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A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Why an expensive street job here?

Written May 11th, 2014 by Hasso Hering
Looking north on Crocker Lane. Note the wide shoulder.

Looking north on Crocker Lane. Note the wide shoulder.

And now you're looking south from the same spot on Crocker.

And now you’re looking south from the same spot on Crocker.

You’re looking at the west side of Crocker Lane in North Albany one evening last week. Does this street look like it needs curbs, gutters and a sidewalk? City of Albany plans call for just that, however, and city officials are recommending that the council form a local improvement district so the northern 2,150 feet of the road can be built up to city standards and most of the costs assessed to the adjoining property owners.

The staff is recommending a less costly alternative for the 870 feet of Valley View Drive west of where it meets Crocker. There, the staff is recommending that a rural design standard be developed, without curbs and leaving the roadside ditches in place. That, too, would be assessed to adjoining owners if an LID is formed.

The council is scheduled to discuss the recommendations when it meets for a work session at 4 p.m. today (Monday, May 12) at City Hall. If it decides to go ahead, action to begin work on the LID could come May 28.

The 47 acres adjoining the southwest corner of Crocker and Valley View was partitioned in 1996 and approved for a three-phase subdivision in 2007, according to a staff memo to the council. At the time the developers waived the right to object to street assessments along Crocker and Valley View, and the waivers expire in 2016. Hence the staff’s wish to press ahead now.

The first step would be to prepare an engineer’s report, which would include an estimate of the cost. Properties would be assessed based on actual costs once the project was done.

All the new subdivisions in North Albany have regular curbs, gutters and sidewalks on their internal streets. (Older ones don’t and seem to survive anyway.)  But why the city’s Transportation System Plan called for an urban street design for the collector roads is a mystery to me. Using that standard, the plan estimates that doing Valley View from Crocker to Scenic Drive, a distance of 4,550 feet, would cost $3.7 million in 2010 dollars..

But Valley View gets little traffic and works fine the way it is now. That’s why the staff now recommends a rural design instead. To an occasional user, though, they might just as well just leave it alone and save whatever even a reduced rural design would cost.

The same goes for Crocker. As the view above shows, it has wide shoulders that the handful of walkers and cyclists per day can easily share. What Crocker needs more than anything else, especially more than an expensive city street design, is some work at its T-intersection with Gibson Hill Road. That’s where danger lurks. Collisions are likely there because of the lack of a signal to help people make left-hand turns. (hh)

If you live in the neighborhood or use those streets, please feel free to comment via the reply feature below.

6 responses to “Why an expensive street job here?”

  1. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    Two thoughts:

    (1) Property owners can initiate a petition to form a LID and a minimum 50% must agree. But those same property owners have no voting right if the city decides to impose the LID. Perhaps the city charter should be amended via initiative petition to grant property owners who “benefit” the right to vote on the formation of a city-imposed LID.

    (2) LIDs are based on the principle that those who benefit from the improvements should pay for them. But what if the improvements are used by the general public? Shouldn’t the city pay their fair share of the cost? How much is the City of Albany contributing?

    • A share of the costs of these projects would be eligible for funding from systems development charges, as I understand it. (hh)

      • Ray Kopczynski says:

        From the staff-info we have for our meeting this afternoon:

        Crocker Lane & Valley View Drive LID:
        “Both projects are eligible for Transportation System Development Charge (TSDC) funding and/or credit, but neither is currently identified as funded. The maximum TSDC-eligible amount for Crocker Lane is 30 percent or $243.60 per foot and 40 percent or $324.80 per foot for Valley View Drive.”

        Bloom Lane:
        “A reason to consider Bloom Lane in an LID with Crocker Lane and Valley View Drive is not because P&W’s will expire in the near future, but because adding it to a larger project would result in reduced project costs and lower the assessments ultimately levied on the benefiting properties.”

  2. Eric Swanson says:

    Thanks for posting this. I do not think most people living in that area are aware this is going on.

    That said I am guessing a large number of those people would question sidewalks and curbs on Crocker before the same was done on Gibson hill road. Also I agree that a light at Crocker and Gibson hill should be higher priority before someone gets really hurt.

  3. Roger says:

    This proposed work will ruin a great running route. The wide flat shoulders along with the incline of Crocker make for a fantastic hill run up Crocker to the top of Valley View if one is fit enough. In my younger years it was the best fitness test around.

    Ironic that the city would do this project while there are other roads in North Albany where they have to paint the fog line on gravel for lack of any shoulders at all.

  4. Russell Williams says:

    So I live on Crocker lane and a good chunk of my property boarders Crocker. I had no idea this was even a discussion to add sidewalks here or a meeting that I missed tonight. I have no need or desire to have side walks here. Let alone paying one cent to pay for it. Who ever wants a side walk in front of my place can pay for it. I have better things to spend my money on. How can a city or whoever is pushing this require a property owner to pay for something they don’t want. Let’s go to your neighborhood and add a dog park or something you oppose And make you pay for it. If they want they can come build me a shop and I would glad spend my money on that.


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