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The Osprey Group
Conflict Assessment
Page 7
Clarity of Decision-Making Roles As might be expected, most people do not
understand the intricacies of the decision-making process and agency roles for a
transportation proposal of this complexity. This, too, contributes to confusion and
distrust. Both proponents and opponents perceive the agencies as not working
collaboratively and seek to advance their particular perspective with the agency most
aligned with the result they want.
Inter-Agency Collaboration We were told there has not been consistent and
productive communication and coordination among the Federal agencies. Even
though there is a WEP Executive Coordination Team, it appears not to be functioning
at a high level. Part of this is may be attributable to the sequential nature of the
decision-making and the NEPA review process. This ineffective collaboration,
notably between ODOT and FHWA on the one hand and BLM and the Corps of
Engineers on the other, is at odds with the ODOT desire to complete the EIS by the
end of the calendar year. One person noted the difficulty in working with ODOT
saying, "ODOT is hard to start, hard to steer, and hard to get them to stop once they
are moving."
Indecisive Community There are a numerous indications of a community that is
split over the WEP. In 2001, the City of Eugene and the Oregon Department of
Transportation hosted a charrette. This group suggested a "no build" decision as their
preferred alternative. In the same year, the Eugene voters narrowly indicated their
ongoing preference for the WEP and, by a larger margin, a desire to not pursue other
alternatives. This division is reflected in mayoral leadership in Eugene, with Mayor
Torrey seen as an advocate for the WEP and Mayor Piercy seen as questioning the
project's merit. Recent City Council votes mirror the divide in the community. Some
indicated to us that there's an element in the community that would rather fight than
find a solution. Situations like this often occur when there are complex issues on the
table. As one person said, "Eugene residents enjoy the fight and the complexity of
the issues." This division in the community no doubt makes it challenging for
organizations like ODOT, which because of technical and funding challenges must
plan far into the future. Reflecting this long-term planning horizon, one person said,
the "gestation period for these projects is so long, you need to have a local partnership
that can be sustained over time." Another individual in talking about Eugene said,
"We're not so different than other communities, except that we have perhaps a larger
contingent of anarchists than normal."