City to extend Combs Flat Road


The project is slated to be completed by June 1 to accommodate construction of the new elementary school

For most people, the fall 2015 completion date of the new local elementary school probably seems fairly distant.

The City of Prineville staff does not see it the same way, and is moving quickly on a road extension intended to accommodate construction and the eventual use of the facility.

The school will be located on about 15 acres north of Whistle Way in the IronHorse portion of town, east of IronHorse I. The plan is to extend Combs Flat Road from Laughlin Road, where it currently ends, north to Whistle Way.

"We are working on getting the infrastructure to them -- water, sewer, streets," said City Engineer Eric Klann. "We are really rushing to get these improvements in."

While the initial plan was to extend Combs Flat, the plan almost fell through before any dirt was moved.

"Ochoco Irrigation District has a pumping station right on the corner of Laughlin and Combs Flat," Klann explained. "To extend Combs Flat, it was always assumed that the pumping station would have to be relocated or at the very least, we would have to relocate the pipe that goes to up the hill."

It turned out that the pump house was owned by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which meant moving the structure or the pipe would involve much more time and red tape, and cost too much money.

"The cost just to re-pipe so we could build the road was $1.5 million, and a couple years to do the work," Klann said.

So the city, school district, and Brooks Resources, which owns the IronHorse property, decided to abandon the Combs Flat plan and build another northbound road off of Laughlin about 600 feet east of the original destination.

"It was a compromise, not our preferred solution," Klann said.

Having come up with an alternative, the parties decided to go back to the drawing board and see if they could come up with a way to make the Combs Flat plan work. Finally, they found one.

"It just so happens that the three parcels located directly east of Combs Flat (just before Laughlin) are for sale," Klann explained. So, Brooks Resources found a way to purchase those lots, and will use that property to shift Combs Flat to the east prior to where it meets Laughlin. In doing so, they can sidestep the pumping station and extend the road without the need to make any other changes.

"All the stars aligned," Klann remarked.

With the plan in place, the city is acting with haste. Work has already begun to extend Whistle Way to the east where it will later intersect with Combs Flat. Meanwhile, motorists should see work on Combs Flat in the near future.

"All of the improvements north of Laughlin are scheduled to be done by June 1, which is a very, very tight schedule," Klann said, "but the most important thing is that access will be opened up."