Looking Towards 2021; Part Two of Three

In the last installment of this series on “Looking Towards 2021” we looked at active transportation projects that were completed over the last year. Now we’ll look towards projects that are on the schedule for 2018-2020. This coming year in particular has the potential to be a pretty big year for active transportation projects. We’re at a critical point in building out our bicycle and pedestrian transportation network and these projects are hopefully just the start of the kind of projects that will get more people choosing active transportation for more of their trips.

Coming up in 2018

 Eugene Bike Share It’s the biggest biking project that has come to Eugene in decades. It will bring 300 Social Bicycles to 35 stations throughout downtown, the university, and the Whiteaker.  It has the potential to get more people on bikes more often and with that more people calling for better infrastructure. When combined with the 13th Avenue Cycle Track (see 2019 below) there is a great opportunity for an easy, safe, and convenient bike connection between downtown and campus. You can read more about the latest Eugene Bike Share news, including launch date and sponsor news, on our recent post about it.

Amazon Active Transportation Corridor- This project has been in the works since the city applied for STIP-Enhance funding in 2012. The initial plan was to install the cycle track (two way separated bike lanes) on the park side of West Amazon. However that side of Amazon doesn’t have set back sidewalks like the East side does and so it would have placed the cars right at the curb and therefore right next to the pedestrian space. There are also more businesses to access on the East side and a better crossing of Hilyard and East Amazon. So in 2015 the city decided to change the facility to East Amazon.

Best use of 36 feet of space.

This project will also include two new crossings of the Amazon Creek (at 37th and Dillard) plus one improved crossing (at 39th), an improved intersection crossing at Hilyard from Amazon Path to the new East Amazon cycle track, and a continuation of the Amazon Path from 34th to 38th along Hilyard street.

Image from the Transportation System Plan 2035 showing the Amazon Path extension,  E. Amazon Cycle Track and the three Amazon creek crossings.

Originally planned for this summer when the original paving project was completed on East Amazon the city needed more time for design and to complete the administrative order for parking removal. Also, because of wetland permitting issues the city has decided to postpone the Amazon Path extension to Tugman Park portion of the project until 2019 (or maybe even 2020), depending on permitting and wetland delineation.

Even though current plans are for the Amazon cycle track portion of the project to be completed during the summer of 2018 they are still in the process of completing designs and submitting the administrative order. We’ve also heard from some South Eugene residents that city council member Betty Taylor and others in her ward have expressed concerns about the project because of the car parking removal. Through several community meetings there was strong support shown for the project and counts done by the city have shown only a 10% usage rate for parking along the corridor. However, leadership from Eugene can often come from fear of change and anytime parking removal is a part of a project we can expect push back.

This is an important and exciting project since it will not only extend the popular and well utilized Amazon Path to more people but it will also install the first truly separated on-street bike facility in Eugene (not counting the car parking separated cycle track on Alder between 11th & 13th). It connects directly to two schools (Charlemagne Elementary and Ridgeline Montessori), and would serve students at Roosevelt Middle School, Spencer Butte Middle School, and South Eugene High School. It would also serve several child care facilities, parks, and retail locations in the area.

Let’s hope the city keeps pushing this project forward and that there aren’t any more delays. After six years of waiting it’s time for this project to happen!

West Amazon Repaving- West Amazon is also up for repaving this coming summer and as part of that project the existing narrow bike lane will be replaced with a wider buffered bike lane. Even though there will be a brand new two way facility on East Amazon it’s still important to provide a facility on the West side for those riding between the crossings and to keep the lanes narrow enough to help keep speeds down.

The repaving project would create a buffered bike lane and hopefully fix one of the narrowest sections of bike lane in Eugene.

NE Livable Streets- This is another STIP-Enhance (ODOT “Transportation Enhancements”) funded project that has been in the works since 2012. The $900,000 project is in three neighborhoods in northeast Eugene: Cal Young Neighborhood Association, Harlow Neighbors, and Northeast Neighbors. The main idea of this project is to work on connecting the existing system through improvements to the bicycle boulevard network (secondary streets with lower traffic volumes and speeds), and adding pavement markings, wayfinding signs, and enhanced pedestrian crossings.

An earlier project map with “Improvement identified by the public” in red.

The city has not released any designs or maps for where the improvements will happen since their draft maps in 2012 but they are looking towards the 20’s Bikeway in Portland for a potential model of projects that could be implemented here.  Crossings are expected to be one of the major improvements for the corridors in this area. Though there are not any current discussions of a higher level of improvement like a “Toucan crossing” this could be a project to try something more than an Rapid Flashing Beacon. Overall this project should help these neighborhoods be better connected through quiet neighborhood streets and better crossings.

