map and details
Option if Peak Oil is not yet here
includes grade separations at Roosevelt / Beltline and West 11th / Beltline
WETLANDS has designed a practical alternative to the WEP that draws heavily from ODOT's own statements on what the agency will do when the WEP is cancelled.
The first segment of the WEP freeway would slice through the Bertelsen Nature Park forests. Currently, the Oregon Department of Transportation is working to finish the Environmental Impact Statement by mid-2006 (a goal that has been a year in the future for the past six years).
The highway is over budget, has severe technical flaws (it wouldn't solve west Eugene traffic problems), and is one of the most illegal highways ever proposed in the United States.
Oregon Dept of Transportation (ODOT) planners have been “unable to obtain documentation on how the ... cost estimates were prepared” - they can’t remember how they determined it would cost $88 million. Now, the official estimate is $169 million).
This price tag does not include the related West 11th widening from Terry Street to Green Hill, 6th and 7th Avenue intersection widening, and the eventual WEP extension to Veneta. In spring 2002, Lane County estimated that widening 126 to four lanes from the WEP to Veneta (across the lake) would cost $13.319 million. The $128 million estimate also omits the future intersection upgrade or grade separation at WEP / Seneca (to cope with driver frustration at the lack of access), The WEP's current design would not have left turn lanes from the WEP onto Seneca (at the current 5th / Seneca intersection), since ODOT was not able to craft a design that would not create a massive traffic snarl.
ODOT has consistently downplayed the cost of the full scope of the project (ie. the interchange between Beltline and the WEP). Environmental opponents are not responsible for the WEP’s increased cost. This “segmentation” of the full project cost is similar to a car salesman providing a cost estimate for a fancy new car that omitted the cost of the engine and the wheels in an effort to make the car seem more affordable.
|summary of WETLANDS alternative|
"For the purposes of the Belt Line project description, the WEP is assumed
to be a related project that will be constructed, even under the No-Build Alternative.
In the event that the WEP is not constructed, the access [from Roosevelt] would
be adjusted to best fit the new scenario."
– Belt Line Environmental Assessment (ODOT), 1995, p. 57
The WETLANDS alternative includes the following elements:
- transfer ODOT highway funds appropriated for WEP to finish Beltline (from Roosevelt to West 11th). There are two options for doing this:
WETLANDS Alternative Option 1 - if Peak Oil is here or near
intersection widening at W. 11 and Beltline (extra left turn from eastbound 11 to northbound BL, extra right and left turn lanes on south bound BL) and median strip on BL between 11 and Roosevelt for safety (a "Super Two" highway)
WETLANDS Alternative Option 2 - if Peak Oil is not yet here
interchange at Beltline / Roosevelt (same shape as BL / WEP interchange in 1995 Environmental Assessment - ramps in NW and SE quadrants), widen Beltline to four lanes from Roosevelt to West 11 th, partial interchange at W 11th / BL (wide ramp southbound BL to westbound 11 similar to Main Street / 126 intersection in Springfield, plus east bound 11 to westbound Beltline 270 degree overpass ramp)
- repair ODOT Highway 99 between Roosevelt Blvd and Garfield, including replacement of the cracked 99 bridge over the railroad tracks, double left turn lanes from 99 to westbound Roosevelt
- fix West 11th from Beltline to Chambers with intersection improvements (turn lanes, better crosswalks) - which would cost about $2 million, roughly the amount being spent to complete the Supplemental Final Environmental Impact Statement. Turn lanes are a much more cost effective method of addressing traffic congestion than overpriced expressways that avoid currently populated areas.
- a few new modest roads
the First-99-Second connector, a new road from First and Seneca to 99 and then to Second and Garfield (this would provide improved circulation for the West Eugene Industrial Area at much less cost than WEP, and would be more effective)
new roads between Bethel Drive and NW Expressway once the rail yards are abandoned and cleaned up;
Barger Road Extended from 99 to NW Expressway
- new bicycle paths, bicycle lanes and safety improvements for existing paths
- nodal, transit oriented development opportunities at Second and Garfield. The suggested mixed-use development for 7th and Seneca (behind Fred Meyer) is now impossible due to the Home Depot megastore.
- sped up time table for the Bus Rapid Transit regional network along W. 11th and Hwy 99
- transfer ODOT properties for WEP to the Bureau of Land Management's West Eugene Wetlands Project for restoration of native habitats (this would be proof of the WEP’s cancellation and is the logical outcome for most of the parcels purchased for the parkway)
- an economic development initiative to examine how the Eugene area could shift from a "boom and bust" economic model toward sustainability.
