Residents are ready for the right kind of change in their neighborhood
By Myckyal Hunt
The city of Eugene is planning to expand the EmX route and the Jefferson Westside Neighbors is in the heart of the issue.
In 2008, the Eugene Comprehensive Lands Assessment (ECLA) was created to determine how much land would be needed in the coming years if Eugene continues to grow as it has recently.
As a result of this assessment, the city of Eugene is trying to put together a plan for efficient urban growth – a project called Envision Eugene. Accessible and efficient transportation is an important factor in this process.
Paul Conte, chair of the JWN Association, realizes what this could mean for the residents of his neighborhood. With plans for EmX expansion running down 11th through the JWN, change can only happen with careful planning.
“[Jefferson Westside] is in the cross-hairs of this issue,” Conte said.
West 11th Avenue averages approximately 25,000 vehicles per day, making it a loud and busy street. Expanding the EmX line would accommodate a lot of people trying to travel from West Eugene to the campus area, but would also require construction and clearing out trees – noise that the residents of quiet JWN are not accustomed to.
Kelly Jordan, a resident of the WJN, lives on West 11th thinks the expansion is a good idea, but does not feel 11th is the best answer. “Living on this street, I don’t want them doing any construction,” she said, also adding that having the EmX on 11th would “make it more congested.”
On Tuesday, there was a city meeting welcome to all, with the purpose of discussing possible changes in different neighborhoods. Attendees of the meeting were asked to discuss their opinions and to write down their ideas and concerns about possible expansion and growth in Eugene.
Jeanne-Marie Moore, a licensed clinical social worker, and a resident of JWN came to the meeting to share her concerns about LTD and the EmX. Moore, who is blind, is worried about the difficulties for disabled people that EmX expansion would cause.
“[The EmX] makes bus stops farther apart,” she said. “People with energy-related disabilities suffer from that.”
Moore says she likes the safety of the JWN, and that she’s lived in neighborhoods that are not so accommodating to people with disabilities – she does not want anything to change that.
The city is not going to make any decisions until it can be assured that the needs of residents are being met. Other options for expanding the EmX route include utilizing 6th or 7th Avenues. Jordan says that she would “not encourage them to widen” 11th, but that “6th would be perfect.”
Expansion of the EmX and other issues will be discussed at the next Envision Eugene city meeting Wednesday May 26 at the Churchill High School Cafeteria.