Driving back to central Albany from east of I-5 might be more complicated in decades to come if one proposal for road system changes is carried out.
The city council and planning commission held another joint meeting Monday to talk about a possible new land-use and road map for the section of Albany east of the freeway, north and south of Highway 20.
I watched part of the meeting online. One of the drawings that got a good deal of attention was the one reproduced above.
It envisions a couple of intersections on Highway 20 where only right turns would be allowed. One would be at Fescue Street and the other at Price Road.
The map shows several new streets and a couple of roundabouts. The way it looks, traffic going from this area to central Albany would use the new streets and roundabouts in order to get on Highway 20 to head west across the freeway.
The rendering envisions a pedestrian bridge across the freeway, connecting the eastern section to the Lehigh neighborhood west of I-5 at about 18th Avenue.
The city has been working on this “East Albany Plan” with a slew of consultants for a couple of years. The idea is to map how the area should develop with more housing, commercial centers, and open spaces along the creeks.
Whether any of the ideas are carried out on the ground is uncertain. This would depend on many unforeseeable conditions and factors such as the wishes of property owners.
For example, some of those at Monday’s meeting talked about the importance of having grocery stores near the existing and proposed housing. The city can zone land for stores all it wants, but in Albany’s experience, grocery chains concentrate their branches where customers have to drive miles to get there.
As for any road changes, long wait times are the rule. ODOT has planned for changes along I-5 in Albany for 20 years or more, and yet nothing is on the schedule to be built.
Still, if you’re interested in the planning process — whether you expect to see the results in your lifetime or not — take a look at the East Albany Plan. Documents used in the planning were attached to the agenda of Monday’s meeting here.
If nothing else, looking through the material tells you how lengthy and complicated today’s land-use planning process has become. (hh)