West Eugene Collaborators
welcomed proposal to build half of the "canceled" West Eugene Parkway -
"half WEP" proposal dropped after complaints
"No matter how cynical you get, it's hard to keep up."
-- Lily Tomlin
- Crandall Arambula, a 2002 "fake alternative" for the WEP that was worse than the official option
- West Eugene Collaborators: two flavors of elites exclude neighborhood organizations
In March 2008, the West Eugene Collaborative held a "design storming" session to solicit ideas for changes to West Eugene transportation plans and land use zoning. The map below was derived from this session, which included a mix of some sensible ideas along with some concepts that would be physically impossible to implement and some truly bizarre nonsense.
Some of their ideas make sense. Some are incredibly stupid that suggests they are either idiots or duplicitous (deliberately promoting nonsense to discredit). It is curious how the City's top priority for a near term project in west Eugene didn't get mentioned by any of the City staff who are among the collaborators.
It is a waste of people's time (and public money) to rehash stupid ideas to revive the WEP or to propose ideas that are technically impossible (transit way through people's homes) or logistically ridiculous (light rail to the coast).
"New Transit / Multiway Boulevard Along West Eugene Parkway w/ Nodal Development"
"Memorialize Efforts to Stop WEP With Park"
the original map (high quality) is downloadable from a website maintained by Kevin Matthews, the "president" of Friends of Eugene and participant in the WEC meetings. A disclaimer: this author (Mark Robinowitz) was kicked off a legal committee paid for by Friends of Eugene in 2002 for opposing the Crandall Arambula worse version of the WEP that was championed by the committee's other two participants (Mary O'Brien and Rob Handy). If their worse version had been used as the basis for a Federal lawsuit to block the WEP, they would almost certainly lost an otherwise solid legal case and the WEP would be under construction now (in 2008).
Proposals in West Eugene Collaborators "Design Storm" map
|new transit / multiway boulevard along West Eugene Parkway w/ Nodal Developments||a sneaky way to bring back half of the West Eugene Parkway. In the past, several Collaborators who supposedly represent the environmental and /or community perspectives have suggested that the only area that really deserved protection was between Green Hill Road and Danebo Road (the floodplain forests east of Beltline are apparently not worth protecting according to this world view)|
|Memorialize Efforts to Stop WEP with Park||this would supposedly be built next to Bertelsen Slough, although the map also shows a proposal for the alleged "boulevard" (ie. the WEP) being built in the same location.|
|Connect Roosevelt Bike Path w/ Amazon Path||part of the long planned but indefinitely delayed completion of Beltline Highway. If the June 2001 "No Build" intergovernmental consensus had been implemented this bike path connector would be built by now.|
|Rezone Industrial to Mixed-Use / High Density||this would remove much of the industrial base for West Eugene, depriving many businesses of an opportunity to function. Several businesses around the Bertelsen Road area have privately expressed concerns that the WEP would force their displacement (commercial properties are more valuable and therefore charge more rents). It is difficult to understand how the Mayor's ostensible desire for "green industry" jobs is compatible with the suggestion of bulldozing existing industry. Converting these businesses to least toxic production would be a better solution.|
|Elevated Interchange||Proposed for the West 11th / Beltline intersection. This was part of the WETLANDS alternative, which in turn was taken from conversations with ODOT and FHWA officials who privately admitted the WEP was in trouble for years before the formal "No Build" Record of Decision was published in March 2007. However, the "elevated interchange" is unfunded and given the reality of Peak Oil -- and "Peak Traffic" -- it is unlikely to be needed in future decades. The 1995 Beltline Environmental Assessment included approval of extra left turn lanes at this intersection, which could be quickly implemented at low cost and minimal ecological impact. Turn lanes are not as exciting as brand new projects, but they help ensure efficient use of existing roads.|
