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Not Much Has Changed in 25 Years

Updated: Jul 11, 2021

Front page of newspaper circular, notifying Eugene citizens of traffic study.

Since OBEC Consulting Engineers first began polling the public's opinion on Ferry Street Bridge alternatives in Eugene, surprisingly little has changed in Coburg Road's Willamette River Crossing traffic situation. As this circular (placed in the Register-Guard newspaper during September 1993) demonstrates, the infamous Ferry Street Bridge Bottleneck was a problem even before Eugene's growth explosion. Shockingly, a line taken from the first page of this tabloid sounds like it is describing today's traffic congestion, instead of 20th-Century transportation conditions:

"As traffic moves north toward the bridge from Coburg Road, it must merge with traffic coming from two I-105 off-ramps. This means four lanes of traffic must suddenly squeeze into two southbound lanes on the bridge. Similarly, the two lanes of traffic coming from downtown on Seventh Avenue are joined by another lane from Franklin Boulevard and shortly after that by a lane of traffic from the 4th Avenue on-ramp (near EWEB). During peak afternoon traffic times, these four lanes merge into two northbound lanes on the Ferry Street bridge, causing traffic to back up onto the on-ramps and creating delays and safety problems."

Although some much-appreciated turn lanes, pedestrian pathways, and intersection improvements have been added over the last two decades (most notably, the DeFazio Pedestrian Bridge), it is certainly concerning that the "problem" of the Ferry Street Corridor has not been adequately resolved.

The Ferry Street Corridor primarily consists of the convergence of Coburg Road, I-105, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard (labeled "Centennial Boulevard" in this old document), Country Club Road, the Ferry Street Overpass, 4th Avenue, and Franklin Boulevard. These major thoroughfares all meet in a nasty snarl both south and north of the Ferry Street Bridge, with only one river crossing between them. As you can see from the attached images of the Ferry Street Bridge Circular, the City of Eugene considered some drastic alternatives, such as a new four-lane vehicular bridge crossing east of the Autzen Footbridge, a connection between Oakmont Way and Leo Harris Parkway, and an eight-lane replacement of the Ferry Street Bridge.

However, the most shocking thing about these bold alternatives is that they are needed as badly today as they were in 1993. Even though OBEC and local government are currently preoccupied with the Beltline/Delta Highway interchange and accompanying Willamette River Bridge, I am certain that the Ferry Street Bridge will soon return to the spotlight. When this discussion picks up again and many of the same alternatives are considered, thousands of pages of historic--and still relevant--documents will have been scanned into ProjectWise, waiting patiently to be read. If you had to create a Ferry Street Corridor solution, which alternative would you choose?

Feel free to look at the photos of the circular above. Or, download the PDF here.

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