South Willamette Street Improvement Plan

South Willamette Street Improvement Plan

Project Description

Investments on South Willamette Street to improve safety and pavement condition have been long-awaited following a successful 2016 Pilot Study that added a center turn lane and bike lanes. The final South Willamette Improvement Plan improvements, completed in 2022, were installed to make it easier for people to safely walk, bike, bus, or drive in the South Willamette shopping district from 24th Avenue to 32nd Avenue. 

Why Improve South Willamette?

The goal of this project was to elevate South Willamette Street into a vibrant urban corridor accessible by foot, bike, bus, and car. Willamette Street is heavily used to reach many popular shopping destinations yet, prior to the 2016 Pilot Study, it was uninviting to people walking, biking, busing, and driving alike. For years, many residents and business owners had shared complaints about the poor conditions on South Willamette Street for walking and biking and the need to do something about it.

The original street design was two travel lanes in each direction, with no left-turn lanes to access businesses and residences on the majority of the corridor. The narrow sidewalks were filled with many obstacles, such as mailboxes, utility poles, trees, and landscaping. Nearly 70 driveways crossed the sidewalk in this area and created potential hazards for people walking and biking. People driving stopped in the outside travel lanes, blocking traffic.

Design Elements

The final South Willamette Street Improvement Plan (travel lane in each direction, a center turn-lane, and bike lanes on both sides of the street) offers a complete street design for the corridor and aims to:

  • Elevate South Willamette Street into a vibrant urban corridor accessible by foot, bike, bus, and car
  • Support businesses and the shopping district’s vitality
  • Improve user safety and street pavement condition
  • Build a balanced multi-modal transportation system
  • Foster a well-informed and involved community 

Design elements include:

  • Street repaving and restriping to fix pavement condition 
  • Reconstructed, accessible driveways and corner curb ramps to improve business access 
  • Over 2000 feet of widened sidewalks to enhance the walking experience 
  • Pedestrian-scale lighting to increase visibility for all street users 
  • Pedestrian countdown timers at intersections to make crossing safer 
  • New traffic signal at 27th Ave. to make turning from Willamette Street safer 
  • 47 trees planted throughout the corridor to make the shopping district more inviting 
  • New rain gardens to clean water runoff from city streets 
  • New conduit for communications (for future high-speed fiber) to support connectivity throughout the corridor


Construction began in summer 2020 and was completed in early 2022.  


Funding comes from a combination of Pavement Preservation Bond monies for the street pavement, federal grant funds for sidewalk replacement, and City stormwater funds to treat street runoff before it enters the river system.

2016 Street Improvement Pilot Study

On May 27, 2014, the Eugene City Council accepted the South Willamette Street Improvement Plan and directed staff to implement a Pilot Study of the South Willamette Street Improvement Plan street design Alternative #3 (one travel lane in each direction, a center turn-lane, and bike lanes on both sides of the street). City Council requested a report back with findings after a 12-month study period.

  • The Pilot Study re-striped the street to include one travel lane in each direction, a center turn-lane, and bike lanes.
  • It also widened Willamette Street north of 24th Avenue and north of 29th Avenue, and added new traffic signal at the Woodfield Station intersection. 
  • In the vicinity of 29th Avenue, the street was re-striped to two southbound travel lanes, a center turn-lane, one northbound travel lane, and bike lanes. 
  • Several sidewalk access ramps in the area were brought into compliance with current federal American Disabilities Act (ADA) standards.

The Pilot Study lasted a full calendar year, following an adjustment period after construction, allowing the community to walk, bike, bus and drive the proposed design. The pilot also provided an opportunity to confirm traffic modeling data and learn from actual experience before permanent changes were made. Lessons learned will be applied to future transportation corridor improvement projects. 

Following the Pilot Study, city staff shared the study’s success with City Council on February 26, 2018. The South Willamette Street Improvement Plan was scheduled to be made permanent in 2020. More improvements are expected in 2020 with the construction of the permanent project. Thanks to an award of federal funding, $2 million will be available for sidewalk replacement, street lighting, trees, and other pedestrian-scale improvements.

Public Involvement

Public involvement for this project was comprehensive, ongoing, and targeted a variety of key stakeholders. A draft of the Public Involvement Plan is available for review here. The South Willamette Street Improvement Plan used a variety of methods to provide opportunities for public involvement, including:

  • Stakeholder Outreach and Meetings throughout the project
  • Focus Groups on two key issues
  • Community Meetings at three points in process
  • Direct Outreach (street displays, speaking at other organizations)
  • Meetings with Planning Commission and City Council
  1. Public Involvement Plans
  2. Project Plans, Maps, and Supporting Documents
  3. Community Forums
  4. City Council Presentations
  1. Reed Dunbar (he/him)

    Transportation Planner