|Envision New Destiny for This Area||mentioned for area around west Eugene wetlands Wal-Mart, it's anyone's guess what this actually means. Perhaps it will include reuse of the Target store building after Wal-Mart finally causes Target to close this particular outlet. There seems to be a contest among the City planners and speculator developers to see if this area of the City can be made the ugliest part of Eugene.|
|"Green Bridge" / Butterfly Bridge Leaps West 11th||This would be hard to implement if the City allows the wetlands immediately south of West 11th (east of Danebo road) to be turned into a shopping mall.|
|Full Habitat Restoration||Proposed for the BLM West Eugene Wetlands office, although how they could have their operation if the site is completely reverted back to a natural state is unknown.|
|Park and Ride in this vicinity||proposed for the car rental facility on West 11th between Beltline and Danebo. It might be slightly expensive to buy out this business.|
|Light Rail to Coast / EMX to Coast||The idea of Light Rail or Bus Rapid Transit to Veneta is probably infeasible due to low residential density and overall total number of people living in Veneta. Whoever proposed extending this all the way to Florence has probably never traveled the 52 miles along Highway 126 from west Eugene to Florence since most of it is extremely rural. A light rail to the coast would have to parallel (or displace) the existing railroad line that follows the Siuslaw River's many bends, but does not actually go to Florence (it diverts south toward Coos Bay after going through Mapleton). An occasional tourist train to the casinos of Coos Bay might be feasible, but conventional intercity bus service is far more practical to serve Noti, Walton, Mapleton and Florence. A passenger train from Eugene to Mapleton would be very scenic but very slow due to the meanders that the rail line follows.|
|Widen / Improve Hwy 126 - Maintain Large Right of Way for Future needs and flexibility||Probably needed if 126 is ever widened to four lanes and/or is given turn lanes, but the arrival of Peak Oil and Peak Traffic suggests that safety fixes and flow improvements are more needed (and more affordable) than highway widening).|
|Limit access to R.O.W.||Banning addition of extra driveways on West 11th (whether west of Beltline as proposed here or east of Beltline) is about two decades overdue.|
|Local frontage Road||This is not really needed for West 11th west of Beltline.|
|Bike / Pedestrian Improvements on 126||This could have been done at any point in the past couple of decades, if there was really interest in doing this. An earlier proposal to widen 126 (West 11th) from Terry Street to Green Hill Road was taken out of the "TransPlan" (previous name, more or less, for "Regional Transportation Plan") to find funds to pretend that most of the WEP was funded, but this smaller project was not stuck back into the semi-funded part of the R.T.P. after the WEP was removed from it. So, no funding for these improvements is available.|
|Transit-Oriented Walkable Mixed Use w/ Oak Savannah Conservation||It is hard to know how town houses and a strip mall next to a bus stop will somehow be compatible with conservation of extremely rare oak savannah habitats. It probably sounds great to those who have little familiarity with these ecosystems.|
|Green Hill Roundabout as Gateway to Town||Replacing the West 11th / Green Hill Road intersection with a circular roundabout would probably cost a couple million dollars and significantly impede traffic flows. Traffic on West 11th is much busier than Green Hill or Crow Roads, and West 11th Traffic also travels much faster. It is difficult to imagine that someone with technical understanding of road design would propose this location for a roundabout. It might make sense if this semi-rural location is slated for substantial urbanization, but that would have major ecological impacts and would probably force through reconsideration of the WEP.|
|Inappropriate Nodal Development? Considering Oak Savannah||It is true that "nodal development" (a euphemism for cramming townhouses and strip malls together with a bus stop) on farmland at the edge of the Urban Growth Boundary would have major negative impacts on farm soils, ecology and traffic patterns. Smart growth is still a form of cancerous development.|
