Public Hearing Monday for Eugene’s Transportation System Plan

A nearly 7-year planning process on Eugene’s transportation system is nearing an end, and one of the last opportunities for community input is coming up next week.

On Monday March 6, the Eugene City Council and the Lane County Board of Commissioners will conduct a joint hearing on the draft “2035 Transportation System Plan” (TSP) which lays out the policies, priorities, and projects for Eugene’s transportation system over the next 20 years.

Eugene TSP 2017The TSP lays the groundwork and acts as a guide for future transportation decision making by creating the vision and laying out the specific projects that will make up the transportation system moving forward. The TSP states that transportation “decisions will be made within the overall context of the City’s land use plans, commitments to address climate recovery, and support for economic vitality.”

The plan includes the idea of “Triple Bottom Line” decision-making, that is, making transportation decisions as a way for the city to improve social equity, economic development, and environmental problems, such as climate change.

The plan specifically highlights that the “Eugene City Council adopted a Climate Screen Shot 2017-02-28 at 10.01.13 PMRecovery Ordinance that codified a Council goal of achieving a 50 percent citywide reduction of fossil fuel use by 2030” and rolls that goal into the TSP as well.

Finally, and maybe most importantly, the TSP incorporates the Eugene Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan, which was “accepted” by City Council in 2012. Part of that incorporation includes a specific goal that by 2035 the city will triple the percentage of trips made on foot, by bicycle, and by transit from 2014 levels.

In other words the plan has some lofty goals and a great vision but a few questions remain, including: does it go far enough, how will projects be prioritized, and where will the funding for bold visions come from?

Let’s consider the piece incorporated from the Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan regarding tripling of active transportation trips. In 2015, 7.6% of Eugene residents got to work by bike; 7.6% walked; and 4% travelled by bus (LCOG). If we are to hit the target contained in the TSP to triple the percentage of non-auto trips, we will need some 23% of residents biking, 23% walking, and 12% riding the bus to work just 18 years from now.

Cities that have this level of biking include Copenhagen, Denmark (30%) and Davis, California (23%) (Wiki).  We would have to achieve mass transit ridership rates closer to LA (11%) or Portland (12%) (Wiki). We would need a walking environment closer to Cambridge, Massachusetts (23%), or Berkeley, California (16%) (Wiki). 

Does this plan have what it takes to get us to these kind of numbers? A good spot to look is the plan’s project list and the funding that is projected for those projects. Under the “Roadway, Multimodal, Transit, and Rail Projects to be Completed Within 20 Years” we see a total projection of $406.6 million worth of projects. Under the “Pedestrian and Bicycle Projects to be Completed Within 20 Years” we see $71.7 million worth of projects. That is 18% of the total budget for mode shares that we are hoping to get to 46% by 2035.

Screen Shot 2017-02-28 at 10.00.42 PMCompare the 130 miles of bicycle and pedestrian projects at $71.7 million to the .95 mile “Randy Papé Beltline Highway Facility” at $85 million (the largest project on the roadway list) and we can see where some of the problems might come as we try to reach these lofty but important goals.

Where will the prioritization of these projects come from and more importantly where will the funding come from? Sometimes it’s easier for a city to work, lobby, and find funding for one major bridge project than it is for it to find funding for 239 separate small projects that may add up to a complete network but also takes a lot more political work to make happen (and provides a much less interesting photo shoot).

What work will city leaders and staff do to make sure that these active transportation projects will get funded and built in time to reach these goals? Right now we don’t have the kind of funding needed to get these type of projects done. Will we in the future?

Screen Shot 2017-02-27 at 1.46.07 PMIf we were to build out the TSP bicycle and pedestrian project list in 20 years, we would need to be awarded some $3.6 million dollars for these projects every single year between 2018 and 2038. With some transportation funding already programmed out to 2023, and no major shifts to increase active transportation funding sources, it’s unclear how we’ll make any real strides until we see major changes in the funding structure of our transportation system. 

So what can be done to improve this plan and make it so we actually reach the goals laid out? Do we have the enough bold active transportation projects in the plan? Do we have a good enough prioritization plan so that we know the right projects will get built first? Do we have a plan for finding the right kind of funding to match our goals of increasing walking and biking rates?

Monday’s public hearing will be a good time to state support for the goals and projects laid out in the TSP, but it’s also a good time to ask some of those questions and any others that you might have around how the plan will be implemented. With the work that has gone into the many pieces of this plan and its 20-year horizon this is a crucial point to make any comments before its final adoption.

What: Joint hearing on the “2035 Transportation System Plan

When: Monday, March 6th, 5:30 pm

Where: Harris Hall in the Lane County Public Services Building (125 E. 8th Ave.)

