- What is the project?
The City of Eugene is transforming Franklin Boulevard from Alder Street to Interstate 5, including Garden Avenue. The purpose is to transform Franklin from an auto-focused state highway to a pleasant, multi-modal urban street that is safe for people walking, biking, riding the bus, using mobility devices, and driving.
- Why is it needed?
The current configuration of Franklin Blvd does not serve all of the community’s needs. It prioritizes high-speed travel, lacks safe and comfortable options for people walking and biking, and provides limited space for the highly used EmX route. Read on for more information about why the City of Eugene identified Franklin Blvd for a redesign.
From 2017-2021, our community experienced 94 crashes on Franklin Blvd. One of the crashes ended in the death of a person walking. Six other crashes resulted in serious, life changing injuries. Seven additional crashes resulted in minor injuries to people walking or biking. The City has an official policy called Vision Zero, with the goal that no loss of life or serious injury on Eugene’s transportation system is acceptable. Transforming Franklin Blvd to a safe and accessible corridor will help prevent future crashes and save lives.
INCREASING WALKING, BIKING, ROLLING, AND TAKING THE BUS
The City’s Climate Recovery Ordinance aims to reduce community fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions by 50% when compared to 2010 levels. Fossil fuel emissions from motor vehicles account for more than half of Eugene’s carbon dioxide emissions. Transportation projects that provide options for people walking, biking, rolling and taking the bus will help reduce fossil fuel dependency, and move the City closer to its goal of tripling the percentage of walking, biking and transit trips taken as compared to the 2014 levels.
The City of Eugene’s 20-year long range land use (Envision Eugene) and transportation plans (Eugene 2035 Transportation System Plan) also identify Franklin Blvd as one of six key corridors in the city. Key corridors are defined as streets that reduce reliance on automobiles. They enable short-distance walking and biking trips due to proximity of land uses such as higher density housing, parks, retail, and employment centers. This is paired with current or planned frequent transit service (approximately every 15 minutes or less).
SUPPORTING DENSITY AND DEVELOPMENT
The Franklin Blvd corridor has already seen significant growth and increased density. The City expects the next 10-20 years will bring continued development. The transformation of the Franklin Corridor is designed to not only serve the needs of today but looks towards serving the needs of the future.
The University of Oregon is expanding numerous facilities, including Knight Campus, North Campus, and the Romania lot. Currently, five large apartment buildings already exist along the corridor with a total of 1,820 units. Several more buildings are currently under construction and will add hundreds of additional housing units to the area. Every year, more people live, work, go to school, and access other services along the corridor.
LANE TRANSIT DISTRICT (LTD) BOTTLE-NECK
Today, EmX bus rapid transit, operated by Lane Transit District (LTD), runs through most of the Franklin Blvd corridor on a single bi-directional lane, meaning only one bus can drive at a time. While the single lane served bus ridership in the early years of EmX, it no longer offers enough capacity. In 2023, over 5,000 people traveled on the EmX through the Franklin Blvd corridor each day.
The single-lane configuration today causes significant delays for the busiest transit corridor in our region. The Franklin Blvd Transformation project will create two EmX lanes for the entire length of the corridor, allowing two buses to run simultaneously and reducing delays for riders. Additionally, having two EmX lanes will enable the traffic signals on Franklin to work more efficiently for all roadway users.
SUMMARY OF BETTER EUGENE-SPRINGFIELD TRANSPORTATION’S (BEST) FINDINGS
Despite the issues raised above, some people have expressed that Franklin Blvd works well today to meet their needs and are hesitant to see the corridor changed. To explore this further, the transportation non-profit, Better Eugene-Springfield Transportation (BEST), decided to find out how Franklin Blvd is serving the needs of the community as it is. They surveyed over 600 community members and found that many people felt unsafe when walking or biking along the corridor. BEST’s conversations with people supports the data from the City that Franklin Blvd poses significant safety concerns to individuals who use the corridor on foot or by bike.
- What is the project area?
The City is working on plans to transform Franklin Boulevard into a street that serves all travelers including people who walk, bike, ride the bus and drive. The project area extends from Alder Street to Interstate 5 and includes Garden Avenue and its connections to Franklin Boulevard.
