WeBikeEugene previously reported that the City of Eugene plans to fix the dangerous and deep cracking on the Fern Ridge Bike Path between Van Buren and Chambers this summer. While this is wonderful news, it raises the question: “Why is the area of the path between Chambers and Garfield not being repaired, even though it’s just as damaged and dangerous?” There are only a few feet of safely rideable path in some sections within that area. This is alarming because it is a path often ridden by children and novice riders.
Confused, I sat down with City of Eugene Associate Transportation Planner David Roth over coffee and cupcakes, and he explained the decision. It turns out it all boils down to the Amazon Channel, Community Gardens, and not having enough money.
The problem is the Fern Ridge Bike Path’s proximity to the Amazon Channel. Roth Explains:
“The path is too close to the stream, so what happens is the stream kind of erodes that side, and every year it’s sinking. That path is sinking and falling off the edge.”
In order to fix the area they need to re-route the path farther away from the channel, but that would put it into conflict with the south-west corner of the community garden. The garden would need to be moved and re-shaped, and possibly even expanded to the east – resulting in a larger garden overall. However, this is not a cheap or easy process, and will require lots of dialogue with residents in the area who use the garden.
The Metro Waterways Plan also calls for stream bank restoration in that area, and the city will try to coordinate the path repair work and the stream bank restoration.
According to Roth, the city simply doesn’t have enough money to complete this project in 2010. The bond measure that is paying for the path repair between Chambers and Van Buren doesn’t have enough money to handle stream bank restoration, path re-routing, and the reshaping of a community garden. Roth explained that the sections which they are repairing are everything they can do without having to deal with the stream bank restoration.
There is good news in the process, although it’s still far off. Eugene recently received funding from an ODOT Quick Response Readiness Grant which will allow them to complete all the engineering and design work for the section between Chambers and Garfield. This means that when money does become available for construction they’ll be able to start work on the repair quickly.
In the meantime they’ll continue to patch the area like they do every year, but Roth stressed that the patchwork doesn’t usually last since the path is currently falling. Roth, a cyclist himself, understands our plight:
“The other section; we know it’s in bad shape, but it requires more design work and more money to build it than we have right now. [...] That section is going to get done; it’s just not going to get done in 2010.”
The meeting wrapped-up in true Eugene style, with me biking home and Roth leaving for a several hour afternoon bike ride over the South Eugene Hills.
For more “handlebar cam” pictures of the area go to our Flickr page or view the slide show below: