A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Queen Avenue crossing: A saga without end

Written December 12th, 2021 by Hasso Hering

One of the four railroad tracks at the Queen Avenue crossing on Nov. 22, 2021.

When it comes to fixing the Queen Avenue railroad crossing in Albany, the motto seems to be: What’s another year or two?

Only last month there was a story on this site, based on what a city advisory panel was told, that reconstruction of the extremely bumpy crossing  would not happen in 2022 as the most recent plan had foreseen. Instead it might happen in 2023.

But then, city transportation systems analyst Ron Irish heard from the manager of ODOT’s part of the project.

ODOT has been working for years on plans for changing the crossing arms and layout in the interest of increasing safety. The state agency is coordinating those plans with the Union Pacific Railroad, which apparently intends to reconstruct the crossing over four tracks in order to make driving across them smoother.

The word Irish got from ODOT’s project manager on Dec. 1 was that “the roadway designer and the railroad consultant have been working through the crossing design and are nearly complete with a new layout that should meet the railroad’s requirements.”

Toward the end of January 2022, the people involved plan to meet to go over the design and get the project moving again. Then, the schedule will be updated to reflect the changes.

“We are planning on construction happening in 2024,” said the ODOT note.

If that actually happens — and experience says it’s a big if — it will have been eight years since ODOT presented its plans to the Albany City Council.

That was in 2016. The following year, 2017, the state Transportation Commission added the $1.3 million ODOT crossing project to the State Transportation Improvement Plan. In 2019, the word was that the work might be done in 2022. Now the target year is 2024.

One gets the feeling that with this railroad and this highway department, the job of making plans is the main thing, more important than carrying them out. (hh)

8 responses to “Queen Avenue crossing: A saga without end”

  1. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    This is all about safety, so that is why the governments and railroad are devoting years and years to avoid a future moment they hope never occurs.

    The moment can happen during the years and years of planning, but that is considered acceptable risk.

    Such is the nature of bureaucracies.

  2. James Engel says:

    Until we rescind this notion that the R/R has “right of way” and the common public is crossing their right of way nothing but nothing is ever gonna make a better crossing. There is more than plenty of room out in Millersburg for the R/R to make up trains so to not have problems at Queen Ave.!!

    • Rich Kellum says:

      James, who was here first at queen and the rails

      • James Engel says:

        I’ll bet there was a game trail there before the R/R.. What the heck difference does it mean?

        • Rich Kellum says:

          When someone gets a right of way and invests in something they have first dibs under the law. The law was put in place so local entities can not hold up transportation across the nation…. don’t have to like it but you should understand why it’s there with your history.

  3. MarK says:

    There’s no money in it to be made, so don’t expect our city council to be of much use.

  4. Doug Hiddleson says:

    I believe if the switching trains had the horn muzzled (it is an air horn; it is adjustable) and they came up with a standard on time for their 2 to 3 second blast, followed by a 2 to 3 second blast, a 1 second blast, and a 2 to 3 second final blast. Dash. Dash. Dot. Dash. Which is federally mandated.
    But to have the train stop and blast across the intersection at 2 to 3 miles an hour, sometimes lasting 8 to 15 seconds long, I feel is the problem.
    The train horn going by 50-55 miles an hour, even if a long blast, is nothing compared to a practically stationary horn.
    Especially the long train that comes in from the south at 11:30 PM, slow and easy, stops at the crossing and just lays on the horn as hard and as long as he can. As of course is his discretion as a train engineer. Wish they could be talking on the phone at one of the businesses in the area and hear that in the background all day long. And as before, I’m just speaking to the switching train.

    And no sidewalk for the kids walking home from school. They made it wider on the north side, but the kids coming from West walk down the south side of Queen.

    They really need to shut that intersection down for a day — yeah, for a day — unscrew the big long screws, take the rubber pieces out, put some rock down, put the rubber pieces back down, put the screws back in, and replace the missing caps.

  5. Suebee says:

    Major eye roll… the Queen street crossing has been “repaired/updated” several times in my lifetime… tons of dollars spent all saying “This will be a permanent fix!”… NOT!

    I’m thinking the city/railroad are holding out for pie in the sky that they will have a large company (think back to PepsiCo days) that would cave into paying for an overpass expansion…that dream cost Albany a huge employment opportunity when they pulled out laughing all the way!


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