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Parkway foes commission private study.

Byline: SUSAN PALMER The Register-Guard

Opponents of the West Eugene Parkway have hired a consultant to examine west Eugene's transportation problems and suggest other solutions to traffic congestion.

A loose coalition of planned-growth activists hired Portland architects Crandall Arambula PC, a firm with national urban design experience. The coalition will give the results of the $5,000-to-$10,000 study to the city for free, group member Rob Zako said Monday.

Many in the group, people such as Mary O'Brien, Rob Handy, Jan Spencer and others, are members of groups such as Citizens for Public Accountability, Friends of Eugene, 1000 Friends of Oregon, the Sierra Club and the Oregon Natural Resources Council.

Voters approved the 5.8-mile, $88 million parkway last November, but local governments must consider amendments to several local and regional planning documents before the project goes forward.

The timing of the private study might seem too late with the Eugene City Council poised to vote July 8 on planning amendments. Springfield and Lane County face similar decisions later in the month.

But City Council President David Kelly didn't think so. The parkway faces other hurdles that could cause delays, he said: The federal Bureau of Land Management and the Federal Highway Department must sign off on the road. The parkway also may face legal challenges from opponents, he said.

And even if it were to get green lights all the way along the route, the parkway still doesn't solve west Eugene's traffic woes, Kelly said. Models show traffic on West 11th Avenue increasing 70 percent by 2015, with the parkway in place, he said.

"More information is good," he said. "It'll help us down the line, even if we go ahead with the parkway."

Zako appeared Monday before Eugene planning commissioners to lobby for support to have city staff members meet with the consultant for four hours to get information on existing plans and zoning.

The commissioners endorsed the offer of a privately funded study but stopped short of requesting the staff time. They instead encouraged the consultants to take advantage of government documents about the parkway.

Eugene Planning Division Manager Jan Childs said department employees are working overtime already on a variety of projects, including the federal courthouse district, the downtown plan update, Royal and Chase Gardens development plans, implementing recent land-use code updates and processing the West Eugene Parkway plan amendments.

The coalition would like the city to free up staff time anyway, Zako said. "If they wait half a day to move forward with nodal development, it wouldn't be the end of the world," he said.

Architect George Crandall said his firm is still defining the scope of the Eugene study, but contact with city staff who are familiar with the issues is key to the work.

"We would certainly want to talk with someone from the city to benefit from their considerable background," Crandall said.
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Title Annotation:Transportation: An activist coalition offers the results to the city at no charge.; Transportation
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jun 11, 2002
Words:482
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