Op Editorial from the Eugene
Whip the WEP! West Eugene Parkway
by Rob Handy and Leslie Scott
Q: What is the best reason to vote "No" on Measure 20-54, the West Eugene
a) $88-100 million--it's too expensive
b) It won't fix traffic congestion
c) It causes sprawl and harms the environment
d) There are better transportation solutions
e) All the above
If you answered "e) All the above," you get an A+.
Here are the "Cliff Notes" for the West Eugene Parkway test, which is on
the Eugene Ballot that you will receive this week. Share these notes with a friend.
If enough Eugene voters are aware of the damage the WEP would cause to our pocketbooks,
our environment, and our livability, we can whip the WEP! At the same time, we can
vote for better, more balanced transportation choices.
Cliff Note #1: Initially estimated to cost
$88 million, the WEP could cost taxpayers more than $100 million today --but it wouldn't
reduce traffic congestion in west Eugene!
Fact: WEP supporters
make vague claims like "the money's there." But currently only $17 million
is available for the WEP. The missing $71 million could only come from three sources:
additional tax money, cancelled road and transportation projects throughout Eugene,
or cuts to other government services or programs.
(Study Hint: see the Voter's Pamphlet explanation, which says "If WEP is included
on funded project list, other projects totaling at least $71.2 million must be removed
from list, or .need to be funded from other federal, state or local revenues").
Fact: If the WEP
were built, congestion would increase in west Eugene, for example by 70% at W. 11th
Ave and Beltline according to projections. Why? Largely because the WEP is designed
to promote development in outlying
areas and serve commuters from outside Eugene's Urban Growth Boundary.
Cliff Note #2: The WEP will bypass local
businesses and west Eugene residents, hurting businesses' bottom lines. As a "limited
access bypass," the WEP simply won't be usable by many patrons of W.11th Ave
and other area businesses, or by workers traveling to west Eugene workplaces.
We've seen the results elsewhere: bypassed main street declines, stores close, workers
are laid off, property values fall. (Study Hint: remember your Bus Ad 101 Cliff Notes.
Local businesses require accessibility by customers to thrive).
Cliff Note #3: The WEP will harm the environment.
Fact: The WEP
would bulldoze a football-field-wide path right through west Eugene's park and wildlife
habitat areas, destroying nearly 50 acres of irreplaceable wetland habitat that is
home to rare plants and animals. These parklands provide unique educational and recreation
opportunities to Eugene residents. In the Willamette Valley, there is less than 1%
of our precious native wet prairie habitat left.
WEP supporters claim these wetlands will be "mitigated," or artificially
restored elsewhere. (Study Hint: the National Academy of Sciences recently reported
that mitigation fails nearly three-quarters of the time. It is not a viable strategy
for protecting endangered species.)
Cliff Note #4: The WEP will increase costly
urban sprawl and enrich ahandful of developers.
Fact: Real estate
developers, land speculators, construction equipment companies and their friends
are the biggest financial backers of the "Yes on the WEP" campaign.
The Environmental Impact Statement for the WEP states it could "increase the
development rate of the rural residential properties just outside the Urban Growth
Boundary." And developers will use the WEP as an excuse to
expand Eugene's UGB to build new subdivisions on farm and forestlands.
Who profits from sprawl? Follow the money.
Cliff Note #5: There are better, more cost-effective
transportation solutions for west Eugene. Ballot Measure 20-53, "Transportation
Strategies in West Eugene," includes proposals to preserve and improve existing
roadways in west Eugene, including the entire W. 11th corridor, Beltline, Roosevelt,
and many other local streets. It proposes giving residents more transportation choices,
including better auto accessibility,
more transit options, and improving alternative modes of transportation to reduce
Why spend $88 million of our tax dollars on a single project that won't even serve
most Eugene residents, when for less money we could invest in a broader set of transportation
solutions in our local neighborhoods and commercial districts?
OK, you're ready. Don't forget to mail in your ballot! This is one test where the
more people that get the right answer, the better off we all are.
Rob Handy is a Eugene transportation and land use advocate.
Leslie Scott is general manager of the Oregon Country Fair and a board member of
Friends of Eugene.
They submitted this on behalf of the No On Measure 20-54 Committee.