2006: the year to finally stop the WEP

“Always do the right thing. It’ll gratify some and astonish the rest.”
-- Mark Twain

 

This was written before the formal "No Build" decision in 2007. Since that time, ODOT has begun the process of selling off land they bought for the WEP, which makes the project about as dead as a highway project can get.

 

WEP: Mostly Dead
but not Permanently Prohibited (2006)

The 2006 promise of the Oregon Department of Transportation to select "No Build” for the West Eugene Parkway Environmental Impact Statement is a positive development, but it is not permanent cancellation of the project.

In June 2001, ODOT, the federal government, Lane County and the City of Eugene decided to select "No Build,” a promise that was quickly forgotten after the Pape clan and Mayor Torrey pushed to put the porkway on the ballot. (City votes cannot approve nor reject Federal aid highways such as the WEP).

In 1996, the previous EIS was withdrawn after citizens sued the Federal Highway Administration. While that withdrawal stopped immediate construction plans, it merely meant that the highwaymen had to write a new EIS.

Several other controversial, destructive highways have had similar bureaucratic histories - an EIS is withdrawn or rejected in court, but a revised EIS is quickly prepared.

The WEP will be dead without the possibility of ressurection if and when ODOT (and the City) transfer or sell their land for the WEP to the BLM for conservation and restoration. This would prevent the highway from being revived in piecemeal form (which is illegal segmentation to avoid full disclosure of the impacts). Some proponents have suggested building half of the WEP (east of Beltline) instead of the full WEP through the BLM properties. While nearly all of the direct impact on Amazon Creek would be east of Beltline, the greatest acreage of wetland destruction would be west of Beltline, and nearly all of the impact to BLM lands and endangered species would be the west of Beltline section. If the ODOT properties and the City of Eugene property east of Beltline were transferred (or sold) to the BLM for conservation and restoration, it would be impossible to sneak through building the first part of the WEP under the guise of cancellation.

WEP Land Transfer
www.sustaineugene.com/transfer.html

Who Owns What in West Eugene
www.sustaineugene.com/lwcf.html

WEP slideshow: virtual tour, hidden history, WEP would worsen traffic, WETLANDS alternative
www.sustaineugene.com/wep-slideshow.pdf (13 megabyte PDF file)

a state-by-state database of Freeway Fights
www.road-scholar.org/freeway-fights.html

dead highways in Portland and Salem
(Mount Hood Freeway, I-505, and Western Bypass in Portland, I-305 in Salem)
www.sustaineugene.com/deadroad.html

Peak Traffic: Transportation Triage at the End of the Age of Oil
www.road-scholar.org/peak-traffic.html

It's anyone's speculation where oil prices and availability will be if the Middle East wars expand to include oil facilities. The WEP was designed for traffic congestion in the Year 2025 - but by nearly everyone's informed estimates, that will be on the downslope of oil availability and therefore traffic jams could be much reduced from current levels, making new highway construction moot.

 

Public support for WEP is dropping

1986: about 80% of Eugene voters endorsed the WEP
2000: 88% of Lane County voters reject a modest State gas tax for highway construction
2001: Measure 20-54 endorsing WEP passed 51% to 49% due to promises that “The Money Is There”
2004: 51% of Eugene voters choose Kitty Piercy for Mayor, who is a longtime, vocal WEP opponent

 

The long saga of the WEP over the past half-century could be finally coming to an end. If it was a good idea, it would have been built by now - it is an idea whose time is past. The only part that was built was the I-105 bridge over the long dead Roosevelt Freeway.

Local developer interests and the Oregon Department of Transportation have sought for decades to build a freeway through the heart of these natural areas. The highway would puncture Eugene's urban growth boundary in the direction of the burgeoning suburb of Veneta, fueling further "Californication" of the southern Willamette Valley.

 

three
options
for WEP
WEP :
assumes Peak Oil will not impact transportation
WETLANDS
Option 1:

If Peak Oil is here or near
WETLANDS
Option 2:

if Peak Oil is not yet here
Legal
Requirements
new Draft EIS with scoping of alternatives to meet legal requirements to include BLM in the scoping required as a "cooperating agency" A Categorical Exclusion might be adequate for safety and modest capacity fixes to existing roads, and modest new roads revise 1995 Beltline Environmental Assessment to construct "Phase 3" (Beltline to interstate standards to West 11th), modification of EA needed to move WEP / Beltline interchange to Roosevelt Blvd

 

early October 2005 update -- ODOT continues to waste money on doomed project

George W. Bush has urged citizens to conserve gasoline in the wake of Superhurricanes Katrina and Rita (which did lots of damage to offshore oil and gas rigs in the Gulf of Mexico). Peak Oil is finally receiving mainstream media attention. Yet, highway departments still pretend that gasoline supplies will stay constant and cheap for decades to come, and few politicians dare to make the connections between energy decline and the need to shift course in government spending.

