HASSO HERING

A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Neighbors air concerns over N.A. bikeway

Written July 23rd, 2019 by Hasso Hering

Pouring over a map of the North Albany portion of the Albany-Corvallis Bikeway Tuesday night.

About two dozen property owners showed up Tuesday for a neighborhood meeting about the North Albany segment of the planned Albany-Corvallis Bikeway. Some of them voiced questions and concerns, but the main news for me was that the project was still on and the Albany segment is scheduled to be built in 2020.

The Albany segment runs for 1.7 miles from Spring Hill Drive to Scenic Drive. Most of it follows existing roads such as Hickory Street and Thornton Lake Drive. But a segment of about one-eighth of a mile runs west across private property along the south side of the Portland & Western rail line before crossing to the north side and joining Thornton Lake Drive.

The State Transportation Improvement Plan estimates the total cost of the Albany segment at $2.4 million, of which $1.4 million is intended for construction next year. Some $682,000 was budgeted for preliminary engineering in 2016, and another $330,000 for acquiring right-of-way this year.

While it’s an ODOT project, Benton County and the city of Albany have been involved with the Albany segment. Benton County is working on other legs of the planned path, from Scenic Drive to Corvallis.

The neighborhood meeting was held as negiotiations are starting between the state and property owners about the right of way. Neighbors, some of whom had only recently bought their properties, said they were concerned mainly about loss of privacy and how the path would affect access to their land.

One man wondered whether path users would trespass on his land and ride his horses. There was a lot of talk about fences between the path and adjoining properties. Other concerns were about transients and about path maintenance, which will be up to the city.

Benton County Engineer Laurel Byer led the meeting. She’s the main local contact for matters concerning the path, and she gathered contact information of those attending to be sure they are included in any future notifications.

Because it runs alongside the Albany-Corvallis Highway, I’m calling this the Albany-Corvallis Bikeway. But ODOT calls it the “Corvallis to Albany Trail” and describes it as an “off-highway multi-use path.”

Even before any off-highway connection toward Corvallis is established, the project should ease access to the North Albany commercial hub from properties along the path. Residents can use the path to get to the store on a bike, or on foot, without having to brave the potentially dangerous left turn from their private roads such as Walker Lane onto Highway 20 in a car.  (hh)

Benton County Engineer Laurel Byer, seated at right, faces the meeting of neighbors and others.



15 responses to “Neighbors air concerns over N.A. bikeway”

  1. Bryan says:

    Did they have any news on the part that actually matters? The part from Albany to Corvallis. I fully support the path but no more money should be wasted on it until that portion is done.

    • The word on the middle segment of the bikeway was that “we’re working on it.” But as you can see from Jesse’s comment above, even by itself the North Albany portion will be useful and worthwhile.

      • Bryan says:

        Worthwhile and worth the cost are two different things. There’s lots of things I’d like that I don’t expect tax payers to pay for.

  2. Jesse McManus says:

    We are thrilled to hear of the NA bikeway. We live off Thornton LK. Drive, and walk and ride our bikes daily. The road is too narrow, lacking any shoulder or bike lane. We see many other of our neighbors out on the road getting their exercise or commuting to work or shopping, etc. and always say a little prayer that they will stay safe on a road where cars careen around corners and exceed the speed limit. This is long overdue!

  3. JM says:

    Is there a map showing the route? Last I’d heard they were considering three options. The Benton County website shows the same, none of which utilize Thornton Lake.

    • JM says:

      Actually, I think I understand now. It’s really hard to read the “Rural and Hwy 20 route” map on Benton County’s website but it looks like it may be on Thornton Lake for about a third of it’s length?

  4. Mike S. says:

    I’ve lived in two communities where the rails to trails program came in and repurposed train tracks for riding and walking paths. One was over 20 miles of paths, one was only about 3 miles…

    Each time some people were worried about privacy, or like this one man stated their horses or property being used without permission. Each time is was just nonsense. Even today, people I know back in those communities say there are no complaints, and the paths have even benefited the people living near them. Property values went up, due to people liking the idea of living near access to a tried and true bike path.

