A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Gibson Hill roundabout less likely

Written May 11th, 2017 by Hasso Hering

This 2016 graphic illustrates the Gibson Hill/Crocker roundabout plan. Property that would have to be acquired is shown in red.

A plan to build a big roundabout at Gibson Hill Road and Crocker Lane in North Albany has lost a supporter on the city council, and a majority now would like to see a less expensive solution.

The issue came up in a council work session Monday when the staff was explaining changes in a long list of Albany street projects to be funded partly or entirely with systems development fees levied on all new construction. In the long-range plan, doing something at Gibson Hill and Crocker had been listed as costing $345,000, and the revised list puts the cost at $1.2 million. (The estimate last year was $1.4 million.)

A year ago, after an extensive sampling of public opinion, the council voted 4-3 to go for the roundabout to handle future traffic loads at this T-junction, saying it might be built in five years and in the meantime the city should work on property acquisition and design.

But Monday, Councilman Mike Sykes, new on the council this year, questioned why the city would build a roundabout at three times the likely cost of traffic signals. Sykes was elected to succeed Floyd Collins, who had advocated and voted for the roundabout in May 2016.

Also voting for the roundabout a year ago was Councilman Bill Coburn. But on Monday he spoke of maybe going for a smaller project that would cost less.

Transportation analyst Ron Irish told the council that property owners on the corners of the intersection were opposed to giving up any of their yards for the project. And Councilwoman Bessie Johnson, who voted against the roundabout a year ago, said Monday she did not want to take people’s property.

Councilman Rich Kellum voted against the roundabout in 2016 and reiterated that position Monday. Dick Olsen also voted against it. He gave no indication he had changed his mind.

Actual construction of any project at the intersection is years away. But as of now, there are at least four votes for a treatment less expensive than a full-blown roundabout.

Despite the Monday discussion, on Wednesday the council voted to adopt the list of potential street projects, with Kellum voting no. He objects to shifting future funding from some east-side projects to the west side. But the list is mostly — to use a faddish adjective — aspirational. It contains scores of projects totaling an estimated cost of $268 million, most of which no one living today will ever see built.

Meanwhile, more houses are going up off Crocker Lane, the northern third of which will be rebuilt this year, which means the line of cars waiting to make a left on Gibson Hill in the mornings is likely to keep getting longer for a while. (hh)

13 responses to “Gibson Hill roundabout less likely”

  1. Shane says:

    “Why” you ask, Mike. Because the idea is to keep traffic flowing safely, like a roundabout does. Not stop traffic like a signal.

  2. hj.anony1 says:

    Elections matter! Even on a local level it seems. Good thing another and another will be coming. Disappointing still. Roundabouts are terrific traffic controls despite a few drivers seemingly scared of them.

    Excellent point about more houses and more cars. There are two more developments scheduled to be completed over the next 2-3 years. Another just off Crocker (south of Robin Hood) and White Oak. The latter being built on at least a “seasonal” wetland.

  3. Thomas Aaron says:

    How about somebody fix the crosswalk signal first? The portion at the corner of Crocker has been missing since it was hit last September.

    As for the issue at hand…those of us living off of streets immediately adjacent to Crocker will bear the brunt of this decision. A signal will leave traffic blocking our streets during red lights and we will be sitting there on Gibson Hill backing traffic up in the opposite direction while trying to get home.

    There is unfortunately no option that doesn’t hurt somebody in someway, but to continue the status quo is a bad idea. Let’s just make sure that change is made for a better flow of traffic instead of making everything worse than it already is.

    • Mare says:

      I live on Crocker. I already have a hard time just getting out of my driveway at certain times of the day, and also have a hard time getting IN to my driveway. Countless times I have slowed to turn left into my home and had speeders behind me pulling out to pass me on the left just as I am about to make my turn. The speed limit is 35 mph, I generally am going 35 between Gibson Hill and my house. Seems the people up at the north end of the street don’t give a hoot about the limit, nor do they seem to notice the solid yellow line on the street marking the “no passing” zone.

      I still favor the signal. I can just imagine trying to get off Crocker and into the flow of traffic on Gibson Hill at 7:25 in the morning. The line of cars from the East is almost non-stop, and you can bet they aren’t going to yield any space to the Crocker traffic. It is crazy at times going through the other North Albany roundabout; I see people flying out of the newer homes on the North side, and forcing cars coming off Gibson Hill to stop and wait for them though the Gibson Hill cars have reached the roundabout first.

  4. Rich Kellum says:

    A correction, I voted against transferring money from the east to the west because there is a pattern developing, this particular transfer makes sense, from projects outside the urban growth boundary to projects inside the city. But when you look at the big picture, the east side is being mined for the benefit of ward I. Almost all of TLT funds are generated in Ward III, or across the street from ward III, most is spent downtown, for downtown, in some cases to exclude the rest of the city. If you look at Retail sales, downtown is a miniscule portion of our sales, but gets almost all of the promotion from tax money. There are a half dozen single companies that do more business in ward III than all of downtown put together… plus the Mall… And then there is CARA. Tax money diverted from the CARA district for the use there, but the increase in expenses over the years due to inflation is made up by all of the City…. Millions…
    That is my Issue Hasso..

  5. Grace Peterson says:

    It’s no surprise to me that it boiled down to money when it was clearly a bad idea from the get go. Forcing the homeowners to abdicate portions of their property is unconscionable. And allowing a boat load of homes to be built without proper infrastructure is also wrong. This is what happens when money is a higher priority than livability. Thank you, City Planners! Those of us waiting forever for a left turn are going to be very selective in who we vote for.

  6. John Hartman says:

    Perhaps a Car-Carrying-Capable Merry-Go-Round to replace the roundabout concept.
    Drive on! Drive off! The people of North Albany deserve nothing less, with the exception of some low-income housing development.

  7. John Jay says:

    Downtown is the heart of the community (and to some extent the Expo). No one is going to come to Albany to see a hotel or a Costco. It’s the uniqueness, the draw of a community that causes those that do not reside here to visit. The big box stores will no doubt generate more revenue than downtown, but on a cultural scale, what do these sales add to the overall lifestyle experience? Do you enjoy strolling down the isles of Home Depot buying a 2 x 4 after a Sunday brunch?

    Do you really want your downtown to only be known as the location for the county probation office?

  8. John Jay says:

    Lots of development without a lot of infrastructure. That’s how they do it in Southern California.

  9. Cheryl P says:

    How in the heck do you go from $345,000 to $1.2 million!?!

    • Hasso Hering says:

      The original amount in the list of projects eligible for system-development-fee funding, assembled years ago, assumed some solution other than a roundabout, probably a traffic signal. Then the council decided last year that a modern roundabout would do a better job handling traffic, and that costs a lot more. (hh)

      • hj.anony1 says:

        And a modern roundabout would do the J. O. B. Sorry folks….surely you’ve heard of eminent domain. Yeah, the fave of what used to be the “contemporary” republican. Don’t worry. The current definition comes with payment/compensation to the rightful property owner.


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