The long planned West Eugene Parkway is now without a project manager -- he has been reassigned to supervise construction on the pending I-5 / Beltline interchange expansion project (over $100 million for that boondoggle, which was approved a few years ago in a process that deliberately ignored testimony about Peak Oil, climate change, fiscal constraints, and sensible solutions to deal with the traffic "weaving" problems at the interchange for much less money). Since George W. Bush has (finally) urged conservation, it would be a good thing for the Oregon Department of Transportation to keep the position of WEP Project Manager vacant and discontinue further work "studying" a project that is not going to be built. (The past three WEP project managers have all privately admitted it is unlikely to be built due to tremendous legal and financial problems.)

Peak Oil, climate change, environmental laws (those not yet abolished by Congress), rising cost, growing awareness the project is not needed -- these are among the reasons why the WEP is not going to be built.

The schedule for the "final" Environmental Impact Statement has slipped again, and it is not likely to be completed until sometime in 2006. In the summer of 2002, when the Torrey dominated Eugene City Council changed the local highway plans to promote most of the WEP, ODOT predicted the EIS process would be completed in mid 2003. WEP approval has been a year in the future since 1999 ... it is obvious the project is not going to be built. There is a possibility that it could start the first phase of construction, clearcutting Bertelsen Nature Park to build the Beltline to Seneca Road segment -- but that scenario would still require legal approval that could find enough money for completing the full project, and only $17 million has been appropriated toward the official price tag of $169 million (as of Fall 2004). Increasing fuel prices, cost overruns, and the ultimate completion of the WEP to Veneta (across Fern Ridge lake) and through Whiteaker (to I-105) would push the project much, much higher.

$1.7 million is being spent on completing the EIS -- roughly the same amount of money as would be required to fix intersections on West 11th from Beltline Road to Chambers Streets (extra turn lanes, safety improvements, better crosswalks, etc.). But that common sense repair would not enable local land speculators to build more unneeded ugliness in west Eugene and rural Lane County between Eugene and Veneta.

Please urge Governor Kulongoski to ask him to pull the plug on the WEP and to reorient the State of Oregon government toward sensible strategies to prepare for Peak Oil and climate change. The WEP has been wasting money since the mid 1950s, without a single square inch of pavement poured. It is long past time to abandon this foolishness -- there are much more urgent needs for post-Peak Oil planning. The true cost of the WEP is almost the amount of money that would be needed to upgrade the train tracks from Eugene to Portland for high speed Amtrak service -- a much more worthy public expenditure than a road designed to bring more shopping mauls to west Eugene and Veneta.

http://governor.oregon.gov/Gov/contact_us.shtml
MAIL
Governor Kulongoski
160 State Capitol
900 Court Street
Salem, Oregon 97301-4047

PHONE
Governor’s Citizens’ Representative Message Line 503.378.4582

FAX
503.378.6827

 

Government websites

Federal Highway Administration - Oregon Division
Environmental Guidebook

Oregon Department of Transportation

http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/REGION2/wep.shtml

West Eugene Wetlands home page - Bureau of Land Management
www.ci.eugene.or.us/wewetlands/     www.edo.or.blm.gov/recreation/wetlands/index.htm

Lane Council of Governments

City of Eugene

 

Now that the new Kitty Piercy administration has removed the City's support for the WEP, the City needs to rescind its intergovernmental agreement with ODOT to assume long term maintenance responsibility for the eastern half of the highway. The drivers of Eugene who thought (some still do) it would be a good idea did not vote any funds toward the project, and the City lacks the funds to even build the traffic lights on the WEP. After the complaints and hate mail from parkway promoters subsides, it will be more important for the City of Eugene to reorient long term planning priorities toward coping with Peak Oil and climate change. The City of Eugene can be reached at http://www.eugene-or.gov (a website recently redesigned and much more difficult to navigate or find specific "URL's" to particular pages).

Mayor Piercy recently suggested that there was a need for "mediation" on the WEP, although in June 2001 the City, County, State and Federal agencies met for a two day strategy session to discuss the WEP and concluded that the project should be canceled (ie. there's no need to "mediate" at this point). Former Mayor Jim Torrey was part of this consensus, although evidently changed his mind after the conference. However, none of the local government promoters of the WEP at the City or County ever offered to appropriate a single dime toward its construction costs.

 

www.registerguard.com/news/2005/12/13/ed.letters.1213.p1.php

Piercy wrong on parkway issue
Apparently, Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy never learned that two wrongs don't make a right. Never has that been clearer than by her actions and comments regarding the West Eugene Parkway.
First, she was wrong in her action to completely disregard the will of Eugene voters by casting a tie-breaking vote to withdraw City Council support for this important project.
Second, she's equally wrong to now be asserting that Eugene should go about the process to find some alternative to the parkway. If Mayor Piercy took those actions while simultaneously putting on the table an alternative solution that was planned, designed and budgeted for, I'd feel a little better. At least then I'd know she was serious about dealing with our transportation needs. But she's done nothing of the sort.
To add insult to injury, taxpayers like me who voted for the parkway will now get stuck with the bill to pay for some new process to find alternatives, which is precisely what we said we didn't want to do when we rejected Measure 20-53. Mayor Piercy must put her personal opinion and those of her no-growth friends aside and honor the will of the majority of voters.
For those of you who may disagree with me, I don't want to hear about the margin of victory on the parkway measures. If this is the case, we can recall any elected official who won only by small margin. Additionally, what part of mitigating wetland acres 2-to-1 don't people get?
MICHAEL CAPRAI
Eugene

[note: The letter above is correct to state that it was unfortunate that Mayor Piercy did not know what to recommend instead of WEP when she withdrew the City's support for the Federal Highway administration's WEP. On several occasions, this writer found that the Mayor seemed unaware and uninterested in either the 2001 West Eugene Charette (City, County, State, Federal "No Build" promise) or the WETLANDS alternative. If she had examined these options, it is likely she would have had a better approach in 2005 regarding the withdrawal of City support for the WEP and would have focused some attention on the minor road fixes ("Low Build") to existing roads that would improve traffic flow. Instead, the City supported more studies and the West Eugene Collaborative, an alleged consensus process that excluded West Eugene neighborhood organizations and WEP opponents (those who opposed all of the WEP, not merely a particular segment). The leaders of the West Eugnee
Also regarding the letter writer's assertion that wetland mitigation creates more wetlands than are destroyed by a paving project, the recreated wetlands do not have the same biological functions and integrity as wetlands whose biotic communities have developed over decades or centuries. High quality soils and botannical diversity take a long time to flourish. These natural processes can be sped up through intensive restoration efforts, but evolution always works better than mitigating damage.


West Eugene Parkway
Project Status Report and Forecast
November 2005

(from ODOT)

This report provides elected officials and local staff with an update on progress and major activities
accomplished during November 2005. It also provides a two-month look ahead at upcoming activities.

A. West Eugene Parkway (WEP) Activities: November 2005
• Schedule. ODOT prepared a revised project schedule that targets publication of the SFEIS and
submittal of a draft Record of Decision by the end of 2006.

• Interchange Area Management Plan (IAMP). ODOT identified June 2006 as the target date for
adoption of the Beltline Highway IAMP by the Oregon Transportation Commission. The primary
elements of the IAMP are currently under review within ODOT.

• Section 106 and Section 4(f). The project team completed the evaluation of eligibility of historic
resources and determinations of effect for the eligible resources – additional research is needed on
the Central Oregon and Pacific railroad (an eligible historic resource) crossing of Green Hill Road.
Work continued on preparing an assessment of the eligibility of land purchased using Land Water
and Conservation Fund for Section 4(f) protection using applicable plans, documents submitted by
the Bureau of Land Management and recent revisions to the City of Eugene’s parks and recreation
plan (adopted September 2005).

• Engineering. Draft capital cost estimates were prepared and are currently under review within
ODOT. BLM concurred with the proposed definition of the 2005 Approved Design alternative to
be examined in the BLM section of the SFEIS, with the 2005 Modified Project and the No-Build
alternatives. The project team issued the final draft for project boundaries/footprints, (e.g. limits of
cut and fill, impervious surface area, and right-of-way). The boundaries/footprints are currently
under review within ODOT.

• Public Involvement – The following were updated on the project web site
(http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/REGION2/wep.shtml): Fact Sheet; vicinity map; Question
and Answer for BLM and US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

• 404 Permit Process. Oregon Department of State Lands concurred with the second set of wetland
delineations for the area generally west of Beltline Highway and east of Seneca Street. ODOT and
USACE met to discuss the overall approach to the 404 permit process and to discuss how to best
move the process forward.

