A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Highway 20 work downtown? Alas, no

Written November 11th, 2016 by Hasso Hering
At work at the corner of Lyon and First on Thursday afternoon.

A crew at work at the corner of Lyon and First on Thursday afternoon.

If you saw crews like this and thought they were beginning to work on ODOT projects to upgrade Highway 20 through downtown Albany, sorry to disappoint you.

Over the last week or so, I noticed several small, safety-vested groups huddled on the corners of Ellsworth and Lyon, the Highway 20 couplet through downtown. On Thursday afternoon I stopped the car and asked what they were doing.

It was training, according to one guy, who told me he worked for a consultant to ODOT. He said they were measuring the curb ramps. “It was a class,” ODOT spokeswoman Angela Beers-Seydel told me by email on Friday. She hopes to find out more on Monday, and if she does I’ll let you know. (See below.)

Members of the Albany City Council — mainly Floyd Collins and Bill Coburn — have been pushing for ODOT to upgrade its share of the downtown street grid in conjunction with the $8 million-plus city streetscape improvement project scheduled to launch in 2017.

The issue came up at the Oct. 19 meeting of the Central Albany Area Revitalization Advisory Board, after city staffer Lori Schumacher reviewed the streetscape design and construction schedule. A sampling from the draft minutes:

“Floyd Collins asked if the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) will be doing improvements on Ellsworth and Lyon Streets in conjunction with the project. Schumacher said that staff isn’t aware of any such plans. Collins noted that ODOT has done improvements in Sweet Home, Lebanon, Corvallis, and Philomath; yet they have not done needed improvements to the state highways running through Downtown Albany. With the City doing this work downtown, he thinks it’s shameful that ODOT wouldn’t do upgrades to Ellsworth and Lyon Streets concurrently. Coburn agreed; he encouraged staff to be more aggressive in requesting that ODOT do this work. Parks & Recreation Director Ed Hodney said that staff will follow up on the concern and try to get a response from ODOT.”

Collins, a retired public works director serving his last month on the council, thinks the state should at least renew the pavement of the heavily traveled streets.

The CARA board meets again on Wednesday afternoon (Nov. 16). Maybe the board will get an update then on what if any contribution ODOT plans to make. In the meantime, it may be comforting to know that the curb ramps have been measured, even if just for a class. (hh)

ODOT’s Angela came through with a fuller explanation on Monday, as promised: “There are new ADA ramp measurement training courses being held for ODOT inspectors. There are two phases to the course, and in one of the classes participants do go out to measure ramps using the new inspection forms and tools designed to perform the measurements. The tools consist of certain sizes and types of levels that are to be used to get the measurements.”


3 responses to “Highway 20 work downtown? Alas, no”

  1. centrist says:

    Well, the young ‘uns gotta learn somehow. During my time at OSU, witnessed many surveys of the campus as well as traffic counts on Monroe. At that point in the development of the students, understanding the process was important. Emphasis on results came later.

  2. Tony White says:

    Gimme gimme gimme. Reminds me of when I was a kid during rationing in England after WWII. We had instructions (my sister and me, that is) to watch to see if there was ever a line in front of a store in our little town. If so, one of us was to get in line and the other come home to get a parent. The parent would then see what was being sold and decide whether to get in line to buy.

    Just a couple of notable differences: first, we really needed basic stuff that wasn’t otherwise available; second, we were willing to pay our way and not require others to pay on our behalf.

    If there’s money to be had, let’s make sure we get our “fair share.” Even if it’s other people’s money.

    • centrist says:

      Guess we didn’t read the same parts of the story.
      Thankfully I didn’t have to endure the reality of WWII.
      Worked with an Austrian who was forced into Hitler Youth. He was thankful for the food and shelter, but never bought in. He told me that, at one point, the family subsisted on boiled nettles (that he and his sister had collected). Sounds odd, but boiling in hard water eliminates the toxin.
      By the way, the line response that you mention occurs commonly in response to uncommon conditions.
      Nice to know you survived and persevered.


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