A Positive View of EmX

Article excerpt

Byline: The Register-Guard

The Lane Transit District might be expected to look fondly on the west Eugene EmX extension - the bus rapid transit system is LTD's baby, and all parents think their children are cute. Not so with the Federal Transit Administration. The agency must decide which of many competing transit projects around the country would deliver the best results for the money, and consequently has an interest in evaluating each of them with a critical eye. That lends weight to the FTA's newly released environmental analysis, which concludes that the EmX extension has significant benefits.

The FTA's exhaustive analysis led the agency to two basic conclusions. First, the EmX extension's effects on businesses, residences and the environment in west Eugene would be minimal, transitory or both. And second, over the long run building the extension would result in lower costs, better mobility and fewer environmental effects than doing nothing.

The first conclusion might surprise people who have been warned to expect massive disruption of traffic and commerce along the proposed route of the new EmX line. Construction will involve widening parts of west Sixth, Seventh and 11th avenues to accommodate dedicated bus lanes. This would affect 477 properties - but only two parcels would need to be fully acquired by LTD, both of them small pieces of unused land belonging to the state. A grocery store, an adult shop and a motel unit would be displaced, with full compensation.

The rest of the effects on property would involve the acquisition of thin strips of land, mostly from parking areas, totaling 2.6 acres. An estimated 72 off-street parking spaces would be eliminated, though the FTA found that the number could be reduced to 18 by reconfiguring some parking areas. …