Willamette Street Focus Narrows

EUGENE, Ore. — The city of Eugene has a much more focused list of proposals it’s looking at when it comes to revamping Willamette Street.

On Willamette, there are two lanes in each direction, but no bike lanes, and pretty narrow sidewalks.

After hearing public input from people who frequently use Willamette Street, the city narrowed its proposals down to six.

For the past year, the city of Eugene has been trying to figure out a way to turn South Willamette Street into an urban corridor. The city says it hopes to hear a full range of voices on its proposals.

“People that use the street as a commuter, people that want to bicycle and walk down the street and certainly from the business community because they have a keen interest in what happens on Willamette,” said Chris Henry, Eugene Transportation Engineer.

For some businesses, adding bike lanes is a top priority.

“Not all of the alternatives have bike lanes, some do, some do not,” Henry said.

The other three don’t and instead recommend cyclists to use neighboring streets to get to Willamette.

“It doesn’t really make sense to come up a sidestreet, and then you’re going to be on the street on Willamette Street to access the businesses anyhow,” said Kelsey Moore, Arrive by Bike Manager.

But other business owners say taking away car lanes to add bike lanes would keep customers away.

Four of the proposals would expand sidewalks–some even to 13 feet wide. One business manager says this could help turn the area into a better shopping district.

“There’s nothing that says park your car at this business and walk to the one next to it. There’s nothing that says explore the neighborhood, figure out what’s here, try a new restaurant. It’s not an inviting place to come and stay and explore,” Moore said.

Once the city picks a design, it will use pavement preservation and capital improvement grants to make the changes.

“That would be the way the project would be implemented, so it’s about five years out that we would see improvements on the street,” Henry said.

The city will hear public input about its plans from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday night at South Eugene High School. After getting public input from that meeting, the city will narrow its proposals down to three.

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