Kevin Baird, EDN
One of Eugene’s finest amenities are the wide concrete pathways that hug the Willamette River. Whether you’re commuting to work, going bird-watching, running to get in shape, or going to your favorite swimming hole, the Riverbank pathway provides a fun and efficient way to get around town. The pathway isn’t convenient for everybody though, getting there can be difficult and sometimes dangerous.
The residents of the Santa Clara neighborhood, which is north of the Beltline Highway, have to cross a congested stretch of River Road to reach the river path. This summer the City of Eugene is extending the western Riverbank Path to the Santa Clara neighborhood, so users of the pathway can safely bypass the often dangerous crossings on River Road.
Lee Shoemaker, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator with the city of Eugene, explained the conflict between bicyclists and cars on River Road:
“If you’re riding on a bike, at every driveway and every intersection there’s a potential conflict. Cars come across bike lanes to enter and leave parking lots and businesses. There’s a lot of driveways on River Road, and speeds are relatively high as compared to some other streets.”
Currently the river trail veers away from the Willamette approximately 850 feet south of the Beltline highway, and then it comes to an end at the River Avenue exit. The 1.6 million dollar project, which has received funding from a federal transportation enhancement grant, will be completed in September. The construction project will extend the pathway further along the banks of the Willamette River until it goes under the Beltline Highway overpass. From there the pathway will follow Division Avenue to Beaver Street. This will provide a new, safer and more convenient jumping off point for users of the Riverbank trail system.
Shoemaker also said, “We hear from people on a regular basis about wanting better walking and biking options in that neighborhood so people can avoid having to go out on a very busy River Road. They would like to experience the Riverpath system just like the rest of the residents (of Eugene).”
The completion of this project will give Santa Clara residents the experience they’ve been hankering for.