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Bend Third St. underpass flood fix finally at hand

By Joe Burns
Published On: Apr 22 2013 09:33:44 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 22 2013 09:35:33 PM CDT

The debate over the Third Street underpass continues Monday as businesses aren't happy with plans to fix it.

BEND, Ore. -

Thousands of cars use the Third Street underpass every day, but it doesn't take much rain or melting snow for it to flood. The city wants to fix it, and it's moving forward with the project, despite some business neighbors' lingering concerns.

Last year, we talked with some business owners along Third Street who weren't happy with plans to close the street for repairs.

They're still not happy -- but know they have to deal with the inconvenience..

"In our opinion, we still think it's a waste of money," said Kory Callantine, owner of The Supply Depot.

Callantine is still not happy after months of review and discussion the city has had over an $3.4 million improvement project for the underpass.

"A prime example -- this year, we never had any flooding issues. So no, it hasn't changed a bit," Callantine said Monday.

But when it does rain heavily in a summer thunderstorm, or, as once happened, hails as well, the underpass can flood, causing traffic detours and environmental problems. with the runoff 

City Councilor Mark Cappell said recently the biggest misunderstanding is that the project is to stop flooding. Instead, he said, it should be about the city's needs to manage the stormwater runoff in a safer way.

The city plans to install a pumping system that will keep stormwater from pooling on the road.

But for business owners, the construction timing was the big issue.

Businesses rely on the nearly 20,000 cars that use the street each day.

"It's our lifeblood," Callantine said. "Without the traffic flow going in front of the store, we would virtually be out of business within weeks."

The city at first wanted to close the road during the day as well. But business owners like Callantine convinced the city to at least do the construction overnight,  from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

"We heard from businesses that would really impact their sales and their ability to do business," said city spokesman Justin Finestone. "So we went back to city council and got approval to spend a little bit more money to only do night work."

"We are going to be running from 9 (a.m.) to 6 (p.m.) -- hopefully, they'll be able to keep to that schedule," Callantine said. "Anything other than that would make it a little difficult for us, but it's something we are going to have to live with."

Third Street will be open during the day, so people can get to the businesses.

During night construction,, the primary detour route will be from Wilson Avenue to 9th Street to Franklin Avenue.

The project is expected to begin in May and be completed by September.

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