Activist Malpractice

Rob Zako's worse version of the West Eugene Porkway

related pages:

This webpage analyzes an article by written by Rob Zako, who was the "Transportation Advocate" for 1000 Friends of Oregon (he is not there any more). It carefully sidesteps any mention of the 1996 legal victory over the WEP (the reason there was a Supplemental EIS in 1997), avoids any discussion of the WEP alternative(s), and makes strategic errors in describing the history of the project. It is good for some of the fine details (although it misses some of the most crucial points) while avoiding the big picture in several ways.

Mr. Zako was the primary promoter of the Crandall-Arambula proposal in the summer of 2002 that offered the community a WEP version that would have been significantly worse than the ODOT proposals. The State wanted to build about 6 miles of highway, the Crandall Arambula plan proposed over 10 miles of highway. If this alleged alternative had been used in a federal court to challenge the WEP, this proposal would have negated most of the federal legal objections to the WEP.

Every level of government involved in the project -- including City of Eugene, Lane Transit District, ODOT, BLM and Federal Highway -- expressed amazement at the ridiculousness of the Crandall Arambula worse version of the WEP. ODOT even wrote a letter to then Mayor Jim Torrey saying that even Mark Robinowitz noted this alleged alternative would be worse (which was their conclusion, too). Fortunately, some of the WEP opponents were not happy about this worse version and continued advocacy to prevent the porkway, including development of the WETLANDS alternative. Even better, Federal Highway and ODOT realized that their legal obstacles were still obstructing the highway since not every opponent had sold out the legal challenge, and "No Build" was formally selected in 2007.

Crandall Arambula made "sense" if you wanted to build a new highway and thought that only one spot in west Eugene deserved protection. However, most of the route has unique natural features that are worthy of conservation, and the alternative consensed upon at the June 2001 West Eugene Charette (which Mr. Zako was at) is a much better place to start an alternatives discussion. Furthermore, the poor quality of the C&A report led to absurdities such as proposing to shift the highway through the Royal Blue Organics blueberry farm (owned by a friend of one of the promoters of C&A) and the private home of a citizen who was a co-plaintiff with Friends of Eugene on the State Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) challenge of the 2002 TransPlan amendments. If one made up this sort of thing it would be hard to believe -- and the ODOT officials privately expressed amazement that this was actually seriously proposed. (Proposing a parkway through your co-plaintiff's home is not a good way to maintain plaintiff solidarity.) A draft of the C&A even proposed converting a cemetary into a mixed-use commercial development as part of a land use shift to build dense transit-only development around proposed bus stops in the wetlands, which is proof that the consultants and their supporters did not bother to consult a map and were not familiar with the area that they were redesigning.

One of the most illegal acts that ODOT did regarding the WEP was to re-scope a new range of alternatives in 2003 and 2004 without any public notification or participation from the "Cooperating Agencies" (who are required to participate in developing a range of alternatives). These new road designs ranged from full scale interstate type highway designs (grade separated interchanges without any traffic lights on WEP) to scaled back modest WEP designs. Some of the options would exceed $200 million -- even without considering the future extension to Veneta (four lane Oregon 126 from WEP to Territorial Highway) and the upgrade of 6th and 7th Avenues from Garfield to I-105. The only official, publicly available report that disclosed this new redesign of the project was the Fall 2004 "Re-Evaluation" of the EIS -- which received no public notification that it was available. This is not how NEPA requires new expressways to be developed ... and is one of many flaws in the process that an impartial judge would conclude violates decades of legal precedent.

