Crowd on hand for city of Bend open house on design for Wilson Avenue-15th Street roundabout

(Update: Adding video and comments from the open house)

Protected bike lane, safer walking draw favor — but ‘a lot depends on the execution’

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) — The city of Bend hosted a well-attended open house Wednesday evening to present and answer questions about designs for the upcoming 15th Street and Wilson Avenue roundabout.

Also on display were preliminary design plans for corridor improvements between Ninth and 15th streets.

The Wilson Avenue Corridor Project is the first to proceed under the transportation general obligation bond approved by voters in 2020.

The design consultants, construction team and city staff were on hand the to show the plans and answer questions.

The project is expected to begin early this summer and to be completed by the end of 2023.

Bend resident Ariel Mendez said he feels the roundabout is a great idea, but believes it’s all in the execution.

“I think that this new roundabout has a lot of potential,” he said. “I love what the city is trying to do here — to provide protection, especially for people walking and biking. It’s a new thing we haven’t seen before in Bend.

“But the devil’s in the details,” Mendez added. ” I love what they’re trying to do. But whether if they’ll actually be able to deliver and experience that is protected, connected, feels safe. A lot depends on the execution.”

Many people who live near of drive Wilson Avenue say it’s been a long time coming, and city leaders agreed.

“I’ve lived in Bend for more than 30 years and on the east side of Bend for almost 15,” City Councilor Barb Campbell said. “All of us that spend most of our time east of Highway 97 have known about Wilson Boulevard and how congested it’s been for years.”

 The area has been unsafe for many years, many on hand said, and the decision for this roundabout all came down to safety.

Mayor Sally Russell said, “That’s a tough intersection for the people on the east side of Bend to get through safely at certain times of the day.”

Bend is all about getting to explore the great outdoors, residents say, and with a protected bike lane, it could bring more people outside.

Bend Bike board member Kaitlin Greene said, “We saw a lot of great things, including the protected bike lane. “That’s going to be Bend’s first. We are super-excited about (it). We really think people will bike more when they’re feeling safe.”

Bend residents are not unfamiliar with the concepts of roundabouts, and neither are residents in Carmel, Indiana. As a reference, Carmel is not much bigger than Bend with a population of 106,843. But, Carmel has more than 138 roundabouts, more than any city in the U.S.

Ninjay H Briotyon

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