West Bank Trail Extension Construction Coming Soon

This just in from the City of Eugene (emphasis mine):

Final approval was recently given by FHWA to construct the West Bank Trail Extension Project. This project will provide a shared use path connection between the Santa Clara area and the riverfront trail system south of Randy Pape Beltline. The project extends the existing West Bank Trail shared use path north along the bank of the Willamette River near the Wastewater Treatment Plant, under Randy Pape Beltline, and then west along the north side of Division Avenue, terminating at Beaver Street. This project includes path lighting, an undercrossing bridge which provides grade separation between path users and trucks entering and exiting the major Knife River driveway, and a retaining wall along the Willamette River. This project is scheduled to begin construction this winter and be completed in fall 2011.

This is a really important connection for this area.  As reported by the Eugene Bicyclist this summer in his report on “Eugene’s Meanest Streets,” this is currently one of the worst areas to ride;  getting around Beltline (aka Randy Papé Beltline) can be a real pain and dangerous.  The unfortunate piece is that the County had the opportunity to make improvements to Beaver/Hunsaker in the last round of STP-U funding (a pot of flexible transportation dollars). It was originally in their plans for improvements, but was mysteriously taken off so that road will remain an unimproved road with no shoulder, sidewalks, bike lane, or other improvements that would make it a “complete street” for all road users (see story on GEARs site for more details, County section).   This great path will dump riders onto a road on which they will have to claim the lane in order to be truly safe, and with a busier street like Beaver/Hunsaker, that can prove unpopular.

Here is a map of the area that will be improved this winter and summer.  The first phase of the project will be an undercrossing of the Knife River sand and gravel driveway, with path construction and light installation most likely happening in the summer.  There are some really great projects coming down the pipe for cyclists and pedestrians.  I hope to include a few reports in the next few days on those other projects as well.

West Bank Extension

Author: Shane Rhodes

Contributor & co-editor. Papa. Active Transportation Professional. Supporter of all the BEST things...

7 thoughts on “West Bank Trail Extension Construction Coming Soon”

  1. The most frustrating part of this is that even without the County doing Beaver/Hunsaker improvements, this extension still needs further Division Ave improvements. The bike lane on Division ends when the road parallels the highway, only having a thin & scraggly shoulder. Worse, the new path will end on the northeast corner of Division & Beaver, which will leave the bicyclists at the mercy of motorists that can turn right without stopping.
    This project needs *at least* an extended bike lane on Division to Beaver, and a safer plan for the intersection of the two streets.

  2. Hopefully, when the lighting and other amenities go in on this portion of the bike path, the city will put the poles, posts and other rigid objects a safe distance away from the road surface. The current lighting standards on city-operated bike paths are quite a hazard. Actually, they are a violation of the FHWA standards. Also, those recently installed and dangerous concrete blocks are a uniquely anti-bike touch. I haven’t seen any other jurisdiction go anywhere near that far to create hazards for cyclists. No wonder the bike paths are devoid of bikes for seven months of the year; one moment of lost traction and into the skull-breaker you go.

    Also, since pedestrians regularly perform “critical mass” activities on the bike paths in this city, I wonder if this path will be made wide enough to safely accommodate wide pedestrian groups and still allow traffic to move?

  3. @Editz: I spoke with the a city employee who inspects/repairs/replaces the streetlights in Eugene. He said the concrete blocks were to protect the wiring from thieves. I suspect the city’s losses in the inevitable lawsuit for creating this hazard will be larger than the potential losses from theft. The lighting guy said that he and other electricians strongly objected, but management insisted.

  4. It was suggested at the last BPAC meeting that those concrete blocks be made into a sort of bench-type thing for future projects. City folks said they’d look into it.

    As far as lawsuits go – I think that maybe non-working lights due to wire theft creates a much greater hazard – both in regards to seeing where you are going but also in regards to not being assaulted and/or raped on the path. I think that the city is much more likely to get sued due to non-working lights then someone hitting the blocks.

    I just heard a story the other night of someone hitting a sleeping homeless person laying across the Fern Ridge path under the Bertelson underpass because the light was out.

    I’m sure there is a compromise that prevents theft and isn’t a hazard.

  5. “I’m sure there is a compromise that prevents theft and isn’t a hazard.”

    Yeah. Armed citizenry with night-vision goggles.

  6. …and police patrols on the bike path!

    …and require pedestrians to wear lights!

    That’s good news about the new construction – I went on a rainy wet ride around the river trail on Saturday and accidentally ended up on that part of the path.

    Thanks to my great local blogs I knew to turn around rather than explore. 🙂

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