- How has the public influenced the design concept?
Franklin Blvd planning kicked off in October 2018. Opportunities for community input have been provided throughout the process, including several design workshops and open houses structured to bring stakeholders together. Workshops and open houses took place January 28-31 2019, May 29th, 2019, March 10th, 2020, and February 2nd, 2023. Staff also held over 100 in-person and online meetings with businesses and property owners along Franklin.
Overall, staff heard thousands of comments during the design process. Specifically, the community informed the following design elements:
- Using a combination of signalized intersections and roundabouts.
- Adding bicycle facilities that are separated from car traffic.
- Having separate spaces for walking and biking when there is space, and including a shared-use path when space is limited.
- Ensuring roundabout crosswalks are raised and include Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFBs) for additional safety.
- Creating a new intersection at Moss Street and 13th Avenue, improving access to businesses on the north side of Franklin from the University of Oregon.
- Adding a gateway roundabout at the transition from Glenwood to Eugene to decrease speeds and improve access to I-5 South and eastbound Franklin for Laurel Hill Valley residents.
The project is now moving from the planning phase into the engineering phase. That means the design concept has been decided, but many details still need to be worked out between the planners, engineers, and stakeholders along the corridor. Sign up for the Franklin Blvd Newsletter to keep up to date!
- Why spend this planning effort here and not on other roads more in need of safety improvements?
Franklin Boulevard is a “key corridor” in Eugene (identified in the City’s 20-year long-range land use plan, Envision Eugene), meaning that nearby retail businesses, parks, housing and employment centers attract lots of people who walk, bike, roll or ride the bus. People who walk, bike, roll, and use the bus are considered vulnerable road users and Franklin Blvd has many community members who use active transportation. Unfortunately, the current state of Franklin Boulevard puts vulnerable users at risk. In fact, during one five-year stretch—2017 to 2021—there were 94 crashes on Franklin, including several that resulted in death or life-altering injury. The City has an official policy called Vision Zero, with the goal of eliminating death and serious injury on Eugene’s streets. With all the crashes on Franklin Blvd, the City's efforts are well spent on this transformation.
- Is the design decided?
Yes. After five years and thousands of community suggestions, the design concept has been decided. A concept is not an engineering design however, meaning there are still many details to be figured out over the coming years before construction begins in 2026. The concept plan was created to develop the overall layout for the corridor in order to obtain public feedback, develop a preliminary cost estimate to acquire funding, and to proceed with environmental documentation and permitting. The planners and engineers will work closely with stakeholders along the corridor, business and property owners in particular, as the engineering designs are drafted.
Access to Laurel Hill Valley from Franklin and the I-5 southbound entrance ramp may still be changed. The current design concept closes neighborhood access from the I-5 on-ramp and converts the I-5 exit ramp into a two-lane street, creating a new way to access Laurel Hill Valley. Redesigning access will make walking and biking into the valley safer without high-speed traffic coming off the I-5 on-ramp. It will also create new access for Laurel Hill Valley residents to I-5 south and eastbound Franklin Blvd. However, discussions with community stakeholders may result in keeping Laurel Hill Valley access as is. Laurel Hill Valley access changes will likely not be part of the first phase of Franklin Blvd construction that is scheduled to begin in 2026.
- Why did the City decide to incorporate roundabouts into the concept plan?
Roundabouts are used to improve safety, increase intersection capacity and efficiency, reduce environmental impacts, and enhance community values. Additional benefits include lower maintenance costs over other types of intersections and greater design flexibility. The City conducted a multi-year study that looked at several different concepts for Franklin, and found that a mix of roundabouts and traffic signals would best suit the corridor’s traffic volumes, multi-modal uses, bus operations and have limited impacts on properties and businesses in the corridor. Visit the roundabouts webpage to explore the benefits of roundabouts in-depth.
- How will the Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFBs) impact the traffic flow on Franklin Boulevard? Are these going to be better than signalized intersections? If yes, how?
