A half-million dollar endeavour to add landscaping and artwork into a brand new roundabout in Sisters is being seen as a grand entry to Central Oregon that officials state will welcome travelers into the area.
The city, which is working together with the U.S. Forest Service and Oregon Department of Transportation on the project, has up to $200,000 to spend for an artist to create a piece of artwork and $300,000 for landscaping in the roundabout on U.S. Highway 20 and Barclay Drive on the north end of Sisters.
The roundabout artwork, anticipated to be set by the end of September 2018, will be the first on a state highway in Oregon. The artwork is going to act as a gateway to Central Oregon.Members of the Sisters Art Association and a representative from the Forest Service’s scenic byway program will form an art selection committee to assess submissions from artists.
The committee will narrow the field to about three artists through this fall and encourage them to present their projected artwork in the Sisters Public Library in February.
Locals will have the ability to provide their input in the library. The City Council will then make a choice at the end of February. It’s vitally important that the public is given a opportunity to observe the artworks and weigh in on the last choice.
Funds for the artwork project are coming from a Federal Lands Access Program grant awarded to ODOT and passed through the city. While up to $200,000 can be utilized for the art, another $300,000 in federal funds may be used for landscape constructions on the roundabout, however the design has to be carefully thought out, as the roundabout is situated on a working highway, cranes may be used, but only at off-peak times.
Since the roundabout is near the nationwide recognized McKenzie Pass-Santiam Pass Scenic Byway, the national government are suggesting that the art should match the motif of their scenic byway — “Land of Contrasts,” which highlights the mixture of forest and desert at the area. It needs to be a colour palette which ties into that, a very natural, landscape type of artwork that is a complement to the city’s western design.
Sisters Mayor Chuck Ryan stated he’s eager to see what the artists create, and listen to the input of the local residents. He describes the art as a substantial project for the city, as it is an artistic community, so the art really needs to reflect the people.
The roundabout will be opened to traffic on Memorial Day, in time for the summer tourist season.
ODOT spokesman Peter Murphy explained the $3.2 million roundabout construction project still has some last stages like getting in a slab crane to add another layer of asphalt, which will be performed after Labor Day.
The Sisters roundabout is actually the very first on a highway in Central Oregon, and also the third in the nation. The only others are in Astoria, joining state Highway 202 and U.S. Highway 101, and through Vernonia, on U.S. Highway 47.
Construction is scheduled to start next year on another state highway roundabout in Central Oregon at state Route 126 and Tom McCall Road at Prineville.