A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Two bike routes: Where we stand

Written January 31st, 2015 by Hasso Hering
This curve is on the first 3-mile section of Riverside Drive to be widened.

A bike’s view: This curve is on the first 3-mile section of Riverside Drive to be widened.

On the mid-valley cycling front, things have been happening on two routes. The Albany City Council has confirmed its support for an Albany-Corvallis Bike Trail, though not necessarily along the alignment that has run into strong opposition from farmers, the Oregon Farm Bureau and the state Department of Agriculture. And Linn County says it is still committed to widening Riverside Drive, but it has run into complications that may double the cost of at least the first phase.

On the Albany-Corvallis path project, the Benton County Planning Commission will, on Feb. 17, consider action on Benton County’s request for a conditional use permit to run the central 5.5-mile segment of the path along the north side of the Albany-Corvallis rail line, which would take about 13 acres of land zoned exclusively for farming. A dozen farm and landowners along the route oppose the plan.

On Jan. 26 the Department of Agriculture wrote to the planning commission raising a number of concerns about the trail close to farm operations. “While compatible with existing rail operations, many intensive agricultural operations are not compatible with recreation and public oriented land uses,” the department’s letter said. “We would suggest that an analysis of altenrative routes … south of the … railroad would be a better solution…”

The Albany council acted on Wednesday, confirming its commitment to spend $305,000 on the Albany portion of the trail in the nextfew years and urging Benton County “to work toward an appropriate and acceptable resolution of the issues.”

Meanwhile in Linn County, Roadmaster Darrin Lane has provided an update on the status of the long-planned widening of Riverside Drive, which would make it a safer route for cyclists. The first phase of the widening is to cover three miles from Oakville Road to Meadow Road.

“Unfortunately we have identified several issues that will adversely impact the cost and schedule of the project,” Lane said in an email. One is the need to identify and mitigate wetlands. Another is that if the county acquires more right of way, which will be necessary in some spots, the ground will have to be studied for Indian or other archeological artifacts.

“We are still committed to the project and have already ordered a full survey of the first phase of the project,” Lane said. No cost estimate has been firmed up, but Lane says it could be between $1 million and $1.5 million, as opposed to about $550,000 for just routine widening. “Long story short,” he concludes, “you may not see any dirt work until late summer or early the following spring.”

Riverside is part of the designated Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway. It was the idea of Linn County Commissioner Roger Nyquist, three or four years ago, that the Riverside bike route could feed into a bike path on the north side of Highway 34 from Corvallis. At present that path ends a mile or so east of Corvallis, but if it were extended to Riverside, and if all of Riverside was eventually widened, it could make a handy Albany-Corvallis bike link of about nine or 10 miles, roughly the same distance as the planned Benton County trail. (hh)

8 responses to “Two bike routes: Where we stand”

  1. Warren Beeson says:

    One little quibble here about the bureaucratic phrasing. Mr. Lane says, “the need to identify and mitigate wetlands”. Many would argue there is no real “need to” there is only the federal mandate of “have to”; requirements that of course, the federal government does not fund. Just another example of the federal government run amok by “Progressive” politicians who believe they know better what is good for us than we local bumpkins.

    • HowlingCicada says:

      I’m somewhere on the “progressive” half of the spectrum, but in this case I totally agree. All you need to do is look west from Riverside Drive and the wetland is obviously somewhere way down there, not up here.

  2. Jim Engel says:

    Bike routes, bike routes, bike routes….. all this talk, conjecture, threats of land take overs. Here’s an idea and this “route” is already in place & has been for years. It’s called the BUS! It goes to & fro from Albany to Corvallis. You put your bike on the front. Ride in relative comfort no matter the weather. You avoid the dangers of traffic. But alas, it’s too simple of an idea.

    • HowlingCicada says:

      I’ve used the Linn-Benton Loop a couple times over many years, compared with many bike transits, mostly on Riverside Drive.

      Bus problems:
      1 – By the time it takes to download the PDF schedule, figure out when and where it stops, wait and go there, and wait again, I might as well just ride all the way.

      2 – The last bus back to Corvallis leaves 5:40pm which is 2-3 hours before sunset half of the year. No Sundays. It’s mostly intended to serve Albany residents working in Corvallis.

      Those are just two of my personal issues. There’s a lot to say for and against buses vs bikes vs the status quo of heavily car-dominated transportation almost everywhere in the USA.

    • Bobby says:

      I’m sorry you’ve forgotten how to bike Jim. I presume that at some point in your childhood you might have learned and maybe even enjoyed it. But people who want to bike between Albany and Corvallis don’t consider a bus (that goes once per hour and stops only at a few spots) an acceptable alternative any more than drivers would. Your government already spent multibillions to take over land, flatten it down and pave it to make sure you’ve plenty of routes for your preferred mode of transportation between any two points in the country. Let’s not pretend that it’s controversial just because we’d like an extra few feet strip.

      • Jim Engel says:

        Thanks for the snide reply there Bobby boy. I can still throw a leg over the frame with the best of ’em. What gets me is special interest groups who want to grovel at the public trough for public tax money to finance their desires. Be it you elitist cyclists who’ve already got “x” amount at the edge of most all roadways, the illegals who want benefits & a free drivers licenses, homeless who want camp grounds with accommodations, the special needs kids… that kind of group. You want… you go out & drum up a bunch of matching funds. That proposed bike path is a real boondoggle.. JE

  3. LM says:

    I agree that it’s sometimes convenient to take the bus, but the bus is not always a good alternative to riding. Many people ride for the exercise, which they aren’t going to get using the bus. The bus charges a fare, and although it is relatively small, why pay when you can go under your own power? The bus only has 2-3 spaces for bikes, and there’s no way to know whether a slot will be available or not.

    I’m glad for the Linn-Benton Loop is there, but it doesn’t run on Sunday or other times when it might be convenient. Should I just sit there wishing I could get to Albany? Nope. I’ll ride out there myself, on my own schedule. I enjoy the scenery, the fresh air, and the independence of riding. What I would like is the relative safety of a wider shoulder or a designated path.


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