A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Bikeway along Hwy. 20: The latest

Written November 5th, 2015 by Hasso Hering
This Corvallis stub of the Albany-Corvallis bikeway is likely to remain a dead end forever.

This Corvallis stub of the Albany-Corvallis bikeway is likely to remain a dead end forever.

Before putting much more work into any possible bikeway between Corvallis and North Albany along the Highway 20 corridor, Benton County is going to try to find out how many people might actually want to use such a route.

On Thursday the county announced it had contracted with David Evans and Associates, a firm that specializes in traffic issues, for $22,459 to do a two-phase sampling of opinion in Albany and Corvallis. One part is a telephone survey scheduled for Nov. 19-23. The other is a chance for people to give their opinion online, tentatively scheduled between Nov. 23 and Dec. 7.

“Once that work is complete and the results tallied and analyzed,” the board of commissioners said in a statement, “the county will consider beginning the public process relative to possible routes for the pathway. If the county moves forward, that process likely would begin next fall.”

Note the tentative tenor of those comments, which suggest that the likelihood of the path being built has become even more remote since last February, when the Benton County Planning Commission killed a plan to route the path across farm land along the rail line between Albany and Corvallis.

“We learned from conversation with one landowner and one bike advocate that people would be interested in a public process to determine a possible location,” Public Works Director Josh Wheeler told me by email. “They would not support the path if there was no scientific evidence that the path would be used and have a reasonable cost benefit.”

A public process starting next fall and lasting who knows how long to pick a route, but only if there’s “scientific” evidence of future use plus a “reasonable” cost-benefit ratio — all that sounds as though most of us, of any age, are not going to live to see this path. Maybe we better try something else, such as persuading ODOT to widen the Albany-Corvallis Highway to account for modern traffic volumes and add a bikeway along its northern side. (hh)

3 responses to “Bikeway along Hwy. 20: The latest”

  1. John No says:

    It will be interesting to see how the results will be analyzed. Perhaps there have been other cities that have done similar polling and paths/no-paths in the past that will help guide the conclusions drawn.

    As someone who rides hwy 20 a lot, I hope motorists will continue to give bike riders their attention along those stretches of road.

  2. HowlingCicada says:

    “””widen the Albany-Corvallis Highway to account for modern traffic volumes and add a bikeway along its northern side.”””

    Save the money for something (anything) else.

    The thought of another bikeway immediately adjoining a busy, noisy highway is so revolting that I’d rather just have a mile of shoulder widening in the suicidal area east of Hyak Park. Then, a rail crossing to get to Kouns Drive which takes you to Thornton Lake Drive.

    That’s eastbound. Once I’ve ridden to Albany on Rt 20, I seldom want to return to Corvallis on it, so I don’t remember the westbound situation.

    • HowlingCicada says:

      Well, it just happens that I rode Friday afternoon to Albany on Riverside and returned to Corvallis, after dark, on Rt 20 (crazyness induced by impending Winter scheduled to begin Saturday).

      1 – Rt 34 path, about 3pm: Workers were putting up railings on the Owl Creek bridge. I went thru slowly. It’s possible, but unlikely, that someone tried to tell me not to proceed; it would have been impossible to hear because of the highway’s deafening roar. This is not a nice ride. It’s just a safer way to get from one point to another.

      2 – Riverside Drive: its saving grace is that the traffic is light enough – just barely so – that drivers mostly can, if they want to, avoid hitting bikes by swerving left. North of Riverside Community Center (“neat” old building with Christmas kitsch sale currently, latter days of the week) has particularly narrow shoulders with nasty drop-offs – and there are many other bad spots on both sides. Much of it looks expensive to fix. I’m beginning to wonder if was a good idea to try.

      3 – Albany: haven’t been here in a while. Absolutely gorgeous Friday afternoon an hour before sunset and the waterfront is almost deserted. Restrooms “closed for the season.” The new feature is signs saying “Closed to public use” (or similar), like after crossing the little foot bridge in Bowman Park. I imagine there was a perfectly reasonable justification for this, just like the pot prohibitions. Was it the same 4-3 majority? Both bring to mind the saying “If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns” (even though I’m a leftie, I can understand).

      4 – Rt 20 westbound, 6pm. Fairly horrible, what’s more to say? Somehow it took less than an hour to get from Albany city limit to the first escape in Corvallis (Conifer Blvd) even though I had to slow down a lot to see where I was going. It seems shorter than the Riverside route.


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