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Construction Begins On Pedestrian Crossing On Hwy 99 Near Homeless Encampment

Brian Bull

Starting today, traffic near Roosevelt Boulevard and Highway 99 on Eugene’s northwest side will be disrupted for at least a couple weeks. KLCC’s Brian Bull reports.

(B. BULL NEAR ROAD) “Here on Highway 99, there’s a pretty steady flow of traffic, making it very dangerous for people to cross. Especially for those who’ve recently settled into a homeless encampment across the way here.  But the City of Eugene has plans in place now to make a pedestrian crossing that advocates say will make it safer and more accessible.” 

Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
Spraypainted lines mark where the temporary pedestrian crossing will be built beginning December 3rd.

“It will absolutely improve safety and accessibility," says Roxann O'Brien.  She's Director of St. Vincent de Paul's Lindholm Service Center.

"Y’know, we’ve been in this building since 1999, and we’ve had three people killed crossing the street.”

O’Brien says the need for a temporary pedestrian crossing is greater now that 115 homeless tenants have moved into what’s called Camp 99 across the way.

“We have many people with walkers and wheelchairs, it’s just absolutely a big safety issue. So we’re thrilled to death about this.”

Construction is expected to finish December 17th, with work on a permanent crossing starting in 2020.

Brian Richardson of Eugene Public Works says the $29,300 project will improve safety for many, including those residing in Camp 99.  The facility is near services such as St. Vinnie’s.

Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
About 115 people are staying at a homeless encampment called Camp 99, across Highway 99 from St. Vincent de Paul's Lindholm Service Center. Many tenants cross the busy thoroughfare for services.

“Those social services and that camp are on opposite sides of the highway there. And so the direct line is further away from a crosswalk," Richardson tells KLCC.  "We got the planning underway, with the goal of trying to make the roads safer for those crossing to social services on the other side of the highway.  That’s really why we’re doing this right now.”

Richardson says drivers should expect lane closures and watch for road crews in the next few weeks. 

Copyright 2018, KLCC.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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