Huge Crane to Lift New Bike-Ped Bridge Into Place

What- A 100-foot crane will hoist a prefabricated 90-foot bridge deck onto the support structure for a new bicycle-pedestrian bridge over Amazon Creek. Images from a prior lift are attached for reference.

Background- LTD is building two new bicycle-pedestrian bridges this year as part of the West Eugene EmX project. The bridges, plus a third bridge to be built next year by the City of Eugene, are funded through a $2.9 million ConnectOregon V grant. This investment will allow residents who live south of Amazon Creek to easily connect to West 11thAvenue businesses and the West Eugene EmX service that will launch next fall. The bridges also enhance Fern Ridge Path and the rest of the path system for recreational walking and bicycling.

When– Thursday, October 27, 2016. Be in position by 12:00 p.m. (Noon). The crane lift is expected to occur between 12:15 p.m. and 12:30 p.m.

Where- Just West of Acorn Park on the Fern Ridge Path. If driving you may park along the street on Buck Street or West 13th Avenue.

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South Willamette bike lane striping delayed until June

The re-striping of south Willamette Street, which will add bike lanes from 24th to 29th avenues, has been delayed for a few weeks.

Crews have marked out the new configuration of the street, and the actual re-striping was expected in the next week or so.

Spray-painted white markings show where the new pavement striping will go.
Spray-painted white markings show where the new pavement striping will go.

But the contractor hired to do the striping had a conflict and is not available for few weeks, City of Eugene Transportation Planning Engineer Chris Henry told a meeting Thursday of the Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee. The striping should be completed by mid-June, Henry said.

Tree Planting By Bike

Tree Planting by Bike3It’s bike planting season again with Friends of Trees! In partnership with REI and many volunteers they are building their plant-by-bike program and they could use your human powered skills! Over the past few years the program has had several of these ‘bike crew’ plantings and they are a very fun way to show the power of bikes AND get more trees planted in Eugene; creating a more livable and greener city.

There are two tree plantings left this season; April 2nd and 23rd. Sign-up here, gather your trailers, cargo bikes, or just your regular bikes (to assist cargo bikes) then arrive at 8:30 – 8:45 am to be registered to a bike crew. Grab coffee and breakfast treats, and then help load trees and tools onto bike trailers — and tally ho — you’re off to plant trees by bike. Help show the power of bikes to do work and spread shade and beauty around Eugene!

Tree Planting by Bike

 

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Sign-up to plant & ride

 

Fox Hollow Road and Dillard Road Update

I have been in contact with the City of Eugene staff concerning two very heavily used cycling routes, Fox Hollow Road and Dillard Road.  The bad news is we’re going to have to wait for the Fox Hollow fix until 2017 or later. The good news is, most of Dillard will be fixed this Summer. Keep in mind that the city staff is doing the best they can under the current funding program. What is needed is either a bond measure or gas tax to cover the 50 miles of unimproved streets in the city. Please contact your city councilor to start the ball rolling. And do it today!

The following is from Eric Johnson, Surface Operations Manager, Public Works Maintenance Division:

“Fox Hollow Road, south of Donald Street is classified as an unimproved street. Unimproved streets are generally defined as those streets not built to City street standards. More specifically they lack an engineered road base and paving structure, curb and gutters, and sidewalks. There are approximately 50 miles of unimproved streets with in the City limits. Unimproved streets received limited maintenance such as potholes repairs that are 3” or greater in depth, periodic street sweeping, and in the case of Fox Hollow snow and ice control as needed.

Unlike improved streets, local gas tax and Bond Measure funding are not used to fund resurfacing unimproved streets. Public Works does have a program that addresses unimproved street surface treatments. The Enhanced Street Repair Program currently receives $200,000 annually from the road operating fund to provide asphalt maintenance overlays on our 50 miles of unimproved streets. Currently there is an estimated three million dollar backlog of projects similar to Fox Hollow Road.

Fox Hollow Road between Donald Street and Cline Road (City limits) has been identified as a potential project through this program. We are hopeful that in the next few years continued program funding will enable Public Works to overlay this section of Fox Hollow Road. Paving is limited to the existing road surface and does not include adding bike lanes. During the paving process we look for opportunities to widen the road shoulder to provide pedestrians and bicyclists safer passage. In the meantime we will continue to provide surface maintenance as described above. I have asked our surface maintenance team to inspect Fox Hollow Road and make appropriate repairs as needed.

