Friday, February 11, 2011

Bend road bond a tough sell

The city of Bend has three options for partially fixing some of the city's roads.

Too bad there isn't a fourth option, one that includes only those projects worth doing during these dire economic times.

The three options include projects from all over town so that each section of town thinks they're getting something in the deal.

Well, they're not.

The city doesn't really care about any of the road problems in Bend. City officials only care about their pet project: Juniper Ridge, the mixed-use mess on Bend's north end.

The city spent all of its recent road capital funds on roads in and around Juniper Ridge. There's a multi-lane roundabout up there, a re-arranged street and new avenues through the project.

Millions have been spent on Juniper Ridge. Millions more need to be spent to make it a viable project.

Trouble is, Juniper Ridge will never be viable, at least for city taxpayers. It's just another way for companies and corporations to rummage through the deep pockets of government for their own financial benefit.

Juniper Ridge is designed to redistribute tax revenue upwards to the powers that be, or powers that would be with a little help from taxpayers. Much of the private sector wouldn't exist at all if not for the public sector, that is, the taxpayer.

Anyway, the three road options for the bond all list a project, a multi-lane roundabout near Juniper Ridge, as the No. 1 priority.

Fortunately, the city is asking citizens to rank the road priorities. I'm certain that the roundabout the city wants so bad at 18th and Empire ranks near the bottom of priorities for the citizens of Bend.

But, it's clear that the city wants to build this roundabout near Juniper Ridge because the state said that if it did, the city could expand it's land giveaway program at Juniper Ridge.

Expansion of Juniper Ridge will mean increased traffic in an area that can't really accommodate any new traffic. Of course, the area in question is Highway 97, which is now a parking lot during the morning and evening commute times. A roundabout a quarter of a mile away from Hwy. 97 will have no impact on the gridlock on Hwy. 97.

So, the city is asking for nearly $30 million from property taxpayers that does absolutely nothing to improve traffic flows on Hwy. 97 near Juniper Ridge.

Here's some suggestions for city staffers:

1) Forget the roundabout at 18th and Empire.
2) Do what you said would do for Reed Market five years ago. Make Reed Market three lanes wide with sidewalks and roundabouts, between Third and 27th streets. It still won't be a passable roadway, though, without a bridge over the railroad tracks or the Murphy Road corridor project.
4) Extend Murphy Road over the railroad tracks all the way to 15th street. This is critical because east-west connectors in Bend are almost non-existent.
4) If you care about public safety, put a roundabout at Powers and Brookswood.
5) Speaking of more public safety, a roundabout is urgently needed at 15th and Wilson.
7) Connect Empire between 18th and 27th streets.

And, we need at least three interchanges on the Parkway, but that won't happen for at least 50 years.

The city's short list of 15 road projects would cost $70.9 million. The list described above would cost less than $50 million, but would go a long way to improving the standard of living in Bend, not to mention public safety through efficient, safe roadways. But, any new taxes during these high unemployment times will only remind taxpayers how much they're subsidizing developers.

The city's preferred bond of $29.8 million would fix some side roads near Juniper Ridge. There won't be a lot of money left over to do much of anything anywhere else in Bend except fix potholes by re-paving a handful of roads.

The city has to realize that its citizens don't care about Juniper Ridge. We do care about improving our roads throughout the rest of Bend.

Until the city hears this message, the bond measure deserves a big "NO" vote in May.


  1. Issues about Juniper Ridge aside, the intersection at Empire and 18th is indeed a public safety issue. There currently is no traffic signal at the intersection, just stop signs on 18th. In the mornings and evenings there can be a dozen vehicles backed up on 18th, trying to turn into the fast-moving traffic on Empire. It's also very dangerous for bicycles on both Empire and 18th.

    The city's response was to reduce the speed limit on Empire from 45 to 35mph, but that's not really adequate - some sort of traffic control is needed at that intersection. It's similar to the issue at 15th and Wilson, though Empire is a 4-way intersection with higher speeds.

  2. It looks like the City heard your pleas, and now nearly all the project corridors you mention are being addressed by the Bond measure. Murphy Road Overcrossing is part of an ODOT project slated to break ground in the next two years, and it will likely extend to 15th. So will you vote for and promote the Bond now?