As snow melts, city prepares to start construction projects in Bend

A spell of intense winter weather in late February that left piles of snow throughout Bend for weeks delayed some road construction that would have started earlier if weather allowed.

“It was both when the weather hit and then waiting for it to clear,” city spokesman Joshua Romero said.

Railroad work above Greenwood Avenue, a redesign of the south Mirror Pond parking lot, a transformation of two neighborhood streets into bike-friendly “greenways” and work around the intersection at Empire Avenue and Purcell Boulevard are the biggest projects in the coming weeks. The city’s streets department is finalizing its summer street preservation program and will have more information during the next few weeks on which roads in Bend will be repaved or coated with protective sealants, Romero said.

Starting Sunday evening, the westbound lanes of Greenwood Avenue between Third Street and the Bend Parkway will close for about seven weeks while BNSF Railway Co. replaces decking on the railroad bridge over Greenwood Avenue.

Between Sunday and May 17, when the project is expected to be done, westbound traffic on that portion of Greenwood Avenue will be detoured to Revere Avenue Monday through Thursday each week. All lanes will open between Thursday evening and Sunday evening.

The south Mirror Pond parking lot closed Monday for a complete redesign that will reduce the total number of stalls, create larger garbage enclosures and allow drivers to circle inside the lot. The Bend City Council approved the redesign as part of a response to complaints from downtown Bend business owners about drug use, drug sales, littering and other crimes in the downtown area and the parking lot specifically.

Some of those concerns were tied to activity inside the garbage enclosure. Dumpsters in the space will no longer have wheels that allow them to be pushed out of the way.

When it reopens in early June, the lot will have better lighting, new asphalt and curbs and be easier to navigate, said Bradford Tower, a city project engineer. Drivers will be able to circle inside the lot while looking for spaces rather than making a left turn onto Franklin Avenue and another left turn back into the lot, as they do now.

Redesigning the lot will reduce the number of marked parking spaces from 95 to 79. That’s partially because of the larger garbage enclosures and, in part, because many of the current spaces are too narrow to meet city standards, Tower said. Cars routinely park over the lines.

“There’s 95 spaces out there,” he said. “I could go out there and paint 200 spaces, but you’re not going to fit 200 cars.”

A $256,000 project to transform NE Sixth Street between Greenwood Avenue and Butler Market Road and NW 15th Street between Simpson and Galveston avenues into “neighborhood greenways” will start construction in April. Neighborhood greenways, which are new to Bend, are streets with slow speed limits, which allow pedestrians, cyclists and drivers to safely share the roadway.

The two roads, both of which parallel busy major streets — Century Drive and NE Eighth Street — are the first stubs in a planned greenway network meant to provide bike routes around Bend that can safely be used by children or timid cyclists who wouldn’t feel comfortable in a bike lane on a busy street.

NE Sixth Street will have sharrows, or painted symbols indicating that bikes share the road, as well as several speed humps, crosswalks and small traffic circles. NW 15th Street will have sharrows, speed humps and new painted crosswalks. Both streets will have new 20 mph speed limit signs — they were 25 mph, like other residential areas.

In northeast Bend, work is continuing on an early phase of the Empire Avenue extension that’s needed to fully annex and develop areas, including in Bend’s most recent approved expansion of its urban growth boundary, the state-mandated line around cities that limits where and how they grow.

By late summer, the city plans to have finished improving Empire Avenue between 18th Street and Purcell Boulevard and construct a concrete roundabout at the intersection of the two roads.

It intended to start work on the roundabout in early February with a goal of being done in June, but it was delayed because of weather, and the work is expected to end in early August, city project engineer Sinclair Burr said.

The intersection is just south of the Ponderosa Elementary School, and the city decided to postpone fully closing the intersection for roundabout construction until after school lets out for the summer, Burr said. Contractors will build the full roundabout even though Empire Avenue reaches a dead end at Purcell Boulevard.

In addition to the city projects, O.B. Riley Road between Hardy and Cooley roads remains closed for the installation of new infrastructure for the elementary school scheduled to open this fall.


By: Julia Shumway, The Bulletin, on March 30, 2019