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» Albany-Corvallis path: Pedaling on?

HASSO HERING

A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Albany-Corvallis path: Pedaling on?

Written December 2nd, 2016 by Hasso Hering
The Albany-Corvallis path project has been stalled for nearly two years.

The Albany-Corvallis path has been stalled since this leg in Corvallis was built. (File photo, 2014)

There’s some doubt whether the long-proposed Albany-Corvallis bike path will ever be built, but Benton County is pedaling on with the idea, so far at least. The next step is a public meeting to hear a report from consultants on phase 1 of their work and “discuss alternative routes.”

The meeting is set for 5:30-7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 13, in he gym of the Waldorf School, 3855 Hwy. 20, Corvallis.

Yielding to objections by farmers, the Benton County Planning Commission in February 2015 ruled against a plan to route the path along the Albany-Corvallis railroad line, and the county had to turn back a $2 million state grant toward its construction. Since then the county commissioned a survey that showed the path would get significant use. And this March the county board voted 2-1 to hire consultants Barney and Worth, of Portland, to explore alternative routes and talk to property owners.

The agreement with the consultants called for a three-phase process. Whether it goes past the first phase, concluding with the public meeting, the commissioners will have to decide.

I asked Public Works Director Josh Wheeler whether the consultants were able to identify any alternative routes acceptable to property owners, or whether that proved impossible.

“Conversations with property owners were to see if they would be engaged in a process that review(s) and analyzes possible routes,” he replied by email. “These conversations were mostly positive. If we proceed to Phase 2, that is where all alternatives will be on the board for review and discussion.”

Note the “if” in Wheeler’s response. The answer is up to the three-member county board. The project lost its main proponent when Commissioner Linda Modrell retired at the end of 2014. It lost another one when Commissioner Jay Dixon failed in his re-election bid this year, leaving Commissioner Annabelle Jaramillo. She and Commissioner Anne Schuster, who voted against going ahead last spring, will be joined in January by Xan Augerot, who may have the deciding vote. (All the commissioners are Democrats, of course, in case anyone forgot we’re talking about Benton County.)

The first phase of the Barney and Worth consulting contract was estimated to cost the county $45,000. All three phases together would cost an estimated $150,000, with the state contributing $50,000, but the county reserved the right to call a halt and drop the whole thing after phases 1 or 2. (hh)

 

 

 

 



9 responses to “Albany-Corvallis path: Pedaling on?”

  1. John Hartman says:

    Hasso,

    I note your disparaging remark, (“All the commissioners are Democrats, of course, in case anyone forgot we’re talking about Benton County.)”

    I only wish you would apply your sarcastic wit when discussing the Linn County commission which consists of two Crazies and a third, nondescript individual.

    Or, how about using that same rapier-like pen on the Albany City Council, the Gang That Can’t Shoot Straight. Given the reactionary make-up of that august body, one would think they too should be subject to your mighty wrath. The Albany City Council,is unable to fulfill the wishes of the very people who grant them power, yet you browbeat the Benton County Commission because they won’t build a bike path?

  2. landowner says:

    I own land affected by the proposed route. I have not been contacted by Barney and Worth. Maybe they used up the $45,000 on other landowners before they got to me?

  3. Tony White says:

    There should be criteria to be satisfied before a governmental agency spends a couple of hundred thousand dollars studying a proposal… perhaps similar to placing an initiative on te ballot? Some might think this is a gross waste of Commissioners’ time and taxpayer money to benefit a relatively few citizens. The benefit should be quantified prior to spending large amounts of money on proposals that may have little support. But, as you said, Hasso: it IS Benton County, and the Commissioners are all Democrats.

  4. Bob Woods says:

    Well, in Benton County, you at least have a chance. In Linn County you’d need to provide free land for a bowling alley to even get an email returned.

  5. Jim Engel says:

    If we are going to take to bed our “desire” to ween us from oil then we’d better support a viable for alternative travel methods…JE

  6. Albany Guy says:

    Whether it happens or not, glad they are taking a serious look (and that’s never free.)

  7. ean says:

    The route following the railroad tracks makes the most sense, it is too bad a compromise with the land owners cant’ be worked out. If there isn’t the desire to use the power of eminent domain maybe the project should just be scrapped entirely.

 

 
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