The Row River Trail will undergo some construction this summer in an effort to make two of the trail intersections with Row River Road safer. I recently had the chance to talk with Lydia McKinney, Senior Planner at Lane County, and got an update on the intended changes.
First, a bit of history. You may have noticed when I write about the trail, I often warn people to be cautious about its intersections with our rural highways. The trail intersects with county highways in four locations and visibility at these intersections is often limited which can be especially dangerous when you consider how fast some vehicles are traveling. Two people have been killed where the trail intersects with Row River Road at milepost 4 (near the Grange), Claude Weimer in 2007 and Michele Portmann in 2011.
Immediately following Ms. Portmann’s death the County worked with the BLM (which owns that portion of the trail) to implement several low cost, uncomplicated improvements to improve safety, including larger stop signs for trail users and signs warning drivers of the trail crossings.
All of the trail intersections were evaluated, according to Ms. McKinney, and priority was given to the intersection at milepost 4 because of the two fatalities which happened there. Those of you who read the Cottage Grove Sentinel know that the city has been working at this intersection to move water mains in preparation for a bike tunnel. When I talked with Ms. McKinney, she said a contractor had been selected and work on the under crossing is expected to begin in May. She also said the next intersection of the trail with Row River Road (at mile post 5.4) will also be worked on this summer as the trail gets realigned for better visibility. This is the intersection just before the dam where the road curves down off the hill.
Ms. McKinney also noted that several bike events are happening in Cottage Grove this summer, and they will be working around these schedules.
The two other intersections — at Layng Road and again along Row River Road further up by Bake Stewart Park — have less traffic. Improvements here will include better signage and striping, however these have yet to be funded.
If you are headed out to the trail this summer, please be aware of construction, and always, please be cautious at the intersections. I think people get so caught up in their ride, that some forget about the intersections, and despite the safety improvements, a bicyclist, skateboarder, or walker will never come out the winner against a car going 55 mph.