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Bend Underpass Fix Won't Submerge Merchants

By Joe Burns
Published On: Feb 21 2012 07:28:40 AM CST
Updated On: Feb 21 2012 08:47:28 AM CST
BEND, Ore. -

A potentially devastating situation for some business owners was averted by the Bend City Council. The council had voted to fix the Third Street underpass flooding problem by closing that street for construction, but a compromise was reached.

Business owners tell NewsChannel 21 that with nearly 20,000 cars passing by their businesses, construction during the day would have probably closed their shops down.

But last week, city councilors agreed the construction would only happen at night, letting the businesses breathe a sigh of relief.

"Virtually my back door sits on the overpass, the railroad tracks sit right behind it. For me it would have been devastating," Kory Callantine, The Supply Depot Owner, said Tuesday.

The Supply Depot sits right off Third Street and right by the underpass, and specifically chose the spot for its benefits.

"I was up out of the way, but yet I was still on Third Street, where I have 20,000 cars going by my front door every day," Callantine said.

Imagine losing those potential customers. It's something Randy Sargent of Sargent's Stereo, just a couple buildings away from the Supply Depot, couldn't even fathom.

"I thought this would probably put me out of business in the current economy. I wasn't pleased," Sargent said.

The two men and others voiced their concerns at a city meeting back in September. The city listened.

"Given that information, it made sense to keep this construction at night to minimize the impact on surrounding businesses," Bend Mayor Jeff Eager said.

Eager voted in favor of the option that would keep construction based at night.

The council also reviewed the detour and changed it: Franklin Avenue down Ninth Street to Wilson Avenue. There are also two secondary detours available.

"As far as I'm concerned, I would like there to be no construction. But I think, yes, it's a good compromise," Sargent said.

The improvement project is a $2.4 million plan, paid for by Bend residents' stormwater utility fee.

The project includes a pump station that will push stormwater from the underpass to an open-air pond near the Colorado Avenue on-ramp to the parkway.

Construction is expected to start after Labor Day and last three months.

"We can live with that," Callantine said. "We can still keep our families employed, and everybody along here will still be able to keep their business."

So just what does the constant flooding mean to businesses?

When a mid-January snowstorm hit, causing the underpass to close only for a few hours. Sargent said during that time they had no customers and were about to close for the day.

But as soon as the road reopened that day, business picked up again.

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