Guiding document for transportation system features priorities for future projects, maintenance

CENTRAL OREGONIAN FILE PHOTO - One of the priorities named in the TSP is highway safety imrprovements near the Powell Butte Community Charter School.

For almost a year, Crook County staff members have worked on an update to the county's transportation system plan.

Later this month, the document will be considered by the Crook County Court for final approval, providing officials a list of priorities for road maintenance, traffic safety and potential transportation projects outside Prineville city limits.

County Planning Director Ann Beier said the document was first done in 2005.

"We use it to identify key transportation issues in the county and then come up with a list of priority projects to help address those issues," Beier said. "This is kind of the county's wish list if we receive funding for particular projects."

The update effort, which began this past November, included a couple of public open house sessions where residents were invited to tell staff members what transportation issues they considered most important. That input helped the county develop its priority list, which includes such things as better signage on Juniper Canyon Road to improve driver safety as well as upgrades to traffic and speed control near Powell Butte Community Charter School.

"There are recommended projects for bike and pedestrian transportation," Beier added. "There are a couple of areas for freight movement improvements that includes the railway bridge across U.S. Highway 26 and what options could be made there. It also includes new maps and a discussion of funding and sort of lays out some of the tough choices the county has to make."

In addition, the document summarizes the condition of existing roads, which Beier noted is generally good.

"The biggest issue for roads is maintenance of existing infrastructure as opposed to a lot of building and constructing of new roads and roadway improvements," Beier said.

The transportation system plan, the update of which was funded by ODOT, is intended to provide a rundown of priorities that state officials can look to when determining what projects they will fund.

"It tells the Oregon Department of Transportation that these are the priorities for the community," Beier explained, "and as funding becomes available, ODOT will look to make sure that the projects are on our transportation system plan list, so that they know they have been through that local screen for an improvement project."

The document underwent county planning commission review and public hearings in July and late September, Beier said.

"Now, it will go to the Crook County Court on Oct. 18, hopefully for final approval," she said.

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