|Heavy Rail to Coast - Could this line also run commuter trains?||The rail to Coos Bay could be reopened for freight, although it is unlikely to ever be used as a transportation route for people due to the extremely winding, slow path it takes once past Veneta. The "bedroom community" could be served with commuter trains if the town got much bigger and most of the people who move to Veneta all find jobs somewhere near the destination of the hypothetical commuter train. Otherwise, only a small percentage of Venetians will take the train and the rest will drive on Highway 126. Using transit to justify a major increase in what is euphemistically called development results in the bizarre outcome of transit systems increasing car traffic congestion.|
|Protect all biological wetlands||A laudable goal for the west Eugene wetlands, but one that would be violated by many of the proposals on the rest of the map.|
|Connection to Fenders' Blue Butterfly habitat at Fern Ridge||A nice idea.|
|Retire Royal Node Plan||This would be one of the most important things to shift, but this suggestion is also next to a drawing showing the proposed extension of Roosevelt Boulevard to Royal Avenue, a critical component of this "node."|
|Public transit to airport||Given the number of flights to Eugene Airport, a small shuttle service to downtown Eugene (and possibly other locations) would suffice. A new transitway to the airport would seem reasonable to people unfamiliar with the relatively small size of Eugene Airport. As Peak Oil becomes more difficult to ignore, more airlines are likely to go bankrupt from rising fuel prices, which will probably result in "Peak Airlines." Expanding service at any airport is madness in the face of climate change and the end of cheap oil - it is "plane stupid." The absurd 2002 "Crandall Arambula" worse version of the WEP included a Bus Rapid Transit connection between the WEP and the Eugene Airport -- this proposal meant that there would be a three mile long bus only highway built through wetlands outside the Urban Growth Boundary to a relatively small airport. The amount of oil used in aviation suggests that the precise mode of travel to an airport is almost irrelevant.|
|Roosevelt Bypass Connection (1)||This would involve extending Terry Street from Roosevelt to West 11th, a proposal specifically prohibited by the West Eugene Wetlands Plan. It would have major impact on the endangered species (the reason it was canceled almost a decade ago).|
|Roosevelt Bypass Connection (2)||This would consider Danebo Road a connection between Roosevelt and West 11th, a function it already has.|
|Roosevelt Bypass Connection (3)||This would consider Beltline a connection between Roosevelt and West 11th, a function it already has.|
|Limit All Development West of Beltline as way of limiting vehicle miles traveled||This is probably the most logical consequence of cancelling the WEP. It is difficult to imagine the City of Eugene implementing this one until the economic decline becomes painfully obvious to everyone.|
|Wayfinding: Get North Eugenians to West 11th Via Alternate Routes||This is an obvious part of the solution that would merely require purchase of signs. It does not require years of studies, overpriced opportunistic consultants, endless meetings and discussion. A barrel of ink and some sign posts would suffice.
However, this assumes that the main travel demand is from downtown Eugene to Veneta (more or less). The reality is more complex, since far more people live in northwest Eugene / Bethel / Danebo. Looking at the population density map of west Eugene shows where the real travel demands are - and virtually no one lives on or near West 11th between Chambers and Green Hill Road. Very few people live between Roosevelt and Amazon Creek. The City's permitting of more big box stores near West 11th (Home Depot, Lowe's) means that "mixed use" development that would allow for some transit served neighborhoods near the main street of West Eugene are extremely unlikely.
|Improve Beltline / Roosevelt Intersection||This would likely be a grade separated interchange, with ramp quadrants in the northwest and south east sectors (to avoid pond turtles in the south west quadrant and homes in the northeast quadrant). If Peak Oil is still a decade or two in the future, then traffic demands will probably require this grade separation. If Peak Oil is here or soon (which seems extremely likely) then the end of cheap oil will force a tremendous need for carpooling, not continued traffic increases that would require a $30 million (or more) grade separated interchange.
