CORVALLIS, Ore. – Construction is underway at an intersection that pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers have been complaining about for years.
Oregon State University has partnered with the City of Corvallis for an estimated $4.3 million construction project to re-align the intersection of 15th Street and Washington Way.
The area serves as a main artery into campus, but a curve makes it difficult for crossing pedestrians and for drivers who are wanting to make a left-hand turn.
“It’s really difficult especially because of this curve,” said Omar Abdulaziz, an OSU student who walks through the area at least a few times a day.
Some pedestrians say they will go around to avoid crossing at the intersection at Washington Way.
“I purposefully use this intersection (closer to Jefferson Ave.) so I don’t have to deal with that S-curve down there where you can’t see if a car’s coming or you have to make that awkward jog-run across the street because there’s a car coming all of a sudden,” said OSU student Leslie Wolff.
The City of Corvallis and OSU are taking action – they are changing the look of the area.
“Right now is the first phase,” said Nathan Patterson, the Associate Civil Engineer working on the project. “This phase is the shop demolition which is going to be making way for the Washington Way realignment.”
Old OSU warehouses were recently torn down on the corner of the intersection in order to widen Washington Way. Come September, the area will look completely different.
“The intersection is being re-aligned,” said Mike Blair, Engineer of Record. “And Washington Way is being moved to the north to relocate it out of the railroad’s right of way.”
The realignment means wider streets, turn lanes, bike lanes, and a traffic light.
But not everyone is convinced that a light is the best idea.
“A turn lane might help, but I’m not sure that a traffic light is necessary,” said Sean Murray, an OSU student. “I think it’s already better now with the building gone. You can see pedestrians better.”
Abdulaziz thinks a pedestrian light would be the best idea – but not a normal traffic signal. He thinks a light will clog the area more.
“It’s going to cause trouble,” he said. “Come here at 5:00 and it’s going to take you ten minutes to get to that traffic light (15th St. and Western Blvd).”
But others say the light will help pedestrians safely cross.
“Once it has the street lights I think it will be easier for pedestrians to get across,” Wolff said.
Engineers say the turn lanes are going to help de-clog the area. They are expecting more road travel this fall, after a new residence hall opens in the area.
Within the coming years, Blair says the plan is to extend Washington Way all the way to 10th Street.
Beginning next month, Washington Way will be closed between 15th Street and Benton Place. Then starting in May, sections of 15th Street will be closed off while the construction is done in phases. Detours will be set in place.