- renewable energy businesses (a high tech industry likely to stay in business for decades),
- eventual conversion of RV companies to Bus Rapid Transit vehicle manufacture (of particular importance once gas becomes expensive),
- shift of grass seed production in the valley to food and seed oil production (which would increase food and energy security, and decrease health threats from allergens and unnecessary smoke), this could include planting of meadowfoam (a native wet prairie plant that makes valuable seed oils) and canola (for food and for biodiesel),
- more community gardens and protection of prime farm soils needed for future food production,
- selective forestry (which increases board feet while protecting habitat) instead of clearcut deforestation.
|Impact||West Eugene Parkway||WETLANDS Alternative|
|Wetland destruction||WEP at least 55 acres of direct (footprint) impact, with hundreds of acres in indirect impacts (on both sides of Beltline). Future extension to Veneta across Fern Ridge might have even greater direct impact. This violates the West Eugene Wetlands Plan, since wetlands designated "protect" are not to be paved over once a public agency (BLM) buys them for conservation.||minimal wetland impact, mostly from additional turn lanes. Somewhat higher (but still much less than WEP) if 11th / Beltline flyover ramp or Beltline / Roosevelt interchange is built.|
|Legality||The WEP is one of the most illegal highways ever proposed in the US. It would violate the Clean Water Act (wetlands destruction), Clean Air Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, Federal Highway design standards for freeways, the Oregon Highway Plan, Oregon's Statewide Planning Goals (which prohibit freeways outside the UGB), the Endangered Species Act, environmental justice guidelines (the WEP would disproportionately impact low income neighborhoods), BLM policies on protection of lands bought with Land and Water Conservation Funds, and Section 4(f) of the Transportation Act (which prohibits federally funded transportation projects through parks and wildlife refuges if there aren't any "prudent and feasible" alternatives). WEP would have about a mile of roadway impact outside the UGB, with about five more if extended along 126 to Veneta.||The WETLANDS alternative fulfills the requirements of several federal laws to avoid or minimize impacts to wetlands and parks. It would make the long term (rest of the era of cheap oil) regional transportation budget more likely to be affordable and meet “fiscal constraint.” It also respects City of Eugene Growth Management Policies and the prioritization established by the Oregon Highway Plan.|
|Amount of time examining alternatives||ODOT and its predecessor agencies have planned some form of expressway in west Eugene since 1951. But, they have never looked at a land use / transportation alternative that would substitute for the freeway. ODOT did concede at the June 2001 "West Eugene Charette" that the WEP was unlikely to be built and recommended a "No Build" option instead, although a land use / transportation alternative would be more comprehensive than merely choosing "No Build."||Those involved with the alternative have thought about the West Eugene land use / transportation connection for several years, including a review of the full history of the highway project over the past several decades.|
|Bertelsen Nature Park||substantial deforestation, maximum encroachment on Bertelsen Slough||no impact|
|Amazon Creek A-3 tributary||WEP would relocate one quarter mile of creek (near Beltline), would culvertize about 700 feet of the creek, would dump pollutants into the creek (road runoff)||no impacts to A-3
(moderate impacts if Beltline is widened from Roosevelt to West 11th)
|wet prairie||WEP would decimate one of the last remaining refuges for this extremely rare ecosystem||no impact (Option 1)
minor impact (Option 2)
|farmland||modest direct impact on farmland, and major indirect impacts due to the eventual UGB expansion||no UGB expansion, protection of farmlands|
|finances||The most recent WEP cost estimate is $169 million (December 2004). This is about double the cost used to sell the project during the 2001 City of Eugene advisory referendum.||The road part of the WETLANDS Alternative Option 1 could be mostly built with the $17 million supposedly appropriated by ODOT for the first segment of the WEP. Option 2 (if Peak Oil is not yet here) would be more expensive and would require more shuffling around of funds, but it would still be much cheaper than WEP.|
|WETLANDS Alternative Cost||Option 1:
Peak Oil is here or near
Peak Oil not yet here
|Belt Line completion||widened intersection at West 11th, Belt Line median strip
from Roosevelt to West 11th
a couple million?
|Roosevelt / Belt Line interchange, widen Belt Line to 4 lanes,
eastbound to northbound fly-over ramp at West 11th
$25 million or more
|“Urban Standards” upgrade to 99 from Roosevelt to Garfield, 99 - Roosevelt intersection upgrade||
$5 million for “Urban Standards” (from TransPlan “future” list)
this is probably an underestimate since the Highway 99 bridge over the railroad track is worn out and needs replacement
|West 11th from Terry to Green Hill (UGB)||add median strip
$1 million or less?
|widen to four lanes
First / 99 / Second connector
Barger Road Extended to NW Expressway
Trainsong Connector from Bethel to NW Expressway
|West 11th intersections: Belt Line to Chambers||
|126 safety upgrades: Green Hill Road to Veneta (median strip, shoulders, passing lanes)||
a couple million?
|5th and 7th Avenue resurfacing (Seneca to 99), new traffic lights (5th and Seneca, First and Bertelsen, WETLANDS new roads)||
|Total costs||less than the $17.3 million appropriated for WEP Phase 1A||$38 million or more
the cost of WEP Phase 1A plus the “futured” cost of Belt Line Phase 3 and West 11th widening to UGB