Printer Friendly

Scoping a western route.

Byline: The Register-Guard

Too bad the street system in the Eugene-Springfield area wasn't built with a bus rapid transit system in mind. But it wasn't, so extending the Lane Transit District's EmX bus service to any part of the metropolitan area requires retrofitting an existing transportation system designed mainly for cars and trucks. Such retrofits will in many cases involve expense, controversy and painful compromises. As future EmX routes are charted, it's necessary to keep in mind not only what's feasible today, but what's desirable decades from now.

LTD is in the early stages of planning the third leg of its EmX system - a bus rapid transit line serving west Eugene. This segment would be completed in about 2015, five years after the second leg connects PeaceHealth's new hospital and the Gateway area to the existing line between downtown Springfield and downtown Eugene. Compressing that timeline would be helpful. With the completion of the third segment, the EmX will begin to function more like a regional rapid transit system than as a novel adjunct to LTD's current bus service.

To be worthy of the name, a bus rapid transit system must include dedicated roadways along much of its route, allowing the buses to move faster than other traffic. Creating exclusive transit lanes has proven difficult for the first two phases of EmX - the buses could not be given special lanes on parts of Franklin Boulevard in east Eugene and Glenwood and on Gateway Street in Springfield without purchasing prohibitively expensive rights-of-way or impeding traffic flows to an unacceptable degree. The result is a compromise: On parts of the first two routes, the EmX buses travel with other traffic.

Creating dedicated roadways for the third leg could prove even harder. The direct route to west Eugene is along West 11th Avenue. The blocks of West 11th closest to downtown are part of a neighborhood where some residents have already organized to ensure that the EmX buses follow some other route. Beyond Garfield Street, West 11th is a commercial strip whose many businesses depend on easy access by customers and suppliers. Providing exclusive lanes to EmX buses along West 11th could entail eliminating on-street parking in the residential blocks, reducing the number of traffic lanes along the commercial strip, and creating access problems for residents and businesses alike.

Creative planning can mitigate those consequences. So can routing the EmX buses along streets other than West 11th. As part of its route scoping exercise, LTD is studying the possibility of connecting to west Eugene via Sixth and Seventh avenues, or along 13th Avenue. Either route would be less direct, but gaining more segments of dedicated bus lanes might be worth the trade.

Another intriguing possibility is creating an EmX bus line along Amazon Creek west of Garfield, parallel to West 11th. No re-engineering of West 11th would be required. Bus stops would be convenient to both the commercial area and the residential neighborhoods between West 11th and West 18th Avenues. And the route would be fast - with no other traffic and few cross streets, the EmX buses could move quickly past what is frequently a bottleneck.

The Amazon option might present environmental design or cost obstacles. LTD's planning process is meant to identify those.

The long-term goal, however, must always remain in sight: a true regional rapid transit system. Decades from now, the difficulties of creating such a system will be forgotten, while the benefits will endure.
COPYRIGHT 2007 The Register Guard
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2007, Gale Group. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Editorials; EmX line must balance competing interests
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Oct 11, 2007
Previous Article:SPORTS MAIL.
Next Article:Letters Editorial.

Related Articles
LTD eyes early opening for high-speed bus line.
A system, not a link.
For bus service, the future is here.
EmX rolls with strong ridership.
Gearing up for EmX fight.
Extending EmX bus line raises route, cost issues.
LTD's EmX line wins award for `sustainable transportation'.
EmX remarkably popular in first year.
Riders on, routes out.
Eugene, Oregon, earns global recognition for its transportation efforts.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters