Collaborative Recommends Boulevard for West 11th

After the cancellation of the West Eugene Parkway sparked a two year search for alternatives, the West Eugene Collaborative (WEC) has recommended the eventual conversion of the West 11th commercial strip into a green, multi-modal, mixed-use, dense boulevard.

The wide boulevard with up to four lanes of through cars, two lanes of side access streets, two lanes of parallel parking, two dedicated lanes of EmX buses, wide sidewalks and five park strips with trees but no dedicated bike lanes could be built incrementally and take two decades and $180 to $250 million to complete, the WEC’s consensus report estimates.

In the short term, the diverse group of developers and environmentalists recommends improvements to signage, traffic lights, intersections and turn lanes on West 11th and adjacent 5th and 7th streets to quickly and cheaply reduce congestion.

The WEC report is vague in many details and does not recommend limiting big box development in the area nor does it call for any major new highways.

The lack of a big new road like the controversial and failed parkway through wetlands may be the plan’s biggest statement, according to Friends of Eugene President Kevin Matthews. “It represents a big decision to say West Eugene can work without the new roads,” he said.

WEC members said the report was more about creating a consensus among diverse groups for an overall vision and direction than a detailed technical plan. The next step, they said, will be seeing if the community supports the vision and fleshing out the engineering. “At this early time, it may not have a whole lot of detail in it, but it’s a first step,” said west Eugene City Councilor Chris Pryor.

Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy said the biggest accomplishment of the diverse group representing both environmental and development interests is moving from the decades of divisive fighting over the parkway to a consensus vision. “To me that is a very big deal.”