Test Run Set Approved 3-Lane, Bike-Friendly Willamette Street
Ahead of an upcoming city plan to repave Willamette Street in 2018, the Eugene City Council voted 5-4 in favor of restriping a stretch of the road into a new configuration with one vehicle traffic lane going each direction, a center turning lane, and bicycle lanes on each side. Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy cast the tie-breaker in the vote last Wednesday (May 28, 2014).
Creating A “Complete Street”
Five blocks of Willamette Street between 24th and 29th Avenues will be restriped, allowing for a 12-month trial run that will allow the City Council to see how well (or how poorly) the reconfigured street will work.
Mayor Piercy expressed hope that the new design of Willamette will create a “complete street” that better balances the needs of motorists, cyclists, and foot traffic. “I think all of us should be focused on making this street an exceptional success for everyone, with as little interference to businesses and traffic flow as possible,” Piercy told the Eugene Register-Guard. “[…] If we learn that some of our plans are outmoded, then we need to correct [them]. All communities learn through allowing themselves to try to do the very best possible for the present and for the future”
City Councilor Mike Clark, who voted against the 3-lane option and test stated that his objection was based on safety concerns, particularly for cyclists on the busy street. “Our job is to protect people, not put them in potential danger.”
Other Options & Total Costs
The City Council’s vote was cast following an 18-month study during which two other options were also proposed. One would have kept the current four-lane configuration as-is, without bike lanes, and simply resurfaced Willamette Street with no significant changes. The second option was similar to the one chosen, with two vehicle-traffic lanes and a center turn lane, but would have added 13-foot-wide sidewalks on each side for cyclists and foot traffic.
If approved following testing, construction of the 3-lane, bike-friendly design will cost approximately $900,000. Most of that amount will go toward upgrades and changes that would have been necessary for any of the three configurations.
The restriping of Willamette is expected to take place in summer of 2015.