Willamette Street restriping, construction begins Monday


Jan. 31, 2016

Big change is afoot for a busy commercial stretch of Willamette Street.

Crews will begin work Monday on a nearly $750,000 construction project to remove a travel lane in each direction on the thoroughfare between 24th and 29th streets and to add a center turn lane and bike lanes on both sides of the street.

The restriping is a pilot project, and city councilors will decide whether to keep it or revert back to the current configuration after a review next summer.

The project also will install a new traffic signal at the driveway into the Woodfield Station shopping center, which includes the Market of Choice grocery store, on Willamette just north of 29th. The signal increases safety for turning motorists and provides a crossing for pedestrians.

It also will widen the street north of 24th and 29th streets to make room for the changes.

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City officials say the aim of the project is to make the vehicle-oriented corridor more inviting so residents can bike, take the bus and walk to and from it.

Currently, there are two travel lanes in each direction and no bike lanes on this section of Willamette. More than 16,000 vehicles a day travel this stretch.

When the City Council considered options for the corridor in 2014, speakers said the redesign would bring in more business from residents who use alternative transportation. But others, including some business owners, raised concerns that the loss of travel lanes would keep shoppers away.

Josh Newman, co-­chairman of the Friendly Area Neighbors, said the group has been generally supportive of the project. The association sent a letter to the council in support of the new street configuration.

Newman said neighbors want a walkable corridor “and not feel like they’re in danger.”

“If you walk along Willamette Street, it’s difficult in its current state to feel safe,” he said.

Newman said he’s optimistic that the loss of travel lanes will cause only minor impacts during rush hour and that the bike lanes will encourage cyclists to use them and provide a buffer so pedestrians feel more comfortable walking on the sidewalk next to the street.

“The first month or two might take some getting used to,” he said.

While that verdict is still out, motorists will face one certainty: the specter of daily traffic delays during the more than two months of construction.

City officials said they expect any daytime delays to be minimal as crews may close lanes temporarily as they work. Crews will complete some work at night.

“There will be some traffic impacts, but we’re not entirely closing the street down and routing people around,” said Chuck Mueller, the city’s project manager.

Mueller said crews will ensure that access to stores remains open during business hours.

Brown Construction submitted the winning low bid of $743,232 for the construction work. The city will pay for it primarily using developer fees.

The cost to monitor the performance of the restriping — the information of which will go to the City Council for its discussion and decision — is estimated at $150,000.

Brown Construction plans to have all of the work completed by mid-April, weather permitting.

Follow Christian on Twitter @RGchill . Send emails to christian.hill@registerguard.com .

Source: Willamette Street restriping, construction begins Monday | Local | Eugene, Oregon