The RRFBs are pedestrian actuated, meaning they will begin flashing when a pedestrian pushes the button. Once the beacons begin flashing, vehicles are required by law to yield to pedestrians. The flashing beacons will be timed based on walking speed. Once the pedestrian has either reached the median island or opposite sidewalk, the driver may proceed driving through the crosswalk per Oregon Vehicle Code 811.028. This method of controlling the conflict between pedestrians and vehicles at crosswalks is more efficient compared to a signalized intersection because the conflict distance or length the pedestrian has to cross before the driver can proceed driving is split into several pieces. For example, a pedestrian will cross the westbound travel lanes, then the EmX busway, then the eastbound lanes. For people driving westbound, they will only have to stop when the pedestrian is crossing the westbound travel lanes and be able to drive while the pedestrian is crossing the other segments. This would not be the case at a signal. At a signal, the time provided for a pedestrian is timed to allow a pedestrian to cross from one sidewalk to the other. Here is an example of that difference in time:
At a roundabout, the crosswalk length to cross the westbound travel lanes is 30 feet. Using the recommended 3.5 feet per second walking speed, it will take a pedestrian less than 9 seconds to cross the westbound travel lanes. Adding perception and reaction time to that, a westbound driver will need to wait 12-15 seconds for the pedestrian to clear the crosswalk.
At a signalized intersection, the crosswalk length to cross from one side of the street to the other is 124 feet. Using the same 3.5 feet per second, the signal would need to provide a minimum of 36 seconds. In addition to that, signals have what is called Lost Time or time where all movements are red. This is to ensure the intersection is clear of conflicts before releasing the next movements and is typically a minimum of 2 seconds. A westbound driver will need to wait a minimum of 38 seconds before getting a green light.
In addition to the efficiency of the pedestrian and vehicle conflict at a roundabout, other benefits are realized. Shorter wait times (ie 15 seconds versus 38 seconds) will result in shorter queue lengths. This too will provide efficiencies to the drivers by reducing start up times. Start-up time is the time it takes for a driver to perceive the vehicle in front of them is moving and that they can begin moving. Start-up time may only be 1-2 seconds for the second car in the queue or waiting in line however this perception-reaction time compounds so the 10th vehicle in the queue or line has to wait an additional 20+ seconds before they begin to move. The start-up time will be the same for both a signal and roundabout however the roundabout will have much shorter queue lengths compared to a signal.
- How will cars and buses merge into two lanes at the far side of a roundabout?
Approaching a roundabout, motor vehicles will already be in two lanes and should already be in the appropriate lane choice based on their next decision (ie turn into a driveway downstream of the roundabout). There should be no lane changes made within the roundabout. When a bus is not present, drivers will yield to vehicles turning within the roundabout’s circulatory lane (making a left turn or u-turn). When an acceptable gap is present, drivers will enter the roundabout a proceed to travel through or use the circulatory lane.
Buses will enter the roundabout from a dedicated travel lane or bus only lane. When a bus is present, vehicles travelling the same direction of the bus are required to yield to the bus entering. This is similar to vehicles having to yield to a bus re-entering the travel lane from a transit stop and is required by law ORS 811.167.
Once the bus has entered the roundabout, drivers are allowed to proceed to yield to other vehicles circulating the roundabout or enter the roundabout when an acceptable gap is present. The buses will diverge back into the busway or bus only lane downstream of the roundabout.
- How will the City educate residents on safely and properly using the roundabouts?
Roundabouts improve the flow of traffic, reduce crashes, are more predictable, and provide greater access to services. This investment in Franklin Boulevard is a boon for everyone who uses the street.
Still, roundabouts are unfamiliar to many in our community, and we’ve heard that people are concerned about how to use them safely. As the project progresses, the City will host a variety of opportunities for people to become familiar with two-lane roundabouts, such as mock roundabouts where community members can practice on foot or controlled driving environments where engineers and public safety staff can assist drivers.
Visit the Roundabouts Info Page to learn more about roundabouts.
- There's a lot of bike traffic crossing Onyx St. How will people walking and biking get across?
People on bikes and pedestrians will cross the Onyx Street roundabout by activating the rectangular rapid flashing beacons (RRFB). See the response to "How will the Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFBs) impact the traffic flow on Franklin Boulevard? Are these going to be better than signalized intersections? If yes, how?" for more detail of how this will be more efficient compared to a signal.
