From: Joshua Romero // City o Bend Community Relations Manager
Bend City Council voted unanimously to prepare a funding measure that addresses Bend residents’ top concern: traffic congestion and safety.
The Council’s action is the result of two years of community involvement, including a 25-member Citywide Transportation Advisory Committee that developed a list of critical projects to improve travel safety and traffic flow across the city.
The motion passed by the City Council directs the City Attorney’s office to prepare a resolution and ballot title referring a measure of approximately $180 million for capital transportation projects to the May 2020 Primary Election ballot. The Council will consider the draft resolution at its Feb. 5 regular meeting.
Priority projects include better east-west connections that will reduce drivers’ time behind the wheel and improve Bend’s livability and safety—notably along Reed Market Road. Other priority routes targeted for traffic flow improvements include, U.S. 97/Parkway, 3rd Street intersections, Empire Avenue, Wilson Avenue, Butler Market Road and other key routes.
The project list also includes neighborhood traffic safety improvements:
· Safer crossings to access schools, parks and jobs
· A network of cross-town bicycle routes
· Completing missing sidewalks along priority routes
The $180 million transportation bond measure would be funded by a property tax. The average annual cost would be $160 to $170 per year, based on a home with a tax assessed value of $220,000, which is the assessed value for an average homeowner in Bend.
The Council’s action follows the results of a May 2019 telephone survey that found 72% of registered voters said the City of Bend should ask voters to consider a transportation funding measure.
A more recent December telephone survey helped affirm City Council’s direction. The survey of 304 randomly selected Bend voters tested two possible funding amounts, with a $190 million bond earning solid majority support.
In addition to the telephone surveys, an online “One-Minute Survey” conducted from October through December drew 3,493 respondents and more than 1,500 comments. When asked what transportation improvements they wanted, survey respondents listed traffic flow and safety improvement projects that closely aligned with the Citywide Transportation Advisory Committee and City Council’s priority projects.
Listening to voters’ input on the overall bond amount, the City Council reduced the amount by trimming administrative costs, phasing projects and finding additional cost efficiencies.
“Survey results show transportation continues to be the most important issue to our community members,” said Senior Project and Policy Analyst Susanna Julber. “The community is supportive of a bond to address traffic flow and safety improvements included in the package of projects the City Council is considering.”