Transforming River Road: Pedestrian Improvements and Mixed Use Corridor Planning

The transformation of River Road between Chambers and Hilliard into a more attractive, green, and pedestrian-friendly boulevard is getting a few steps closer to reality, thanks to the continuing efforts of a Citizen Advisory Committee of area residents working with Eugene city planners. Details are not quite finalized, but it seems likely that the Oregon Department of Transportation will fund some additional planning work starting this summer, and continuing through the following year. A key focus of the planning will be design of an attractive, pedestrian-oriented corridor that promotes the use of walking, biking and transit, and that supports the potential for a higher density mixed commercial and residential district on both sides of River Road in all existing commercial/office zones.

Improved bicycle and pedestrian connectors to the riverbank bike path system will be part of the design. This phase of planning will also include a review of zoning and development codes to ensure they support goals for higher density, pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use development along the corridor, while also protecting adjacent historic and residential housing.

Consultants will work with the Citizen Advisory Committee and local residents to develop plans and get feedback. There will be various public meetings and multiple opportunities for public input and involvement.

In addition, according to the work plan proposed by the Advisory Committee and approved by the Eugene Planning Commission in April, the City and neighborhood organizations will work to complete several other plans and surveys identified as important to area residents. The plans are a Greenway Enhancement Plan focused on protecting and improving habitat and open space along the Greenway, and a Neighborhood Sustainability Plan focused on environmental, economic and social values–including recommendations for things like on-site stormwater management, energy efficiency, and public investments to create public gathering spaces.

The work plan includes a neighborhood survey about residents’ driving habits and their needs and desires for nearby commercial services. Also proposed is a survey of existing commercial businesses, especially about their parking requirements and aimed at helping them develop plans to accommodate parking in a way that is more compatible with an attractive, pedestrian-friendly corridor. It is possible that state funding might cover part of these other plans and surveys, or additional resources might be needed.

All of these plans and survey results will be incorporated into a draft plan for an attractive and distinctive mixed-use corridor. RRCO urges River Road residents to continue to contribute their good ideas and to participate in this dialog with our neighbors (including residents and business and commercial property owners) as we develop a common vision for revitalizing this area of our neighborhood for the benefit of all. For more information about the Rasor MUC project, visit: http://www.riverroadco.org, or http://www.rrcoplanning.ppaponline.org.