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No cheers heard about planned Bend roundabout

By Kandra Kent
Published On: Feb 21 2013 10:00:48 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 25 2013 10:40:10 AM CST

NewsChannel 21's Kandra Kent spoke with neighbors in Bend's Old Farm District about why they don't want a new roundabout.

BEND, Ore. -

Bend is chock full of roundabouts, and residents of the Old Farm Neighborhood near Reed Market and 15th Street say they like them--except they don't want one coming to their busy intersection.

"There isn't one on this lane that is in favor of this, they're all opposed to it," said resident Alene Hufstader on Thursday.

At Bend city council's meeting on Wednesday night Expressway Market owner Tom Healy presented 850 signatures opposed to the building of the roundabout.

He, and other neighbors told NewsChannel 21 that the intersection is too close to a railroad track, and when trains come through the roundabout will be clogged with traffic.

But City Transportation Engineering Manager Nick Arnis said improving Reed Market is long overdue.

"It's taking that road and improving it, or what we call modernizing it so it fits more of the urban character of what Bend is today," he said.

The city plans to start construction projects along Reed Market road this summer.

It's part of a $30 million bond passed by voters in 2011.

The project for Reed Market will take about $18 million of that budget.

Other portions of the project include moving the American Lane bridge, adding new lanes, sidewalks and drains,  putting in bike lanes, and signs to warn drivers about train traffic.

And many support these improvements--except for that controversial roundabout.

Frank Turek lives in the Old Farm District near the intersection--he's also a chairman of Bend's Infrastructure Advisory Committee.

He said the roundabout not only poses a inconvenience for drivers--but the increased congestion can be dangerous.

"People will get frustrated when they have to wait," Turek said.  "And when people get frustrated in traffic they do dumb things, and it's a potential traffic hazard for accidents."

He also said it can be a hazard during emergencies.

"If you have gridlock, that's the southernmost crossing for emergency vehicles--police, fire ambulance," he said.

But safety is what  Arnis said roundabouts are all about.

He said it requires drivers to go through intersections slower.

"A roundabout will perform much much safer intersection and will provide much more capacity than a traffic signal," Arnis said.

Arnis added waiting shouldn't  be a major problem--the roundabout would have double lanes.

"As a driver, you have the option, you can sort of cue yourself up waiting for the train to go past, or you can go north or south on 15th street."

Still neighbors aren't sure if it will work--and say it's not worth the risk.

"If you have to put signals in to make the roundabout work, then why put the roundabout in? You can save a lot of money," Turek said.

"The traffic lights have worked just fine for us down here, but the roundabout will just be congested," Hufstader said.

Hufstader told NewsChannel 21 that she and other neighbors would like to see an overpass bypass the train tracks.

But city officials said that would be too expensive, and say they're moving forward with the roundabout.

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