In the 1990s, the LUTRAQ (Land Use, Transportation, Air Quality) alternative to the Portland Western Bypass showed how a combination of approaches could outperform a highway "solution." LUTRAQ included a new light rail line, land use zoning changes, and some small road fixes and connectors -- it was NOT an "alternative route" for the Bypass. Similarly, the WETLANDS alternative includes more transit, zoning changes, road fixes and new connectors -- it is NOT a new route for the WEP (and would not construct any part of the parkway). This is one of the most important considerations when examining the WETLANDS alternative and any proposals from governments, corporate interests or non-governmental organizations for WEP alternatives.


www.registerguard.com/news/2003/11/18/d1.cr.transprojex.1118.html
Rob Zako of Eugene, a transportation funding watchdog with 1000 Friends of Oregon, said his group chose not to speak out against the funding for the Belt Line interchange or the $17.7 million for the West Eugene Parkway.
The group hasn't dropped its opposition, but felt it couldn't persuade the state commission to make last-minute changes in a funding package that had been years in the works, Zako said. He didn't rule out future legal action to try to halt or change the projects.

 

It is worth noting that numerous environmentalists in Eugene reported around the time of this Register Guard story that they had been assured by 1000 Friends in recent months that the WEP issue was over (since it was being dropped) -- even while ODOT spent a half million of our tax dollars to redesign and expand the highway project. Dead highways don't spend our money on engineering consultants.

Even when the environmental side loses, to stay quiet is to be acquiescent.

SILENCE IS CONSENT.

"imposed silence about any area of our lives is a tool for separation and powerlessness .... your silence will not protect you."
- Audre Lorde

If you go to 1000 Friends's website (www.friends.org), you will find a link to "Design Damascus." It's been on their main homepage for many months (if not longer). This refers to what is probably the largest Urban Growth Boundary expansion in the history of land use planning in Oregon. Damascus is south east of Portland, and that UGB expansion threatens the Clackamas river, farmland, and will be an enormous sprawl appendage to the Portland metro area. Having some "smart growth" rhetoric added onto it will not prevent water and air pollution, the loss of farm soils, increased traffic and other negative consquences of increased suburbanization. Worst of all, the Damascus UGB expansion includes the proposed Sunrise Freeway, a new highway from I-205 to US 26 (near Boring, Oregon - that's a town name), an Outer Beltway segment for Portland that is about twice as long as the WEP. Considering that 1000 Friends is probably most famous nationally for doing great work to prevent the Western Bypass freeway through Portland's western suburbs, it is hard to understand why they would promote "Design Damascus," since that would require an Eastern Bypass freeway around Portland's eastern suburbs. (The staff person who worked for 1000 Friends to defeat the Western Bypass no longer works for them. However, Ruth Bascom, the former pro-WEP mayor of Eugene, is on 1000 Friends's board of directors.)


WETLANDS's comments are in RED.


Understanding the November 2001 Vote:
A Brief History of the West Eugene Parkway from August 1997 to Present
November 17, 2005

Note: The author strived to ensure the following history is accurate and includes all the major developments around the West Eugene Parkway during the period covered. Please notify the author if you discover any errors or omissions.

August 1997–December 2000: TransPlan-ning the Future

Two actions set the stage for the November 2001 vote on the West Eugene Parkway (WEP):

1) Publication of the August 1997 Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS); and
2) Publication of the May 1999 Revised Draft Eugene-Springfield Transportation System Plan (TransPlan).

The SDEIS divided the WEP into four phases (“units”) and TransPlan provided estimated costs for each phase of the $88-million project:

• Unit 1-A: from Seneca to Beltline, four lanes, $17 million;
• Unit 1-B: from Hwy. 99 near Garfield to Seneca, four lanes, $34 million;
• Unit 2-A: from Beltline to Hwy. 126 near Fisher Rd., first two lanes, $31 million; and
• Unit 2-B: from Beltline to Hwy. 126 near Fisher Rd., last two lanes, $6 million.

TransPlan included only Unit 1-A in the “financially constrained” list of projects, i.e., projects planned for construction during the 20-year planning period. Indeed, construction of Unit 1-A has been funded in the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) since 1994—even if the project has not been ready for construction. The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) keeps rolling this funding over from one funding cycle to the next, waiting for the project to be ready for construction. The allocated funding for Unit 1-A is the $17 million that people talk about “saving.”

