Yes, the left turn from Franklin to Orchard is proposed to be eliminated.
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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.
Franklin Boulevard, with its wide lanes, can be an unsafe and uncomfortable street. For people who walk, bike, or ride the bus, Franklin Boulevard can be a significant barrier to getting from place to place. Because of that, fewer people choose to walk or bike to make connections between the University of Oregon, surrounding neighborhoods and Willamette River trails to the north, hindering the City of Eugene’s long-term efforts to reach climate reduction goals. The project will also encourage new ways for businesses and neighborhoods near Franklin Boulevard to redevelop the boulevard into a more comfortable connector of places, rather than a divider.
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.
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. 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!
The City of Eugene’s 20-year long range land use (Envision Eugene) and transportation plans (Eugene 2035 Transportation System Plan) 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). Click HERE for a map of key corridors.
The City has been working with the community and local stakeholders since October 2018 on a concept plan for Franklin Blvd. As of August 2023, the concept plan 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 are working closely with stakeholders along the corridor as the engineering designs are drafted.
You can explore the current plan concept on the Franklin Blvd Transformation Engage Eugene Page.
Continue reading the FAQs below to learn more about the current 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.
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.
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.
People on bikes and pedestrians will cross the Onyx Street roundabout by activating the rectangular rapid flashing beacons (RRFB). See response to Q1 for more detail of how this will be more efficient compared to a signal.
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.
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.
The Laurel Valley Hill residents will approach get to 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 off-ramp at Riverview.
The way Laurel Valley Hill residents get home from Franklin Boulevard will change. This project will close the existing connection from the southbound I-5 entrance ramp into the neighborhood and convert the portion of the existing northbound I-5 exit ramp into a two-lane roadway from Franklin Boulevard to Riverview Street. To get to the Laurel Valley Hill neighborhood from Franklin Boulevard, drivers will turn onto the 2-lane road (former I-5 off-ramp) from the East Gateway roundabout. They will then proceed to the Riverview Street intersection and turn right. The East Gateway also provides a benefit to the Laurel Valley Hill residents as it can be used as a u-turn to access I-5 south and eastbound Franklin Boulevard.
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:
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.
Matthew Knight Arena (MKA) currently does not have a parking structure in place. Although we did not complete an analysis of how Franklin will perform during the release of an event, there are some improvements to how traffic will disperse around the arena that will provide a benefit. This includes:
Because MKA does not have a parking structure, vehicles park within the vicinity of MKA. This makes analyzing the impacts on event parking a bit more challenging as the flow and duration are impacted by the spread of parking and the time it takes for people to walk from MKA to their vehicles.
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.
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.
Villard offers a left turn pocket that has been evaluated through modeling to ensure that access can be accommodated without unacceptable delay. This location is approximately midway between two roundabouts, so patrons can backtrack to the business if they accidentally pass by it while driving on Franklin. Since Market of Choice and Hirons are destination types of businesses, their viability will not be impacted.
Traffic modeling and assessment conducted for the project, including a pedestrian sensitivity analysis (which tested artificially increasing pedestrian usage), indicates that the signal should function acceptably.
The traffic estimates and modeling indicate that pedestrian scrambles, diagonal crosswalks, and aerial pedestrian bridges are not viable from a cost-benefit standpoint.
There would be increased vehicular delays at Villard if there were to be a pedestrian scramble or diagonal crosswalk due to its increased crossing length (diagonal crosswalk) or if no vehicles were going through the intersection simultaneously (pedestrian scramble). In addition, at most, the typical volume of pedestrians is the level at which pedestrian scrambles are considered. Considering the high pedestrian traffic during events at Matthew Knight Arena, pedestrian scrambles may be used as a traffic management tool during events. We will also be upgrading the signal components at Villard as part of this project, increasing our ability to manage various traffic demand scenarios at this location.