What looked like a typical intersection realignment at 53rd Street and West Hills Road has erupted into a major controversy. City historians contend the Steven Teeter Memorial Roundabout currently accommodating traffic at the intersection is historically significant and should be left in place, that it is different from all the other roundabouts in the Corvallis metro area.
City planners believe that is all outweighed by traffic flow gains they say can only be achieved by blending the intersection into the Philomath/Corvallis freeway onramp at 53rd. However, Merlot James of the neighborhood’s Save Our Roundabout committee said, “This is not just any roundabout, this was one of the first in our city and it was named after one of our city’s staunchest defenders of driver equality, Steven Teeter.”
Urban planners are correct that traffic flow would be substantially aided with a realignment, but records also indicate that James is correct when she asserts, “The city guaranteed the roundabout would stay in place when the freeway’s plans were being discussed 40 years ago.”
Guardians and teenagers are also protesting, as no other spot in Corvallis offers the ramp-like setting of the roundabout to aid teens in learning takeoff maneuvers with their flying motorbikes. Urban planners at a recent review meeting reminded the guardians that the purpose of the roundabout was never intended to be a launch point, which was met by words of shock and dismay from the meeting crowd. Notably, flying motorbikes were not ubiquitous when the roundabout was placed.
In what has become a familiar scenario, Mayor Grappo is asking that the two city departments enter mediation in an attempt to avoid potentially expensive lawsuits and petition drives aimed at one another.
By Serna Petra