A technical analysis by Lane Council of Governments (LCOG) staff ranked the three unfunded units of the WEP as lower-priority projects and recommended that these be excluded from TransPlan’s financially constrained list of projects. Under federal regulations, only projects in the financially constrained list can receive funding for construction.

In brief, local officials deemed the WEP overall to be lower priority during the development of TransPlan, as it was just too expensive given the limited amount of funding anticipated to be available for major highway projects during the 20-year planning period.

(Note: Eugene, Springfield, Lane County and the Lane Transit District didn’t adopt the May 1999 Revised Draft TransPlan until September 2001.)

 

WETLANDS note: this history downplays how the WEP promoters were hoping to segment the project by building a key component (Beltline to Seneca), then building the westernmost part and waiting to the end to complete the Seneca to 99 segment (forcing its completion by waiting until the end to build the busiest part).

 

 

December 2000–August 2001: Making Hard Funding Choices

After the release of the May 1999 Revised Draft TransPlan, which explicitly excluded three of the four units of the WEP, a series of memos between the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) culminated in a December 1, 2000 memo from ODOT Area Manager Bob Pirrie to Eugene Mayor Jim Torrey and the Eugene City Council. This memo indicated that in order to “move forward” with the WEP, the City of Eugene (and its local partners) needed to take three actions:

1) Amend the West Eugene Wetlands Plan (WEWP) to designate the “Modified Project alignment” (i.e., north of the railroad tracks as opposed to south of the railroad tracks as was the case in the prior 1990 Final EIS) as a transportation corridor;

2) Amend the Eugene-Springfield Metropolitan Area General Plan (Metro Plan) and the Lane County Rural Comprehensive Plan to take exceptions to Statewide Planning Goal 3 (Agricultural Lands), Goal 4 (Forest Lands), Goal 11 (Public Facilities and Services) and Goal 14 (Urbanization) for a transportation facility on rural lands; and

3) Amend TransPlan to include the other three units of the WEP in the financially constrained list of projects, in order to comply with federal “segmentation” requirements.

The last requirement was especially problematic, as adding the lower-priority units of the WEP into TransPlan would necessitate taking out higher-priority projects, such as improvements along West 11th Avenue and Beltline Road. Note that in Bob Pirrie’s memo, ODOT did not offer additional funds to build the WEP, but rather forced Eugene to choose to not build the WEP or not build other projects during the 20-year planning period of TransPlan. (Thus statements during the November 2001 campaign that “the money is there” and the “state will pay for it” were somewhat misleading, as the state was not offering to build the WEP in addition to higher-priority projects.)

Subsequently, there were many votes by the Eugene City Council back and forth. These culminated in the June 2001 West Eugene Transportation Charette, organized by ODOT and facilitated by Judge Michael Hogan and Bill Blosser. Roughly 30 stakeholders participated in this 2-day event. The primary outcome was a decision by ODOT to go to “No Build” for the WEP, as local officials were unwilling to shift money away from other projects to the WEP and ODOT was unwilling to build the “half a WEP” suggested by Mayor Jim Torrey and others.

 

WETLANDS: Stakeholder is a term from casinos that refers to those who hold the "stakes" of gamblers. In the 1990s, public relations companies working for destructive projects added a new meaning to claim that "stakeholder" really means different groups of citizens, but perhaps it really means those who gamble that democracy, fairness and common sense will be listened to.

Judge Hogan was asked by this writer at the Charette if he thought it was a conflict for him to preside over the event considering that the case could come before his court. He replied that if that happened he would recuse himself.

The "half a WEP" is a form of illegal segmentation that was dismissed in the 1997 SDEIS because there is ample precedent that this strategy is extremely illegal (the Brackenridge Park case in San Antonio is a good example of this precedent).

 

 

August 2001–November 2001: Vote of the People

But at the 11th hour, Eugene City Councilor Gary Papé called for a vote by the people. There was much argument over the exact form of the measure(s) before the voters, eventually resulting in the confusing Ballot Measures 20-53 (“Alternatives”) and 20-54 (“WEP”).

