A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Gibson Hill: What is, and isn’t, happening

Written March 6th, 2019 by Hasso Hering

The Hidden Meadow subdivision construction site on Gibson Hill Road on March 4.

As a North Albany commuter, maybe you thought the construction on Gibson Hill had something to do with the forthcoming resurfacing of the road or even the plans for a signal at nearby Crocker Lane. If so, sorry to disappoint you.

No, all the recent digging on the north side of Gibson Hill, west of Crocker, is for the construction of the four-lot Hidden Meadow Subdivision, Phase 2, on 2.3 acres. The city planning department approved the land division and tentative plat in July 2018. The development lies between Gibson Hill and N.W. 18th Avenue to the north. Three lots will be accessed from Gibson Hill (two as flag lots) and the fourth from 18th.

Meanwhile, the city of Albany still has 2019 as the target year for construction of the long-planned traffic signal at Gibson Hill and Crocker. But Ron Irish at City Hall told me Monday: “There’s some chance that could slide if we are unable to negotiate right-of-way acquisition prior to our planned bid date.”

To build the signal and rework the T-shaped intersection, the city needs land on both the northeast and northwest corners.

Benton County also this year had planned to resurface Gibson Hill, which is cracking up in many places and was patched last year or the year before. It won’t happen.

“We have been working with the budget and figuring out what projects are currently a higher priority than others,” County Engineer Laurel Byer told me Monday. “Unfortunately for Gibson Hill, Spring Hill Drive has had a couple of rough winters and has reached a point where we have to spend money on it to put it back into shape. Especially since Spring Hill sees quite a bit more truck traffic than Gibson Hill, Public Works has decided to defer the overlay on Gibson Hill until 2021.”

When the overlay does take place, the county also plans to install sidewalks and drainage along portions of the north side of Gibson Hill.

As for Spring Hill, if the bids are in line with preliminary estimates the road will get a pavement overlay from Highway 20 to Scenic Drive (near Fir Grove). From Scenic to Independence Highway, Spring Hill will get a chip seal treatment this summer and an overlay in five years or later, according to Byer.

The upshot for Gibson Hill: Drivers will have to dodge the bumps and widening cracks for at least another couple of years. (hh)

11 responses to “Gibson Hill: What is, and isn’t, happening”

  1. Richard Vannice says:

    I wonder how much thought was given as to where the water will go? It looks to me as though a good bit of the storm runoff from south of Gibson Hill and to the east and west from the proposed street plus much of the runoff from the north side of Gibson Hill all run into that water way.
    Just wondering where this runoff will eventually end up and whether or not the system will handle all the runoff? I’ve seen other projects in N. Albany where adequate drainage hasn’t seemed to b e given much thought.

  2. DSimpson says:

    Too bad the traffic circle at Crocker didn’t work out. With a light, people traveling on Crocker and Gibson Hill can look forward to years of waiting at red lights for no reason. Half a mile away, a circle moves traffic through the Gibson Hill/North Albany Road intersection so efficiently that you rarely have to come to a complete stop to get through it– even at busy times of day.

    • Andrea S says:

      I agree completely. The way traffic works at this intersection (and I use it daily), a traffic circle would have been an ideal solution. A light (without turn lanes, as I understand it) will not be nearly as efficient, and I fear there will be collisions as it seems like a weird place for Gibson Hill traffic to stop.

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      I totally agree with you. However, there was not enough votes on council to overcome the angst of condemning & purchasing the private property necessary to make it happen…

    • centrist says:

      The circle would have been a “gold standard” solution if it could have fit.
      Ray K makes a point about angst involved in condemnation of parts of the two corner properties to get enough area. I didn’t participate in the discussions, but I suspect the project boundary would have encroached on the setback for those two houses.
      When the “best” solution is impractical, seek the “least worst”

  3. Thomas Aaron says:

    They should have stuck with the traffic circle, the light will only shift the problem around instead of solving the issue of adequate flow in all directions.

  4. Rich Kellum says:

    So Hasso,
    Where is the bike in the picture????

  5. Where's the pavement? says:

    Is there an imbalance in the road improvements by the city in North Albany compared to East and South Albany or does it just seem that way?

    • Hasso Hering says:

      Keep in mind that Spring Hill and Gibson Hill are county roads. Benton County, not the city, will pay for any pavement work done on them. As for an imbalance otherwise, I don’t think so. The city spent $6.6 million on a contract to rebuild North Albany Road a few years ago. Last year and this it’s spending about $6 million to rebuild Hill Street and a portion of Oak Street in South Albany.

      • Marilyn Smith says:

        The reconstruction of Oak Street between 34th and 38th avenues was completed in summer 2018. No work is being done on Oak this year.

  6. Pat says:

    It would seem like the County Engineer has not recently driven both roads for comparison. Gibson Hill is patched and broken in numerous places, with extended cracking on the east bound lane. I drove Springhill on Sunday and patches, grooves or broken pavement was next to non-existent from Hwy 20 to Scenic, nice clean road. At Scenic and beyond there were numerous patches and areas that had been worked on. At best the overlay goes there and chip seal reversed. Clearly Gibson is in much greater need.


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