LTD thanks U.S. Congressman Peter A. DeFazio for the ride
by Patrick Walsh, Lane Transit District
EUGENE, Ore. —(October 12, 2022)— Lane Transit District will honor retiring U.S. Rep. Peter A. DeFazio at the downtown Springfield transit station Thursday, Oct. 13, at 1 p.m.
An appreciation celebration will honor the Springfield congressman for his visionary leadership and dedication to public transit and the community. After 36 years representing Oregon’s 4th District, he will retire from office in January 2023.
“The Springfield Transit Station is just one example of the generational impact Congressman DeFazio has had on our community,” said Caitlin Vargas, president of the LTD board of directors. “Dedicating the station in his honor is a fitting way to recognize his storied career of public service.”
In addition to Rep. DeFazio, attendees will include: Springfield Mayor Sean Van Gordon; Sen. Lee Beyer (D-Springfield); former DeFazio Deputy Chief of Staff Karmen Fore; Springfield Chamber CEO Vonnie Mikkelson; Pat Riggs-Henson, past president, Lane County Labor Chapter AFL-CIO; LTD General Manager Mark Johnson, and President Vargas.
In 1999, after much research, a group of dedicated community members and elected officials identified a vacant site nestled between South A Street and the millrace, and between Pioneer Parkway East and 4th Street.
This location had been operated as a railroad junction beginning in 1891, when the Coburg to Springfield and Natron railroad line was constructed to support the bustling lumber industry. In its time, the millrace helped generate power, while the junction was a crossroads for commerce.
Now, both could return to their historical roots as a transit station—a conduit for opportunities and a crossroads for people on the move.
In 2003, Rep. DeFazio led the negotiations for the sale of the property from Union Pacific Railroad to LTD to build a new downtown Springfield transit station. The station was meant to:
- Serve as a safe, aesthetic, and enjoyable place to invite people to downtown Springfield;
- Enhance current and future LTD customer services and bus operations in the community;
- Be compatible with the surrounding area and encourage economic revitalization.
A year later, the downtown Springfield transit station opened to a standing-room-only crowd of community leaders, bus passengers, and transit advocates. Rep. DeFazio was joined in the station’s ribbon-cutting by Springfield Mayor Sid Leiken and Gerry Gaydos, then-president of the LTD Board of Directors.
“Because of Congressman DeFazio’s unwavering support for public transportation, more than one million annual passenger boardings are recorded at the Springfield Transit Station by people commuting to work, school, and other destinations in our community,” said Mark Johnson, LTD’s interim general manager. “Every time we board an LTD bus, we need to thank Congressman DeFazio for the ride.”