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Construction on the new roundabout began last week and is expected to conclude in December

HOLLY SCHOLZ - Bend-based Alex Hodge Construction began phase one of the roundabout construction at the Tom McCall Road and Highway 126 intersection last week, preparing to construct the Aviation Boulevard connector road.

Bend-based Alex Hodge Construction began the $4.9 million roundabout project at Tom McCall Road and Highway 126 last Monday, Jan. 22.

"The first phase is to construct what is being called Aviation Boulevard, so that'll be the new frontage road to the airport," explained Prineville Public Works Street Supervisor Scott Smith.

The Tom McCall Road and Highway 126 intersection is currently stop-sign controlled on the side roads, leading to long delays for motorists leaving the industrial areas and vehicles wanting to turn left onto or off of the highway.

Oregon Department of Transportation says these issues cause safety problems, particularly at peak travel times when traffic volumes are high. This project will reduce the number and severity of crashes at this intersection and improve access to the industrial developments on Tom McCall, making it a high priority for ODOT, Crook County and the City of Prineville.

According to ODOT, the project will improve safety, mobility and access at the intersection.

The planned roundabout will be the second largest single-lane design to accommodate highway caliber traffic in Oregon.

It will follow rural design guidelines and focus on improving turning movements and reducing travel speeds prior to vehicles entering the roundabout. It will transition drivers from highway speeds to an entry speed of approximately 25 miles per hour where they will yield to conflicting vehicles.

In addition to the roundabout, this project includes an oversized truck bypass and new connections to Airport Way to the north and Pillar Road to the south. This project will also include high visibility lighting and signing.

Once phase one is completed in mid-to-late March, landfill, Facebook and all Tom McCall Road traffic to the north will be redirected to turn off at Airport Way, Smith said. They will take the new Aviation Boulevard back to Tom McCall Road while crews realign the roads and begin work on the traffic circle, phase two.

"The contractor's intent is try to get the bulk of everything on the north side of the highway not complete but 80 percent done before they move all their equipment to the south side and build the new connection road to Millican to try to minimize moving that heavy equipment across the highway," Smith pointed out, noting that building the south connector road would be phase three. "The last phase would be tying everything in to the existing Highway 126."

The majority of the roundabout will be constructed to the north of the existing highway, limiting impacts to the traveling public. ODOT says drivers can expect minimal delays during construction, except for periodic nighttime flagging with delays up to 20 minutes.

The project is expected to be completed by December 2018.

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