Roundabout, sidewalk projects top city priority list for 2018
Going into 2018, the City of Prineville has many projects that leaders hope to either start or continue, from addressing electrical needs to improving water infrastructure.
"Right now, the city is in a really strong financial position, so we are starting some projects that we know will take us a while," said Prineville Mayor Betty Roppe.
In the early going, two projects on the front burner revolve around transportation and utilization of Oregon Department of Transportation funding. Roppe noted that ODOT is "ready to go" on a new roundabout at the Tom McCall/Highway 126 intersection, and work is expected to begin soon. Construction follows about three years of work preparing for the new traffic change.
Meanwhile, work is planned to renovate the sidewalks on Third Street. The timeline for the revitalization effort was shortened when ODOT announced plans to rerun wires for traffic signals along the road, which will be buried beneath the sidewalks.
As sidewalks are removed to bury wire, the city will work with ODOT to revamp the sidewalks along Third Street while installing newer, more decorative street lamps with drip systems capable of watering hanging flower baskets.
"(ODOT) has funds set aside for the roundabout and for the highway going through town," Roppe said. "We also have money set aside and a grant we have received."
Completion of the two projects is expected in about two years.
Another priority for the city this year is to improve the long-term certainty of electrical power for future large users. Initial upgrades made to by Bonneville Power Administration five years ago were supposed to result in additional 400 megawatts of available power for data centers and other businesses, but the amount of extra capacity delivered thus far is well short of that amount.
City officials have since worked with BPA and federal representatives to remedy the situation and set the table for future industrial growth, and that work will continue into 2018.
"We have to have long-term certainty in order to offer people who are exploring our area," Roppe said. "That is something we will be working on daily."
Also related to electrical power, the city will continue its pursuit of installing a small hydroelectric plant on Bowman Dam. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has granted a permit for the 2.5 megawatt project, although it faces a hurdle regarding a state requirement for fish passage.
City leaders also hope to explore woody biomass as a renewable energy alternative.
"We started working on it last year," Roppe said, "and will continue to work on it this year with the expectation that we will come up with some concrete plan."
The city also hopes to devote time in 2018 to the IronHorse property it purchased at the tail end of 2016. Officials have built a gravel access road and parking lot on the northeast Prineville property and held two public events to encourage public use of the land.
"We are working on the IronHorse Property Master Plan," Roppe said, "trying to determine what we want to do with that 460 acres."
Other focuses for 2018 include development of an aquifer storage and recharge project, completion of a heli-base at the Prineville Airport, and expansion of the Facebook data center as well as continued improvement to local air quality, citizen safety and affordable housing inventory.