It is sad that The Register Guard’s distant corporate owners ended letters to the editor and op-eds. These are critical parts of any newspaper’s voice. They can promote perspectives sometimes absent in the rest of the paper.
My letters and op-eds to the RG were the only times they mentioned legal problems of the proposed West Eugene “Porkway.” I was involved in stopping the highway from 1999 through its cancellation in 2007 (various versions were considered since 1951).
The WEP would have violated federal laws including section 4(f) of the 1966 Transportation Act, which bans federally funded roads through parks like the West Eugene Wetlands conservation park. This is why the Federal Highway Administration chose “No Build.”
Section 4(f) may be the strongest federal environmental law — it requires avoidance, not mere mitigation — but it doesn’t apply to the plan to widen Beltline Highway across the river from 10 to 16 lanes for a third of a billion dollars. ODOT and FHWA approved this in March without public notice.
The RG has run stories about Beltline widening, but the only dissent they have published has been my letters. As far as I know, the only time EW has mentioned this project have been similar letters.
My politics do not fit the conventional wisdom of either the RG or EW, so they relegated my contributions to the letters section, not as sources for news stories. SustainEugene.org has copies of the letters and detailed background.