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» An Albany corner that needs more light

HASSO HERING

A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

An Albany corner that needs more light

Written November 18th, 2019 by Hasso Hering

Bathed in darkness: Grand Prairie Road and Geary Street at 5:57 p.m. on Nov. 14.

“Have you ever noticed,” the email from Rachel La Brasseur asked on Nov. 11, “how dark it is at night at Grand Prairie and Geary Street, a pretty major intersection in South Albany?”

I hadn’t, so a few days later I went to take a look. The photo above was one of the results.

“I don’t know why exactly, maybe it’s just the seasons changing, but it’s almost impossible to see anyone crossing in the crosswalk after it gets dark. That crosswalk is used by a lot of various people. Kids, seniors, dog walkers, etc. I turn there daily on my way home from work and I wish there was at least a brighter street light there.”

Here’s another shot, looking at the crosswalk from Geary, without a vehicle providing helpful headlights:

No way to see the crosswalk or anyone daring enough to be in it without a flashlight.

How did Albany end up with a junction of two major roads without even a streetlight over the top of it? Hard to say. There’s an overhead lamp some 20 or 30 feet south on Geary, but the light doesn’t reach the junction, let alone the crosswalk.

I checked with Ron Irish at City Hall. He’s the city’s transportation systems analyst and the man to ask about streets and traffic.

He reminded me that Albany used to pay for street lights with revenue from franchise fees, but during a budget crunch some years ago that revenue was diverted to the general fund, and the cost of lighting streets fell to the street fund. Since then, the city has generally said no to requests for “infill” lights, the cost of which apparently can be substantial.

But this is a crosswalk at the junction of two arterial streets with substantial traffic, and Irish ran the question past Staci Belcastro, the city engineer.

“She’s asked one of our engineers to look into what the installation and on-going costs would be to add a light there,” he wrote Monday. “Once we have that info we’ll check with our Street Maintenance Department (they are the ones paying the street light bill) and then make a decision about whether to proceed to installation or not.”

If the decision is to go ahead, Irish thinks it may take some time to get an estimate from Pacific Power. “Every installation is different in terms of what it takes to provide service and the associated installation cost.”

Assuming, or hoping, that eventually the city and the power company can agree on a solution — meaning a light bright enough to do some good — people using that junction on winter evenings can thank Ms. La Brasseur for raising the issue and trying to get something done. (hh)

Same angle as the photo at the top during daylight on Nov. 15.

 



11 responses to “An Albany corner that needs more light”

  1. Judy Savage says:

    It also doesn’t help that rarely do I see anyone stop at Grand Prairie at the stop sign before turning right onto Geary.

  2. Bill Kapaun says:

    Some years back while returning from a S.Albany football game, I got to experience that part of Geary at night on my bike.
    Smacked in the face by a low hanging tree branch.
    Poor lighting with light traffic. Your eyes get dilated and then some 4 wheeler with their headlights about the height of your head approaches. Instant blindness.
    I reached the intersection and simply had to stop because the oncoming car making a left had been “waiting” while I was still a block away. Not going to give that one a chance with no witnesses.

  3. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    So let’s sum it up. A safety issue has been identified, meaning a REAL priority.

    And franchise/privilege fees budgeted in FY 2019-2021 at $11,000,000 can’t be tapped because that money is now poured into a General Fund budgeted at ~$87,000,000.

    And the General Fund includes contingency money budgeted at $2,300,000.

    And the General Fund would be ~$1,000,000 more per year if the city stopped the CARA nonsense.

    And money to fix the safety issue can’t be taken from the General Fund because the unsafe condition must compete with streets needing ~$70,000,000 of repairs from a Street Fund budgeted at $11,000,000?

    Does this make sense to anybody outside of City Hall?

  4. MARGIE DAVIS says:

    I agree with Gordon…a lot of money is spent on “pretties”..like those stupid lamps hanging over 2nd and 3rd streets. I drive Lyons and turn onto Springhill Drive after dark each day and asked if the curb could be painted with white or reflective paint as it’s blinding when turning onto Springhill with the cars lights shining in your eyes. Nothing was ever done. I think the money that CARA spends could go to a lot of very needed projects.

    • centrist says:

      I’ve been confused about that turn more than once. Finally figured out that there’s a reflective white line marking the left edge of travel. I grant that the object that we are trying to avoid is a curb on the right. I’m working on trying a left-side white-line aiming line. Suggest that you try it

  5. Cap says:

    Yes, CARA (Central Albany Revitalization Agency) was brought into existence with no vote of the people. Even if the people had voted it in, they wouldn’t have known that money for lighting improvements had to be put in the general fund because the city of Albany has been hurting for money–probably since 2001 when CARA started skimming millions off the top of property tax money, so the money never gets to the maintenance of streets, lights, sewers. I could go on and on. Yes, I know they only skim money off their district, but the CARA district is a large district.

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