More than likely it will be no sooner than the 2017 construction season before Fox Hollow Road from Donald Street south to the City limits will be paved. I have committed our program resources to another south Eugene project this summer, Dillard Road from 43rd Ave. to near the City limits. This will be the largest projects in terms of square footage and funds we’ve taken on through this program. I am currently working with our contractor on an estimate and will have a better sense of whether will be available for this construction season. Fox Hollow is also a large project and more than likely we won’t have sufficient funds to add it to this year’s project list. I also have scheduled our contractor to provide me with an estimate for Fox Hollow so we have a better idea of costs.”

Territorial Highway Update

Background

The Territorial Highway Corridor Plan will address safety for all users of a particularly dangerous section of Territorial Highway. The Plan will focus on a 5.7-mile long section of the Highway that extends south from Gillespie Corners to Cottage Grove-Lorane Road. This section is narrow and in poor condition. It is used by trucks, cars, bicyclists, and pedestrians. This is a key transportation link to rural communities and forest, farming, and winery businesses. The Plan will document the process of developing and selecting a preferred design alternative supported by the public. The Plan will also include preliminary designs for the preferred design alternative.

Project Update

Lane County and ODOT continue to partner in the planning and design process for improving Territorial Highway. They have been collecting information about cultural resources, wetlands, and geology — investigating what it would take to implement the preferred design alternative that was supported through the public process. There are design solutions for avoiding the cultural resource sites and for mitigating wetland impacts; however, the geological findings at Stony Point prompted further analysis of the preferred design alternative.

The results of the geotechnical readings indicate movement at the active slide at Stony Point. The stabilization needed to construct the preferred design alternative could be cost-prohibitive and would have a significant footprint. They have identified a range of possible alternative solutions, such as structural anchors and terracing. It may be necessary to consider alignment adjustments for cuts into the hillside. Any alignment changes would need to be discussed with affected property owners and would require additional geotechnical investigation.

Current funding will allow completion of the corridor plan and preliminary design work, but there is no funding identified to complete the design or to construct the improvements. They will seek funding to complete the design work through the upcoming State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). Obtaining funding to complete the design will make the project “shovel ready” which better positions the project for construction funding. Screen Shot 2016-03-10 at 12.24.40 PM

Current Status 

The Territorial Highway project from Gillespie Corners to the Town of Lorane is awaiting approximately $1million in funding from ODOT to complete the design phase. This is for further design work due to hillside slippage. The county expects to know by this Summer whether or not the funds will be available.

 

 

Construction underway for Willamette Street ‘road diet’

If you haven’t noticed, construction has begun on south Willamette Street, the first steps toward the test of a “road diet” on the stretch from 24th to 29th streets.

construction
Preliminary work is underway on south Willamette Street, leading up to the re-striping.

The street will be reconfigured from four auto lanes to three auto lanes with bike lanes.

The actual re-striping of the road probably won’t happen until late March or early April, said Chris Henry, Transportation Planning Engineer for the city. Other work needs to happen first, he said, including widening the road at 24th and installing a traffic light at the driveway into Woodfield Station, the shopping area anchored by Market of Choice.

The widening at 24th is now underway. That will allow for the continuation of the southbound bike lane, which now ends at 23rd. The widening will also make room for a left-turn pocket for cars headed south on Willamette and wanting to turn left on 24th.

While the “test” road diet does not include repaving the street (that will happen in a few years), the city is also reparing some of the worst cracks and drainage problems that would have been in the new bike lanes.

share_the_road
Driveway lips have been ground smoother.
Some of that work is already done. Workers have also ground a number of driveway lips, to make it easier to turn a bike off the road into a business driveway.

The stretch of Willamette in question sees about 14000 automobile trips per day. That’s about 2,000 less than the older figure that was used when the street was initially studied and the road diet was proposed.

Because of vocal oppostion to the idea of a road diet from some businesses on Willamette, the City Council voted in 2014 to test the idea for a year. The council will take up the issue again in summer 2017 after reviewing how the street functioned under the test, and also considering results from an economic impact study of area businesses that is being conducted by the Community Service Center at the University of Oregon.

All of that will lead to a decision on how to re-stripe the street when it is fully repaved in 2018.

Bikes on Roadway to replace Share the Road Signs

ODOT will now recommend traffic engineers use signs that say “Bikes on Roadway” instead of the old “Share the Road” signs.

The decision came at a recent meeting of the Traffic Control Devices Committee, following a presentation by Alexandra Phillips, Bicycle Recreation Specialist with Oregon Parks & Recreation Department, and Gary Obery of ODOT.

share_the_road

The decision doesn’t mean “Share the Road” signs already installed will be replaced, but that new signs or any in need of replacement for other reasons should be updated to “Bike on Roadway.”

Phillips and Obery reported on the history of two signs and also discussed complaints from bicyclists that “Share the Road” is confusing, and that some interpreted the signs as telling bikes to share the road.

