West Eugene Parkway - November 2001 Update



by Dave Stone
By now, registered voters in Eugene have received their ballots for the special election that will determine the fate of a significant portion of our West Eugene Wetlands. These recently-acquired wetlands are part of the largest urban wetlands protection and restoration project in the US. Voters have been inundated with a massive advertising campaign designed to persuade them to approve the dubious Parkway project.
The ballot actually contains two proposals. The first, Measure 20-53, proposes a sensible approach to transportation issues in West Eugene. Improvements to Beltline and to West 11th between Beltline and Garfield would facilitate traffic flow in the short term. Long-term solutions such as bus rapid transit and other alternatives would be developed.
The second measure, Measure 20-54, would authorize the City of Eugene to seek funding and transportation and land use approvals for construction of the West Eugene Parkway.
The notion of a parkway originated over 20 years ago, back in the "dark ages" of land use planning.
In the interim we have learned that there is a lot more to land use planning than simply deciding where to lay the pavement. We now recognize that building major highways causes sprawl, can devastate local business districts and consequently, can damage a community. We also now recognize the importance of preserving local wetlands, and have proceeded with a highly successful, world-class effort to preserve our few remaining acres.
Proponents claim that the impact on wetlands will be "mitigated", and that we will end up with more wetlands than we started with. However, building new wetlands has been shown to be unsuccessful about 80% of the time.
Finally, Parkway advocates tell us that the money for this project is already available. What they don't tell you is that the money would either come from cutting other planned transportation projects or from new local taxes.