The Bend Parkway overpass to Sisters opened on Friday, July 20.
The new loop reduces the number of intersections, turns and stop lights faced by travelers to Sisters from Highway 97 North.
The new loop joins Highway
20 westbound on the south side of the Mountain View Mall. The Oregon Department
of Transportation moved the mall access from Highway 20 to Robal Road.
In addition to interfering with the Sisters loop, ODOT says the old mall access from Highway 20 was a traffic hazard and the site of accidents.
Owners of the mall, SIMA Mountain View LLC, of Santa Barbara, California, and ODOT could not come to an agreement on how much SIMA should be paid for closure of the mall's Highway 20 access.
As part of the condemnation process, a lawsuit was filed by ODOT against SIMA. If it goes to trial, a jury will decide how much SIMA will receive.
ODOT offered $187,000. According to ODOT officials, SIMA was asking for several times that amount.
Kevin Burns of SIMA could not be reached for comment on Monday, July 23.
According to ODOT Right of Way Manager Cliff Houck, the agency believes the parkway will actually improve business at the mall.
Houck said the number of stop signals he faces coming to the mall from his home in southeast Bend has been reduced from 13 or 14 to two.
"The mall has struggled (in the past) and we believe because of the parkway the Mountain View Mall will be more successful...We feel the market area of the mall was actually been expanded by the parkway."
SIMA Mountain View LLC has a different opinion, according to Houck.
A pretrial conference between the parties will be set sometime before the end of the year, Houck said, with a trial by jury to follow if necessary.
The trial outcome won't change the parkway. All that remains to be litigated is how much SIMA Mountain View will be paid.
The opening of the Sisters access on Friday was without incident, according to Butch Hansen, Assistant Project manager on the parkway for ODOT.
The agency spent nights getting the new loop striped, hampered only by thunderstorms that washed through the area. By 8 a.m., all equipment was gone and the new road was open, Hansen said.
"At first time people didn't realize it was open," but by later in the afternoon, the new access was being used, Hansen said.
The north end of the parkway is now complete.
"You are looking at the final product right now.," Hansen said.
Traffic will be flowing on the south end of the parkway by the end of August; landscaping and other finish work should be wrapped up by November 30, according to Hansen.