If you’re wondering why the extension of Oak Street to Pacific Boulevard in Albany remains blocked months after being finished, you’re not alone. Members of the city council wonder the same thing, and they ask about it just about every time they meet.
According to Public Works Director Mark Shepard and City Councilman Bill Coburn, the answer boils down to a snag connected to the new traffic signals on Oak Street, at Ninth Avenue and on Pacific a short block away. After the signals were finished last fall, the Oregon Department of Transportation determined they needed something else before they could be turned on. Just what these parts are has not been mentioned. The contractor that installed the lights does not believe the extra parts are necessary but ordered them anyway — from a manufacturer in Canada. This was weeks ago. The parts apparently were shipped but, as of last Wednesday when Coburn last spoke about this, had not turned up and could not be found.
The city has pressed ODOT for an OK to unwrap the signals and turn them on, but as of last week had not gotten an answer. Meanwhile, council members say an occasional motorist is confused by the signals and will slow or stop, expecting them to work.
The Oak Street project and lights, totaling some $4 million, was deemed necessary so Lowe’s could build a big store at Ninth and Oak. Lowe’s has told the city it still wants to build, but I’ve seen no activity on the site. (hh)
Tom Cordier responded on April 14: I don’t care about the lights not working. Why can’t the new and improved streets be fully used. Everything is blocked off or restricted. Who determined the lights were required now. There is no Lowes yet–maybe never; so what’s the need for the lights to control nonexistent traffic? Common sense is missing again.