Construction on Franklin Boulevard means a year of traffic near campus

The future site of the Knight Science Campus is seen under construction in Eugene, OR on May 24, 2018. (Maddie Knight/ Emerald)

Members of the public can help to brainstorm ideas for a redesign of Franklin Boulevard during an upcoming four day series of public meetings hosted by the City of Eugene.

The sessions, which will begin on Jan. 28 at the University of Oregon's Ford Alumni Center, are intended to connect the community with the project and to give city planners the public's perspective on the boulevard.

The redesign project is collaborative process between the city and various stakeholders, including the UO and the Oregon Department of Transportation, and is meant to address aspects of the boulevard that could use improvement.

The project started in October 2018, and the focus up to now has been data collection and preparation. Larisa Varela, an associate planner with the city, says the first of the design workshops will be a way to introduce the public to what the city has done so far.

Varela says the construction should make it easier for the community to travel along the corridor.

“The goal in the end is to have a street that's multimodal,” Varela explains, “Right now we see Franklin as pretty focused on the automobile, and as the University grows, the street doesn't really meet the needs of the development that's happening.”

Then, Varela says, the city will use the public’s input on how different types of commuters use the boulevard.

“Once we have that input,” Varela explained, “we'll start working on the design, and on Tuesday, we'll have open studio hours at the Romania building, where people can stop by and look at the designs we've created so far. That will be a great opportunity for students, and people interested in design or landscape architecture to provide comment on the direction we're heading.”

Varela says that more access to different modes of transportation will also help the city to meet its climate reduction goals.

“This redesign project presents a lot of opportunities,” said Emily Eng, a senior planner with UO Campus Planning and Facilities Management. “We see opportunities in making Franklin safer overall. It's also an opportunity to establish gateways between the campus and the city, and in that, developing a sense of place for both the university and the city.”

In Franklin's current state, safety for those who use the street is also an issue. Kelly McIver, speaking on behalf of the UO Police Department, describes a precarious situation on the boulevard.

“You have pedestrians highly motivated to get to the other side,” McIver said, “and when you have people desperate to catch a bus and vehicles trying to get up and down Franklin, you have a really dangerous mix.”

The final step of the project will be Thursday, where the designs created over the past days will be presented and next steps for the project will be shared with members of the public.

“Over 30,000 people a day use Franklin Boulevard, and I think if you've lived in Eugene you've used it at some point,” Varela said. “Everyone is going to be impacted by this project, so it's really important for us to hear everyone's voices in order to inform the design and create a street the community wants.”

Interested persons are encouraged to learn more or sign up online.

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