To my surprise, the OTC has already, back in March, decided that they did not want any direct connection to Hwy 97 from Cooley Road. Their guidance document from March, 2008 states:
IV. Cooley Road - Preference is to include an overpass at Cooley Road and US 97, with no direct access to US 97.
This came as a complete and utter surprise to me. After all, we went through a several months-long process last year going over various scenarios for improving traffic flow at the Cooley/97 intersection. An idea that has been shelved, it seems.
In reality, the city's plans for Juniper Ridge are seen as a detriment to traffic flow on 97, and the OTC and ODOT have continued to press for surface solutions for Juniper Ridge and other local traffic in the area. Local roads for local traffic.
Simply put, the OTC and ODOT do not want Bend's proclivity for allowing development to exceed traffic flow capabilities, such as with the ProTerra development on the Mt. Bachelor bus parking lot, to cause their main north-south conduit east of the Cascades to fail.
I contacted the OTC to clarify this stance, and received this email from "ODOT Bob":
Bruce - I was asked to respond to your request. I've attached the slide from the presentation last week that references guidance that we received from the Transportation Commission during a presentation in February 2007. We have developed the alternatives for the US 97: North Corridor project consistent with this guidance, and we did not hear anything from the discussion last week that would cause us to change direction.
In fact, the traffic analysis accomplished as part of the project bears out the merits of the guidance at least as it pertains to the connection at Cooley Road. Any direct connection from US 97 at Cooley Road that would serve future development in Juniper Ridge causes the Parkway through Bend to fail. The traffic model shows that trips from throughout the community would use the Parkway as opposed to alternative local routes if their destination is Juniper Ridge. This additional local traffic volume would exceed the capacity.
ODOT Region 4
The emphasis is mine.
To my simple mind, it seems that the city is pushing ahead with plans that are at loggerheads with those who actually control the state's highways. And that is a no-win situation.
The Chair of the OTC stated that she supported funding of local arterials to take the pressure off of state highways. The idea being that state highways need free and clear flow, and local traffic is local traffic. Perhaps our city staff and council should explore this idea. Explore how to build a local traffic system that intersects with the state system on their terms. One that supports the local businesses and provides alternatives to the parkway.
One that might actually win support and funding from the state.
It might be an even better idea to try to really work with those who control highways 97 and 20, rather than continuing to push a homegrown solution against ever more fierce resistance.