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ODOT says Highway 126 widening will cause minimal impact to wildlife area

A sign alongside a road. The signs reads "Fern Ridge Wildlife Area Parking." A car is on the road.
Chris Lehman
The Fern Ridge Wildlife Area is along Highway 126 west of Eugene.

The potential expansion of a seven-mile stretch of Highway 126 west of Eugene will have minimal impacts on a wildlife area and county park next to the road, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation.

The agency said its analysis shows the project, which would expand the road from two lanes to four lanes between West Eugene and Veneta, would have a minimal impact on the Fern Ridge Wildlife Area, taking up just one-tenth of one percent of the refuge’s land.

The wildlife area is operated by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, which says it's "managed primarily for waterfowl wintering and nesting" and is used by more than 250 different species of birds over the course of a typical year.

The project would also take up about nine percent of the adjacent 42-acre Perkins Peninsula Park, which is operated by Lane County. but the affected portion does not include any of the park’s developed facilities, which include picnic areas, trails and a boat ramp.

ODOT is accepting public comment on the potential impact of the Highway 126 widening project through the end of January.

The analysis of impacts to the wildlife area and county park were required as part of the environmental impact study conducted for the project. Planning for the Highway 126 project has been underway for more than a decade, but ODOT said the construction phase of the project has not been funded and does not have an anticipated start date.

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December, 2018. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”
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