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The Osprey Group
Conflict Assessment
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recently modified by the FHWA, but this revised statement had not been made public
during the time of our interviews.
2
Alternatives Many of those we interviewed expressed concern about the alternatives
and how the alternatives have been narrowed. In addition, a number were unclear
about the criteria being used to identify a preferred alternative.
Many who support the project have confidence in the agencies' review process.
While not necessarily committed to the specific solution, these WEP supporters see
the need for a transportation solution. As one business person said, "No one in the
business community believes this is the ideal solution" to the traffic problem. In other
words, other lines on the map or combinations of options would be acceptable, but
these individuals do believe there is a transportation problem that should be
addressed.
For those particularly concerned about wetland impacts, other alternatives that do not
bifurcate or further fragment the wetlands are frequently mentioned. It is probably
safe to say that most express concern about the alignments west of Beltline, again
primarily reflecting potential wetland impacts. The USFWS has voiced concerns
over wetland impacts in the past. In October 2005, the Service wrote to the ODOT
and FHWA citing meetings where "it became apparent that there is significant
concern by the Service and other TAC (Technical Advisory Committee) members
about the adequacy of the proposed SFEIS purpose and need statement, range of
alternatives, and the preferred alternative."
One observation made by both opponents and proponents is that, as time goes on,
land use decisions are made that further constrain available alternatives. Some
concern is also expressed that any notably different alternative might require another
EIS process and years of additional analysis.
Wetland Preservation There is widespread support for the value of the West Eugene
wetlands. For some, these lands are viewed as an important community amenity, but
they are not considered highly valuable or sacrosanct. Others have very strong
opinions about the value of these lands as key to the protection and survival of rare
habitat, plants and animals. It is clear that many of these individuals do not see all
wetlands as equal, but that particular values and functions need to be recognized
above and beyond acreage assessments.
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Some describe the wetlands less in terms of
its ecological function and more as a statement of Eugene's commitment to make
hard land use choices in the face of development pressure. Among wetland
supporters, there are a range of views. Some see these lands as more pristine than
2
The purpose statement suggested by FHWA is "The purpose of the project is to improve the mobility of
people, goods and services to, from and through West Eugene, within the area bounded by Highway 126
near Oak Hill and Highway 99." This statement was sent to the USACE for their review on 17 February
2006.
3
We understand that ODOT is preparing a draft "Wetland Functions Assessment for the West Eugene
Parkway Project Corridor Study Area" as part of the alternatives assessment.