Irene Ferguson

Active River Road resident Carleen Reilly shared the following message on January 23, 2019…


Dear River Road Community Resource Group:

We urgently need volunteers to work intensely on the River Road Corridor Study. Transportation Working Group members with good background info, neighbors living along the River Road Corridor, and employees and owners of River Road businesses are needed to provide valuable information and perspectives to the process. Note time and place in Calendar. Details here: https://www.eugene- or.gov/4110/Corridor-Study

I hope you will forgive me for taking this space to remember Irene Ferguson after her untimely death when she was hit and killed on Hunsaker on Thursday evening, January 17. Irene’s life made an indelible imprint on me, many, many other River Road neighbors, and the broader community. She lived in our neighborhood at a Briarcliff apartment complex for 10 years before moving to a foster care home in northwest River Road neighborhood. She then moved to a foster home in Santa Clara on Hunsaker. Irene was a bellwether for transportation safety and transportation needs for impaired people. If Irene needed a transportation fix, we all needed it.

Irene was a force to be reckoned with. And her life was filled with ironies. Irene was born in Chicago area, was a nurse, and a Hoedad. She desired that people live in harmony with one another, and she worked to build community everywhere she went. And she went everywhere! She walked and rode the bus. She was very determined. If she wanted to go somewhere to do something, she found a way to do it, despite her physical impediments.

Irene was severely injured in a car crash in the 1980s in Florida. She had permanent brain trauma and a damaged leg that remained with her for the rest of her life. Soon after I met her, about 2009, she was hit by a vehicle at the corner of Hunsaker and River Road. The vehicle made a turn, hitting her in the crosswalk. Her bad leg was broken, and her good foot/leg was run over. She spent a long time in the hospital and rehab before going home. She had medical complications and difficulties in getting doctors to see her as she was on Medicaid. The driver’s insurance didn’t want to pay for her medical care. She spent more than 2 years with an attorney fighting for her, just to get the medical expenses paid.

She lived in great fear of being hit again by a car. She called me at times, in tears, when she was almost hit at various times as she crossed River Road to the bus. I wasn’t the only person to hear her stories. Councilor Claire Syrett was also on the other end of phone calls from Irene. In one instance, she was crossing River Road, one car stopped, but a second car plowed into the first car. Irene hid in the bushes because she thought she had caused the accident. Fortunately, another driver stayed behind, coaxed Irene out, and assured her that she was not responsible for the accident.

The irony of Irene being killed by a car on Hunsaker, just a couple of blocks from where she was hit in 2009, is tragic, to say the least. The question about her visibility on that very dark night lingers. Irene was obsessed with flashlights, headlamps, and reflectors. I wonder how well equipped she was that fatal evening.

Many River Road neighbors frequently complained about the 40 MPH speed limit on River Road, but Irene’s situation made the danger real for us. She motivated us to continue to complain and ask the City Engineer to reduce it. A City Engineer told us no for a dozen years. We were pleased and amazed when the new City Engineer, Matt Rodrigues, was able to petition ODOT to reduce it to 35 MPH within about 6 months of being placed in that position.

Irene had that same insistence that a pedestrian crossing was needed near Briarcliff where she and dozens of other residents in this area were dependent on public transit. Irene had a heightened sense of need for safety measures. And she reminded us often. When a new neighbor, Mary Byrnes, moved in with new energy and drive, they collected 250 signatures for that pedestrian crossing, and they flocked to the City Council meetings to push this idea through. Once again, Matt Rodrigues and Reed Dunbar got the job done. Irony struck again, however, when Irene was evicted from her apartment before she was able to benefit from this amenity that now serves many people.

Because of Irene’s mental stability, she was moved to a foster home where she could receive the professional care she needed.

Irene volunteered loyally in several organizations for the betterment of the community.

  1. River Road neighborhood: signing in neighbors, keeping the literature table neat, and loved flipping pancakes at the annual Pancake Breakfast.
  2. Volunteered at Next Step to take computers apart for recycling.
  3. Folded, labeled, and tabbed newsletters for her political affiliation. She knew that people with physical and mental impairments needed to be active politically to advocate for policies to address their needs.
  4. Acquired the first National Night Out in the River Road neighborhood in 2010. She was concerned about crime and wanted to bring change by providing safety information and resources and to help neighbors make connections with one another.
  5. Served on a Board for senior and disabled people to help shape policies that affect their lives, like public transit.
  6. Advocated for the reduction of the speed limit on River Road.
  7. Promoted a pedestrian crossing at Briarcliff for people to access bus stops.
  8. Spoke ably about the need for more bus services for people dependent on public transit or the generosity of friends to take them to doctor’s appointments or grocery shopping.