The WETLANDS alternative has two sub-alternatives depending on the timing of Peak Oil - the larger option would construct this interchange if Peak Oil is still in the future, the smaller option would largely keep the status quo if Peak Oil is here or soon.
|New Public Transit||on Royal Avenue - this is unclear whether it would be a bus line on the existing road or widening of this residential street for Bus Rapid Transit. Few of the homeowners on this street would likely support losing part of their front yards for BRT.|
|Densify Area! Connections to Natural Resources, Trainsong / Bethel Improvements, Visually Appealing Corridor. Help this neighborhood - enlarge community - sense of visual identity, character of area - better edges!||It is interesting that WEC chose not to include anyone from this neighborhood to ask their opinions about what to do to it. One neighborhood activist whose house is directly in the circle overlaid on this map spent countless hours in the West Eugene Wetlands looking for rare and endangered plant species -- she found several that were uncommon, but none that had the legal power to stop bulldozers. Despite her heroic volunteer efforts to promote awareness of the West Eugene Wetlands, she did not get the courtesy of a notice that the WEC was forming -- presumably because she also opposed the Crandall Arambula worse version of the WEP. A draft of Crandall Arambula a week before publication included conversion of the West Lawn Memorial Cemetary to "transit oriented development" so that the bus line on the WEP would presumably be able to stop at something other than a wetland. This activist (the botanist) was shocked at this proposal, partly because a relative of hers is buried in that cemetary.|
|Roosevelt / Hwy 99 Intersection Improvements or Built Interchange||This intersection would still be unacceptably clogged if the WEP is built according to ODOT's own traffic analyses (assuming continued growth of car trips if Peak Oil does not really exist). The Hwy 99 overpass of the railroad just south of Roosevelt is apparently one of the many bridges that has outlived its useful service and needs replacement - a project that is unfunded and would not be cheap (there is not an easy alternative route for traffic between northwest Eugene and downtown - perhaps extending Barger to Northwest Expressway would mitigate some of that).|
|Hwy 99 Nodal Redevelopment that encourages local trips||Nodal development is the illusion that putting townhouses and strip malls next to each other will reduce car dependency. Most of what is called "nodal" has very little effort made to think about pedestrian friendly design. Hwy 99 is a major highway with high speed traffic, it is unlikely to be transformed into a yuppieville of coffee shops with outdoor seating. The main problems in this locale are related to poverty and the many social ills that accompany economic discrimination. It is also not a coincidence that most of the ultra toxic industry in Eugene is in this vicinity -- rich neighborhoods are rarely burdened with glue factories, sawdust spewers, large scale solvent usage or wood preservers. Perhaps this is a reason why there are more South Hills residents in the Collaborative than West Eugene residents.|
|Alternate Railyard Reuses
(1) Regionally and Locally Significant Distributor of Green Products
(2) Corridor for EMX w/ Brownfield Redevelopment
|It seems unlikely at the present time that the railyard is going to be abandoned. In addition, the end of cheap oil means that rail transport of heavy goods is going to be more needed, not less. Detoxification of the rail yards has not even begun, and would take many years to accomplish - perhaps mycoremediation (a proven technology for destroying petroleum residues) would be able to play an important role. If Union Pacific receives compensation from the United States Forest Service for the destruction of their rail track east of Oak Ridge (caused in large part by a USFS contracted clearcut on an old slide) and for the massive disruption to their shipping business, perhaps UP could be forced to spend that money on cleaning up their should-be-Superfund site in west Eugene. Ideally, OSU and the University of Oregon could collaborate on this hazardous waste site as a demonstration of bio- and myco-remediation technologies.
However, "brownfield" development of this site at this time seems to be just a pipe dream with little practical relevance. One member of the WEC tried to convince this writer years ago that converting the railyard into an industrial park would somehow ensure that the WEP would not be built, but was unable to describe the alleged legal process that would result in that outcome.