Ballot Measure 20-54 asked:

“Shall City pursue funding and transportation and land use approvals to facilitate construction of the West Eugene Parkway?”

While not explicitly spelled out, Ballot Measure 20-54 was asking if the City of Eugene should take the three actions requested by ODOT in Bob Pirrie’s December 1, 2000 memo.

 

The official informational flyer on “West Eugene Transportation Measures” published by the City of Eugene claimed:

“The estimated cost of the [WEP] is $88.5 million in 1999 dollars.”
[Fact: While the cost of the four units of the WEP was $88.5 million, two months prior ODOT staff had given the cost of the total WEP system as $139.2 million, including the costs of the Terry Street Connector at $2.2 million, improvements to West 11th Avenue between Greenhill and Danebo at $4.5 million, and Beltline Road Stage 3 at $17 million.]

 

WETLANDS: In Spring 2002, Mr. Zako criticized me for not using the $88 million figure in public outreach material. At that point, it had become obvious, using ODOT's figures, that the true cost of the highway was at least $150 million. The current official price tag is $169 million, and some private, official estimates exceed $200 million. None of those figures include the future extensions to Veneta or I-105.

 

A series of pro-WEP campaign ads featuring photos of Jim Torrey, Bobby Green, Randy Papé and Bob Ackerman claimed:

“The state has the money to fund the West Eugene Parkway and is committed to pay for it—all of it.” —Jim Torrey
[Fact: The state would not necessarily build both the WEP and higher-priority projects.]
“The state has done everything it can to get this project ready for construction.

Passing 20-54 gives the go-ahead to begin building the West Eugene Parkway.”
—Randy Papé
[Fact: As the subsequent history shows, the WEP was nowhere near ready for construction at the time of the vote.]

“It’s thoroughly planned and ready to go!”
[Fact: As the subsequent history shows, ODOT still had—and has—much to do before the WEP was thoroughly planned and ready to go.]

“The state will build and maintain the Parkway. The Parkway will not be the city of Eugene’s responsibility.”
[Fact: The memorandum of understanding subsequently signed by City
Manager Dennis Taylor explicitly acknowledged the intent of ODOT to
make the eastern portion of the WEP the responsibility of the City of Eugene.]

After WEP supporters outspent opponents 3-to-1 ($120,000 to $40,000), in part on ads containing the misleading information quoted above, Ballot Measure 20-54 passed 51% to 49% with a margin of roughly 600 votes.

 

An examination is at 2001election.html

 

November 2001–July 2002: Local Jurisdictions Move WEP Forward...

After the November 2001 vote, the three actions requested by ODOT went to the planning commissions and then to the elected officials. Notably, the Eugene Planning Commission recommended overwhelmingly against taking the requested actions, as the money wasn’t there and ODOT had not yet demonstrated how it planned to protect the wetlands.

In July 2002, the three actions requested by ODOT were approved by four jurisdictions: Eugene City Council 5-3, Lane County Commissioners 3-2, Springfield City Council 4-2, and LTD Board of Directors unanimously.

During this time, there was much discussion about the “will of the voters” and whether the vote was binding. Technically, the vote was advisory. Some planning commissioners and elected officials gave much weight to the vote as a statement of advice or intent from the voters.

 

WETLANDS: Very few people mention that the WEP would be a FEDERAL decision, not subject to local government approval. After years of complaints, the Register-Guard finally mentioned this fact in their March 2006 story announcing the selection of The Osprey Group facilitation company to study "collaboration" on the WEP. Hopefully, Osprey will not do to Eugene what they did to Lawrence, Kansas (where they were part of an effort to undo environmentalist and Native American objections to a highway through wetlands, rare butterfly habitat and sacred sites).

 

Nevertheless, they concluded that they should vote against the actions if they were not in the community’s best interests, in particular, because building the WEP would take money away from more critical projects and because there was not evidence that the wetlands would be adequately protected.

