine-mile median isn’t an easy option, "You see a driveway there that means ODOT has given that person access to the highway. Now, this goes back, in many cases, to when it was a horse trail or something similar to that. So, over time, people have gotten access rights. You can’t just take that away. Those rights belong to the people who have obtained them. So, in our world, we can’t just say, ‘Okay, we’re going to take away your right to have a turn into your driveway’."
Click HERE for more details on the project. Wednesday's community meeting It starts at 5 p.m. at Three Sisters School on Tumalo Road. For those unable to attend in person, ODOT is also hosting a virtual open house through February first.