A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Ideas to fix traffic tieups on Hwy. 20

Written January 8th, 2024 by Hasso Hering

These parking spaces on Ellsworth Street at Second Avenue could become a left-turn lane.

A study of Highway 20 in downtown Albany has come up with ideas on how congestion during the peak traffic period between 4 and 6 p.m. might be fixed, or if not fixed then at least made less severe.

The city council is getting a look at the study and its conclusions this afternoon. (Monday, Jan. 8, 2024. The council work session starts at 4 p.m. Watch it on YouTube if you want.)

The study by DKS Associates, a Salem firm of traffic engineers, estimated that without certain changes, peak-hour delays in the corridor could reach 10 minutes per vehicle in about 20 years. With some changes, future delays could be cut to  3-4 minutes.

Among the suggestions is to adjust the timing of signals on Ellsworth Street at First and Second avenues. In addition, they propose a new left-turn lane on Ellsworth at Second. This would create a third lane and allow traffic to flow through the intersection more smoothly.

On Spring Hill Drive, the study suggests restoring a dual left-turn lane onto Highway 20. This existed for a few months in 2015 to handle extra traffic during the rebuilding of North Albany Road.

(For some reason, the study spells it “Springhill” as though the name was not pronounced as two words.)

The study also suggests creating two right-turn lanes on First Avenue for traffic to go over the Lyon Street Bridge. This would cut down on queues that sometimes stretch four or five blocks on First.

At the south end of Lyon, where traffic goes under the overpass from northbound Pacific Boulevard, the study suggests adding a second lane to the off-ramp.

The study has ideas for bike riders and pedestrians too. It suggests a two-way multi-use path on the Lyon Street Bridge. And it proposes rapid flashing beacons at the Lyon and Ellsworth crosswalks at Fourth and Fifth avenues, and on Lyon at Sixth.

Changes in the highway corridor would need approval from the Oregon Department of Transportation.

If the council wants to go ahead, the next steps would be to set priorities, amend the city transportation plan, and seek grants to pay for projects.

So it will be some time — probably years — before any changes take place. (hh)

8 responses to “Ideas to fix traffic tieups on Hwy. 20”

  1. MarK says:

    How about NO new home building until the traffic and road conditions are corrected? THAT would get things moving!

  2. Cap B. says:

    The most-likely popularity of the new PAWN shop (Hasso, I wish I could select orange type on your blog when I type the word, PAWN!) makes it more urgent that the traffic flow better off and onto the bridges in downtown Albany!

  3. Richard S. says:

    These all sound great, but are just band-aids for the bigger problem! There needs to be another bridge, and/or a bypass from NA out to I-5, as was suggested several years ago. There are too many cars being forced thru downtown, no matter what band-aids are suggested! Can’t believe the city had to spend money to find this out!

    • Suebee says:

      Exactly Richard!

      An access from I-5 Millersburg to NA would solve so much traffic through downtown to Corvallis!

  4. Richard Vannice says:

    Apparently whoever did the “study” did not visit the area in person.
    Two left turns off Spring Hill onto Hwy 20 will only jam up traffic more since those turning from Spring Hill will fill the lanes and nothing will move!
    This is what happened when the idea was tried before.

  5. Al Nyman says:

    I would block the cross walk on first so bridge cars can turn right with a red or green light and I would adjust the traffic lights on 2nd going out of town so all the left bridge turners would have a green light going across the one way going out of town. Costs very little to try my solution so they will not consider it.

  6. Larry Nelson says:

    All the suggestions can be done very cheaply and will help, my biggest concern is that they had to hire a study when this seems very obvious.
    Get it done. Then start the long term planning for the by pass to interstate 5 and maybe 20 years from now it will get done


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