• Hydrology Study – Bi-weekly monitoring of piezometers (groundwater measurement instruments)
to measure changes in ground water levels adjacent to the proposed alignment will continue
through June 2006. Work was initiated on the hydrology impact analysis and summary technical
memorandum. Preliminary results are expected March 2006.

• Endangered Species Act Compliance. The USFWS issued proposed areas of critical habitat for
three Oregon species of concern for the WEP: Fenders’ blue butterfly (endangered); Kincaid’s
lupine (threatened); and, Willamette daisy (endangered). Research is ongoing to determine if any
of the proposed critical habitat would be located within the project study area and, if so, how it
might impact the analysis.

• Project Management. Ken Kohl, of ODOT in Springfield, was named as the Project Leader,
replacing Karl Wieseke who took another position within ODOT.

B. Two-Month Forecast – December/January 2005
• The Regional Planning Process. The Central Lane Metropolitan Planning organization and
L-COG will continue the process of adopting the modernization project priorities for the 2008-
2011 State Transportation Improvement Program and the 2006-2009 Metropolitan Transportation
Improvement Program.

• Engineering – Capital cost estimates will be completed. Design changes may be made to avoid or
minimize and mitigate potential hydrology impacts.

• Interchange Area Management Plan (IAMP) – ODOT will continue to work on preparing the
draft IAMP for the interchange at Beltline Highway and the WEP.

• Public Involvement. In response to a request from BLM, FHWA intends to issue a second Notice
of Intent (NOI) to publish a SFEIS, because BLM was not a Federal cooperating agency on the
project when the prior NOI was issued (1997). Issuance of the NOI is pending resolution of an
agreement between ODOT and USACE on how best to proceed with the 404 wetland fill permit
process.

• Hydrology Study. The piezometers will be monitored through June 2006 and other on-site tests
and measurements will be made. The hydrology impact analysis will be continued. The project
team will meet to review potential impacts and design changes that could be incorporated to avoid
or minimize and mitigate impacts.

• 404 Permit. The project team will complete the wetlands functional analysis. ODOT will continue
to meet with the USACE concerning the project’s general approach, evaluation criteria, range of
alternatives and initial impact analysis.

• Other Environmental Analysis. Based on the fixed proposed project design, the other various
environmental analyses will be continued and, where impacts are identified, mitigation measure
will be incorporated into the project. A coordination meeting between ODOT and USFWS will
occur concerning Endangered Species Act compliance, the preparation of a Biological Assessment
and issuance of a Biological Opinion.

More information about the West Eugene Parkway can be found at ODOT’s Region 2 website:
http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/REGION2/wep.shtml

 


 

Some governmental staff and certain political leaders have consistently misled the public about the size and cost of the West Eugene Parkway. In November 2001, the TransPlan amendment process announced that the Beltline Phase 3 project would be put into the "Future" list even though the 1997 Supplemental Draft EIS stated that the WEP / Beltline interchange would be required for the WEP to function properly. These concerns were ignored (to no one's surprise) and the majority of the Eugene City Council, Lane County Commissioners and Springfield City Council rubberstamped the "futuring" of part of the parkway while claiming the whole thing was now in the Fiscal Constrained list. (To their shame, the Lane Transit District had no dissent to the proposal to build a new expressway to puncture the Urban Growth Boundary, which would further reduce funds and ridership for transit service.)

After these local plans were changed, ODOT admitted the obvious -- the WEP / Beltline interchange is indeed needed after all to make the WEP work, and therefore, the Lane Council of Governments / City of Eugene / City of Springfield / Lane County / Lane Transit District "futuring" of the interchange project showed that the WEP was not entirely fiscally constrained. This remains the case even though the interchange and Beltline widening is now considered part of the WEP by ODOT -- this linguistic sleight-of-hand does not increase the funds for the project by the necessary tens of millions of dollars, and there is no way that the Supplemental Final EIS can be completed without finding a lot more money for the Porkway.

Segmentation is a very well established concept in federal environmental law. It is why FHWA ruled there was not "legal sufficiency" in 1996 when Save Our ecoSystems filed suit to stop WEP construction (FHWA did not defend the WEP in court, since the project was extremely illegal), and in 2000 when the WEP's final EIS was withdrawn due to severe legal problems (the local governments' refusal to allocate our share of federal highway dollars for the WEP).

