Firefighters Worry about Road Changes

EUGENE, Ore. — Some proposed changes to South Willamette Street are worrying the Eugene Fire Department. The Downtown Fire Station is just 11 blocks from the area of Willamette Street that would be impacted by these changes.

While the department says it knows the section of the street is not safe for bikes and pedestrians, cutting down on lanes could hurt emergency response to the area.

In a statement released Thursday, the fire department says Willamette Street serves as an important emergency response corridor for fire and ambulance response in the South Hills. It went on to say the fire department also shares concerns about bicycle and pedestrian safety in the area. That’s why it will advocate for changes that improve safety, maintain access to properties along the corridor, and provide for adequate emergency vehicle travel.

Engineers working on a plan to reconfigure the eight-block section of Willamette Street are considering a number of proposals, including adding bike lanes and a center turn lane or cutting down on the number of driveway entrances. They’re doing this because of the high crash rate on the street.

“The Willamette Street corridor actually has a collision rate that’s about twice as high when you compare it to other similar facilities, which is saying you have two collisions to every one on other facilities,” said Scott Mansur, Transportation Manager.

Another possible change would be to add roundabouts.

Engineers will present six proposals for change at a community forum on Feb. 27. That forum will take place at South Eugene High School from 6-8 p.m.

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