$19 million grant will help transform 'relic' Franklin Boulevard, the link between Eugene and Springfield
Eugene, Springfield and the Lane Transit District will receive a $19 million federal grant to help transform Franklin Boulevard.
The two cities and LTD have been working for more than a decade to improve the major arterial road that connects them.
As it is now, Franklin Boulevard "stands in the way of much of what the region values," according to its successful application for the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity grant.
The corridor is a "relic" that limits mobility choices, hinders rural residents' access to opportunities, jeopardizes safety and degrades the environment, the application added.
A multimillion-dollar project to transform Franklin Boulevard will boost access and reliability, increase walkability and bikeability, enhance pedestrian and bike safety, improve transit and boost local economic growth.
The project will rebuild portions of Franklin Boulevard both west and east of Interstate 5 between Alder Street and where the road turns into Highway 126, before the bridge crossing the Willamette River. Work will include adding a second lane for the Emerald Express, also known as EmX, installing roundabouts, constructing protected bikeways and updating infrastructure like lights and utilities.
Work will build on the first phase of the Franklin project that rebuilt part of the road in the Glenwood area.
As of July, the second phase of the project was estimated to cost $33.9 million — $26.5 million for construction, $4.96 million for design and engineering and $2.46 million for right-of-way work.
The $19 million RAISE grant will help make the project a reality, officials said.
"The multimodal transformation of Franklin Boulevard has been a huge priority in our community for years," U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio said in a statement. "As Chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I’ve worked to provide additional federal funding for projects like this and repeatedly urged the Department of Transportation to support this project."
DeFazio, a Democrat representing Oregon's 4th Congressional District, said he's glad the two cities are getting the grant to "transform this major, outdated state highway and finally remove barriers to investment, mobility and access."
Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis said city residents should be grateful for the support DeFazio and Oregon's two senators, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, gave to the grant application.
The project is key for the city and will increase mobility options and safety for people using modes of transportation other than vehicles "within one of Eugene's busiest corridors that links Eugene and Springfield downtown areas with the University of Oregon," Vinis added.
The award sets the tone locally for reinvestment in critical infrastructure, said Springfield Mayor Sean VanGordon.
"Our community deserves a modern transportation corridor which emphasizes roadway safety and mobility," VanGordon said in a statement.
Lane County Commissioner Joe Berney said he's delighted the federal government recognized the value of enhancing the corridor.
Berney, who represents Springfield on the Board of Commissioners and is the current chair, said the project will "result in new engineering and construction jobs in the short term, and economic development potential that will blossom through the improvements made in Glenwood."
Springfield currently is seeking a developer to transform nine acres of property that lines both Franklin Boulevard and the Willamette River.
Read more about those efforts:One development team responds to Springfield's call for developers for Glenwood riverfront
According to the application, the cities and LTD are completing environmental and engineering work and expect that to continue through June 2022.
They then expect to complete the design by 2023 and solicit bids from contractors at the end of 2023.
Construction is expected to take place between the spring of 2024 and December 2028
Contact city government watchdog Megan Banta at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @MeganBanta_1.