A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Cameras record Albany traffic bottleneck

Written November 3rd, 2022 by Hasso Hering

Here’s what ODOT’s Trip Check camera saw at Highway 20 and Spring Hill shortly after 6 p.m. Thursday.

Thursday night was one of those occasions where the new road cameras at Highway 20 and Spring Hill Drive might have been helpful — if drivers had looked at them before setting out.

ODOT installed the set of three cameras last February as part of its Trip Check program to keep an eye on potential weather problems in the winters to come.

One camera looks west at Highway 20, another south at the approach to the Ellsworth Street Bridge. The third is pointed at Spring Hill traffic approaching the intersection from the north.

In recent years, afternoon and evening traffic has often become congested as the number of commuters and others overwhelms this single gateway to downtown Albany from Benton County.

This was the case on Thursday afternoon and evening, leading to long lines of stop-and-go traffic on Highway 20 as well as North Albany Road and Spring Hill Drive.

But it doesn’t happen every weekday. Some afternoons, there’s not much of a problem at all.

So drivers heading into Albany after 4 p.m. on weekdays might do themselves a favor by checking the  Trip Check camera before they start out. If traffic looks bad, they can wait around half an hour or so and avoid the mess. (hh)

Nothing but headlights as traffic is stalled on Highway 20 approaching the bridge Thursday evening.




21 responses to “Cameras record Albany traffic bottleneck”

  1. MarK says:

    They could show street conditions on Ellsworth and Lyon downtown, but it’s really a moot point when there aren’t any other feasible routes into North Albany. Here we go again with expansion without adequate infrastructure. Poor planning on the city’s part.

    • thomas earl cordier says:

      the traffic jam shown is HWY 20 coming into Albany. Although Spring Hill traffic contributes to congestion; mostly comes from Corvallis

    • Sharon Konopa says:

      I agree MarK. It is poor planning and city wide. It won’t get any better by seeing the campaign money flowing in to the city council races from pro-development interest donors and many from out of town!

      • Ray Kopczynski says:

        Responding only because you’ve brought it up…
        You too have been very much part of the planning over the years.
        The people are coming. Period!
        We’re not going to build a wall around any part of Albany & deny.anyone the opportunity to live here.
        If folks wanting to move have a problem with the bottlenecks, that might deter a minority of folks, but I doubt it…

        • Sharon Konopa says:

          And what side of the fence was my planning votes compared to yours, Ray, and the majority of the council? Twelve years of my 24 years of service, I rarely got to vote! I do remember urging the council to engage the residents east of the freeway into drafting a vision plan for that area. Nope they said to let the developers decide. The results of that type of planning is what we have today, massive apartments on Timber Ridge and south. I wanted a mix of housing types! And now there is a vision plan being drafted for that area. A bit late in my opinion!

          Regarding the bridge, I pushed for us to place in our CIP in 1997 a study plan for a new bridge over the river. We had it in our plan for 15 years until ODOT made us take it out, since a new bridge would most likely be outside of our UGB. 25 years later and there still is no plan!
          I guess we need to wait until we have the Jetson’s transportation system to get another access over the river! I don’t think your Saab will fly, Ray!

          • Ray Kopczynski says:

            “I wanted a mix of housing types!”
            Wow… That comes across with a serious tinge of irony and some hypocrisy with your adamant opposition to ADUs and HB2001…

            “ODOT made us take it out, since a new bridge would most likely be outside of our UGB.. 25 years later and there still is no plan!”
            As I stated before, we have an aspirational hope for a new bridge some day. That goes for AAMPO too. And you well know there is a zero possibility of a new bridge inside the UGB. And if it were to be in the county, Albany would have as much input into that location as we do with ODOT.

          • Matthew Calhoun says:

            If you wanted to keep more power and have a vote then why run for Mayor, who only votes in case of a tie?

        • Sharon Konopa says:

          Sorry Ray, you a mixing pre-planning to post-planning. I’ve never been opposed to good planning that provides a mix of housing, per an area of town, but new housing needs stick to the underlining zoning. Multi with medium density and single with low density. A hundred acre section can have a mix of zones.
          ADU’s and HB2001 went against the zoning of an existing neighborhood. That is not fair in my view for the hard working folks who have invested in their homes and to have the state come along and change what was allowed in their neighborhood’s zoning.

          Regarding the study for a new bridge. We had no idea at the time in 1997 where the bridge would be located, in our UGB or not, we knew in the future we needed another route. There was chatter then about crossing over the golf course to Geary. ODOT kept widening Ellsworth and Lyon and we knew that was not a long term solution and still is not, unless they plow down every building along the route. I hope they have a new bridge before they attempt that one!

          Matthew…..to your response. It all depends on the majority of the sitting council members, whether a mayor can be able to drive policy or not. Back in 2008, was different decision makers on the council, compared to my later years. Every two years the make-up on the council changes, so no mayor can count on changing policies. I never made promises! Only provided my opinion on what I would advocate for!

  2. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    You reported on 10 July 2007 that the city council voted 5-1 to add a “new bridge” to the city’s transportation system plan.

    No mention where it should be built, but you said “no one believes one will actually be built within the next 30 years.”

