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.