Officials have given the go-ahead for a study to determine the viability and public support for mass transit improvements along Main Street and between Glenwood and Lane Community College, including EmX bus rapid transit service.
The Springfield City Council and Lane Transit District Board approved moving ahead at separate meetings last week.
The study, including some public outreach already conducted, will cost about $750,000.
The decision followed three months of public outreach by city and district officials to find out from residents and businesses in part whether they think transit should play a larger role on the two thoroughfares. Representatives from the two agencies met with businesses located on the corridor and other constituencies in small groups. They also gathered residents' opinions at two community events: SummerFair and the Nick Symmonds Springfield 800 Community Run.
"Generally, there seems to be strong support to look at improvements along Main Street, including transit improvements," Springfield senior planner David Reesor said, while noting that the sentiment isn't unanimous.
At last week's work session, Councilors Dave Ralston and Sean VanGordon agreed that any mass transit improvements should not shrink the capacity for cars and trucks on the state-owned highway.
"I want to be careful that we don't close down options for people," VanGordon said.
LTD already runs standard bus routes along Main Street and all the way east to McKenzie Bridge, and between Glenwood and LCC.
One of the agency's principal goals in coming years is to expand its EmX bus network, in which at least some stretches of roadway are dedicated to buses, to enable them to carry passengers more quickly from stop to stop. The current EmX network runs from downtown Eugene to downtown Springfield, and north to Gateway. LTD is preparing to build an EmX line into west Eugene.
The feasibility study will look at a range of transit improvements, including but not limited to the expansion of LTD's EmX bus rapid transit service, Reesor said. It will look at keeping the status quo, or making less costly improvements such as adding more bus pullouts, refuges that allow buses to load and unload passengers without blocking traffic.
The study will be the fifth ongoing or concluded examination involving Springfield's Main Street. The other four involve property redevelopment, downtown lighting, pedestrian crossings and reduction of vehicle traffic by encouraging residents to use bicycles, buses and carpools.
Reesor said it will be important that the agencies coordinate so that the studies' findings don't interfere with one another.
The LTD study is scheduled for completion in late 2014.
Public review and comment will be sought throughout the process, LTD said. LTD received a grant for the study and has already spent some of the $750,000 on the public outreach.
Copyright 2013 - The Register-Guard, Eugene, Ore.