Bridging the gap: connections being made between cities

 

Hunched over the handlebars to her 2011 navy blue Torker InterUrban, Allison Camp glances down at her silver accents and the teal green Brooks saddle carefully mounted on the body and climbs into the saddle ready to make her daily commute towards Lane Transit District.

As she rapidly winds down the trails of Alton Baker Park, she suddenly sees a woman dressed in orange construction apparel, waiting to assist Camp in a safe crossing across the construction site. As they greet each other with a simple good morning, Camp proceeds to pedal down the road.

Camp is a second year candidate for a master’s degree in community and regional planning from the University of Oregon and the sustainability intern at LTD, located in Glenwood, Ore. Camp is also a member of Live Move, the University of Oregon’s transportation and livability group.  As a daily commuter, Camp sees first hand the impact that the Willamette River Bridge Project, otherwise known as the I-5 project, has had on the local community from both a personal and employee standpoint.

“It’s not that big of an inconvenience,” Camp says. “The consideration for commuters in planning is good and the bike paths will be beautiful by all means.” As the progress continues on the bridge and surrounding areas, Camp and other community members stay optimistic about the long-term impact of the project for the Glenwood community.

Hamilton Construction arrived to the scene in 2009 and plans on staying through 2014, the expected completion date for the entire project.  Members of Hamilton Construction understand the importance of all methods of transportation and make sure that they publish information to the community through local news stations, the bridge project’s blog, and on posted signs along transportation routes near the construction site.

They want to ensure that every member, whether bicyclist, pedestrian, or commuter on I-5 itself, has easy and readily available access to the area. This is a challenge that both ODOT and Hamilton construction are putting at the top of their priorities to overcome throughout the duration of the project.

Joe McAndrew is a fellow colleague of Camp in the Live Move group and shares similar views to this inclusive project.  “They’ve really taken into account getting bikes from Eugene to Springfield,” McAndrew says. “Whether or not it’s convenient [for bicyclists], they’ve done it.”

As with any local community, development projects come with varying opinions about the appropriate allocation of funding for projects conducted in their community. Wanda Bull, an employee at the Glenwood Dari Mart, says that there are more important ways in which the money should be spent.

“I’ve seen an increase in foot traffic for Dari Mart, but I think the money should be spent elsewhere. There are too many other pressing issues in our community than transportation,” Bull says.

One of the main concerns behind construction according to Wieseke is the orange signs put up during the different phases of construction. Currently, due to the construction project, the only exit to Glenwood is marked with construction signs, and some businesses rely on that exit for their daily foot traffic.  Jeff Washington, owner of Washington Auto Wholesale, feels that the project is beneficial for the long-term development of the community, but in the meantime is hindering the amount of traffic through the community.

“In the plans for the construction, they decided not to put in another off-ramp to the community,” Washington says. “I think it’s accounted for decrease in business for Glenwood businesses.”

Before Hamilton construction arrived on the scene, the bridge replacement was a controversial issue in the Eugene and Springfield communities. Located right next to the construction site is Alton Baker Park, a City of Eugene park home to hundreds of community members each day.

The proximity of Alton Baker Park has made this project largely conversed amongst the Eugene, Springfield, and Glenwood communities. According to a public forum, some community members are worried that this project might have a negative toll on the wetlands nestled throughout the park.

The Willamette Bridge Project is the largest bridge replacement in Oregon history, and notably the most expensive to date. The total operating budget for construction is $155 million, and according to Wieseke, a substantial amount of that  money has been cycled back through the community of Glenwood.

“As of December 2012, this project has put $41 million back into the hands of Lane County businesses and workers,” Wieseke says. Many of these businesses Wieseke is referring to include Glenwood area businesses such as Roaring Rapids Pizza Co. and Dari Mart because a majority of Hamilton workers commute to the construction site every day and buy their lunches from surrounding eateries.

Apart from daily lunches, there’s another large factor contributing to the re-distribution of allotted construction funds through the Glenwood community. Glenwood is the home to numerous industrial companies including Sanipac and BRING Recycling. Throughout the past year, over 8,000 lbs. of untreated wood have been recycled from Sanipac and through a mixture of other Glenwood businesses; over 280 tons of reinforced steel have been bought and used for the project.

