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Eugene Weekly : Viewpoint : 11.19.09




Dissect and Destroy

Examining the Amazon option for EmX

by James Lewandoski

In the quest to make west Eugene traffic — and West 11th particularly — a smoother ride, LTD is in the process of choosing a route for its west Eugene EmX bus rapid transit. There are four options being considered. Top on its list, seemingly, is sending the EmX from downtown westward on 13th Avenue. West of Garfield, 13th dead-ends into Amazon Creek and the bike path. It is at this juncture the insanity begins. LTD actually wants to run the EmX along the bike path and the Amazon Creek. Unbelievable, I know, but it’s true. In other words, LTD, via incredible and outrageous engineering involving altering both the bike path and the creek bed itself, is proposing to ruin and destroy the bike path. 

I’m asking bicyclists and all others who use and enjoy the bike path who wish not to be doused with a continual spewing forth of diesel exhaust to help stop this madness. I’m asking all who think a greenway where herons, kingfishers and ducks can be seen and enjoyed to be a good idea if not a vital gem for Eugene, to stop LTD and the City Council from taking a huge and irreversible chunk out of the livability of this city.

Equally preposterously, in order to get to the bike path, LTD needs to dissect and destroy a peaceful quiet neighborhood: 13th Avenue west of Garfield, being a dead-end street, sees no traffic outside of the people who live there. It’s not a thoroughfare. Homeowners live here because of the quiet. Families have been living in this awesome little nook for 10, 20, even 30 years. On this part of 13th, there are kids playing in the street, cats along the curb and at least one chihuahua is often found wandering the street keeping us all entertained. All of this would be destroyed.

The vital question: How is the ruination of the bike path as well as the dissection and destruction of a quiet neighborhood going to take one car off West 11th or even slightly aid in solving west Eugene’s traffic issues? It won’t!

The answer to west Eugene’s traffic woes lies in making car traffic flow more fluidly. I wish it were otherwise but this is, after all, car-loving America. It’s going to take a more impressive public transportation option than running diesel buses down an already existing greenbelt two blocks off West 11th to get us out of the cars. If there’s going to be an enormous construction project, let it enhance car travel in the area and let the public transportation part of it be convenient enough to motivate us car owners to actually use it. 

A public transportation option in the area is vital. But it needs to be effective. Even if LTD were to build all four of the options being considered, West 11th would still be an overcrowded mess. Since the car traffic issues are exponentially more profound than anything public transportation can solve, LTD routes, with or without an EmX, need to come after or be a part of a solution for car traffic; not something separate and exclusive. 

So please, keep the EmX off the bike path and stop the destruction of a quiet neighborhood. Instead, let’s work on solutions that might actually make visiting and shopping along West 11th and traveling to Veneta or the coast a more pleasant experience.

James Lewandoski is a resident of almost 15 years in west Eugene and an educator in 4J schools.