|WEP would worsen traffic|
June 2006: last gasp?
The WEP would worsen traffic, not solve it
The Beltline carries more than twice the traffic of W 11th.
The Beltline currently has a lower level of service than W 11th (it is the busiest road in the region).
The 20 year plan only has money to study problems on Beltline, and no money for construction. Relocating McKenzie Willamette hospital to the Delta / Beltline intersection would make the traffic snarls there much worse. It would take MUCH more than a few million dollars to fix the problems there - and the new hospital location is perhaps the most inaccessible location inside the UGB. (Downtown or Second and Garfield would be far superior locations.)
The Beltline is a freight route, National Highway System (NHS) highway, and state highway. West 11th is a local arterial.
The Beltline has a chance of providing expressway-level of service from I-5 to the UGB (and could even be upgraded to Interstate status via the WETLANDS alternative). The combination of west 11th / WEP, 6th & 7th couplet and I-105 are not going to provide that level of service. Even if the WEP is built, in 20 years the rest of this route to I-5 will be failing and less safe. The WEP's "Purpose and Need" states that it is to connect 126 with I-5, which the WEP clearly does not do.
The 6 / 7th couplet has dangerous intersections. The WEP would add more traffic to these congested streets which would increase safety problems.
The WEP would also increase traffic on Oregon 126 across Fern Ridge, making it unlikely that there would be money to add shoulders to this overloaded, narrow highway. Some of this increase would be caused by the UGB expansion that would happen once the WEP would be built. Some would be caused by the phenomenon of "induced demand."
Spending so much on WEP would also make it unlikely that a serious level of public transit could serve west Eugene, Bethel, Veneta, etc. after Peak Oil, when transit demand will probably be much greater than it is today.
1990 - LCOG exaggerated traffic congestion (in EIS)
Expansion Induces Traffic
Parkway means nothing formally, it is merely propaganda to make a major highway seem more environmentally friendly than it is. This term has been used to “greenwash” lots of controversial highways.
The “Salem Parkway” was built along the route of never built I-305, which is less intrusive onto the urban landscape but has nearly identical environmental impacts to an interstate upon the natural environment. The recently constructed Bend Parkway is a limited access highway that is facilitating more sprawl in that metastasizing city, not a winding, low speed road like Amazon Parkway in south Eugene. Houston’s proposed “Grand Parkway” would be the FOURTH Beltway around that city. The 1999 Taxpayers for Common Sense / Friends of the Earth “Road to Ruin” report gave the Grand Parkway the title of “most redundant” highway in the country (archived at www.taxpayer.net/TCS/RoadRuin/index.htm). The Fairfax County Parkway in northern Virginia is a part of the piece-mealed Outer Beltway around Washington, D.C.
It is bizarre that ODOT and FHWA call the proposed relocation of Oregon Highway 126 (the WEP) as a “Parkway” when these agencies secretly decided in 1999 that that the public lands in the path are no longer legally considered parklands for the purposes of Section 4(f) of the Transportation Act (which prohibits federal-aid highways through parks). Calling freeways designed “parkways” is a distortion of language similar to calling a factory an “industrial park,” since the WEP would reduce the amount and quality of natural parklands in Eugene.
Genuine “parkways” are actually designed for scenic travel through parks, and exclude delivery trucks. Some “parkways” built before World War II (Merritt Parkway in Connecticut, Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia and North Carolina, Baltimore-Washington Parkway in Maryland) are more legitimately titled “Parkways.” Perhaps there was a conference sponsored by FHWA, AASHTO or the highway construction lobby sometime in the last few years to strategize new public relations techniques for persuading skeptical citizens, and that was the genesis of the current practice of renaming major expressways and freeways as “parkways.” Whatever the name, these new highways would still decimate the natural areas in their path, cost huge amounts of money, and exacerbate climate change and oil depletion.
The WEP is designed for 55 mph (and more) speeds west of Belt Line, and is considered an “Expressway” under the criteria in Oregon Highway Plan Action 1A.2. Therefore, “West Eugene Expressway” would be more accurate than “Parkway.” Parkway conjures up the image of a meandering scenic drive through a park, not a high-speed, almost-freeway that would decimate parklands that shelter endangered species in order to facilitate the expansion of the Urban Growth Boundary.
Oregon Highway 126 Relocated, is technically more accurate than “Parkway.” The 2002-2005 State Transportation Improvement Plan states that WEP Phase 1A (Belt Line to Seneca) would be Highway 126 from mile post 55.6 to 57.25 (mile post zero is at Highway 101 in Florence). The Oregon Highway Plan list of expressways states that the WEP would be part of 126.
The WEP would be part of the “National Highway System” – a designation adopted by the National Highway System Act of 1995 to expand the highway gravy train to major roads that don’t quite qualify for interstate designation. While the WEP would not have any driveways (like West 11th Street or 6th / 7th Avenues), the WEP would have at-grade intersections controlled by traffic lights, and therefore would not qualify for interstate highway designation (at least in its initial construction). Belt Line from Roosevelt Road to I-5 currently meets FHWA standards for interstate highways, but for some reason, ODOT has not applied to the FHWA and AASHTO (American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, originally known as AASHO - really!) for interstate designation of the freeway segment of Belt Line. If they did, Belt Line could be called I-305, I-505 or I-705.
north-south access roads made worse - and 11th street intersections
ODOT and its new subcontractor crafted five new designs for the project are toying with different designs that would allegedly not cause as many traffic problems, although they have not solicited any public input in these new designs.