Benton County will keep going with a study to see if there's a feasible way to build an Albany-Corvallis bike route without stepping on any land owners' toes, the board of commissioners voted this afternoon.
Newly sworn Commissioner Xan Augerot joined Commissioners Annabelle Jaramillo and Anne Schuster in deciding to go ahead with Phase 2 of the Albany-Corvallis Bikeway planning effort being conducted by a consulting firm. Augerot was elected in November to replace Jay Dixon, and Jaramillo was re-elected.
The county launched the latest study after a previous plan to route a bikeway along the rail line used by the Portland & Western was shot down in early 2015 because of objections by farmers along the way. Phase 1 of the new study tried to identify other routes and came up with eight possibilities, including bike lanes on the Albany-Corvallis Highway (US 20) itself. Now, Phase 2 will try to determine whether there's one that's practical and also meets several criteria, such as being safe, compatible with land use law, and "environmentally friendly." Cost will be a major factor too.
At a well attended community meeting on Dec. 13, Benton County Public Works Director Josh Wheeler said the former route along the railroad was off the table and the county was not interested in any route opposed by landowners.
This next phase is to be finished by spring. If it comes up with a feasible and acceptable route, the third and final phase of the study will be an engineering analysis. When they approved a contract with consultants Barney and Worth of Portland last spring, the commissioners were told the three-phase study would cost no more than $150,000, with the state contributing $50,000.
The route would cover about seven or eight miles from Scenic Drive in Albany to the northeast corner of Corvallis, where a short section of the path already exists north of Conifer Boulevard.
Meanwhile, the draft of the next State Transportation Improvement Plan calls for construction in 2018 of a 1.7-mile segment of the route, at an estimated cost of $2.7 million, from Spring Hill to Scenic Drive in Albany. That segment would be be away from the highway and follow the railroad track and existing streets. (hh)