May 22, 2024

Whole Community News

From Kalapuya lands in the Willamette watershed

LTD public engagement ‘lies’ inspire neighborhood opponents

6 min read

Neighborhood opponents of Transit Tomorrow met neighborhood opponents of MovingAhead. At the NLC Transportation meeting in March, Jess Roshak.

[00:00:08] Jess Roshak: I was blindsided like everybody else by this Transit Tomorrow, and this line that they did adequate public engagement and they don’t understand what we’re talking about, you know, ‘How can we accuse them of not getting everybody’s opinion and…everybody wanted this!’

[00:00:23] And so where I got passionate and involved was, just feeling like we were being lied to about the public engagement piece. And I’m particularly interested in that, because I have a feeling the same flavor of public engagement was done for MovingAhead as it was with Transit Tomorrow..

[00:00:41] I am really interested in hearing about the door-to-door work that you guys have done as far as public engagement.

[00:00:50] Mark Osterloh: I started going up and down each of the five corridors to all of the businesses and the homeowners on each of the corridors on River Road, Coburg, 30th, and knocking on the doors and saying, ‘Have you heard about the plans?’ and stuff like this.

[00:01:06] Ninety-five percent of the people I talked to right on the corridor, right on the roads, had no idea what I was talking about. I had to explain it to them. I showed them what they were planning to do, and they were stunned.

[00:01:19] I only ran into one lady who had actually been talked to by people from the MovingAhead EmX plan. And they said, ‘Oh, well, these are the final plans. It’s a done deal. Don’t stand in the way of the flow.’ They didn’t want any input. They were trying to browbeat her, but that was the only one person.

[00:01:38] I got petition signatures of about 460-some-odd people along those corridors and virtually everybody wanted to sign, saying, ‘Hey, we weren’t told anything about it. We don’t like what you’re doing here. We oppose this,’ and we actually took and made copies of those plans, a nice stack, and we gave them to everybody in the City Council and the LTD boards before they had their vote.

[00:02:03] John Q: Mark also criticized the public engagement.

[00:02:06] Mark Osterloh: The whole bottom line is they it’s a fraudulent scheme of saying they did public engagement, hiding the plans when they had them and saying they didn’t have them. So it’s a scam through and through. Our goal should be to stop this and let’s have real public engagement and see how we can accommodate that because we are going to have expansion here. We have to take into consideration electric cars, carpooling. There’s a lot of other things we can consider to do there.

[00:02:34] And I’m all in favor of buses, but like River Road, they want to take—there’s going to be, they have two lanes of traffic each way right now they want to take it and make it just one lane for cars. And then one empty lane for buses only (Each way) each way.

[00:02:48] Talk about making traffic congestion, a real mess. People are just stunned to think they were going to do that in on River—And if you go up and down River Road, I mean, that’s marvelous. They’ve got a bus turnout about every two blocks. It’s amazing how many turnouts they’ve got on that road. So at this point they really have a good system.

[00:03:09] Charlie Rojas: My name is Charlie Rojas. I live here on River Road and my primary means of transportation are the bus and walking and I’ve been using LTD and the EmX for at least four years. And I can see for myself that it’s a failure. And so when they came along and they are proposing to put in five of these things, it’s just an enormous—we’re talking hundreds of millions of dollars and there’s no justification for this. …We came across the data last week that, LTD’s own data that shows that ridership never came close to what they projected, what it would be. So therefore revenue isn’t there as well. So I can’t figure out why in the world they would need this.

[00:03:49] Meta Maxwell: We want feeder buses. We want buses that will go out into the communities, right, and elsewhere, and pick people up and take them in at least to the major feeders. Well, if we are building things like this EmX and the MovingAhead, it’s major multi-hundred-million-dollar infrastructure to accommodate 40-foot buses that cannot be redirected. They require extra infrastructure to stop and start and the grants require that they maintain certain routes. So we’re taking the funds away from getting those other buses that are going to go out, to meet you at your home, or wherever people decide to live.

[00:04:38] John Q: Those two projects aren’t the only ones to bypass the public. Linda Duggan said South Willamette also ignored key stakeholders.

[00:04:46] Linda Duggan: I was on the opposition side and have a friend who has a business on Willamette that was impacted, but that’s only one side of it, the businesses. But I was an avid bike rider. I lived on Fifth and Madison for 16 years. I’m all for bikes. I’m all for transit, but the emergency vehicles were against the Willamette plan.

[00:05:08] I go to Willamette Street, not every day but almost every day, to businesses there or on my way other places, because it’s a hub for my neighborhood. And I, quite frankly, I have never seen a bike in the bike lane, never. Friends of mine who still ride bikes, they ride on parallel streets because they don’t want to ride on Willamette. And it’s next to impossible to make left turns out of some businesses because of the setup with the one lane and one lane. So there are problems with Willamette and we’re stuck with it. So that’s just how it is.

[00:05:51] Steve Abbott (former member Active Transportation Committee): I’m in a big biking community that bikes Willamette Street all the time. And they’re so happy and pleased that they feel safe to do that now. I guess (Nonetheless) we’ve got different points of view.

[00:06:03] John Q: Steve encouraged the group to put less energy into conspiracy theories.

[00:06:07] Steve Abbott: I don’t think there’s a conspiracy here. Why would you ascribe a conspiracy to actions that are so much more easily explained by incompetence and turnover? Which is what happens everywhere, especially in government organizations—the City is terrible at explaining what they’re trying to accomplish, but I think it’s good that you’re engaged with a critical view so that you can give good explanations because they need your help to get that done.

[00:06:30] John Q: LTD will benefit more from the group’s ongoing citizen-based design alternatives.

[00:06:35] Steve Abbott: I know there’s a lot of anger about the process. There’s a lot of frustration with dealing with agencies. There’s a lot of disappointment about the way specific things are going. But I have to step back and look at it from a 40,000-foot perspective and say, ‘What are we trying to do in Eugene?’ We’re faced with growing population, tons of SUV’s coming in from California and Texas and everywhere else.

[00:06:57] Everybody’s seen the increasing traffic, increasing the degradation of driving culture in this town and faced with the fact that we’re not going to be able to drive these things around much longer, I mean, we’re just whistling past the graveyard, pretending that we can keep on driving. So what are the alternatives: walk or transit?

[00:07:16] What LTD has tried to do—with the only form of transit you could actually have in a small town like this–is really a laudable experiment. I’d say, let’s find out why it’s not working. Because what isn’t going to work is everybody driving their SUV’s around town for the next 40 years. We can’t live that way anymore. We’ve got to have some constructive solutions. If LTD is doing it the wrong way, let’s figure it out.

[00:07:38] John Q: To date, the neighborhood groups proposed replacing LTD with a transit utility district that would provide free bus service.

[00:07:45] And instead of Bus Rapid Transit, they prefer pullouts, neighborhood hubs, and buses that could be flexibly deployed for evacuations. They are exploring an aerial tram from Amazon Station to Lane Community College (LCC).

[00:07:57] The NLC Transportation committee meets every fourth Thursday at seven, where neighborhood transportation advocates share the latest news.

[00:08:05] For more, see the Public Meetings calendar.

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