After months of Covid-induced delays and other bumps along the way, the new Canby gateway arch project has finally risen over downtown Grant Street.
Inspired by the iconic gateway arch in Encinitas, California, the 84-foot span of hot-dip galvanized steel was officially set in place in mid-December, though it will be several months yet before it enters its final form. The arch stands 26 feet high at its tallest point.
“The Canby Gateway Arch is an exciting achievement for our city,” City Administrator Scott Archer — no relation — told The Canby Current. “Once completed, the arch will be a landmark, announcing to residents and visitors that you have arrived in Canby, and in particular to our downtown business core.”
The arch will be equipped with color-changing LED lighting designed to illuminate the pillars, arch and “Canby” sign each night while shining twin beacons skyward, and will also promote signage for local, city-sponsored events.
The fabricated steel archway and support columns were designed by Scott|Edwards Architecture to complement existing design motifs in the downtown core — particularly the Pacific Northwest flagstone-paved walls.
The columns will feature interpretative and commemorative plaques sharing the history of Canby and wrap-around bench seating to help activate the streetscape. There was also a plan to bury a time capsule at the landmark’s official dedication ceremony.
The arch is one aspect of city leaders’ continuing plans for revitalizing the community’s economic and culturally important downtown core, with the hope that it will entice new and returning visitors to leave Highway 99E and explore some of Canby’s independently owned stores, restaurants, cafes and watering holes.
“The Gateway Arch is going to create a lasting impact and will be a focal point to be highlighted when people are talking about Canby,” Archer said. “I believe the arch will become an iconic symbol for the city of Canby.”
The arch, which was tied in with the quiet zone project, was funded by Urban Renewal Agency funds.
The dual project’s costs have been a bit of a moving target. The quiet zone was most recently budgeted (in January 2021) at $1.4 million (including design, fees and construction), but those estimated have continued to rise due to additional safety requirements and changing Federal Railroad Administration regulations.
In addition to the design and construction costs, Union Pacific last year surprised — and frustrated — Canby leaders by implementing an annual maintenance fee for the three intersections totaling over $48,000, which the city will have to pay in perpetuity.
The long-debated and oft-maligned quiet zone project has also been positioned as an economic development tool, to enhance the livability of downtown Canby for residents, business owners, diners and other visitors.
It would make it so train engineers are no longer required to sound their horns as they pass the three intersections in downtown Canby — though they would still whistle if a car or pedestrian were in the crossing, or to alert people of other emergency situations.
The quiet zone designation, which had to be approved by Union Pacific Railroad and other authorities, including ODOT, comes part and parcel with a number of safety improvements at the three intersections, such as concrete medians designed to prevent cars from driving around the arms of the railroad gates.
The quiet zone will not actually take effect until the improvements are complete at all three intersections and Union Pacific Railroad officials have signed off on the change.
Remaining elements yet to be completed are the stonework on the two arch columns, as well as installation of the “Canby” lettering and lighting on the arch and interpretive plaques on the columns.
Archer said he anticipates the remaining arch elements will be completed and the quiet zone fully implemented by March. The exact date is dependent on weather and other factors.
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