A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

A safer way to reach the new Oak Grove

Written September 10th, 2019 by Hasso Hering

A newly carved rumble strip separates Oak Grove Drive from what’s supposed to become a multi-use path leading to Oak Grove School, in the far background.

One of these days children will be able to walk or ride their bikes on a wide multi-use path to get to the new Oak Grove School in North Albany. But not yet.

The path is only partly done. Asphalt was added on the south side of Oak Grove Drive to make the shoulder wider. And a rumble strip was carved into the pavement between the wider shoulder and the eastbound traffic lane. Together, these measures leave a pathway about 8 feet wide and nearly 1,400 feet long between the school and Scenic Drive.

A reader had asked me if I knew anything about a “potential sidewalk” between the school and Scenic. I didn’t, so I asked around.

David McKay is overseeing the $27.5 million Oak Grove School replacement along with all the other projects in the $187 million Albany school construction and renovation program. He told me the road authority, presumably Benton County, asked for additional improvements along the roadway in mid-August, and those improvements were still being designed.

Benton County Engineer Laurel Byer had the details, such as they are at this point:

“Yes,” she wrote, “a multi-use path has been constructed in asphalt on the south side of Oak Grove (it just looks like a wider shoulder). All of the amenities have not been installed yet, as the engineer is working on a final design.”

But, she continued, “There will be flexible delineators along Oak Grove and a push button activated flashing beacon for the crossing at Scenic. All pedestrians and bicyclists will be encouraged to stay on the south side of Oak Grove before they cross – in other words, the existing pedestrian refuge on the north leg of Scenic will be changed and that crossing will go away.”

She added, “I wish I had a plan to show you as I think that would make more sense. But please assure the person that asked that the county, the school district, and the city of Albany are all working on making it a safe route for children to walk and bike to school.”

Before you ask, “flexible delineators” are white plastic flat posts planted along the shoulders. “In this case,” Byer explained, “they will delineate the travel lane from the multi-use path. They are meant to be a visual guide where not to drive.”

How much is this pathway going to cost, who’s paying, and when will it be done? Byer again: “We are still in negotations, which will impact timeframe and who is bearing the cost.”

The school held its grand opening on Aug 29. Maybe with luck, the pathway for kids to get there safely on foot or two wheels will be done before winter when the weather gets bad. (hh)

Here, at Scenic and Oak Grove, the crosswalk will be fitted with a button-activated flashing beacon.

8 responses to “A safer way to reach the new Oak Grove”

  1. centrist says:

    First, the school looks awesome
    Second, now I know what the rumblestrip is about approaching Scenic. Held my standard course and got surprised by the change.
    Recalibration planned

  2. Mac says:

    I sent an email to Benton County a few years ago when they put in the flashing crosswalk signals in other locations on Gibson Hill asking why they hadn’t put one in at the existing crosswalk at the intersection of oak grove and scenic, no good answer. That seemed the most important location to me with the intersection of Gibson Hill and Oak grove requiring no stop and stopped vehicles blocking the few of oncoming vehicles. I have been crossing my fingers hoping this is what they are fixing?

  3. Richard Vannice says:

    It seems to me that someone dropped the ball on this project. Why did it take Benton County until August this year to decide that this had to be done? The project has been ongoing for over a year.
    Didn’t anyone at GAPS consider the possibility that something might need to be done to accommodate walkers/bikers on their way to school?
    As far as “negotiating” the cost – the city should have no responsibility in this since it is a county road and School District project.

  4. hj.anony1 says:

    And soon all those surrounding fields will sprout homes and neighborhoods. Developers making $$. County and city tax rolls added.

    Progress, yes?

  5. Albany YIMBY says:

    Subsidizing with our taxpayer money the lifestyle of suburban residents.

    Instead of building, or renewing the schools that existed already in town, we dedicate district money to bring services to affluent people that decided to live as far away as possible from the city.

    In the meantime, Waverly, Sunrise, South Shore and Central had to spend their resources replacing asbestos or lead plumbing instead of investing in educational resources and staff.

    I would have bussed all these kids to different schools in town, and if the parents complain I would say that is a problem of personal choices, isn’t it?

  6. Scott bowen says:

    Perhaps the “personal choices” the citizens of North Albany made many years ago afforded them the personal choice of living on the outskirts of town.


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