The proposal to make the eastern segment of the WEP from Beltline to 99 a "local" road is a confirmation that the WEP does not work and would not meet the purpose and need (which was, in part, to connect I-105 to Oregon 126). If ODOT cannot craft a WEP design to meet its standards and wants to use the City's standards, then the City should propose raise taxes on Eugene citizens to pay for this part of the project -- which would determine how many people really want the WEP (if it comes with a price tag). But even if this were done, all of the WEP would still need to be approved by the federal Environmental Impact Statement process, which prohibits segmentation of a large project into smaller pieces to avoid full disclosure of impacts. It's worth remembering that Lane County voters voted 8 to 1 against a modest gas tax increase in 2000 that would have been used for increased road construction.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/guidebook/vol2/doc12a.pdf
The “Development of Logical Project Termini” report discusses a similar case.
“III. Case Law
“The major court case for highway projects relative to project termini involved Brackenridge Park in San Antonio, Texas (San Antonio Conservation Society Members v. Texas Highway Department and USDOT. 446 F.2d 1013 (5th Cir. 1971)). With this project, years of controversy had stalled the "North Expressway" in San Antonio, primarily because the highway would use as many as 250 acres of Brackenridge Park located in the middle section of this planned expressway. As a compromise, and to satisfy competing interests, the Secretary of Transportation had allowed the two outer sections of the road to be advertised for construction, while not approving the controversial center section. In overturning this decision, the court specifically addressed this compromise as inappropriate and as forcing eventual construction through the park in the middle segment. "Patently, the construction of these two 'end segments' to the very border, if not into, the Parklands, will make destruction of parklands inevitable, or, at least, will severely limit the number of 'feasible and prudent' alternatives to avoiding the Park.”
“This decision stated that project termini must be selected to ensure that environmental matters are treated on a broad scope and to prevent a highway improvement from being a "loaded gun," forcing further improvements which may have negative consequences not addressed in environmental studies. Additional urgency was given by the court to not forcing an action which would use 4(f) land.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------

None of the options studied in ODOT's revisions in 2003 developed a road design that would actually work for West Eugene. The presumptive preferred alternative - designated "Alternative A Mitigated" - still results in Level of Service F at Roosevelt and Highway 99 (one of the more important intersections in west Eugene). No design that was affordable developed a method of addressing traffic congestion at Seneca and WEP -- so left turns will be prohibited for WEP motorists at this intersection (which will make for circuitous trips for people wishing to access West 11th businesses such as Fred Meyer). Bertelsen and Seneca would need to be widened to four lanes, which would have additional creek smotherings, wetland fills and residential and commercial impacts / displacements. The two different versions unveiled in 2005 continue this "no left turn" proposal.

Widening Bertelsen and Seneca Roads would increase the smothering of Amazon Creek's A-3 tributary, which would probably require a West Eugene Wetlands Plan amendment. It certainly nullifies any claims by any government that supports this project that they care about the health of Amazon Creek, "sustainability," or any form of environmental protection. It would be better if the planners still pushing this doomed freeway were to admit that their policies appear to be that pavement is more important than protecting the planet. Of course, if we had campaign finance reform in Oregon, the WEP debate would have been settled years ago -- it would have joined the Mt. Hood Freeway in Portland, I-40 through Overton Park in Memphis, the interstate through Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, the Boston "Inner Belt," and I-105 through south Eugene in the "Dead Highways" hall of fame.

Most intriguing is the admission that ODOT planners have been "unable to obtain documentation on how the SDEIS cost estimates were prepared" -- in other words, the years of government claims that the WEP would cost $88 million had no evidence to justify them. Now, the official estimate is $169 million, but this does not include the related West 11th widening to Green Hill, 6th and 7th Avenue intersection work (needed for WEP traffic to I-105), and the future extension to Veneta, which Lane County estimated in 2002 would cost $13.319 million (widening 126 to four lanes across the lake). This also doesn't include the cost of a future intersection upgrade or grade separation at WEP / Seneca (to cope with driver frustration at the lack of access). The WETLANDS estimate of $150 million in 2002 looks like an understatement. At least one WEP alternative studied in 2003 was even more expensive than this estimate. These cost estimate increases are because the full scope of the project was consistently downplayed (ie. the interchange at Beltline), not because of environmentalist opposition.The STIP list also requests the start of a study for widening Beltline from Coburg Road to River Road. This would be another huge subsidy to the "heart transplant" - the relocation of Peace Health hospital to the McKenzie River floodplain (and the subsequent proposal to relocate McKenzie Willamette hospital to a golf course in north Eugene). Tens of millions, at least, would be spent to widen the Belt Line to feed traffic to Peace Health and to widen Delta Highway for McKenzie Willamette hospital.

