Bypass reroute helps clean up downtown

Bypass reroute helps clean up downtown

Redmond has been revitalized by a highway bypass, new sidewalks and upgraded storefronts.
Redmond’s Highway 97 bypass presented a dilemma to business owners.

The reroute around the downtown was sorely needed. Trucks traveling through downtown’s main streets, Fifth and Sixth, left behind grimy dirt and residue, which did not make for pleasant shopping experiences. “Fifth looked like it was on its last leg,” says Bud Prince, the former director of Redmond Economic Development.

But business owners worried the reroute would decrease business by diverting traffic.

The reroute, which opened three years ago, has indeed diverted traffic. Daily counts taken by the Oregon Department of Transportation show that approximately 34,400 vehicles drove through downtown Redmond each day during August 2007. Now only 14,400 vehicles pass through downtown, according to DOT spokesman Peter Murphy.

But foot traffic is up and sales remain steady, if not getting slightly better. The only businesses to close because of the bypass have been two gas stations, says Heather Richards, Redmond’s community development director.

The bypass project also led to 250 construction jobs and funding for a much-needed makeover: new traffic signals and planter boxes, repaired sidewalks, and upgraded storefronts. Chris Doty, Redmond’s public works director, says bypass funding allowed Redmond to get additional money to repave Fifth and Sixth. The city is receiving $3.5 million in federal stimulus funds and $5 million in state funding for the construction.

Revitalizing downtown Redmond will have long-term consequences for business growth. “[It’s] is a strong signal… that there’s a future in Redmond,” Prince says.