Why an expensive street job here?

Looking north on Crocker Lane. Note the wide shoulder.

Looking north on Crocker Lane. Note the wide shoulder.

And now you're looking south from the same spot on Crocker.

And now you're looking south from the same spot on Crocker.

You're looking at the west side of Crocker Lane in North Albany one evening last week. Does this street look like it needs curbs, gutters and a sidewalk? City of Albany plans call for just that, however, and city officials are recommending that the council form a local improvement district so the northern 2,150 feet of the road can be built up to city standards and most of the costs assessed to the adjoining property owners.

The staff is recommending a less costly alternative for the 870 feet of Valley View Drive west of where it meets Crocker. There, the staff is recommending that a rural design standard be developed, without curbs and leaving the roadside ditches in place. That, too, would be assessed to adjoining owners if an LID is formed.

The council is scheduled to discuss the recommendations when it meets for a work session at 4 p.m. today (Monday, May 12) at City Hall. If it decides to go ahead, action to begin work on the LID could come May 28.

The 47 acres adjoining the southwest corner of Crocker and Valley View was partitioned in 1996 and approved for a three-phase subdivision in 2007, according to a staff memo to the council. At the time the developers waived the right to object to street assessments along Crocker and Valley View, and the waivers expire in 2016. Hence the staff's wish to press ahead now.

The first step would be to prepare an engineer's report, which would include an estimate of the cost. Properties would be assessed based on actual costs once the project was done.

All the new subdivisions in North Albany have regular curbs, gutters and sidewalks on their internal streets. (Older ones don't and seem to survive anyway.)  But why the city's Transportation System Plan called for an urban street design for the collector roads is a mystery to me. Using that standard, the plan estimates that doing Valley View from Crocker to Scenic Drive, a distance of 4,550 feet, would cost $3.7 million in 2010 dollars..

But Valley View gets little traffic and works fine the way it is now. That's why the staff now recommends a rural design instead. To an occasional user, though, they might just as well just leave it alone and save whatever even a reduced rural design would cost.

The same goes for Crocker. As the view above shows, it has wide shoulders that the handful of walkers and cyclists per day can easily share. What Crocker needs more than anything else, especially more than an expensive city street design, is some work at its T-intersection with Gibson Hill Road. That's where danger lurks. Collisions are likely there because of the lack of a signal to help people make left-hand turns. (hh)

If you live in the neighborhood or use those streets, please feel free to comment via the reply feature below.

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