Will Pat Farr ever stop talking about the West Eugene Parkway? by Pat Farr


At a City Council meeting on January 25, while discussing an agenda item titled  “Envision Eugene“I brought up the subject of the removal of the Parkway from Eugene’s transportation plan.

Mayor Piercy made a statement that “We should turn on a red light every time Pat talks about that…”

Councilor Zelenka fell short of his oft-stated, “For the record:  The West Eugene Parkway is dead…”  but muttered something about that not being the issue in this particular case.  See the webcast of the meeting.

Well, maybe the red light should be left on because even though it’s off the books the demise of the parkway continues to haunt us.

“ODOT has been working for over 20 years with the City of Eugene and Lane County to develop the proposed West Eugene Parkway as the best way to handle growing traffic in the area. This homepage has been designed to be a repository for current planning efforts related to the project and will be updated with current information…” taken from the ODOT document titled “Northwest Region, Region 2”.

Here’s some current information that came up in the meeting on the 25th: a large number of acres of land  that are zoned residential land (acres that are integral to our long-range planning), located west of Danebo Avenue and adjacent to State Highway 26 (see study area page 5) cannot be developed because the state tells us we do not have the “transportation facilities” to build there.

Transportation facilities,” I thought.  “What does that mean? A bus station?

To satisfy my curiosity I asked what that means.  I was told that “transportation facilities” in this case means “roads.”

I wondered out loud why the land was zoned residential beyond the western edge of our urban area.  I was told that the need for residences in that location, in the original plan, was to support the jobs that would come as a result of the development of the adjacent industrial land.

Well, why was the adjacent industrial land not developed as planned?  The answer was, oh my gosh, because the state has told us we don’t have the “transportation facilities” to support development.

I am not in the habit of grilling city staff.  They are good at their work and they don’t need yet another Councilor gainsaying their efforts.  But I wanted to know.

And so I pressed on, “Is there a ‘transportation facility’ in the original plan that is no longer in place to support the development?”

At this point City Manager Jon Ruiz addressed the microphone, “Councilor, I take that to be a rhetorical question…”  (this is an expression he uses when he might otherwise have said, “That’s a stupid question!”)

Of course you know by now the answer:  that the missing “transportation facility” from the plan—the originally planned road—is the West Eugene Parkway.  We had planned for it for decades and we had constructed our residential, industrial and commercial land plan with it in mind.  Now it’s gone—“Dead” as Councilor Zelenka repeatedly tells us—we can no longer build houses and bring jobs to the area it would have served.

Here’s another rhetorical question:  “If it’s dead, who killed it?”

PS:  here’s the answer to the first rhetorical question, asked in the title of this article:  “Not in the near future!”




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