By Ryan Schoeck
Edited by Melissa Haskin
Several Jefferson Westside residents discussed concerns Saturday over the proposed West 11th Avenue EmX line.
For O’Reilly Auto Parts on the corner of Garfield Street, the building plan would affect them by tearing out a portion of their parking lot. “It’ll run us out of business,” said Asst. Mgr. Sam Clocksin. “They want to take over our lot so they can put a hub right here. The construction will pull away our customers when they can’t get into our parking lot. The real problem is that no one rides the buses out here right now anyway, so how is a faster new bus going to change that?”
Clocksin and other employees also agree that Lane Transit District would be making a mistake building a new line because the construction delays will hurt more than just businesses. “I’ve lived here a long time and I remember when they first paved West 11th from when it was gravel,” Clocksin added. “They don’t realize what a nightmare it’ll be for commuters during that time too.” Clocksin, along with her employees, feels that the money would be better suited elsewhere. “They should really just take the money involved and put it back into our school system. Schools need it more than a new bus line.”
Homeowners in the neighborhood have voiced similar arguments toward LTD. “I want to know why they think more people will ride the buses when they are empty now,” said longtime JWN resident Deb Michaels. “And if they do build the line, some of us want to know why they are cutting back on bus privileges for those who would use it the most.”
Michaels and husband Chris are no strangers to public transportation. “We used to live in Portland and commuted by bus all through college. No one teaches people to ride buses anymore because they all have cars. No one is willing to give up their car if they don’t have to.” The couple also has suggestions regarding the physical structure of the new line: “If they do build it, why can’t the lines be built up high? No one has suggested that route, which wouldn’t affect the parking and access to businesses nearly as much.”
For Michaels, she wants LTD to take a hard look at the current system’s problems before moving forward. “Their priorities are backwards. How can you take away riding privileges from developmentally-delayed adults, seniors, and students, and still expect people to support the proposal,” she said.
LTD is currently working with the Federal Transit Administration in hiring an independent analyst to judge the effects on property along the EmX line’s route. The reports of project impacts would be made public late fall of this year.
With further impact reports necessary before the FTA agrees to back the plan, businesses along West 11th continue to post signs showing their stance. Groups such as Our Money Our Transit have been at the forefront leading the opposition. For now, banners and signs must suffice along the busy West 11th corridor as citizens wait for LTD takes their next steps.