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.