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Shovels set to go on Bend's Murphy Road project

Published On: Jul 22 2013 09:21:50 PM CDT
Updated On: Jul 23 2013 07:37:25 PM CDT

Officials break ground on a major construction project, south of Bend to alleviate some of the back-up caused by third street traffic lights.

BEND, Ore. -

Bend city officials called Monday a milestone for the city as the massive Murphy Road project got underway on the city's south side.

The Bend Parkway was built in the 1990s to alleviate the traffic jams on Third Street, but since then the traffic on the south end of the parkway has grown considerably.

ODOT and city officials hope the project will help with safety and traffic.

NewsChannel 21 was there as the shovels went into the ground.

Officials call the project a major change in the shape of the south end of town.

The first phase of construction will last two years and cost about $27 million.

"The city is going to get some benefits out of it," said Peter Murphy ODOT Region 4 spokesman. "And I know that people who will drive Oregon highways will too."

The project will eliminate two traffic signals on the south end of the parkway.

"A signal where people are expected to stop and others are expecting them to stop, you open up the potential for accidents and crashes," said Bob Bryant, the ODOT Region 4 manager.  

ODOT says eliminating those traffic signals will also alleviate congestion and those crashes.

Crews will build three roundabouts at the intersections of Murphy and Third Street, Murphy and Parrell Road and Murphy and Brookswood Boulevard.

"The roundabouts are much more accommodating than stopping everybody at a signal," Bryant said.

And coming soon, a new overpass on Murphy Road that crosses Highway 97.

The project is being funded by the Jobs for Transportation Act, passed in Salem in 2009.  

And many credit former Bend state senator Chris Telfer for helping push for the project.

"This is a great day, and it isn't just great because of the additional safety measures that we are going to be constructing. The connectivity is going to be awesome in the city," said Telfer.

Jeff Rudack, who lives near Murphy Road, says his house will now be closer to traffic.

"Hopefully it will increase the home values with the curb appeal, if it's done right -- that's the main concern, if it's done right," Rudack said.

"I think it's for the better," Telfer said. "And I think people will be patient with it. It will be a long haul. It's a three year project. I'm hoping everybody will be patient."

The real construction work will begin in the next week.

Along with the safety aspect, officials told us the project will also open up some land adjacent to the parkway for economic development.

More info from ODOT on the project can be found here. The city of Bend's page, with maps, is at this location.

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