- How will the City make the roundabouts safe for people walking or biking? How are people walking and biking going to navigate their way around the roundabouts?
The City identified Franklin Blvd for transformation specifically to improve the walking, biking and transit experience. Franklin Blvd is a popular corridor for people to navigate on foot and by bike, but it is currently designed as a state highway. The proposed design concept centers the pedestrian and bicycle rider experience by incorporating connected and consistent bikeways, sidewalks, and in some areas a shared use path.
Although the design includes connected facilities for walking and biking, users will still need to navigate intersections. Intersections can be complicated and dangerous to navigate, especially when vehicles are traveling at high speeds. Incorporating roundabouts in the design will provide the following benefits to people walking and biking:
- Reduced Speeds: Vehicles can only travel at 15-20 MPH through a roundabout and still navigate it safely. Research shows that when crashes do occur, people are much more likely to survive the crash unharmed when the vehicle is traveling 20 MPH or less.
- Raised crosswalks: The roundabouts will have raised crosswalks and bike crossings that make people walking and biking more visible to drivers and also serve as traffic calming devices that slow vehicle speeds through the roundabouts.
- Better Sightlines: The geometry of a roundabout improves sightlines for drivers to see people walking and biking through the roundabout. When a driver is exiting the roundabout, they will straighten out before reaching the set-back crosswalk, meaning they will be able to see people in the crosswalk clearly and through their windshield. The improved sightlines in roundabouts are a significant improvement from signalized intersections, where turning vehicles often see people walking and biking out of their side mirrors and side windows.
- Reduced Time in Intersection: The narrower travel lanes and pedestrian crossing islands provide protected areas for people walking and biking to navigate the roundabout.
- Greater Flexibility to Cross: Signalized intersections require people walking and biking to queue while waiting for the cross signal. Roundabouts provide consistent access to crossing, reducing wait times and preventing the rush to catch the walk signal.
- Flashing Beacons: Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFB) will be installed at key crossings, providing people walking and biking additional visibility while crossing. RRFB's contain lights that flash rapidly to alert drivers that there is a person in the crosswalk.
- Will there be enough time for vehicles turning right onto Franklin between Onyx St and 11th Ave to cross into the left-turn lanes to get onto E.11th Ave?
Vehicles turning out of a driveway between Onyx Street and Moss Street have sufficient distance to change lanes to get into the left turn lane at E 11th Avenue. With the roadway reallocation, drivers will only have to cross one lane compared to the two lanes they have to cross today. Recommended distance needed for acceptable lane changing varies between 500 and 1,500 feet based on how many cars are on the road and the travel speed. The travel speed along the corridor will also be 25 mph compared to 35 mph it is signed today, providing additional time and requiring a smaller gap to merge onto Franklin Boulevard. The westernmost driveway is located approximately 800 feet east of the left turn lane onto E 11th Avenue. This is sufficient distance for a driver to merge over one lane after turning onto Franklin Boulevard.
- On the east end of 15th Ave, will there be any eastbound railway crossing for people walking and biking?
Crosswalks will be provided at the East Gateway roundabout located in the vicinity of E 15th Avenue. The path will connect to the existing South Bank Path south of the tunnel and closer to Walnut Street. A new railway crossing will not be part of this project.
- How will the Laurel Valley Hill residents access the Franklin Boulevard Corridor? What are some ways that the residents will go in and out of the neighborhood onto Franklin?
Laurel Valley Hill residents will approach Franklin Boulevard similarly to how they do today. They will drive under the I-5 southbound entrance ramp and turn left at the Riverview Street intersection at a new roundabout that will terminate the I-5 off-ramp at Riverview.
The design concept includes changes to the way Laurel Valley Hill residents get home from Franklin Boulevard by eliminating the existing connection from the southbound I-5 ramp and converting the existing northbound I-5 off-ramp into a two-way street from Franklin Boulevard to Riverview Street. This reconfiguration improves access to I-5 south and eastbound Franklin Boulevard, which is currently limited. It also provides additional safety benefits to people walking and biking in and out of the neighborhood.