|Value and Maintain Industrial Land Bank, Industrial Steward, Better Edges!||This is describing the "big Y" between 6th and 7th and Garfield Streets, which is currently entirely occupied by commercial businesses - Coastal Farm, tool stores, and some smaller businesses. No factories are located there, although a couple of the businesses might resemble industrial uses to someone who rarely gets their hands dirty with power tools. The Zip-O-Log lumber mill is on the north side of 6th, outside the area highlighted in the map.|
|Possible Transit Hub / BRT as Precursor to Light Rail||This is located at Second and Chambers, although to make a transit hub work at this location some major reuse of the abandoned industrial areas at Second and Chambers. The area just west of this location would be a good candidate for a Eugene based hospital, since it is relatively centrally located (near downtown, the South West Hills, River Road and Bethel) although it is less convenient for the University area and South Willamette Street.|
|Improve Street Connectivity In This Area||This is referring to 5th and 7th between Seneca and Highway 99. There is no mention of the WETLANDS alternative proposal to extend Second Street to Hwy 99, and extending First Street from Seneca to Hwy 99, which would facilitate better access to the west Eugene industrial area than even that provided by the WEP.|
|Improve Intersection||at 6th and 7th at Garfield - this was proposed as part of the WEP, it would involve building extra turn lanes|
|EMX Corridor||for 6th and 7th. If there is a BRT route for West Eugene, running it along 6th and 7th to Highway 99 and Bethel probably makes more sense than West 11th. Parts of Highway 99 seem to have the right of way to accomodate widening for BRT. Barger Road does not seem to have enough right of way for a bus only lane.|
|Rail Connection to downtown||this is shown as somewhere between 7th and 11th, which would require major impact to residential streets or bulldozing of numerous homes.|
|Improve Congestion - ???? intersection||at 11th and Garfield - unknown what is proposed here|
|Multiway Boulevard between Garfield and Beltline might help habitat connectivity||There is no room on West 11th between Garfield and Bailey Hill Roads for any widening of the main road for a bus only lane. Some of the intersections have room for turn lanes, but there is no room for BRT without bulldozing numerous businesses. While West 11th is extremely ugly and probably should be bulldozed, it would cost enormous sums that don't exist and is politically impractical. The writings of architect James Howard Kunstler at kunstler.com describe the folly of "development" patterns like West 11th, a tragic misallocation of resources replicated in most of the urban areas of North America.|
|Replace Some Zoned Industrial W/ High Density Residential||Another example of isolated planners without involvement from the impacted areas proposing "recombinant architecture" -- destroy what is already there in the hope that something better might be built some day. It is difficult to imagine this area (5th / 7th / Seneca / 99) being a good location for townhouses and apartment buildings due to the toxic fumes emitted by some of the nastier businesses in this area. It is also unspecified where the evicted businesses in this area would be relocated should this proposal from WEC be adopted. Perhaps a business that could volunteer to be relocated could be West Wind forest products, owned by a WEC participant (on First Avenue near the area recommended for demolition of existing businesses).|
|Reinvent Commercial Corridor on West 11th and Reallocate Incompatible Uses to Appropriate Locations||This sort of bureaucracy speak is difficult to translate into ordinary English. It might mean that the City would force out the existing businesses who rely upon passing traffic for their income. One feature that the WEP would have had is to remove some of the visibility of West 11th businesses (bypassing traffic would no longer see these businesses, thus reducing their customers). If this is an accurate description of what the WEC is considering, then the WEC could result in the same detriment economic impacts to existing businesses while protecting the habitat of the Fender's Blue Butterfly. (The butterflies do not live in the floodplain forests of Bertelsen Nature Park that some on the WEC think is an acceptable sacrifice to ensure part of the highway is built while other parts are not.)|
|New Public Transit - Extend and Connect 13th||The Regional Transportation Plan includes extending 13th between Bertelsen and Bailey Hill, although the WEC map shows it being extended all the way to Garfield. However, that extension as proposed by WEC would require demolishing houses, since there is not a reserved right of way.|
|Restore Amazon Creek Corridor - Reconnect to Natural Amenities||This would be nice, but it would require giving the creek more room than the narrow channel it is currently confined in.|
