Two Roundabouts Considered for Highway 20 in Central Oregon

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From The Bulletin By Brenna Visser

Two new roundabouts could be coming to intersections on U.S. Highway 20 in Central Oregon in the next two years.

On Thursday, the Deschutes County Planning Commission will hold a hearing to get public input on a proposal to add two roundabouts — one at Highway 20 and Cook Avenue, and another at the intersection of Highway 20 and the Old Bend Redmond Highway — to the county’s 10-year-old transportation system plan. Read the ARTICLE HERE.

If both the planning commission and the Deschutes County Commission agree to add the roundabouts to the plan, the Oregon Department of Transportation could then move forward with designing and building the intersections by the end of 2022. There is no timeline yet for that decision, however.

The roundabout in Tumalo at Cook Avenue is estimated to cost between $10 million and $11 million, while the roundabout at Old Bend Redmond Highway will cost approximately $5 million to $7 million.

Improvements for these intersections have been in the works since the transportation system plan was adopted in 2010. Historically, both intersections have experienced a lot of crashes, said Peter Russell, senior transportation planner for the county.

But at the time the plan was adopted, there was a moratorium on considering roundabouts on highways, said Bob Townsend, the area manager for ODOT. The current plan suggests elevating Highway 20 and passing the county roads underneath it.

A few years ago, that moratorium was lifted, after the state saw success with other roundabouts on highways. Between that, and the county and department of transportation having money for capital improvements, Townsend said the department decided to review the old plans.

“We wanted to continue the planning level work so we could have an approved improvement in case we do have funding, and now we do have funding between ODOT and the county,” Townsend said. “So it’s really the right time to ask to add this to (the transportation system) plan.”

Written submitted comments so far have been mixed on the proposed roundabouts. Several applauded the idea, saying the intersections have become increasingly dangerous as traffic on Highway 20 increases.

But some residents, like Travis Cook, said they would prefer a traffic light.

“The proposed barriers on Cook Ave will block the exit from our property,” wrote Cook, who owns Roundtree Lodgepole Products. “The entrance to our property on 7th Street and exit on Cook Ave are a necessity for the semi-trucks that we load and deliver our product. If any barriers are put up on either of these roads it will cause a hardship and shut down our business that has supported families and businesses over the past 27 years in the community.”


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