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U.S. Rep. Greg Walden recently announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is awarding a grant for $60.4 million to the Oregon Department of Transportation to help reroute Highway 97 on the north end of Bend.
The grant would provide essential funding to the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) to reroute U.S. Highway 97 north of Empire Avenue. Earlier this year, Rep. Walden met with Bend and Deschutes County leaders to discuss the highway project, which will reduce traffic and make the highway safer for residents and visitors in Central Oregon.
“Having travelled that section of Highway 97 myself many times and after hearing the concerns from local residents and community leaders, this is excellent news,” said Rep. Walden. “This project will significantly improve freight mobility and help reduce traffic congestion and dangers to drivers.”
Deschutes County Commissioner Phil Henderson said transportation needs are a huge priority for the county.
“Deschutes County is pleased to be partnering with the City of Bend, ODOT and the U.S. Department of Transportation on this project,” said Commissioner Henderson. “A functioning US-97 is vital to the economy, mobility and safety of Deschutes County and the entire Central Oregon region. This project impacts many County residents. Thousands of people travel this section of road every day between Bend and Redmond. It was a number one priority for the commission this year and we are thankful the funding came through.”
The total project amount is more than $170 million (including contributions from local agencies) and will result in improvements to US-97 and adjacent local transportation systems.
Earlier this year, Deschutes County Road Department Director Chris Doty travelled to Washington D.C. with representatives from the City of Bend and Bend Chamber President Katy Brooks to meet with congressional delegations and DOT staff to share information about the critical impact this project would have in Central Oregon. In addition to safety and mobility, it will help enable a range of economic development projects in northeast Bend.
“The federal INFRA Grant process was extremely competitive, however this was not a Hail Mary pass,” Doty said. “It was the result of a lot of hard work by the partnering agencies and overall cohesive leadership at all levels that made the difference this time around.”