Some new road projects in the Redmond area highlighted a recent update by Deschutes County commissioners.

While the high-profile improvements to Highway 97 north of Bend took up some of the discussion at an Aug. 29 Redmond Chamber of Commerce lunch, commissioners said that more than $63 million in upgrades to the 900 miles of county-owned roads are planned over the next several years.

One project just south of Redmond will add a left turn lane and widen the road at S Canal Boulevard and SW Helmholtz Way. The road crest on Canal will also be lowered to make it easier to see oncoming traffic at the intersection.

“That straight section there has kind of got a rise and a fall to it, it’s kind of hard to see down the road,” Commissioner Tony DeBone told the audience of about 60 people at the county fairgrounds. “The intersection will get backed up...These are those projects that you study over time, you know that they’re a problem.”

The $840,000 project should be completed in spring 2020, DeBone said.

Canal is expected to remain open during construction, but there could be closures with a short detour on Helmholtz, said Cody Smith, county engineer for the road department.

Already underway just down the road is construction on the “six corners” intersection on S Canal to the south of Helmholtz. The former six-way intersection is being trimmed to a four-way intersection, with nearby T intersections for the other streets.

The intersection was originally built in 1916, when the area was part of Crook County, said Commissioner Patti Adair. The work is expected to be completed by Halloween.

“Hopefully, that interchange will be corrected, and it will be a little safer to go down there,” she said. “It was quite a busy spot, but if you were in a buggy with a horse, it might not have been so bad. In today’s world it’s a little crazy.”

The $957,000 project is in its first stage, the widening of Canal, Smith said. Future stages will include closures on SW Quarry Avenue and SW 61st Street, Smith said.

The county is also considering a plan in Terrebonne that would make the existing part of Highway 97 there two southbound lanes, while putting the two northbound lanes on 11th Street.

The county is also planning reconstruction of NE Negus Way and NE 17th Street, which run together just east of Redmond. Smith said the project, with an estimated cost of $2.4 million, is still years away.

The condition of the road, which is now substandard, will be improved, and it will also be widened, Smith said. Improvements will be made to the NE Maple Avenue where it breaks off from Negus to go to the High Desert Sports Complex and Negus Transfer Station, as well as the 17th Street intersection with the O’Neill Highway.

“That project is in the very early stages,” Smith said Aug. 30. “We haven’t even started the design.”

Also in eastern Redmond, the county plans $6 million in improvements over the next couple years at the Negus Transfer Station, which collects garbage to be transferred to the Knott Landfill in Bend. DeBone said the improvements will help with traffic flow and add more capacity for waste being stored there.

“We talk about another location for a landfill, these transfer stations are the vehicle that is going to be the collection system into the future, no matter what happens,” he said. “So we’re going to be investing in that and making sure it flows really well in the future.”

The commissioners also briefly discussed a land swap that will bring 789 acres of land for industrial sites between 50 and 200 acres into the city, while allowing 140 acres for county fairground expansion.

“We have a large fairgrounds, currently, in terms of acreage, but one of the problems that happens with most fairgrounds is they end up getting surrounded by cities, so you can’t get in and out of ‘em,” Commissioner Phil Henderson said. “So this will give us enough land to look at doing some other things than just the current facilities. It also keeps us from getting locked in.”

— Reporter: 541-548-2186, gfolsom@redmondspokesman.com

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