Study on south Willamette Street plan 'inconclusive'

Study on south Willamette Street plan 'inconclusive'
Aerial photo of Eugene's South Willamette Street project option 3. A hired contractor conducted an economic study on the roadway option and found they would need to test it out to see the true impact.

EUGENE, Ore. - The South Willamette Street Improvement Plan has been in the works for more than a year now.

In October 2013, consultant firms recommended option three, which would change Willamette Street from four lanes to two, with a center turn lane and two bike lanes.

The city then hired EcoNorthwest to do an impact study on the proposed options.

After a year of studying 50 similar street projects across the country, EcoNorthwest presented their economic impact study on how changing the street may affect businesses and properties.

“If you want one word to summarize our findings, they are inconclusive,” said Dr. Ed Whitelaw of EcoNorthwest.

Whitelaw said the inconclusive findings don't mean there isn’t an impact on businesses.

He says the study looked mostly at the average daily trips people made in vehicles - moving it to three lanes of travel may cause delays, back-ups and people may be less likely to stop and shop.

This is why they plan to re-stripe the road as a test, something requested by the Eugene City Council.

Chris Henry, the transportation-planning engineer for Eugene, said this could happen as early as October.

The test will happen for a year with results coming in 2016. Henry said it should be a good indication if the third option is best for the 8-block stretch.

City planners will present the economic study and improvement plan to the Eugene City Council April 16 and the city manager will likely give a recommendation at that meeting.

The public may voice their opinion at a public hearing on May 19. You can join the project email list to receive details on the next public meeting by sending an email to Chris Henry at Chris.C.Henry@ci.eugene.or.us or call (541) 682-8472.


The options are:

The three alternatives provide the community and decision makers a range of options for the South Willamette Street Improvement Plan, according to planners.

The decision is based on both technical review and public input, including conversations with the public, forum results, and public comments via phone and email. 

According to planners:

  • Alternative #1 is proposed because it responds to community support to maintain the existing number of travel lanes.
     
  • Alternative #3 is proposed because it incorporates the elements of a balanced, complete street design.
     
  • Alternative #5 is included because it responds to community input to improve the street for pedestrians.

Each of the alternatives includes bicycle routes on parallel streets to be developed as separate projects identified in the Eugene Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan.