Long before hiring an engineering consultant, the Sunriver Owner’s Association (SROA) defined the goal of improving the intersection of Abbot Drive and Beaver Drive. The intersection serves as a main entrance into the Sunriver community, including residences, Sunriver Resort and the shops and amenities of the Village at Sunriver.
Combined, the attractions of the Sunriver community bring nearly 2.5 million overnight visitors to the area annually. The existing unsignalized intersection sees significant backups, particularly related to left-turn movements from Beaver Drive to Abbot Drive. The Ponderosa Drive leg of the intersection lacks safe connections for pedestrians coming in from surrounding neighborhoods. SROA’s mission was straightforward: create an attractive, functional intersection with facilities that safely serve all modes of transportation.
As with any project that impacts a busy area, early and consistent public outreach was important to achieving stakeholder buy-in. SROA began conversations with residents and businesses more than five years ago. In 2014, SROA hired the engineering firm Century West Engineering (Century West) to lead the project through concept development and preliminary design phases. Century West partnered with the traffic engineering firm, Kittelson & Associates, Inc., to refine and analyze alternatives for the intersection improvement. Continued stakeholder relations were a large component of Century West’s scope through the early phases of the project. Century West engineers working out of Bend helped facilitate design workshops with SROA members, as well as representatives from Sunriver Resort and the Village at Sunriver, in multiple locations across the state to refine the needs of the project and identify which intersection configurations were most attractive to the community. The roundabout concept was chosen for multiple reasons including safety and consistency with regional traffic treatments.
The final design features a single-lane roundabout on Abbot Drive that feeds into a smaller traffic circle that disperses traffic to various attractions while improving congested turn movements. A generous median between the two roundabouts allows for the preservation of several heritage Ponderosa pines as a signature feature of the community’s entrance. The design also includes a new pedestrian-refuge crosswalk across Abbot Drive and the addition of a separated pedestrian path along Ponderosa Road to the west that will create safe access for pedestrians coming from nearby residential areas. These improvements featured prominently during the public outreach efforts as desired outcomes for the project.
“This project is a great model of how early and consistent coordination between multiple stakeholders can resolve a long-standing problem within a community. The amount of public outreach dedicated to this project has led to a strong sense of community ownership of the improvement,” said Mark Smith, SROA Public Works director.
The project is scheduled to break ground in September of this year. One of the major challenges will be winterizing the project so the intersection can be used safely before it is completed in 2019. When the project was put out to bid, SROA and Century West challenged potential contractors to provide ideas in their proposal for how to get all users safely through the project site during active construction and winter shut down. The project was bid well before the scheduled construction start date to allow opportunity for contractors to present project delivery innovations. Local contractor Marcum & Sons was chosen in part because of their unique solution to provide temporary traffic signals and their clear understanding of winter conditions in the area. This solution built on early with regional contractors with a resume of successful roundabout projects that was led by Century West.
This project is an excellent example of local firms supporting residents and business owners to improve the communities in which they live, work, and play. The team’s strong understanding of local conditions and the desire to create a solution that met the needs of all stakeholders will result in a long-term solution to existing traffic issues and serve as an attractive gateway into the commercial heart of Sunriver.
Tom Headley is a civil engineer and project manager with Century West Engineering in Bend.
(Photo Courtesy of Sunriver Owner’s Association)