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Day: March 27, 2012

Bike lanes coming on Sunset Ave.; not everyone likes it

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

Some Sunset Avenue residents don’t like the city’s proposed plan for upgrading their street, with plans including bicycle lanes and resurfacing – but no sidewalks.

Designated a collector street – busier than a typical residential road – it’s atop the city’s priority list for resurfacing. Bill Lawyer, interim public works director, said the project is identified among needs in the city’s transportation systems plan. Cost estimates weren’t yet available, but a letter from Lawyer to residents on the street said it’s a priority during the 2012-13 paving season.

The street runs west from River Road to Rivercrest Drive, with Sunset Park at the end. There’s a swimming pool and public park just south of Sunset, on Fifth Avenue N.

The project will also shift the street slightly southward to place the center of the roadway in the middle of the city’s right-of-way.

And with resurfacing needed, it makes sense to add bicycle lanes at the same time, he said.

But some, like Tim Brannies, think it’s an unnecessary expense that could drastically reduce parking on the street’s south side and cause drivers to go faster.

“And I don’t want bike lanes, period,” Brannies said. “There’s not enough bike traffic, in my estimation, to warrant them. If they put bike lanes in, it’s going to increase the speed that traffic travels down the street.”

Keizer Police Capt. Jeff Kuhns said his agency will put in place an education and enforcement plan to keep speeds down on the street. He said several residents complained about speeders on McLeod Lane after it was widened, but added enforcement and temporarily placed a radar reader board to show drivers just how fast they were going.

Brannies gathered a petition with signatures from 29 residents opposing the project. A meeting with city staff and residents is set for 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 28, at the Keizer Civic Center.

Elizabeth Bauman lives with her children on the street, and said they have no choice but to watch out for traffic when walking on the street.

“We can’t avoid it,” she said. “We are very careful about how we’re walking. You have to be. A lot of cars are not ware of you. It just makes us a little more nervous.”

But Lawyer said that would add dramatically to the project’s cost because the street doesn’t currently have a storm drainage system.

Jessica Rickard works at Keizer Happy Days, a daycare that’s been on the street since the 1980s. She also doesn’t see a whole lot of bicycle traffic, and questions the need for any improvements.

“There used to be a bus stop in front here,” pointing to the front of the business. “I could see (a sidewalk) then, but not anymore.”

Brannies would be all for sidewalks, curbs and gutters, he said.

Data from the Keizer Police Department going back to 2003 shows a handful of hit-and-run accidents have been reported through the years, with most accidents at the intersection with River Road.

What’s your Iris Memory?

It’s been 25 years since the full-blown, three-day event known as the Iris Festival first took place in Keizer, but the parade and carnival tradition known alternatively as Keizerfest and Keizer Days goes back well before that.

Whether you were born and raised around the parade – or came to love it with your own kids – we want to know what makes Keizer’s signature event so special.

That could be pictures. Or maybe a commemorative souvenir. Or even just your favorite memory from watching, walking or riding in the parade.

We plan to feature your memories in the official Iris Festival Guide, published by the Keizertimes. Photos and mementos can be emailed to [email protected], dropped off at our office at 142 Chemawa Road N. or mailed here. If you’d like your photos returned, please include a self-addressed stamped envelope.