Jessen Path- We first reported on this project back in October of 2013 (that’s how slow transportation projects and funding is). The plan is for the path to be built this coming summer. Here’s what’s called for:

The Jessen Path will be a key active transportation facility for the 28,228 residents of the Bethel neighborhood in northwest Eugene. The Jessen Path will create an east-west link across the north side of the neighborhood that connects to the Beltline Highway shared use path and eventually to the regional path network. The 12-foot wide path will extend 7,250 feet along the south side of the 222-acre Golden Gardens Park which is a significant natural and recreational resource for northwest Eugene. The Jessen Path will include human-scaled lighting designed to light the path for user safety but with shields to reduce skyward illumination and lighting of sensitive natural areas.

South Willamette Street Repaving- It’s finally time for the city to decide on this one! The paving project for South Willamette Street could happen as soon as this summer (or potentially in 2019) and after more than a year of the trial it’s pretty clear to all of those who use the street that the sky didn’t fall and that the street is working better for all road users since the change from four unsafe lanes to two lanes with a center turn lane and bike lanes. See our story back in March about the initial positive findings.

However, this is Eugene and all it takes a couple squeaky wheels to bring things to a screeching halt. So will there be pushback when the city council has to vote on approving the new design? What will the official report be from city staff to the council be, and will it matter?   We’ll hopefully find out later this Fall….stay tuned!

Everyone like’s the new South Willamette, including Josh and Jasmine.

West 7th Avenue (and West 7th Place, Bailey Hill to Hwy 99)- This project will take the existing wide travel lanes (15 feet in some locations) and reduce them to 11′ lanes that will therefore allow 6′ and 5′ bike lanes to be added to 7th Avenue from Bailey Hill to Highway 99. Though mostly an industrial area this could be a good East-West corridor for those wanting to bike to work or who want to shop in this part of town. It’s an overbuilt street that could have some decent bike facilities on it while still holding the same vehicle capacity.

These bike lanes would connect to the existing bike lanes on Seneca and Bailey Hill, plus the new Hwy 99th path. However, LTD and the City missed the opportunity to install bike lanes on Garfield when West EmX was built. Picture from the Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan, part of the Transportation System Plan.
Simply narrowing lane widths could allow bike lanes onto 7th Avenue, though final designs have not been completed and some lane redistribution may be needed.

Coming up in 2019

These future projects (and many others) are somewhat dependent on whether the next bond measure passes (hint, Vote YES) and if it doesn’t then it will depend on whether the city will be able to find other funding for them.

13th Avenue Cycle Track (David Minor Bikeway)- In June of 2013 a group of University of Oregon students from LiveMove presented their project “13th Avenue Redesign” to the community. Later that year the City of Eugene started a public process to “discuss transportation options between campus and downtown for people who ride bikes.” We did a write-up in June of 2014 about those meetings and the cities short-term, medium-term and long-term recommendations for the corridor. Later that year the city released a report and concept drawings.

The final recommendations included implementing a two-way cycle track on 13th Avenue from Alder Street to Olive Street. The report stated that the estimated cost for the project was between $1.5 and $2 million and that the city would seek grant funds to construct the recommended improvements. The city has received $2.3 million of ODOT’s All Roads Transportation Safety (ARTS) and $450,000 of STP-U funding for the project.

Conceptual drawing for 13th Avenue Cycle Track at Olive & 13th. It’s possible the cycle track could travel farther west before the transition occurs.

Funding of $150,000 was also committed from David Minor’s family who lost their son in a crash at 13th & Willamette in June of 2008. The city will consider naming the project the “David Minor Bikeway” according to their procedures for naming infrastructure.

Initial concept drawings have been completed by Nick Falbo from Alta Planning & Design (known for his research and video on “protected intersections”) and the city will be posting those on the project website soon. In the meantime here are some images from the report that show the concepts that could lead to the design of the new bikeway:

Project Scope- Alder to High.
Potential Project Scope- Pearl to Lincoln.
The eastern connection of the “David Minor Bikeway” to the Alder Bikeway. Note the major cycle track intersection & waiting area and the new “soft bike lane” on the eastern portion of 13th, allowing for dedicated space for cyclists AND for motorists to easily back in to the parking on the South side of the street.
13th Avenue Cycle Track Concept Design for High Street Intersection (connection with High Street Cycle Track proposed for 2020)
Potential Cycle Track connection at Lincoln. Project terminus has not been determined and is dependent on funding. Offset intersection design would require north bound motorists to turn right off Lincoln, provides a “Copenhagen Left” for eastbound cyclists on 13th, and would provide a connection to a potential protected bike lane on Lincoln.

