Albany Station may be in for a useful addition — a new public restroom — if the city council and ODOT can agree on the details.
The facilities at the train and bus depot have been an issue since at least 2017. That’s when the public restrooms inside the station were posted as accessible only to Amtrak ticket holders, ostensibly leaving out people waiting to pick up passengers coming in on the trains.
Also, trains and intercity buses often stop at Albany Station at hours when the ticket office and the waiting room are closed and people wait outside, sometimes for long periods, to meet arriving passengers.
Which is why an item on the city council’s meeting agenda for Monday, Dec. 2, drew my attention: “ODOT proposal for public restroom at train station.”
I could not reach Chris Bailey, the director of public works operations, who is scheduled to present the item for council information and discussion, so the details remain obscure for now. Marilyn Smith, the city’s public information officer, knew only that the state transportation department had approached the city with a proposal. The idea seemed to be that ODOT would build a public restroom at the station, which is owned by the city, and the city would maintain it.
This would be a permanent facility connected to utilities, not a portable one of the kind the council recently agreed the First Christian Church could keep outside on its property downtown.
ODOT pays for the Amtrak Cascades train and bus service that uses Albany Station. So it has an interest in passenger comfort and convenience. The station also is a stop for the Albany city buses, the new Coast to Valley Express run by Benton County, private bus operations, and taxis.
After Monday’s council meeting we’ll have a better idea if anything comes of this restroom proposal, or not. (hh)