“Business leaders, such as the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce, have told us they appreciate the project’s role in creating local jobs, bringing extra money spent by construction crew members into the community,” Wieseke says.

As with recycling, the Eugene and Springfield communities strongly encourage participation with the local wildlife and outdoor activities. The 373 acre Alton Baker Park contains over 4.07 miles of running and biking trails, and throughout the course of the project, Hamilton Construction and ODOT are working to improve the multi-use paths near the bridge site, aid in the creation of new visual improvements near the construction site, and plant native foliage both in the park and near the freeway to restore the areas directly affected by the construction.

In a collaboration effort between ODOT, Hamilton Construction, and the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, one of the long-term goals for the project is to create cleaner waterways for the local salmon migrations that occur each winter.  “We’re restoring tributaries connecting Augusta Creek and Glenwood Slough to improve fish habitat and building bios wales to keep local waterways cleaner,” Wieseke says.

“They have held innumerable meetings with Eugene and Springfield staff and committees to proposed paths and landscaping, and have increased the amount of habitat restoration which will occur after the bridge work is finished,” Philip Richardson, landscape architect for the City of Eugene Parks & Open Space Division, says.

EIMG_7996

The upper deck of the I-5 bridge.
Photo By: Alan Sylvestre

While current challenges might be present for pedestrians and commuters, by this upcoming September, Hamilton Construction and ODOT plan to have the finishing touches on the upper deck of the north bound lanes and aims to have I-5 commuters routed back from the temporary one-lane reduction established to allow for this final phase of the construction process.

Upon completion of the physical architecture of the bridge, ODOT will remain in place until 2014 to work on improving the natural habitat of the area. “After we complete the construction, we’re going to plant native plants and install art to improve the beauty of the area,” Wieseke says.

This chapter of the project was discussed in a public forum before the approval of the budget. One Glenwood resident anonymously asked for an improvement in visual quality by adding tasteful art in the parks, and others agreed requesting that any art installed be an accurate representation of the Eugene and Springfield communities.

As per community request, ODOT will be working with local artists, community members, and local businesses in the Glenwood area to ensure that the demands of the residents are met without increasing the total duration of the project timeline.

“They have dedicated funds towards the installation of public art in at least 3  locations,” Richardson says.

One of the other primary concerns for ODOT and Hamilton Construction is making sure the construction does not impede on a commuters ability to travel through the area.

“The long-term goal of the project is to keep traffic moving safely and efficiently through the Eugene-Springfield area now and in the future to handle increased traffic,” Wieseke says.

On the ride home, Camp passes the construction workers and notices that her ride home is not too different from the ride there.

“It might be a long trip, but the access available does not hinder our trips,” Camp says. “I commend them in their efforts to accommodate the public.”

While construction and detour routes can increase the total duration of the ride, Camp and other bicyclists feel that the construction project has not added a large inconvenience to their daily routines.

By: Alan Sylvestre

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Allison Camp: sustainability intern

Camp is an active bicyclist in the Eugene and Springfield communities respectively. Each day, she commutes from Eugene to Glenwood, where she serves as the sustainability intern with LTD. Through this role, she’s charged with the task of assisting the administration with internal sustainability practices.

“Small, low-cost, everyday activities can make a big difference in the waste stream and utility bills,” Camp says. She’s working with LTD to make sustainability a key factor in all aspects of being a transit agency.

Upon completion of her master’s degree in community and regional planning, Camp wants to be involved with transportation planning, hopefully in the Eugene and Springfield communities. She would like to remain here and possible be retained as a full-time employee.

Apart from being a sustainability intern, Camp is an active member of the biking community in Eugene. She’s a member of the GEARS board of directors and takes great pride in the freedom to bike in the Eugene and Springfield communities.

“I commute by bicycle because in Eugene, I can,” she says. Before coming to the University of Oregon, Camp got her undergraduate degree in Pittsburgh. Since coming to Eugene, she has the freedom to use any method of alternative transportation that she wants to.

When Camp’s not actively pursuing her master’s degree, she enjoys spending time with her friends on her porch and logs between 35-50 miles a week running in the Eugene and Springfield communities.

By: Alan Sylvestre

About alansylvestre

I'm a professional videographer and photographer My interests in storytelling are related to the way people interact with governing bodies, and vice versa. I find joy in telling stories around human interest. My specialties are in videography and photography.
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