Eugene Seeks Bike Grants

The city of Eugene and LTD are competing for ConnectOregon V transportation grants that would create a bike share program and construct three bicycle-pedestrian bridges in West Eugene over Amazon Creek. ConnectOregon is a lottery bond-funded initiative that supports air, rail, marine, transit and bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.

Two of the three bike-ped bridges in LTD and the city of Eugene’s application, at Buck Street and Wallis Street, are planned as part of the West Eugene EmX extension. A third, at Commerce Street, would improve bicycle and pedestrian access to the terminal station of the EmX extension. All bridges would connect to the Fern Ridge Bike Path.

“One of the things that really attracted us to these crossings in the first place is the more direct access that it provided to the neighborhoods in the south side of the Amazon,” says LTD Director of Planning and Development Tom Schwetz. “In particular, there’s a lot of low-income housing adjacent to the Buck Street crossing.” While the Wallis Street crossing doesn’t connect with much now, Schwetz says that a planned Rexius development will cause Wallis to be a more important connector in the future. The request totals approximately $3.3 million.

The city of Eugene is also applying for a ConnectOregon grant for a bike share program. UO plans to install a four-station, 40-bike bike share system in the spring, and the city’s proposed 24-station, 170-bike system would be fully integrated with UO’s scheme. The application is for approximately $900,000.

City of Eugene Transportation Planning Manager Rob Inerfeld says that bike share programs are designed to accommodate short trips, and people who don’t keep bikes downtown or on campus will benefit from having another transportation option.

“With all the student housing being built in and around downtown, it’s creating capacity issues with some of the buses that go between downtown and campus,” Inerfeld says. When the West Eugene EmX extension opens, Inerfeld says, those routes will see even more demand.

Previous Eugene-area ConnectOregon grants include LTD’s Veneta Transit Center, the Pioneer Parkway EmX route and improvements at the Eugene Airport. The current grant cycle is the first in which bicycle and pedestrian projects will be eligible. ODOT will select winning applications in August 2014.