So the questions put before the committee were:

  1. Should the “On Roaway” plaque be put back into the Sign Policy & Guidelines?
  2. Should “On Roaway” be preferred over “Share the Road” for new and replacement signs?

Members agreed the current plaque is confusing and the consensus was to revert to “On Roadway” in connection with not just the bicycle icon signs, but all vehicular traffic signs, including trucks and tractors, etc. (as listed in Figure 2C-9 of the online 2009 Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, or MUTCD).

Bikes and On RoadwayCommittee member Scott McCanna noted that “On Roadway” doesn’t include the road shoulders under ORS 801.450 and this might be a litigation concern if a bicyclist gets hit on the shoulder. It was clarified this sign is actually meant for situations where bikes are expected in actual travel lanes. It was also clarified this would not affect Sharrow pavement markings since these are supposed to be used only on slower speed streets.

After some discussion, a motion to recommend ODOT state in the Sign Policy & Guidelines the “On Roadway” plaque is preferred over the “Share the Road” plaque was approved.

Slow Moving Vehicles

Rock and Roll!

How do you get a 672 lb. rock from Lane Forest Products to your house? You can either pay them $75 and have it delivered by truck to the end of your driveway (and then what?)…or you can put it in a bike trailer and have it delivered to your back yard.

I wanted to make a water feature in my backyard so I purchased a beautiful basalt column from Lane Forest Products a few weeks ago and had them put it on hold while I arranged delivery with Pedalers Express, a human-powered delivery service affiliated with the Center for Appropriate Transport. This was an unusual delivery so I called Lane Forest Products with a question about loading the rock into the trailer. The conversation went something like this:

Me: “Hi, I bought a basalt column from you recently and I wanted to make sure the forklift tines would be narrow enough to slide the rock into a cargo trailer.”

Lane Forest Products: “Definitely, we can do it–what kind of trailer have you got?”

Me: “Uh, well, it’s actually a bike trailer. I’m having the rock delivered by bike.”

Lane Forest Products: “No you’re not.”

Me: “Yes, I am.”

Lane Forest Products: “You’re not going to move a 672 lb rock with a bike.”

Me: “Yes, I am.”

Here’s how it’s done:

WBE1Receipt
Step 1: Buy the rock
WBE2
Step 2: Load it onto a specially designed flat bed cargo trailer
WBE3
Step 3: Hire Pedaler’s Express to move the rock. Here’s John gaining momentum…
WBE4
Step 4: Have Jan give John a little help over the Autzen footbridge!
WBE5
Step 5: Get some help wheeling the rock into your yard (1″ of clearance!)

 

WBE6
Step 6: Enjoy the rock in its new home! (Note the hummingbird about to take a drink)

Thanks to the folks at Center for Appropriate Transport for all their help making this happen.

City may extend Lincoln Street bike lane south to 13th

The city is looking to fill a bike-lane gap on Lincoln Street when the road is repaved this summer.

The street now has a bike lane north of 11th, and is a commonly used northbound bike route into downtown and the Whitaker. But the stretch from 13th to 11th avenues has no bicycle facilities at all, though many people on bikes access that stretch of Lincoln from 13th, the 12th Avenue bicycle boulevard, or the neighborhood along Lincoln south of 13th.

To add a bike lane, city staff would need to remove on-street parking on the east side of those two blocks.

cyclist-on-lincoln
Looking north on Lincoln, approaching the light at 11th Avenue.

City Transportation Planning staff has received a couple of letters from organizations on the street, encouraging the installation of a bike lane, one of them noting, “I talked to some of our neighbors in adjoining buildings, and write to say many of us strongly support a bike lane. … I’ve worked in our office … for nearly 16 years. … In my experience, the street parking spaces are very rarely all occupied. … By contrast, I do think that for safety purposes, Lincoln should have a dedicated bike lane on its east side. … Without a dedicated bike lane, the northbound bicyclists lack a truly safe, clear space to reach the dedicated bike lane on the north side of 11th.”

Removal of on-street parking requires an “administrative order” from the city traffic engineer. Staff must collect data about the use of parking spaces in the area before removal, and discuss the removal with neighbors. This work is underway.

Over the past few years, Eugene has removed on-street parking to improve bicycle facilities on several streets, including portions of 24th, 18th and Fifth avenues.

The stretch of Lincoln from Fifth to 13th avenues is scheduled to be repaved in summer 2016 as part of Eugene’s five-year Pavement Bond Measure. Repaving projects often present opportunities to add bike lanes or other improvements at very little additional cost, since the street will be re-striped anyway.

Long-term city transportation plans envision a two-way separated “cycletrack” on Lincoln from Fifth to 13th.