In any case, with its actions in July 2002, the Eugene City Council could be considered to have fulfilled its obligations to the voters by doing all that ODOT had said was needed to begin construction of the WEP.

In particular, TransPlan was amended to postpone for at least 20 years (“future”) five major projects in order to add the missing three units of the WEP into TransPlan’s financially constrained list of projects. These five projects cost roughly $45 million in total and included:

• Beltline Road Stage 3 between West 11th and Roosevelt, $17 million;
• West 11th Avenue between Terry Street and Green Hill Road, $5 million;
• Beltline Road between River Road and Delta Highway, $13 million;
• Washington-Jefferson Bridge, extra southbound land, $4 million; and
• Jasper Road between South 42nd and the Jasper Road Extension, $5 million.

Inexplicably, the first two “futured” projects were actually considered by ODOT to be essential parts of the $139-million WEP system. Beltline Road Stage 3 would cross the WEP and include the interchange between the WEP and Beltline. A third element of the WEP system, the Terry Street Connector, wasn’t in TransPlan to begin with and wasn’t added with the July 2002 amendments. Thus while the amendments to TransPlan were nominally aimed to avoid “segmentation” by including all of the WEP system in TransPlan, the amendments actually failed to do so. But this defect wasn’t recognized for a couple more years. (Not until December 2004 did the Metropolitan Policy Committee amend the transportation plan to include all portions of the WEP, as is necessary to gain federal approval for the project.)

 

WETLANDS: Actually, there are still parts of the WEP that are still not part of the regional TransPlan, even after the December 2004 changes.

 

...But Other Approvals Are Still Needed

Construction of the WEP didn’t begin after the July 2002 actions. Instead, ODOT acknowledged some additional requirements it needed to meet—and others emerged that ODOT failed to acknowledge:

1) Because the WEP wasn’t really “thoroughly planned and ready to go,” ODOT needed to do additional planning.

2) Because the August 1997 SDEIS was more than three years old, ODOT needed to submit a “Re-Evaluation Report” to FHWA to determine if there had been “significant” changes necessitating a new Supplemental Draft EIS.

3) ODOT needed to address concerns for wetlands from “cooperating agencies” BLM and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) before those agencies could sign off on a Supplemental Final EIS (SFEIS).

 

WETLANDS: Legally, ODOT needs to have the "cooperating agencies" participate in the Scoping of Alternatives, the Draft EIS and the Final EIS. ODOT is only letting these agencies participate at the end of the process, which is not legal. BLM and Army Corps cannot use the SFEIS to justify their decisions on the WEP, they will need to create their own public processes or ensure that the ODOT / FHWA approval process follow the law regarding cooperating agencies responsibilities to participate at all stages of the EIS (Scoping through Final EIS). There is also no mention of ODOT's secret effort to remove Section 4(f) from the BLM nature preserves in 1999 -- perhaps because the author is personally not fond of Mark Robinowitz (who exposed ODOT's efforts on this issue).

 

4) ODOT needed to get a waiver from the U.S. Department of Interior, with at least the tacit approval of Congress, to waive its policy that lands purchased with Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) monies be protected in perpetuity. The WEP would pass through lands purchased by the BLM with LWCF dollars secured by Congressman DeFazio for the purposes of protecting those wetlands.

5) ODOT needed to obtain a “Section 404” wetlands fill permit from the USACE under the Clean Water Act (CWA). The Section 404 process is similar to but distinct from the EIS process.

6) The Oregon Department of State Lands (DSL) and BLM needed to acknowledge or adopt the West Eugene Wetland Plan amendments adopted in July 2002 by the local jurisdictions.

7) As noted above, local jurisdictions needed to amend TransPlan to include all of the WEP system. The July 2002 amendments to TransPlan were inadequate, as they failed to include the whole system.

