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A 45-year dream of city, Oregon State University officials and community members is about to become a reality.

The final leg of the Gateway Walk, designed to link the Willamette River, downtown Corvallis and OSU via Madison Avenue, will be officially opened with a 4 p.m. Wednesday ceremony. The last piece of the project runs on Madison between Ninth Street and 11th street and includes a pedestrian median, new landscaping, benches, plaques and banners. A new historical sign that tells the story of the beginnings of the college and the involvement of Corvallis residents will be in place for the ceremony, said David Livingston of the Madison Avenue Task Force.

“It is very comforting … for so many reasons,” Livingston said of the project's conclusion. “This walkway invites visitors to linger, to sit, and eventually, to read historical panels on the early beginnings of the town and college that will give visitors a better understanding of this place.”

The project began in 1973 with a collaboration between OSU President Robert MacVicar and Corvallis Mayor Don Walker with the goal of connecting campus to downtown. The task force began meeting in 1974. Since then the group has put in place the following pedestrian amenities:

• Plazas at The Arts Center, City Hall and Eighth and Madison.

• Pedestrian-friendly sidewalks and intersections along Madison.

• Six bronze sculptures.

• Sixteen historical panels.

• Fifteen alley art installations.

• Ten thousand spring bulbs planted.

• The upgrade of The Arts Center Plaza, including historical lighting.

• Howland Plaza at Riverfront Park.

The final piece of the project, between Ninth and 11th, cost $385,000. And, like the entire walk, it was the product of a three-way collaboration between the task force, the city and OSU. The task force raised approximately $200,000, with the university chipping in $167,500. The final piece, $16,500, was contributed by OSU’s Class of 1966 as part of a 50th reunion gift.

The task force paid the city of Corvallis Public Works Department to take care of the design, construction and inspection work. The brick pedestals are intended to mirror the style of OSU's master architect, John Bennes.

The event is part of OSU’s 150th anniversary celebration and will feature speeches by OSU President Ed Ray, Corvallis Mayor Biff Traber and others (see the information box for more details on the ceremony).

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Contact reporter James Day at jim.day@gazettetimes.com or 541-758-9542. Follow at Twitter.com/jameshday or gazettetimes.com/blogs/jim-day.

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