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Downtown Bend road project sparks concerns

By Kandra Kent
Published On: Aug 06 2013 10:48:07 PM CDT
Updated On: Aug 06 2013 10:56:00 PM CDT

NewsChannel 21's Kandra Kent spoke with city officials, neighbors and businesses about the impacts of a new flow of traffic in west Bend.

BEND, Ore. -

Some big delays are coming to one of the busiest intersections in downtown Bend.

"I go across the street several times a day, at least," neighbor Nathan Boddie said Tuesday. "I go back and forth to work, but also foot traffic to the city."

The city of Bend is spending nearly $1 million on improving the intersection between Riverside Boulevard and Tumalo and Galveston Avenues in the area near Drake Park.

The project will add bike paths, add and improve pedestrian crossings and create new traffic flow.

Half of the money is coming from an ODOT grant.

In September and October, Riverside Boulevard will be completely shut down in both lanes for the work.

There's one major portion of the project some neighbors think is a mistake.

When you wrap around Drake Park on Riverside, you won't have to stop to turn onto Galveston -- and vice versa.

"That is inherently involving faster traffic -- people won't be stopping at the intersection," Boddie said.

Another neighbor has similar concerns.

"The biggest issue is people speeding down Riverside, as though it's a drag strip or something," said Majell Beach.

She said the intersection isn't necessarily dangerous, but she'd like to see cars slowing down.

Beach added that if the project makes the roadway slower, she supports the plans.

Project Manager Heidi Lansdowne said the new plans are designed to make crossing the road safer.

"Instead of looking over your shoulder and then that way , and that way, you'll just look right and left.," Lansdowne said.

But improving one area can have consequences for others.

"A lot of traffic cuts through on Tumalo, which was never intended to be that kind of street," Lansdowne said. "This (new) intersection configuration will really reduce that, because it won't be easy to get through there or to get out."

And that worries Riverside Market owner Melanie Gaipo.

"It's frustrating, and you won't be as accessible -- and if you were to leave, turning left will be nearly impossible," Gaipo said of more limited access downtown and from Riverside.

Despite concerns, the city is moving forward , and hopes the project will be complete before November.

The changes also will eliminate on street parking on the south side of Riverside Boulevard.

City officials said drivers can expect congestion  and delays through the area.

Read more about the project and find maps at the city's Website.

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