This widening would require the reconstruction of the Delta Highway, Norkenzie and Gilham overpasses, since none of these bridges have room for more lanes on Beltline. In addition, several places lack sufficient right-of-way for more lanes, so there would be major impacts on the residential neighborhoods between Coburg Road and Delta, and on the businesses between the river and River Road. It will be interesting to see the political fallout when pavement-at-any-cost politicians such as (outgoing) Mayor Torrey and Councilor Pape tell their neighbors in the Norkenzie area that they will lose their backyards, if not their homes, so that more lanes can be added to the highway system to facilitate speculative development planned by an out of state hospital corporation masquerading as a "non-profit."

Meanwhile, the $5 billion in bridge repairs and replacements for I-5 and I-84 is only one-third funded. This is a violation of the Oregon Highway Plan, which places bypasses as the lowest priority level for funding. The OHP also prioritizes projects that have some local matching funds and the City of Eugene never offered a single dime toward construction of WEP.

Some of the most important meetings on local transportation issues are held at the least convenient times for citizens to attend -- 11:30 am on weekdays (when citizens are least likely to take time from their work to attend - early lunch time?). Nevertheless, LCOG, the Cities, and County pretend that there is a public involvement process even though few public officials or their unelected staff are swayed one iota by any public comments. One would need to be very naive to assume that dissenting views such as mine are taken seriously toward developing sensible policies -- apart from the possible adverse political and legal consequences that these dissents could cause for the promoters of the so-called parkway.

Since the 2001 election, LCOG developed an entirely new growth forecast for west Eugene so that the WEP would be given yet another chance for approval. ODOT's consultant found that the severe traffic congestion levels predicted on the WEP in the 1997 SDEIS (projections made for the year 2015) became completely unmanageable when pushed back to the year 2025 (when ten more years of sprawl would further increase the traffic snarls). As a consequence, LCOG scaled back growth projections in west Eugene so that the WEP would not need to accommodate as much traffic, but did not bother to solicit even token public input for this effort. No public notices were sent out informing the community that they were spending our money to do this. No public (dis)information meetings were held. No public hearings to solicit public testimony. No forums by the Cities, County or any one else were offered for citizens to learn what their employees were doing to the long term plans for the region. How is this democratic? How does this meet Goal One of the state land use laws that require public accountability and participation? How does this meet public involvement requirements for Environmental Impact Statements? Will there be any reprimands of those who worked in secret to bypass the public from participation in these issues?

This new development is one of many reasons why a new EIS is needed if the local governments and ODOT continue to promote this failed freeway project. It would be greatly preferable for ODOT to make good on its June 2001 pledge to pick NO BUILD for the WEP, and divert WEP money to finish Beltline and fix 99 / Roosevelt. One cost estimate suggests that fixing the intersection problems on West 11th would cost $2 million -- which is half of the cost spent to study, and study, and study the WEP. If ODOT had indeed selected NO BUILD nearly three years ago, they could have transferred the money, published an Environmental Assessment on the new proposals, and had completed much of the intersection work, Beltline completion and other efforts in the area by now. Instead, the stranglehold on the transportation planning process by land speculators, construction equipment companies, sand and gravel miners and their favored politicians has delayed these practical, cheaper solutions -- which benefits no one.

Many news media, including the New York Times, have run major stories about oil supplies in Saudi Arabia, and how they will be unable to expand production to the levels that the US is hoping for (to mitigate for declining production in other parts of the world). The petroleum geologists debate whether we are near, or at, the peak of petroleum production. I've included a list of resources on the web where you can learn more about the fact that the fuel source that powers our civilization will be slowing down, and therefore, must be factored into long term transportation planning.

The WETLANDS alternative would better address the many needs of the community as the era of cheap oil transitions into the era of expensive oil.

How will we use the remaining oil: as a "bridge" toward a renewable energy society (solar panels, windmills, relocalizing production) or for more Wal-Marts, freeways and a military empire to engage in an ultimately fruitless effort to steal other nation's resources while they still exist? Cancelling the WEP is an important component of this fundamental choice -- what our great-grand children need us to do -- to conserve non-renewable resources and ensure that we don't wreck the habitability of the planet any more than we have already done.