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Work to start on EmX spur.

Byline: Christian Wihtol The Register-Guard

Lane County construction firms will receive an infusion of federal money early next year as work gets under way on the Gateway bus rapid transit line in Springfield.

The federal government on Wednesday formally announced its $32.5 million contribution to the project, which adds a second leg to the Lane Transit District's EmX system. The U.S. Department of Transportation previously had agreed to provide the money, but it's still reassuring to get the formal award, said Andy Vobora, spokesman for LTD, which is developing and will operate the new transit line.

All told, the new line is budgeted at $41.2 million, with $38.4 million coming from the federal and state governments and the rest from LTD. Vobora said $25.1 million of the budget is for construction.

LTD has selected Wildish Companies of Eugene as the project manager and general contractor, Vobora said. Wildish will put parts of the project out to bid, and Vobora said he expects most or all of the construction to go to local companies. That will be welcome work in a sector that has turned sluggish with the drop-off in housing construction and the completion of the Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend.

Aside from construction work, the project includes $6.2 million for design services - all of it being done by local companies - plus $5.3 million for buses for the route, $1.5 million for environmental work and plan review and inspections by the city of Springfield, and the remainder for such costs as right of way acquisition, Vobora said.

The construction money should start flowing into the local economy quickly.

"We're going to get started on construction early in 2009," Vobora said. "We've got all the design drawings, we are working out (planning) details with city of Springfield staff, and we hope for signoff next month."

After that, Wildish will begin putting portions of the job out to bid. The construction work includes paving, widening roads and building bus shelters.

The EmX extension will take the rapid transit line from the Springfield city center to Gateway. The system's first leg runs from downtown Eugene to downtown Springfield. The EmX line features sleek, streamlined buses that run largely in dedicated lanes apart from traffic.

The Gateway extension will run along Pioneer Parkway to Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend and will include a loop around the commercial Gateway area. Service will run every 10 minutes weekdays and every 15 minutes on weekday evenings and weekends.

The district expects more riders to flock to EmX and its dedicated routes as congestion increases for regular traffic.

The district said it will apply its bus fare schedule to the current EmX route next year, and those fares will apply to the Gateway extension and future EmX routes. The district currently does not charge passengers on the Eugene-Springfield EmX route.

In a news release, the federal Transportation Department stressed that it wants EmX to serve commuters traveling to and from work.

Major employment centers along the Pioneer Parkway EmX route include Symantec's service center, the Royal Caribbean call center, the River Bend hospital and the Gateway Mall. When the line opens in 2010, employment within one-half mile of the entire bus rapid transit route will total 15,500, the department said.
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Title Annotation:City/Region; With the federal government's green light on $32.5 million, the project is expected to begin spawning jobs within months
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Nov 27, 2008
Words:553
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