That said, discussions with community stakeholders may result in keeping Laurel Hill Valley access as is. Laurel Hill Valley access changes will likely not be part of the first phase of Franklin Blvd construction that is scheduled to begin in 2026.
- Will the left-hand turn from Franklin to Orchard be eliminated?
Yes, the left turn from Franklin to Orchard is proposed to be eliminated.
- How will the access to Market of Choice (MoC) and Hirons for East and West-bound traffic work on Franklin?
People driving eastbound on Franklin would access Hirons and Market of Choice the same way they do now. Someone coming from Springfield, the Laurel Hill Valley, or I-5 who wants to go to Hirons or Market of Choice would have three options:
- Turning left at Villard and then left into the parking lot.
- Making a U-turn at Villard (or at a new roundabout at 13th/Moss) and then a right at Orchard and a right into the parking lot; and
- Take a left at Walnut at a new roundabout, a right on 15th, a right on Orchard, and then a left into the parking lot.
- How will the residents on Sylvan Street access the roundabout at the base of Riverview Street near Exit 192?
Part of the design concept for Franklin is for the entrance to the neighborhood for motor vehicles to be closed from the I-5 on-ramp and instead the I-5 off-ramp would be made two way and there would be a roundabout where Riverview connects to the off-ramp. There would still be a street that connects Sylvan down to Riverview. An earlier version of our design may have made it look like that street connection would be removed.
Regarding driving to Market of Choice, yes there would be the option to go through Hendricks Park. The driveways on Orchard Street would still be accessible and Market of Choice is interested in having the city restripe their parking lot to make it easier to enter from the south driveway near Little Big Burger. Besides making a left on Walnut, a right on 15th and a right on Orchard, the other options would be to travel westbound on Franklin and then make a legal U-turn at Villard and then a right on Orchard or to take a left at Villard and then a left into the parking lot.
- How will the traffic congestion following Matthew Knight Arena events be improved or impacted with fewer traffic lanes available on Franklin?
Large events at Matthew Knight Arena create a lot of traffic and the redesign of Franklin Blvd is not going to solve back-ups during large events. The redesign does include some elements, however, that may improve how traffic moves around the arena, such as a new intersection at Moss and 13th, increased opportunities for left turns, and safer and more abundant pedestrian crossings. Engineers will work closely with the University of Oregon to update their traffic management plans for events at the arena.
- If businesses along Franklin lose street access or parking, how will the city satisfy the business requirements to operate?
By working with our project and community partners, the City has explored and implemented a wide variety of practical strategies, including communication and collaboration with each property owner during the planning phase of the project when considering any changes to parking or accessibility. Applying effective corridor-wide design strategies that minimize the property impacts for any business and property owners is a top priority for the City of Eugene and many other critical stakeholders in this project.
In its current configuration, the Franklin Boulevard design concept has minimal impact on individual businesses' parking and access. As the project progresses into engineering, the City will continue communicating and exploring ways with individual property owners, business owners, and other stakeholders to mitigate any potential impact, including loss of street access and/or parking. Additionally, one of the project's goal areas is to maximize the effective utilization of off-street parking supply while ensuring that loss of on-street parking or access does not negatively impact business operations.
- How will roundabouts, with their promise of continuous traffic flow, affect the ability of neighborhood residents to turn west from the south side of Franklin?
Even though there will be a continuous flow, there will be breaks in the traffic flow that will allow residents to enter the roundabout. Traffic simulation modeling confirmed this conclusion. In addition, there will be gaps created by the mixture of traffic signals. Furthermore, the traffic signals will create a gap for vehicles entering the roundabouts from minor approaches, and pedestrians and cyclists crossing Franklin at the roundabouts will stop the vehicles traveling east/west, enabling vehicles turning left to enter the roundabout from the west. Additionally, residents have the option of turning west at signaled intersections. Overall, the corridor will serve all users in a more balanced system.
Still have a question that wasn't answered here?
Trisha Sharma: Associate Transportation Planner
Pronouns: she, her, hers
Work Mobile: 541-501-0351