It’s an exciting development to see official concept designs for this important connection from campus to downtown and we look forward to seeing how the city moves the project forward.

Path Connector from Roosevelt Path to Hwy 99 Path- There is a missing link in the transportation network in northwest Eugene between the Roosevelt Path and the recently constructed HWY 99 Path and this project will fill that 1,500 foot gap.  The project would also reduce conflicts between modes and improves pedestrian and bicycle access between key destinations. The new path would be on the south side of Roosevelt so would require a new pedestrian and bicycle crossing as well.

This is the approximate location of the crossing and path connection from the Roosevelt Path to the newer Hwy. 99 Path

Coming up in 2020 (and Beyond)

The 13th Avenue Cycle Track (highlighted above) may end happening in 2020, though city staff say they are trying to line up both 13th and High Street for 2019. Unless there is a shift in staffing or more effort put into the two happening in 2019 I would say we might not see either happen until 2020, and even that could be wishful thinking if more staff energy isn’t put onto these important projects.

High Street Cycle Track, 19th-13th (River to Ridges Bikeway, Phase Two)

This has been a dream project to see happen since I first wrote the April Fools piece about it in 2010. The project would create a two-way protected bike lane (cycle track) on High Street from the end of the Amazon Path to somewhere downtown. The city is currently scoping the project to see how far North the project could go with the funding they are looking at. Eventually the separated facility could run as far as 5th or 4th avenue which would then allow people to connect easily with the river path system either at the EWEB administration building or farther down High Street near the Campbell Center.

Like the 13th Avenue cycle track the major expense of the project wouldn’t be the physical separation of the bikeway but would be the expense of the traffic signals at the intersections which would have to be reengineered for southbound traffic and to adjust the timing for people on bikes and people in cars.

This is called the third phase of the “River to Ridges Bikeway”, with the East Amazon Cycle Track being the second phase and a future project finishing the High Street Cycle Track from 13th to 6th (or 4th Avenue?) being the fourth and final phase. We assume phase one was the existing Amazon Path.

This “STIP Request” graphic shows the bikeway going to 4th Avenue but the funding request in the STIP was only for $555,417 and only completed up to 13th Avenue.

8th Avenue– This project would be a conversion of 8th Avenue in downtown Eugene from a one-way westbound street to a two-way street. The scope of the project is still to be determined but would start at Franklin (near where it converts to Broadway and then Coburg Road) and then potentially as far west as Lincoln street, depending on funding and the full scope of the project.

City staff have stated that the 8th Avenue conversion is “a priority for the next round of flexible federal funding likely constructed by 2021.”

Potential project area for 8th street project.

The Transportation System Plan calls for a cycle track, or separated bike lanes, for 8th Avenue but the city has not decided on a design and may end up putting only bike lanes in, though even that hasn’t been discussed or decided yet. There may be a need for some robust advocacy to create a strong East-West separated bikeway through our downtown. This bikeway could connect to the river path system with a realignment from 8th that may occur plus the work happening on the redevelopment of the EWEB property. This 8th Avenue project would move people through downtown from the Federal Court house and pass by City Hall, the Lane County Courthouse, Saturday Market and the important business and governmental core of our city. Definitely one to watch.

The Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan, which was incorporated into the Transportation System Plan, gives us the big picture view of what we can look forward to…maybe by 2021? The red shows “Protected Bike Lanes”. Also note “Grade Separated Crossing” at Alder and Franklin.

We can see a great potential for some amazing projects in the coming years and the question now is what will it take to get these projects done and what will the priority projects if the above listed projects are completed by 2020?!

Now is a prime time for advocates, city leaders, and staff to have a serious discussion about what we’re going to do to reach our goal of having half of our trips made by walking and biking by 2035. What we build in the next decade is going to be key to making that change happen. Will we look back in 2028 and think we are on the right track or will we have wished we did more in 2018 to push for change?

Stay tuned for the next installment of “Looking Towards 2021” to hear from different community members about what they think we need to be doing to reach our goals for walking and biking and how we can make Eugene the best place for biking in America.

Author: Shane Rhodes

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