    It’s 15 years later – is a new bridge still in the plan?

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      As an aspirational goal – yes. Won’t happen in our lifetime though… for all the reasons already stated many times now…

      • Gordon L. Shadle says:

        This is the odd situation that I agree with Sharon (see her comment above).

        “I pushed for us to place in our CIP in 1997 a study plan for a new bridge over the river. We had it in our plan for 15 years until ODOT made us take it out, since a new bridge would most likely be outside of our UGB. 25 years later and there still is no plan!”

        For the deplorables, CIP means “Capital Improvement Plan.”

        Ray K is the weird photo that looks like a wanna be Santa Claus (wishful thinking on his part).

        The reality: lack of vision, leadership, and priority setting gets Santa re-elected.

        Albany has been this way for many, many years.

        But about 10 years ago the deplorables recognized that the final say on big issues like debt and urban renewal decisions should be made by the folks who pay the bills, not Santa.

        Any idiot councilor can manage short term. The true leader exercises leadership on short, and long, term issues.

        Like a plan for a new bridge over the Willamette. Now lacking for over 15 years.

        • Ray Kopczynski says:

          “For the deplorables, CIP means “Capital Improvement Plan.”

          Wow – “deplorables” is sure not a term I would conjure, but hey — if you feel the shoe fits, who am I to deny… Yep – you can readily see the funding availability (or not) for projects.

          “Ray K is the weird photo that looks like a wanna be Santa Claus (wishful thinking on his part).”

          LOL! You tell that to the hundreds of kids & parents at the Carousel when I have the wonderful opportunity to play the “big guy” at the Albany Historic Carousel & Museum. You know – that phenomenal edifice you and other derided as a waste of $$$ for being partially funded by the URD. IT and many others are a direct “in your face” response to your weak diatribes. Cue Jack Nicholson: “You can’t handle the truth!”

          “Any idiot councilor can manage short term. The true leader exercises leadership on short, and long, term issues.”

          Very odd since we never saw your name running for the position. Quite telling methinks, since you profess to have all the answers. How’s that working for you from afar? :-)

  3. Richard Vannice says:

    I don’t think the expansion by the City (I have other complaints about the growth of N. Albany) that causes the backup. It’s the commuters who live in Albany and work in Corvallis.
    When a choice to work in one place and live in another traffic, or the potential for that traffic, should be a consideration when selecting residence and job.
    Most things in ones life are determined by selection. We make them and have to learn to live with those selections like them or not.

  4. Denny Cline says:

    Your logic escapes me Hasso. There is no remedy for what is much more frequent than what you suggest. People have no alternative route. Who has time to wait 30 minutes to hope traffic will clear, which most of time in the evening it doesn’t for hours. They need another bridge somewhere.

  5. Bob Boise says:

    that is the trouble with developers’greed. buiild–build-build financed by foreign money and real estate investment trusts. and leave the results to the overwhelmed towns and cities. much higher taxes, higher real estate prices and rents, more crime, pollution, infrastructure nightmares and lower quality of living–not to mention tearing up Willamette Valley rural areas and farmlands. If you want to build..go to the lava rock and sagebrush areas of Eastern Oregon. If Nevada and Arizona can build in the desert, so can Oregon. Take the pressure off the most productive land in the US.

    • Sharon Konopa says:

      Exactly Bob Boise…..I have stated for years, why push for economic development in the valley where the prime farmland and water is. Once it is paved over it is gone. Someday the Santiam and Willamette Rivers will not support the population! Then what?
      If Oregon must house more people, then why not just locate those new jobs on sagebrush land just south of the Columbia River! Lots of water in that river!

  6. Bob Woods says:

    If you really want to cut down on development growth, then understand that population growth is the overriding factor. Developers build where people want to buy shelter.

    The last 50 years of population growth…
    US Pop 1968 = 209,274,882 US Pop 2022 = 332,403,650 = 59%

    World 1968 = 3,851,650,245 World Pop 2022 = 7,985,734,297 = 107%

  7. Hartman says:

    The problem may lie with the State’s Traffic Cams. Perhaps, if zealous citizens would install a web cam or two, then maybe this situation could be alleviated, or at minimum, ameliorated.

    • MarK says:

      Again with the “web cam” statements. I’m guessing you have stock with some manufacturer(s).

  8. Richard Vannice says:

    Back to the same old BUILD ANOTHER BRIDGE. Where, pray tell, are you going to put it? Any proposals I have seen would not, in my opinion alleviate the problem we have now.
    If another bridge was built from Highway 20 into Albany it would only move the congestion to another part of the City.
    Suggestion – If you commute to Corvallis to work find another route – go south to Tangent and take Hwy 34, or use Riverside Drive to 34. Sooner or later all the alternate routes merge to a central point and more grid lock.
    Learn to live with it.

  9. PoC says:

    I get caught occasionally in that traffic and always wonder about the timing of lights on Ellsworth. Speed limit is low and timing doesn’t seem to adjust to the flow of traffic. Why can’t the lights & speed limit be adjust to help the traffic on Ellsworth & left on 2nd for the early evening?


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