|Area of Redevelopment||proposed for the Rexius composting facility (in case they really do move to a different location, which would probably be a great relief to some of the people who live in the downwind residential areas south of their facility)|
|Shift Industrial and Develop Mixed Use||proposed for 13th Street between Bailey Hill and Bertelsen area, again, no mention of where the existing businesses would be displaced to|
|Reduce Vehicle Miles Traveled and Focus Development Inward to Eugene||To date, VMTs in the United States "peaked" in 2005. It is likely that the continuing rise in oil prices will force a decrease in VMTs regardless of transportation policies or land use zoning. Gasoline rationing will also reduce car trips - but this will be involuntary and painful, not the result of enlightened policies. Any long term planning for the post Peak Oil world will have to acknowledge that endless growth is not possible on a finite planet, and that long distance shipping of food will need to be replaced with local production. Sadly, the WEC is completely ignoring these much larger problems, but that denial won't make them go away - instead, avoiding the problems until they become a severe emergency will make them much, much worse.|
|Preserve Kincaid Lupine "Stepping Stones" for Fenders Blue, Cornerstone of Fender's Butterfly Population, Enhance / Restor Upland Prairie Habitat w/ Tax Funds||These are overlayed at the Nature Conservancy preserve and a parcel of BLM lands that are already dedicated toward these goals (it is why they were purchased). However, they also include areas slated for another shopping mall and some residential overdevelopment.|
|Improve Public Transit on 11th / EMX line / Bike & Pedestrian Improvements / Offset Sidewalks||There is no room on much of West 11th to add bike lanes or do almost anything else. This is a problem that should have been addressed when the road was originally designed - it is too late now to make it a "boulevard" without bulldozing a lot of businesses. This fact (of the lack of right of way) has been pointed out for years, but the continued insistence of its advocates cannot magically add right of way to the road.|
|Better Edges Between Uses Along Entire Corridor||Presumably this applies to West 11th, but exactly what this means is unclear. Meanwhile, the City just rubberstamped a new Lowe's hardware big box store immediately adjacent to the Home Depot, and there is now an Office Depot a block away from the Staples. There is an amazing disconnect between these sort of theoretical planning processes and the business as usual that continues unabated.|
|Connections to Bertelsen||this shows the extension of 5th and 7th west of Bailey Hill through Bertelsen Nature Park. This would have significant deforestation impacts and major filling in of wetlands. There have been suggestions to make Stewart Road a higher level of road, but this proposal would virtually destroy the park areas around Stewart Pond. It would be interesting for the WEC to disclose exactly which participant(s) proposed this illegal, destructive idea.
It is particularly bizarre that no one on the WEC seemed interested in suggesting that the 5th and Seneca intersection be upgraded to have a traffic light -- the highest priority for a new light anywhere in Eugene. The City of Eugene states that this intersection is sometimes at Level of Service F, but would be mitigated to LOS A if a light was installed. The City had delayed for many years fixing this location because they did not want to install the light and then remove it to make way for the larger WEP / Seneca intersection. But since the WEP is supposedly canceled forever, there is no longer that excuse to keep the City from making this repair to the street network. Maybe if WEC members were more familiar with West Eugene they would have recommended that their map include the City's top priority for a new traffic light.
|(1) Retire of Roadway
(2) Expand and Connect
Two contradictory proposals for the 5th Avenue segment between Seneca and Bailey Hill, which is much wider than needed for the traffic flow. It seems to be the one segment of an early WEP version (early 1970s?) that was ever built. Some of the 1970s versions proposed after the cancellation of the Roosevelt Freeway (in 1972) included different routes through the Stewart Pond area. Ironically, in the 1985 Environmental Impact Statement most of the concern about natural habitat and wetlands was for the Stewart Pond / Bertelsen Slough area, with little concern expressed about the natural areas west of Beltline. In the late 1990s and currently, all of the official concern for natural "impacts" has been for the area west of Danebo with little (if any) interest in the floodplain forests between Beltline and Seneca. This disinterest allowed some of the WEC participants to support building this segment of the WEP in their failed Crandall Arambula proposal -- and for its apparent revival under a new guise as shown on this map.