HASSO HERING

A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Albany-Corvallis Bikeway: Don’t call it that

Written December 27th, 2021 by Hasso Hering

Bike tire meets snow and doesn’t like it.

Thick snow on the ground makes a bike ride inadvisable, so instead let’s check into developments on the long-planned Albany-Corvallis Bikeway. And there are some.

The first is that Benton County officials have come up with a new name for this enterprise. They now call it the “Community Connections Project.”

“We believe,” the county says on the project website, “this better reflects the path’s purpose of offering the two cities a safe, new connection for pedestrians and cyclists to travel between the North Albany area and downtown Corvallis.”

Well, no matter how safe it is, you’re not going to find too many people covering the 10 miles between Albany and Corvallis on foot. Some intrepid runners might do so. But mostly  it will be people on two wheels who make that connection when it is built.

The second is the website itself. It is new, and you’ll find it here.

There’s a timeline and a route map, among other things. The map shows the bikeway following the Albany-Corvallis Highway (Highway 20). It goes west along the north side of the highway from Scenic Drive, then apparently goes over to the south side at Bowers Slough. It doesn’t say so, but maybe the idea is to have the path cross under the highway there.

As reported here before, a new alignment from North Albany to Scenic Drive has not been determined. The previous plan foundered on the objections to an undercrossing from the Union Pacific Railroad.

Third: Benton County says that one Corvallis segment of the path, about eight-tenths of a mile between Pilkington and Merloy avenues, has been “tentatively scheduled” for 2022. That’s assuming that the design and acquisition of right of way are completed in time.

The county says going ahead with this segment was made possible by a state grant awarded in 2021. You’d think they would spell out the amount of that grant. But that would be expecting too much. (hh)

Post script:

Benton County Engineer Laurel Byer has supplied the relevant info:

“DEA is under contract for $452,630 design and ROW acquisition. The Community Paths Grant was in the amount of $990,000 for eventual construction.”

Also, she says: “I wouldn’t say we have completely renamed the project… I am trying to break the project into pieces and a ‘Community Connection’ for the Asbhar/Pilkington neighborhood sounds a little better than the Corvallis to Albany Bikepath, Phase ‘Y’. All of the community connections will eventually equal the Corvallis to Albany (or Albany to Corvallis) Multi-Use Path.”


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9 responses to “Albany-Corvallis Bikeway: Don’t call it that”

  1. North Albany Guy says:

    HH,

    Thanks for staying on this long term project that’s had more twist and turns then Hwy 20 itself. Since my interest was piqued, I did a bit of looking around –

    The Pilkington to Merloy section may have been funded via the Oregon Community Paths Program. I am not sure how the matching aspect adds to the cost, so will just leave this link to some numbers: (https://corvallisareampo.org/planning-programming/current-projects/).

    The FAQ at the Oregon Community Paths Program website discusses the hows and whys for these grants.(https://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/Programs/Pages/OCP.aspx)

    The document “Corvallis to Albany Multiuse Path Project Overview” from April of 2021, gives an overall look at the project, as well as estimated costs per section.
    https://corvallisareampo.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Corvallis-Albany-Path-Project-Overview_28Apr2021.pdf

    Thanks again!

    • skyla williams says:

      As a bicyclist id like to see some lights on the paths that we already have…there isn’t any lighting on the bike path from avery to 49th street area.

  2. Jeff Franklin says:

    You’re planning to Change bikeway to something less politically incorrect
    I might’ve a suggestion for you.
    How about serial killer ally? Hahahahahahahaha….ha!

    • Micah Awk says:

      As a member of a family of avid bicyclists and walkers who regularly drive to Corvallis to use their extensive and frequently used multi-modal infrastructure, this is very welcome and long overdue news. Thank you!

      A more accurate name would be the “Pro-Car to Pro-Bike Communities Connection Project”.

  3. Joel Geier says:

    Hasso, I appreciate you giving attention to this but let me suggest, you’re thinking too small!

    From my years living in Uppsala, Sweden where bicycle routes are taken much more seriously as a mode of transportation — including in winter conditions — I wonder why you’re just accepting that bike routes are impassable now, instead of asking why they aren’t being plowed.

    In Uppsala they had a whole fleet of mini-snowplows mounted on ATVs that would go out right after every snowstorm, and plow and salt the bike paths. And you’d see everyone from grandmothers to grandkids pedaling their way to their destinations the next day, mostly on old 1-speed bikes with fat tires which turn out to be the most practical bikes for that situation.

  4. Nathan Conroy says:

    Is there more reporting on why Union Pacific is so opposed to letting the path be in their right of way? As I travel around, I see many other instances of paths being next to railroad tracks, including in Portland. The tracks between Albany and Corvallis are far less active. It just seems so attractive to be able to have the path and near the Middle School where the path from Corvallis currently dead ends.

    • Hasso Hering says:

      That issue (the path alongside the tracks, which was the original idea) became moot in February 2015 when the Benton County Planning Commission denied permission to route the path that way, based on objections from farming operations along the way. As for the more recent issue with the underpass in North Albany, all that a Union Pacific spokesman told me was: “Unfortunately, the trail design plan did not meet the engineering and structural requirements federally regulated railroads use to assure pedestrians, cyclists and others can safely travel under rail infrastructure.”

      • HowlingCicada says:

        If I’m not mistaken, the “objections from farming operations along the way” included the use of a PUBLIC road (Hyslop?) as part of the path.

        “””… the trail design plan did not meet the engineering and structural requirements …”””

        Seems to me that either the “trail design plan” could have been fixed or else the railroad’s response is spin for “our track structure isn’t good enough.”

        In any case, I sense bad faith everywhere. I’ve given up on the idea of Corvallis (my home) as a great bicycling city (except for forest roads and trails). It may still be one of the best, but that’s only because almost everywhere else in the U.S. is so awful. Compare that, for example, to Sweden.

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