 

July 2002–Present: Redesign and Re-Evaluation

ODOT hired the consulting firm URS, who in turn hired consultant Leon Skiles, to redesign and re-evaluate the WEP. At the recent Eugene City Council meeting, Leon Skiles reported he has been doing this additional planning work for 2-1/2 years—and ODOT still isn’t finished planning and designing the WEP. ODOT continues to change the design of the WEP, adding or removing grade-separated interchanges, changing the alignment of the WEP, and otherwise trying to improve the performance of the facility and/or reduce its impacts and cost. ODOT has spent millions of dollars since the November 2001 vote to redesign and re-evaluate the WEP.

 

WETLANDS: ODOT issued a contract to complete the EIS to URS for about $1.7 million, roughly the amount of money that would be needed to fix intersections on West 11th (a critical part of the WEP alternative - and needed even if WEP is built).

 

As a result of the redesign and re-evaluation of the WEP, ODOT concluded that the WEP east of Beltline Road would not actually meet ODOT’s standards for traffic flow on a state highway, but could be designed to meet the City of Eugene’s lesser standards. Thus ODOT asked the City of Eugene and/or Lane County to enter into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that they would accept ownership of (and responsibility for) the eastern half of the WEP after it was constructed by ODOT. In August 2004, the Lane County Board of Commissioners declined to sign an MOU, saying the WEP should be Eugene’s responsibility. In September 2004, Eugene City Manager Dennis Taylor signed the MOU, stating that previous council actions (in July 2002) demonstrated support for the WEP and that he had the authority to sign the MOU without further action by the Council.

 

WETLANDS: The City of Eugene, despite the change of position on the WEP in October 2005, has continued the MOU with ODOT.

 

Despite the changes to the design and ultimate ownership of the WEP and concerns voiced by BLM and USACE, FHWA concluded that there have not been significant changes to the project since August 1997 and authorized ODOT to continue work towards a Supplemental Final EIS (SFEIS). Currently, ODOT is stating that the SFEIS could be completed by spring 2006.

 

July 2002–Present: Continuing Concerns for Wetlands

In summer 2004, both BLM and USACE sent memos to ODOT and FHWA signaling that ODOT was not providing the information they would need to fulfill their regulatory obligations, in particular, in regards to wetlands. ODOT is still developing information around wetlands. ODOT has not yet begun to address the LWCF issues.

A September 9, 2005 memo from Teena Monical of USACE to ODOT indicated that the USACE’s “regulations require [USACE] in all cases to exercise independent judgment in defining the purpose and need for the project from both [ODOT’s] and the public’s perspective.”

Under the Clean Water Act, USACE can issue a wetland fill permit only if there are no “practicable alternatives” to construction in wetlands that meet the purpose and need as defined by USACE. While ODOT may have already concluded there is no acceptable alternative to the WEP, there is no guarantee that USACE’s independent review of the project will conclude there are no practicable alternatives to the WEP and issue the wetlands fill permit ODOT requires to begin construction.

Neither DSL nor BLM have taken steps to acknowledge or adopt the July 2002 amendments to the West Eugene Wetlands Plan. The City of Eugene has not yet initiated the process of seeking the required state acknowledgement of the July 2002 amendments to the West Eugene Wetlands Plan, a process that typically takes from 12 to 18 months.

December 2004: Amending TransPlan Again

On December 9, 2004, the Metropolitan Policy Committee (MPC) adopted the newly created Central Lane Regional Transportation Plan (RTP), which was essentially an amended version of the July 2002 TransPlan, for the purposes of meeting federal transportation planning requirements and preserving federal transportation funding. MPC rejected a motion by Eugene City Councilor Bonny Bettman that the WEP in the RTP should be substantially the same as the WEP approved by voters in November 2001. Instead, the amendments combined Units 2-A and 2-B of the WEP into a single unit and modified the estimated costs of the units:

