The Oregon Department of Transportation cleaned up a homeless camp on an on-ramp to Highway 97 off of Revere Avenue nearly a month ago. By mid-April, many campers have reestablished themselves in the area, meaning ODOT will have to clean up the area again in the future.
“When we post a notice that we are going to be coming through and cleaning up usually people leave because they know we’re going to come through and remove all of the tents on the property, but we really rely on our law enforcement partners if people don’t decide to leave,” ODOT Public Information Officer Kacey Davey said.
ODOT spends millions every year to attempt to clear right-of-ways for public safety, like Revere Avenue.
“State-wide, it costs about $3 million per year. But if you want to talk about locally, every time we go and do restoration for one day, it’s about $10,000 per day,” said Davey.
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The reason it costs so much is for personnel and equipment.
“Our staff will have about four to five ODOT staff on scene,” said Davey. “We have contractors there so they’re hazardous waste contractors so there’s usually about six to seven of them, probably about six pickup trucks and three trailers, if we have a lot of things that are just to be thrown away, we even get miniature excavators in there sometimes, too.”
All of this work for campers who either refuse to leave or who come back soon after. ODOT told us law enforcement officers are the only ones who can remove people off of the land.
“Our role is pretty secondary in these situations. For example, if ODOT decides that they want to remove people from their property, they do that,” Bend Police Department Communication Manager Sheila Miller said.
Miller added the department does not want to escalate any situation by being present and making anyone uncomfortable, unless a crime is being committed.
ODOT said it sees the issue getting worse every year.
“This is just something we’re seeing more and more of as time goes on,” Davey said.
ODOT will continue cleaning up right-of-ways.