March 1, 2024

Whole Community News

From Kalapuya lands in the Willamette watershed

ATC hears plea for safety during Chambers repaving

5 min read
Smoother pavement without any redesign of Chambers Street will only lead to cars going faster.

The Active Transportation Committee hears public comment May 11 about the repaving of Chambers.

[00:00:06] Jeffrey Mack: My name is Jeffrey Mack. I’ve lived on the southeast corner of 22nd and Chambers for a little over five years now. In that time, I witnessed numerous car collisions out my office window while working in my driveway or gardening in my yard. I have seen and experienced countless close calls and incidents of aggressive and unsafe driving along Chambers while walking, biking, and driving.

[00:00:30] I have had three of my own vehicles damaged while parked along 22nd when cars came around the corner off Chambers too quickly and were not able to control their vehicle. And just on Tuesday, May 9, while working near the bottom of my driveway, I found myself in a position of having to intervene to protect two young children riding their bikes, when once again, a car came careening around the corner off of Chambers and chased the two boys over to the middle school parking lot before the driver exited his car in a fit of road rage, claiming he ‘needed to teach them a lesson.’

[00:01:04] So it may come as no surprise that I was very interested to learn a little over two years ago from a city employee surveying the street that Chambers was slated to be repaved soon. Great, I thought to myself, this will be an excellent opportunity to gather and provide some community feedback on some of the issues I discussed above.

[00:01:22] And worked with my neighbors, community stakeholders at ATA (Arts & Technology Academy) middle school, the Boys and Girls Club, and city engineers to come up with a new design for Chambers Street and specifically the crucial bicycle and pedestrian crossing at 22nd Avenue.

[00:01:36] It would hopefully mitigate some of the excessive speeding, dangerous driving behavior, and increase the safety for all road users, automobiles included, not to mention our most vulnerable community members, children simply trying to walk to school.

[00:01:50] Time passed and I received another mailer saying preliminary work was being done on design. I checked the City of Eugene current projects page with a project information sheet dated February 10, which stated that in addition to repaving, ‘the project will include a protected bikeway on Chambers Street between North 22nd Avenue and South 22nd Avenue, reconstructed sidewalk access ramps throughout the project, stormwater and wastewater improvements.’

[00:02:18] I was bothered that I didn’t recall receiving any notifications about community input, but I thought that the indicated protected bikeway on Chambers would allay most of my concerns, so I didn’t worry about it too much.

[00:02:31] Then we received our latest mailer from the city a few weeks ago, and there was nothing on it about a protected bikeway or any improvements for safety, and in particular, nothing about the school crossing or horrible bike route at 22nd Avenue.

[00:02:46] I was angry, frustrated, and despondent. Where was my opportunity for community input? Where were the improvements made to safety? What can I do? I heard that the design was ‘90% complete and it was a done deal.’

[00:03:01] Well, then I saw that other rear-end collision this past Sunday. Then the man chased the two kids on bikes on Tuesday, and then just yesterday, on Wednesday, there was yet another bad collision on 18th and Chambers.

[00:03:14] I cannot, we cannot allow this carnage to continue while we simply repave the street and insert a new left-turn pocket at 23rd Avenue as discussed in the latest mailer. Smoother pavement without any redesign of the street will only lead to cars going faster.

I don’t know how I would be able to live with myself if the next time I hear a car crash outside my window, then go outside to look, I see the body of a child lying in the street, possibly even one of my own two young sons and the street got repaved and no meaningful changes to safety were made.

[00:03:59] I am a mechanical engineer by training and trade, not a transportation engineer, but I have a long personal history and interest in transportation, urban geography, and design, biking for daily transportation, and even automobile racing and engineering.

I have an idea for a solution that involves narrowing the road in this spot and expanding the bike path.

[00:04:19] This design would reduce speeds, make it easier for families to bike and walk across Chambers. And prevent potential deaths. I personally measured the cross section of Chambers in its current lane configuration, and looked at the MUTCD and other designs around town to come up with this preliminary design.

[00:04:38] I sketched it in CAD and plan to send it to the project manager soon. I can share my design idea with you as well, and my hope is that this committee will encourage the city to prioritize improving this crossing during the upcoming paving projects later this summer.

[00:04:55] Allen Hancock: …Something I shared four years ago when I was in this position here, was about follow-up on public comment. And at the time I had said, when we have a lot of public comment and there’s some really good attention, but sometimes it just, you know, goes into oblivion, and when our community have real important concerns, they don’t really get addressed in the long run.

[00:05:19] And Lee Shoemaker said they’d have a spreadsheet or some sort of online, I don’t know exactly what it was, but it was a way for people to access, to know where those comments stood and to know that there was some action that occurred, some kind of closure, even if it’s something, even if it’s, like, ‘We can’t do anything about that.’

[00:05:37] So I’m not sure what happened to that, but I think it’s a really important piece of closing the loop and engaging citizens.

[00:05:44] John Q : Jeffrey Mack calls for safety improvements with the Chambers repaving project. Allen Hancock asks the city to track resident concerns raised during public comment.

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