TERREBONNE, OR -- Oregon's Department of Transportation is finalizing plans to address increased traffic volumes on Highway 97 in Terrebonne. Peter Murphy, with ODOT, tells KBND News, "So, you’ll have two lanes going southbound and two other lanes going northbound on 11th Street. And then, to make things work up at Lower Bridge Way, what we’ve done is come up with an idea for a roundabout. And, I know when I say ‘roundabout,’ there’s a lot of people who have a visceral reaction to that, but it is a good solution to move traffic through that intersection."Lower Bridge Way is the primary access to Crooked River Ranch, and its intersection with Highway 97 has long been identified as a trouble spot. Murphy says installing a roundabout west of 97, and creating over- and under-passes for cross traffic will significantly improve safety, "By doing this, we are addressing the highway problem. It’s gone through a review process with the folks up there and it’s the result of a lot of work together to try and come up with a solution that works for folks."
Despite some local opposition, Murphy says they’re moving forward on the proposal, and he believes they have a plan that benefits the most people, "We went through this planning process and considered a five-lane in the existing 97 corridor, and the dilemma with that is that you end up with much more conflict potential." He adds, "It’s important to understand that the context in which all this is taking place is the increase in traffic. If you try to make a left turn coming out of like Smith Rock State Park, and get on the highway to come to Bend, you’ve got some serious delays facing you."
Murphy says nothing is set in stone, yet. Most of the funding for the work was allocated by the 2017 Legislature, but the design still needs county approval., "We’re going to go to the Planning Commission at the end of this month. And then, coming up in August, we’re going to go to the Board of Commissioners. So, all these opportunities are there for folks to have their say." Murphy doesn't expect construction to begin for at least two years.