A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

If the Big One cuts those bridges

Written May 21st, 2024 by Hasso Hering

Taking a look under the Lyon Street Bridge on May 18, 2024.

Several times a week, the bike takes me along Albany’s Dave Clark Path underneath the Lyon Street Bridge. Often I have wondered about those pipes going up the bridge pier. What are they for?

Finally I asked someone who knows.

“In your picture, the line to the left is a 24-inch water main and the one on the right is an old 14-inch sewer force main that was abandoned in place,” answered Kristin Preston, the manager of operations in Albany Public Works.

She explained more:

“In 2010, a new 20-inch sewer force main was constructed from North Albany and bored under the river further downstream to the WRF. In 2012, a 30-inch water line was constructed from the Vine St WTP and bored under the Calapooia and Willamette to North Albany, which could serve all North Albany if the bridge and the existing 24-inch [line] were taken out. These projects going under the river were done for capacity and resiliency purposes.”

The WRF is the wastewater reclamation facility, known among non-engineers as the Albany and Millersburg sewage treatment plant. And the Vine Street WTP is, of course, the historic water treatment plant that was built in 1912 on the Albany Santiam Canal.

(I didn’t ask about those smaller pipes or conduits in the bridge photo, and I don’t know what if anything they do.)

What brought all this on was an Albany City Council discussion on May 6, when the council reviewed the summary of a new water master plan prepared for the city by a team of consultants.

North Albany gets its water from the south side of the Willamette River, and there was talk among councilors about what would happen if a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake — the Big One — wipes out the bridges, cutting the pipes.

The bridges would not be the only or the main problem as far as water is concerned. The under-the-river pipeline built in 2012 could handle the supply to North Albany if there’s treated water to pump across. But there might not be enough water because the master plan consultants believe the Big One would cause the Vine Street treatment plant to collapse.

The details of the new water master plan deserve a story of their own. Among other things, the consultants say the Albany water system, including the Santiam Canal, needs $164 million in construction projects and repairs over the next 20 years.

That sounds worse than it probably is. Spread over 22,000 Albany water customers and 20 years, the total averages about $30 a month, perhaps less as the number of customers goes up. (hh)

10 responses to “If the Big One cuts those bridges”

  1. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    I’m reminded of the progressive promise that government is our savior.

    In regards to the Big One, an employee at FEMA once remarked: “Our operating assumption is that everything west of Interstate 5 will be toast.”

    It seems futile to sink millions fixing a water system that will only make the toast more soggy through liquefaction.

    Instead, the city should “invest” the money in camping equipment and canned goods to be handed out for free from what remains of the Linn County Fairgrounds.

    It’s for the greatest good for the greatest number for the longest time.

    • Richard Vannice says:

      When/if the “BIG ONE” comes how do you propose those in N. Albany will get to the fairgrounds for the “free” provisions?

      • Hartman says:

        Nope they need to head west since they live in Benton County.

      • Dala Rouse says:

        i guess the same way they did in the 1964 Flood. They went to Salem and then down into Albany.

    • Bill Kapaun says:

      “In regards to the Big One, an employee at FEMA once remarked: “Our operating assumption is that everything west of Interstate 5 will be toast.””

      The state already thinks the entire state is toast except Portland, Salem, Eugene & and that place that has OSU.

      • Bob Zybach says:

        Unfortunately, most of the I-5 Californians and other immigrants who moved here in recent decades live in those communities and vote Democrat to recreate the ruined homes they left behind — and they greatly outnumber the rest of the state, with the assistance of a few colonies in Ashland and Bend. Very sad to see this degeneracy over time and hard to see how it can be fixed in time for the grandkids, if at all.

  2. Hpeg13 says:

    So now a person who wants to sabatoge something now knows where to go. Trump is right, people share too much.

  3. Craig says:

    $164 Million dollars in Projects and repairs over the next 20 years!

    Yes, that deserves a story of it’s own, please!

  4. Joanna S says:

    Great info – thanks as always for keeping us updated.

  5. CHEZZ says:

    I’ll keep a life preserver near my bed!


HH Today: A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley
Albany Albany City Council Albany council Albany downtown Albany Fire Department Albany housing Albany parks Albany Planning Commission Albany police Albany Post Office Albany Public Works Albany riverfront Albany schools Albany Station Albany streets Albany traffic Albany urban renewal apartments ARA Benton County bicycling bike lanes Bowman Park Bryant Park CARA climate change COVID-19 Cox Creek Cox Creek path Crocker Lane cumberland church cycling Dave Clark Path DEQ downtown Albany Edgewater Village Ellsworth Street bridge Highway 20 homeless housing Interstate 5 land use Linn County Millersburg Monteith Riverpark North Albany ODOT Oregon legislature Pacific Boulevard Pacific Power Portland & Western Queen Avenue Republic Services Riverside Drive Santiam Canal Scott Lepman Talking Water Gardens The Banks Tom Cordier Union Pacific urban renewal Water Avenue Waterfront Project Waverly Lake Willamette River

Copyright 2024. All Rights Reserved. Hasso Hering.
Website Serviced by Santiam Communications
Hasso Hering