A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Albany-Corvallis bikeway: The wait continues

Written April 2nd, 2023 by Hasso Hering

The U.S. 20 project at Independence Highway on Sunday: Somewhere along here there’s supposed to be a “multi-use path.”

It has been 18 years since Benton County Commissioner Linda Modrell started talking about a bikeway linking Albany and Corvallis. Now, two isolated segments are actually being built, but where and when they’ll connect is anybody’s guess.

Since last year ODOT contractors have been working on the junctions of U.S. 20 at Independence Highway and Granger Road to make turning movements less dangerous. The plans for those projects show short segments of the bikeway or “multi-use path” on the south side of the widened highway.

When I looked at the construction site opposite Independence Highway on Sunday, I did not yet see exactly where the path was going to be built. ODOT says construction should be finished this August. By that time, the path’s alignment should be clear.

Meanwhile, ODOT has included the Albany section of the “Corvallis to Albany Trail” in its draft of the 2024-27 State Transportation Improvement Plan. This is a section of 1.7 miles from Spring Hill Drive to Scenic Drive.

The state plan says the project is “scheduled for construction” in 2024 at a total estimated cost, including design and right-of-way acquisition, of $2.8 million. But this timing sounds overly optimistic.

I  asked Benton County Engineer Laurel Byer for a status update. Her reply:

“This is the same section that we have been working on between Hickory [Street] and Rainwater [Lane] which is located south of the railroad, roughly parallel with the railroad right-of-way. The design is almost complete with some minor modifications coming over the next year. Then we will enter the right-of-way acquisition stage, and construction to follow — late 2024 or worst case, 2025.  Since the Union Pacific won’t allow us to go under the railroad trestle, we don’t have an alignment yet between Rainwater and Scenic. The county has applied for an Oregon Community Paths Grant for a planning grant to determine a new alignment in this section. Fingers crossed for more funding!”

So, the wait continues. Eventually, someone will have to decide where and how to make this path cross the highway, once from north to south to meet the segments ODOT is building opposite Independence and Granger, and then back again to the highway’s north side.

The idea for this path started as a route along the railroad line between Albany and Corvallis. Once that was shot down, the most logical alternative would have been to build this path right along the north side of the highway, the way ODOT did a few years ago along Oregon 34 from Corvallis to Riverside Drive.

If that had been done, maybe the path would have been built by now. (hh)

It took a massive retaining wall to hold up the widened Highway 20 plus path at Independence Highway.


Here is ODOT’s sketch of the improved junction, complete with a path on the south side.

14 responses to “Albany-Corvallis bikeway: The wait continues”

  1. Anony Mouse says:

    It’s disappointing that after 100 years of engineering advancements ODOT can’t build a simple road project in a reasonable amount of time at sensible cost.

    Oppressive bureaucratic regulations? Incompetent management? Political interference? All of the above?

    And you quote the ODOT bureaucrat that “…right of way acquisition…” still needs to be done.

    Will adverse possession legal procedures be needed?

    As Benton County residents will probably soon learn, a dominant government with deep pockets will force a subservient landowner to obey most of the time.

  2. Craig says:

    Thanks for the update Hasso. Two weeks ago, about 200 yards towards Corvallis, I destroyed my back tire running over a stretch of glass. There was no way to avoid it. We need a multi use path for route 20.
    The shoulders are wide, there are narrow spots on 20, the small bridge being the main one. What is the plan for the multi use path at that point in the route?

  3. Hartman says:

    Given the lengthy time frame for this development, it seems obvious: there is negligible demand for a bicycle path between the two cities.

    • Abe Cee says:

      Alternatively, use highway 34, then Riverside since that road already had work done on it. Not sure why bicyclists feel like they must have a route on highway 20 when it’s narrow enough for car traffic without factoring in insane bicyclists, too.

      What they really should do is put in a route that cuts across the terrain from 20 just north of Corvallis to the river, crosses the river on a bike/peds bridge to Bowers Rock and comes into Albany via Bryant.

  4. Nate Conroy says:

    What reasons has the railroad given for not allowing the path under the trestle?

    Elsewhere in Albany paths go under railroad trestles.

    • Hasso Hering says:

      Two years ago, a UP spokesman told me by email: ““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.”

      • hj.anony1 says:

        One wonders why the group, board or any person in charge did not submit a revised plan to meet said engineering and structural requirements ….. some odd 1 year and 11 months ago???

        Meanwhile, GOP “normal man” hates bikes and says buy a gas fueled car. Google it!

        • W. Jackstis says:

          Personally, the more different forms of surface transport we have the better – BEV, Plug in Hybrid, Hybrid, battery assisted bicycles, regular bicycles. Relying on one type of transport for so many varied needs is very short sighted. A bicycle lane is needed the full length – one issue to be addressed now should be how to accommodate both electric and human powered bikes safely on one pathway.

        • Bill Kapaun says:

          Well, one too cowardly to use your real name. You can find most anything you want in Google or the Bible if you look hard enough. Hasso & I ride bikes and we aren’t LIBS.

  5. North Albany Guy says:

    Many thanks for staying on top of this story. As a former Hwy 20 commuter (bike and car) I can only see the road between the two area getting more busy as the population increases. Alternatives, such as a bikeway, are worth exploring, as they may help reduce traffic volume (esp. with ebikes becoming more popular) as well as provide recreation.

    As far as linking North and South sides, I remember one option was to go under the bridge at Bowers Slough.

  6. Tom says:

    I have to wonder why ODOT has not shared how they propose to link the Albany and Corvallis bike path? We all know it is in the planning so why not share the details?

  7. Superpatriot says:

    Let’s not waste tax dollars on this. I’m glad it never got built.

  8. Izzy says:

    As one of the land owners getting screwed by this bike path I’d have to ask why is a 10 ft wide bike path needed. The width is why we are fighting it. They need to move our septic drainfield into our garden area which will render our field useless on top of putting a pump in our backyard to push it out that far. The county shows us 1 proposal then comes back with a new proposal that double the amount of land needed. Not to mention they do not communicate whatsoever, none of my questions have been answered and they never return a call no matter how many times ive tried. Another problem I have is that 18 years ago when this was voted on there was less crime, less homeless and less drugs in this town, all this will be is a path for the homeless and addicts to go back and forth from Corvallis to Albany and they want the path to go 10 feet behind my child’s bedroom window. We already have a problem with the homeless putting tents and trying to sleep under our tree at least now since it’s private property the Sherrif can kick them out but once it becomes public property they’ll be able to pitch a tent and the Sherrifs hands will be tied. Until my questions get answered and the County starts telling me what’s going on I will push back as long as I can. I wish we had another chance to vote on this again so if anybody knows a way I can go about that ease share it with me. I keep reading these articles and it would be nice to see one that has some of the landowners concerns.


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