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County leaders scheduling public meetings as plans move forward for second Juniper Canyon access road

CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Crook County leaders are working to add a second access road to Juniper Canyon, an area that is home to about 20% of the county's population.

Meetings are planned for the near future in an attempt to move forward on a potential access to the Juniper Canyon area.

According to Crook County Commissioner Jerry Brummer, who is spearheading the project, county officials will be meeting with leaders from the city of Prineville, Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Land Management and Oregon Department of Transportation this Friday.

"We are just meeting with more of the players that could be involved with this," Brummer explained. "We need to look at funding sources. One of the opportunities that may be available is a FLAP (Federal Land Access Program) grant, because there is a lot of BLM land up there and the reservoir, which is (overseen by) the Bureau of Reclamation. We just want to get all of this stuff together."

In addition to discussions about a new road, Brummer said that the different agencies will look at potential improvements to a seasonal, unimproved road that goes out the upper end of Prineville Reservoir and connects with Paulina Highway.

"The thought there would be to make it a little bit better — get rid of some of the sharp corners and make it a little more desirable," he said. "It would be more of an emergency access."

Another outcome Brummer expects from the internal meeting is some established dates for public meetings with residents in the Juniper Canyon area, probably at Crook County Fire and Rescue's Juniper Canyon fire station either in February or March, depending on the weather.

"We would like to get a lot of the residents in that area to attend and see what their thoughts are," Brummer said. "We have a proposal on where we think the road will probably have to go."

The proposed road would enter the Juniper Canyon area from Highway 27 about 1 to 1.5 miles south of the city limits and travel east, connecting with Davis Loop about 1.5 to 2 miles from the lower Juniper Canyon Road intersection. The road would be about a mile and a half long and could make use of an existing dirt road that climbs about 300 feet over the course of 5/8 of a mile, which would keep the road at less than 6% grade.

"We just want to make sure we are doing the right thing for the people up there and that they are supportive of stuff before we spend a lot of money and move forward," Brummer said.

Depending on what local leaders hear from Juniper Canyon residents, they might later move forward with some public meetings with the rest of the community — especially since the road would alter the flow of city traffic. Brummer said that the road could put more traffic on South Main Street but reduce the number of Juniper Canyon residents using Combs Flat Road and Third Street.

Though the Juniper Canyon access road has been pushed by Brummer for the past couple of decades, dating back to his time as a Crook County planning commissioner, the idea is gaining more traction than it ever had before. He hopes to see it finally come to fruition, especially since about 20% of Crook County's population lives in Juniper Canyon and the area has room for substantial growth.

"Our traffic issues in Juniper Canyon are not going to get any better," he said. "We need to get ahead of it."


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