The Scoop: County commissioner believes Highway 20 conversation needs to get serious

It’s a concern for a lot of people in Philomath — transportation.

We’ve all been backed up in traffic on Highway 20 heading east to Corvallis. Whenever an application for development comes before the city, public hearings always include references from citizens expressing fears about the future of transportation in these parts. Highway 20 draws the most attention.

During a Tuesday afternoon meeting of the Benton County Board of Commissioners with city managers, Highway 20’s future came up.

“As we look at how Corvallis is growing and Philomath is growing, and with the potential for annexations in between the two, I find myself thinking about our transportation system plans … when we have to start thinking about upgrading our roads to handle the increased loads of people commuting back and forth from our communities,” Commissioner Xan Augerot said.

Augerot went on to say that she hopes that the county can soon begin a conversation about traffic corridors as development in this region continues.

“That’s a big topic and we have plenty on our plates right now, but I’m not looking forward to that part of Highway 20 over there becoming as bad as Highway 20 to Albany in terms of fatalities,” she said.

Philomath City Manager Chris Workman disagreed with Augerot’s comparison with those two sections of Highway 20. He made the point that the stretch from Corvallis to Albany has more open spaces which leads to higher speeds than what you see on the Philomath to Corvallis segment.

“I don’t think you have the speeds but you have more vehicles that we’re going to have to deal with,” Workman said. “That is something we need to look at and it’s in our plans. I know ODOT’s aware of it as far as the highway goes and Corvallis has it in their plans and we’ve got it in our plans. But it all costs a lot of money.”

Albany City Manager Peter Troedsson added, “One sure way to slow down the traffic is to put more, more and more cars on it … that’s what’s happening now.”

Many of us who live here in Philomath know about the alternative routes in and out of Corvallis.

“I think what’s going to happen over there on the west side of Corvallis and east side of Philomath is that people are going to start taking a lot of the secondary roads and we’re going to hear a lot about that, too, so it’s going to be a challenge,” Augerot said.

Philomath has various developments going on around town, the most significant being Millpond Crossing and Newton Creek Estates that at build-out will definitely have an impact on population and traffic. And it appears that there’s more to come.

Corvallis City Manager Mark Shepherd mentioned an upcoming annexation that will be going before his council.

“I’ll let you know that the council on March 1 will be entertaining an annexation out in southwest Corvallis — South Country Club Drive — so that does fall in line with the idea that development is going to continue to happen,” Shepherd said. “Certainly, west-southwest Corvallis is primed for those sorts of developments and annexations out there. I too anticipate that that will likely continue.”


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