• Unit 1-A: from Seneca to Beltline, four lanes, $18 million;
• Unit 1-B: from Hwy. 99 near Garfield to Seneca, four lanes, $36 million; and
• Unit 2: from Beltline to Hwy. 126 near Fisher Rd., four lanes, $60 million.
The amendments also added portions of the WEP system that had been inexplicably excluded from the July 2002 TransPlan:
• Beltline Road at WEP (formerly Beltline Road Stage 3), $45 million; and
• Terry Street Connector at WEP, $10 million.
Between the July 2002 TransPlan and the December 2004 RTP, the cost of the WEP had grown from $88 million to $169 million because 1) the July 2002 amendments left out needed pieces of the WEP, 2) the redesign of the WEP resulted in the need for an interchange at WEP and Beltline, thereby increasing costs, and 3) inflation.

WETLANDS: In 1986, the Eugene City Council passed a resolution urging ODOT to include an interchange at Beltline as part of the project. The 1995 Beltline Environmental Assessment included a WEP / Beltline interchange as part of the Beltline widening project. The 1997 WEP SDEIS documented in several ways how an interchange was an inseparable part of the project (and that the WEP would lack "independent utility" without the interchange). The 2003 and 2004 redesigns did not change these facts. $88 million was never an accurate figure for the WEP.

 

Future: Projected Timeline

And that brings us up to the October 2005 vote by the Eugene City Council.

Four years after the November 2001 vote, the WEP is still not “thoroughly planned and ready to go” and it is still far from fully funded. Conservatively, taking into account required approvals (not to mention possible lawsuits), it might be another 5 years before construction of the WEP could begin, and then only the eastern portion. It might be 10 years before the rest of the $169 million could be obtained and enough of the WEP completed to serve as an east-west bypass.

Postscript: Legal Challenges

Lastly, appeals against decisions supporting the WEP since August 1997 are not mentioned above. There have been appeals, but these have generally not further delayed ODOT from obtaining required approvals for the WEP. The delays in the project are primarily a result of the complexity of the project and the inherent difficulty of trying to build a highway through the middle of nationally recognized wetlands purchased, in part, with federal dollars intended to protect those wetlands in perpetuity.

The July 2002 actions by the City of Eugene and other local jurisdictions were appealed to the Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA), which generally affirmed the actions. (LUBA’s ruling was further appealed to the Court of Appeals, which upheld the lower court’s ruling without opinion.) The December 2004 amendments to the RTP by MPC were appealed to LUBA, who dismissed the appeal, ruling that the amendments were not land use decisions and thus not within their jurisdiction.

On the other hand, a lawsuit originally unrelated to the WEP is resulting in the designation of “critical habitats” for threatened and endangered species in the wetlands. Such designations will better protect the wetlands and may further frustrate efforts to construct the WEP, which is planned to cut through some of those critical habitats.

[reminder: Mr. Zako's alleged "alternative" to the WEP would have had about twice as much direct destruction of wetlands]

Credits

The information above is provided as a public service by:
Rob Zako Transportation Advocate, 1000 Friends of Oregon rob@friends.org

Additional Information

ODOT: History of the West Eugene Parkway
http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/REGION2/wep.shtml#Project_History

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

City of Eugene: West Eugene Parkway
http://www.eugene-or.gov/portal/server.pt?space=CommunityPage&cached=true&
parentname=CommunityPage&parentid=1&in_hi_userid=2&control=SetCommunity&
CommunityID=664&PageID=1445

City of Eugene: Natural Resources
http://www.eugene-or.gov/portal/server.pt?space=CommunityPage&cached=true&
parentname=CommunityPage&parentid=0&in_hi_userid=2&control=SetCommunity&
CommunityID=217&PageID=1358

Note: My websites (the only non-governmental website about WEP history) were deliberately excluded from this report even though it has a tremendous amount of background information on it. It is sad that there is so little sense of community solidarity by some activists, since cooperation usually results in a more successful outcome. Fortunately, the highway departments recognized that I was prepared to file a federal lawsuit if they dared to approve this illegal project, even if certain "activists" chose to publicly ignore my documentation. -- Mark Robinowitz