    There was no influx of shady people doing shady things, just normal individuals using the path as intended. If a criminal wants to do nefarious things, they probably aren’t going to choose a public through-way to do it. Also, no one just randomly walks along a bike path and decides to jump on someone’s horse. LMAO

    I live along the N Albany segment and welcome it. I understand people concerns but as stated feel they are unwarranted.

  5. Lundy says:

    I too was struck by the notion that a cyclist might suddenly decide to get off his/her bike, climb a fence and hop on someone’s horse. Those horses have a better shot of being hit by lightning than being ridden by a passing bicyclist. And pretty much anything that encourages walking/biking is a good thing.

  6. Andrea S says:

    I enjoyed a good laugh from people’s comments about the absurdity of someone on a path randomly jumping on someone else’s horse! I’m still laughing, and it feels good!

    I completely support paths like this one because of what they add to livability, safety, and recreation. We live in the country on a road with a lot of pedestrian traffic. Our privacy is less than it would be on a different road, and I enjoy waving to passers by. I feel we have the best of both the country and city living environments here, and I love it. I hope this path is built as planned, and that the Corvallis – Albany Trail is completed within my lifetime…

  7. Thom Turner says:

    I came from up north and now live in north Albany. I do not have any property involved. I would suggest that the residents and committee take a look at the Springwater corridor/trail in east Portland. Although good intentions were involved it has become a long flat spot for homeless camps and crime. Bikers are afraid to use it and families stay away. We always think that couldn’t happen here but it will as word gets out. Who will have jurisdiction to remove unwanted tents. ODOT, local police, highway patrol. This is one issue just recently solved on the springwater trail, unfortunately it’s taken them 10 years to solve it.

  8. Sue says:

    I think bike paths are good too as long as they are on public property – unfortunately the NA path is not – it goes through private property. I wonder how many people out there would like to have their front or back yards made into a bike path? When it is your property it looks totally different and opens up the owner to liability. Most bike riders seem to be honest open people, but there are always those that will take advantage of others. When it is your personal property that you pay taxes on one expects it to be private and not for public use. The property owners in NA do not have a choice they must sell the easement – there does not seem to be any recourse for them.

  9. Sue G. says:

    Bike paths are good for communities. That said, they should be on public property and not private. Would you give up 20 feet of your front or back yard for a bike path? I don’t believe most people would. The NA path is cutting through private property and the owners do not have a choice but to sell the easement. While most people would not fall down or have an accident and sue someone, there are many that would. The owners of the properties now will be exposed to additional liability. How much of your property would you choose to have fenced off for another use?

    • Christopher J. says:

      Buying land along the highway opens one up to a whole host of evils, not least of which is their habit of becoming wider over time, and this path is likely to be one of the less egregious expansions of the road in the years to come. It’s understandable for folks to feel put out if they don’t feel they directly benefit, but this path is being built to make possible a healthy and traffic-reducing commute from home to work safe for the many people already riding bikes from town to town, and to encourage more people to do the same by removing the most daunting aspect of sharing the road- being too close for comfort.

      The highway as it sits today isn’t bike friendly, or even bike neutral. The stretch between Independence Highway and NW North Albany rd is particularly nasty. The corners have no fog line because everyone speeds right over them, save where the guard rails are so close as to make it impossible.

      I can empathise with NIMBY to a degree, but most folks don’t even have a front yard, they have a sidewalk the city owns- effectively putting the street at their doorstep. The power of eminent domain can be exercised against us all equally, not only those who live along a particular highway, and the slice of land is being used to create a safer community.

      Seems like natural step in the slow process of maintaining and improving the roads in an area between two expanding cities whose economies are closely linked, done in the usual fashion, and reacted to in the expected manner. Which is a shame really, it could have happened sooner and elsewhere had we all been more keen-eyed and clear-headed. (I’m looking at you Riverside Drive)

 

 
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