A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Changes coming on Santiam and Pacific

Written January 14th, 2022 by Hasso Hering

Waverly Drive and Santiam Highway, where ODOT plans to make changes this year. Daytime traffic is usually heavier.

I  took this photo on a Sunday in February 2020, after ODOT announced plans to work on the busy Albany intersection of Waverly Drive and Santiam Highway. Now the department is getting ready to carry out that and another Albany project at an estimated combined cost of nearly $6 million.

ODOT has organized an online “open house” about all its highway projects scheduled in 2022. You can look at it here. There’s a section about the Albany area, and that’s where you’ll find descriptions of two projects.

One is at Waverly and Santiam (U.S. 20) and on the highway from Waverly west to Clay Street.

The section of Santiam west of Waverly has a crash rate higher than normal, according to ODOT. So they plan to replace the signal at Waverly and install lighting and ADA-compliant curb ramps for pedestrians.

As far as I can see, the signal seems to be working fine, but I presume ODOT engineers know more about this than your average motorist or guy on a bike.

On Santiam between Waverly and Clay Street, ODOT plans to construct a raised median, evidently to prevent drivers from making left turns. This will keep westbound drivers from taking advantage of gaps in traffic and turning into Fred Meyer at the store’s main driveway.

Customers instead will have to make their turns at Waverly or Clay and enter the store’s lot from those streets. I would expect the raised median to increase congestion at those two lights, but again, what do I know?

This project also includes a new sign structure on Pacific Boulevard (OR 99E) just west of the intersection with Santiam.

For the Waverly intersection work, the raised median and the sign structure, ODOT expects to spend just under $4,200,000.

The other Albany project is on OR 99E at Airport Road, where ODOT says the crash rate also is higher than normal. There, the state plans to upgrade and replace signals, improve ADA ramps, build a left-turn lane on Airport Road and realign the road itself, and also add curbs and a sidewalk.

The cost of that, ODOT says, is $1,860,000.

Construction on both Albany projects is scheduled this spring and summer.

As I reported a few weeks ago, the Airport Road-Pacific intersection poses a particular challenge for people on bikes approaching from Albany Avenue. I’ll be interested to see how much of a difference this project will make. (hh)

16 responses to “Changes coming on Santiam and Pacific”

  1. Cheryl P says:

    “On Santiam between Waverly and Clay Street, ODOT plans to construct a raised median, evidently to prevent drivers from making left turns. This will keep westbound drivers from taking advantage of gaps in traffic and turn into Fred Meyer at the store’s main driveway.”

    This is beyond stupid and will do nothing but back up traffic on both Waverly and Clay, especially Clay. There used to be two entrances to Freddies on Santiam, but the remodel did away one of them.

  2. Dean Richards says:

    Need to raise the street name signs. Big Van trucks turn at the intersection and usually take out the signs. Mention it to city official and he mention it to me, to mention it to state Agency.

  3. Ron Nations says:

    Knox butt and Century drive is way overdue for improvement. A seven way intersection with only two stop signs!!!

  4. Mike quinn says:

    It tickles me a bit to see hasso so upset over odot s ability to or listen to citizens of our town. Now you
    Possibly understand most of the rest of our frustrations with with bureaucrats. Relish in fact that you have a decent blog that could be helpful in the big picture. But you pick and choose

  5. Tina says:

    More waste of money! They already messed up traffic flow with pacific blvd!

  6. MarK says:

    Yet no lights on the bridge and we can’t get streets re-surfaced. Amazing!

  7. Mary Renneke says:

    What about Pacific and Queen and the infamous train tracks? Something has got to give…

    • Rich Kellum says:

      Mary. the track issue fix is in the works, supposed to have already happened, but that is odot rail and they move with all the speed of Karo syrup with an attitude.

  8. Al Nyman says:

    Now is the time for Bob Woods, the budget expert, to show us how much ODOT spends on wages,housing, autos and other non-road expenditures versus repairs and construction. The last time I paid attention they has almost 5000 employees including 20 in a diversity department. Thanks Bob in advance.

  9. J. Hartman says:

    All the roads in this town, in this state, in this nation – were designed and built when traffic was probably 20% of what it is today. In the interim, all we’ve heard from Albany citizenry is an annoying, empty gripe about taxes, gas taxes and road taxes and how we shouldn’t have to pay any price just because we, as a society, decided that what we needed was not better mass transportation, but more automobiles with one-person in each vehicle.

    The clash between the cheap-skatedness of Albany and Linn County residents and the growth of the population brings us to this point….where whining tax-haters want ODOT crucified even as Albany/Linn County voters continue to elect do-nothings to the State House .. pandering politicos who wish only to be re-elected even as they do NOTHING to promote mass transit and other reasonable accommodations. You have only yourselves to blame.

    • Gordon L. Shadle says:

      Cheap-skate residents? Do nothing politicos? Blame the taxpayers?

      Well, state and federal tax collectors reached into the wallets of taxpayers. Legislators then poured $5.1B into the ODOT trough for them to spend in 2021-2023.

      The 2021-2023 budget document runs 2,041 pages of stuff. And it includes $$$ for mass transit, “reasonable accommodations” (whatever that is), and global warming. How nice.

      So somebody appears to be doing something, especially taxpayers.

      The spending may not align with your priorities, and the planning and spending process is excruciatingly slow, but that is to be expected of a bloated government bureaucracy.

    • Al Nyman says:

      As the freeway was finished through Albany by 1959, your comment is ridiculous as the truck revenue alone from l-5 is closer to a 100 billion than 50 billion for the past 63 years. The driving public gets very little return from the gas tax as it basically gets spent to keep the bureaucracy happy and drivers mad. I know for a fact that highway 20 from Albany to Corvallis is the same as it was in 1950 except for the second bridge in Albany and straightening the curve past Hyatt park plus a few traffic lights. The question is why does every liberal defend a moribund ODOT.

  10. Dala Rouse says:

    A sign from Albany Ave. and Airport road that says left turns on to Pacific yield to oncoming traffic would have helped cut down on accidents. Several years ago when we had a business on Old Salem Rd. we were always getting people stopping by asking how to get on I-5 going south. One day when I was at a meeting with ODOT I asked about putting up some signage on Pacific and they did and it worked. I don’t support a raised median strip which would force more people that want to turn on to local streets to have to use Clay or Waverly. Waverly already backs up during rush hour going both directions, either to Pacific or Santiam and you have wait sometimes two green lights before getting to Santiam,


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