page version (pdf)
City, County, State, Fed governments
June 2006: last gasp?
Federal Highway - new route
West Eugene Wetlands
$17, $88, or $169 million
would have more
traffic lights than
NOT #1 Green City
promised in June 2001, again July 2006
2001 Consensus to Cancel the WEP (City, County, State and Federal
1. It cannot commit to keep the $17 Million allocated to the WEP Unit
1 in West Eugene or even in Lane County. It will need to reallocate this
money by October , unless an acceptable project is developed for
2. Proceed with preserving the function of West 11th Avenue (OR 126) as
an expressway west of Belt Line.
3. Finish Belt Line Phase 3 improvements to West
4. Close out West Eugene Parkway Environmental Impact Statement with “No-Build”
as the preferred solution.
– “Report on the Outcomes of the West Eugene Area Transportation
Charette,” June 18-19, 2001, St. Mary’s Conference
Center, Eugene, Oregon, prepared by CH2M Hill, 23 June 2001
(this was a decision agreed to by the City of Eugene, Lane County, State
and Federal agencies -- but never implemented)
scan of part of summary report about Charette
M I N U T E S Eugene City Council Work Session
July 25, 2001 ...
Mr. Farr said he had begun to resign himself
to the fact the parkway was gone. There was no political will on the
part of the council or community to move forward. The result was continued
degradation of West 11th Avenue that would soon begin to affect residential
neighborhoods unless something was done. He said that a
potential solution was to route traffic off West 11th Avenue to Belt
Line to Roosevelt Boulevard out to Highway 99, but that would require
reconstruction of several intersections. He asked what would
happen if the City came up with such a solution: could the engineering
be done by October in time for submittal to ODOT? Mr. Reinhard thought
it would take more study than could be done by October. Mr. Farr asked
what chance the City had to get funding from the State for those projects.
Mr. Pirrie responded that the money reallocated from the parkway would
go to other State projects. ODOT had no authority to spend those dollars
on right-of-way outside the State system, unless it was associated with
a major State project.
The intersection work proposed for Belt Line / Roosevelt
and Highway 99 / Roosevelt would be State responsibilities and would qualify
for ODOT funding.
Intersection repairs along West 11th east of Belt Line
should also receive State assistance, because 126 has been informally
routed along this major arterial for many years. ODOT’s road budget
is much larger than the City’s and it would be appropriate compensation
to the City for not building the WEP. Some ODOT staff have privately agreed
this would be fair, but that is not a formal commitment.
would be built now if Charette "No Build" consensus had
ODOT's decision in June 2001 to select “No Build”
and move to implement fixes to existing roads in the area would cost much
less and not wreck the West Eugene Wetlands nature preserve.
The ODOT NO BUILD promise came as a surprise to WEP opponents,
but when ODOT officials were asked if this would translate into a transfer
of funds from the WEP toward the completion of Belt Line and transfer
of the ODOT lands for the WEP to the BLM there were not any firm answers
– and the decision was not implemented.
This informal but public decision was ignored by the Eugene
City Council, despite their presence at the "West Eugene Charette"
(Mayor Torrey was part of the Charette consensus for "no build").
ODOT resumed work on the WEP after a 51 to 49 vote of the Eugene voters
in November 2001 – even though the WEP is a Federal Highway Administration
decision whether it can be built or not.
If ODOT's decision in June 2001 for “No Build”
had been implemented then, we could have already transferred the money
for WEP toward alternative projects: finishing Belt Line and repairing
99, fixing West 11th intersections (at $2 million, that would be half
the money already spent to STUDY the WEP), and other, sensible parts of
the WEP Alternative.
Four years would be plenty of time to transfer the money,
publish a revised Environmental Assessment (needed for the redesigned
completion of Belt Line) and to build the road parts of the alternative.
In other words, if the Pape brothers, Mayor Torrey,
and their developer backers hadn't blocked ODOT's decision in 2001, the
road part of the alternative would be built by now.
If we had campaign finance reform in Oregon, the WEP debate
would have been settled years ago, and the WEP would be part of a long
list of dead highways:
- I-105 through south Eugene (the “Washington-Jefferson”
bridge was not originally planned to end at 6th and 7th Avenues -- the
initial design would have decimated neighborhoods in south Eugene to
- the Skinner Butte Freeway (a proposed expressway along the river
through downtown Eugene to the University of Oregon)
- the Belt Line through the South Hills of Eugene (two different routes
were planned, the larger version would have passed next to Spencer Butte
and end at Lane Community College)
- the Mt. Hood Freeway through southeast Portland (the MAX light rail
system from Pioneer Square to Gresham was built as a substitute project)
- freeways through Golden Gate Park in San Francisco (several highways
would have torn up countless historic neighborhoods)
- I-40 through Overton Park in Memphis (perhaps the most famous legal
case regarding highways, Overton Park was protected by the Supreme Court
in 1971 when they upheld the legality of “Section 4(f),”
a law that prohibits federal aid highways through parks)