A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Going downtown when the going is slow

Written October 28th, 2023 by Hasso Hering

Traffic is lined up on Highway 20 waiting to get to or through downtown Albany at mid-day Saturday.

Albany drivers have come to expect encountering rush hour traffic jams before they get to the Ellsworth Street Bridge, the Highway 20 bottleneck at the entrance to downtown. But on Saturday? In the middle of the day?

Well yes, getting downtown from Benton County is slow any time there’s an event downtown, and on Saturday it was the downtown association’s Halloween event for kids. Throngs of costumed children accompanied by their parents crowded the sidewalks.

When they crossed the cross streets with the walk signal, drivers waited before making their turn, as they must. And that’s one reason traffic on Highway 20 moved no faster than a herd of snails. Or is it a flock of snails?

(Actually it’s neither. Look it up.)

The same thing happens in the summer for what, I think, they call the downtown wine walk as groups of grown-ups take their time crossing First Avenue and prevent drivers coming off the bridge from turning right.

ODOT has been doing a study of the Albany highway corridor. Maybe that will eventually result in changing the signals at First, Second and Third avenues to allow a steadier flow of highway traffic. But that, of course, would come at the cost of further hampering cross traffic.

For drivers hoping to get into town from the Benton County side without undue delays, the best bet is to check the downtown schedule. If there’s stuff going on there causing more foot traffic than usual, better wait a couple of hours before starting out. (hh)

Heading into downtown Albany Saturday, but the going was slow because of Halloween activities.

7 responses to “Going downtown when the going is slow”

  1. chuck says:

    Council work session on Monday Nov 6 may be interesting. Chris Bailey and staff will bring HUGE numbers to Council for street maintenance. I’ll be there as I want to hear their response to $12 million dollar budget to repair our infamous failing streets.
    Hope to see you there.

  2. Darlene LOmax says:

    So worth the wait! Kids were so excited!

  3. Jay Hobson says:

    I’ve thought that putting in a second bridge would be hugely helpful. Maybe one from North Albany into Millersburg? That way you could bypass downtown Albany completely.

    • Anne says:

      Or one that accessed riverside drive somehow so there’s be another route from Corvallis to parts of Albany !

      There’s 30,000 more people in the Corvallis – Albany cities in the last ten years ! That’s a lot of extra drivers!!!!

    • DeeDee Biegel says:

      I have that same thought! This system needs modernization!

  4. Christine E Ferguson says:

    You might want to remind folks of the Veterans Day Parade coming up on Saturday, November 11. Streets will be blocked for hours and traffic diverted.
    Thank You

  5. Richard Vannice says:

    Re Veterans Day Parade. Unless the route is changed traffic coming from N. Albany and Corvallis will be rerouted west on first to Washington then south to at least 5th where it will be allowed to turn east to Ellsworth then on south.
    Traffic from the east, in the past has been rerouted from Pacific Blvd at some point to 1st then west to the Lyon St. bridge and across the river.
    To my knowledge there has never been any thought given to doing such a reroute for events other than Veterans Day and in the long distant past Timber Carnival Parades.
    Just a thought.


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