Irene had many interests: Astronomy–including string theory, Reading, Libraries, Camping in the woods, Gardening and Permaculture, Cats!, Singing, Walking, and Making friends and building community.

What can we learn from Irene and what should we ask for that will bring greater safety and better public transit for our neighborhoods? Here is my list, but you may have other action ideas. Let’s hear them.

  1. Maintain safety as the highest priority over all other factors.
  2. Name the new Santa Clara Transit station Ferguson Crossing.
  3. Don’t wait a dozen years to reduce speed limits in neighborhoods when they are requested.
  4. When sidewalks and bike lanes are needed for the common good, don’t be buffaloed by neighbors who have used the public right of way for landscaping and parking cars. Safety first. (People like Irene do not have vehicles to use, and many people are in her circumstance.) If neighbors object to access to right of way, make them buy the property and charge them taxes for all the years they have used public property.
  5. When private property owners obstruct to the installation of public transit, they need to be brought into adherence quickly to the rules of public domain. Don’t let it drag out for years on end. Public transit is a broad community service.

Vote “Yes” on Ballot Measure 20-275 to Continue Fixing Our Streets

UPDATE 10/23/2017: Official information about Ballot Measure 20-275 is now posted on the City of Eugene’s website.

Over the past 10 years, the City of Eugene has reduced a backlog of potholed, crumbling streets with two successful bond measures. This bond will continue that important work.

1) IT CONTINUES A SUCCESSFUL PROGRAM. In 2007, Eugene had over $200 million in needed street repairs. Citizens wanted the potholes fixed—and thanks to bond measures voters approved in 2008 and 2012, the backlog was cut in half. This measure continues the same property tax rate. To avoid paying far more in the future to rebuild streets, we should fund cost-effective ongoing maintenance.

2) IT’S OUR RESPONSIBILITY. Federal and state governments do not provide sufficient funding to keep our streets in good repair. We need to provide funding ourselves.

3) IT’S FAIR. This measure will fund about 90 repaving projects, across all city wards. A tax on properties spreads the burden fairly. Everyone benefits; everyone helps pay.

4) IT’S ACCOUNTABLE. As before, this measure clearly spells out which streets will be fixed. A separate volunteer citizen oversight committee will review all work, and an outside auditor will certify spending. Money will be used as voters intend.

5) IT BENEFITS KIDS, SENIORS & ALTER ABLED. Like past measures, this one allocates a portion of the funding to make our transportation system better and safer for children, the elderly, alter-abled, and others who prefer to walk or ride a bike. Past measures have improved our popular off-street path network, addressed dangerous areas with better pedestrian crossings, and created safer routes to schools, parks and commercial areas. These projects also have been well distributed in neighborhoods all over the city. More of this work is needed, and this measure increases the portion devoted to such projects from 6.5% to 10%. This measure will help make our neighborhoods safer.

PLEASE VOTE “YES”: We should continue to maintain and strengthen our transportation system with responsible, necessary investments. We urge you to vote “Yes” on Ballot Measure 20-275!

Background

Voter-approved general obligation bond measures — “GO bonds” — are key to Eugene’s pavement preservation program.

In November 2008, Eugene voters approved Ballot Measure 20-145, a five-year, $35.9-million bond measure promising to fix 32 streets in Eugene. The measure cost an average of $0.61 per $1,000 of assessed value each year, or $102 per year for an average homeowner. By the time the funds were fully expended, the City of Eugene had repaired 54 streets and a number of off-street paths.

In November 2012, Eugene voters resoundingly approved Ballot Measure 20-197, a new $43-million bond measure to continue the street repair program for another five years to fix 76 more streets and provide an average of $516,000 per year for bicycle and pedestrian projects. Set to expire in 2018, the measure is costing an average of $0.65 per $1,000 of assessed value each year, or $127 per year for an average homeowner.

Now in November 2017, Eugene voters are being asked to approve Ballot Measure 20-275, a new $51.2-million bond measure to continue the street repair program for another five years to fix approximately 88 lane-miles of roads and fund bicycle and pedestrian projects. The measure is estimated to cost an average of $0.65 per $1,000 of assessed value each year (the same rate as the 2012 bond measure), or $148 per year for an average homeowner.

Because of these bond measures, plus about $3 million a year from Eugene’s 5-cent-per-gallon local gas tax, the Public Works Department has made significant progress on reducing the backlog of needed street repairs. The 2017 Pavement Management Report showed progress had been made on the condition of Eugene’s streets in large part due to the additional funds available from the GO bonds, but more work was needed to further reduce the backlog of repairs on the 1,356 lane-miles of streets in the City. Specifically, the 2017 report calculated the backlog of repairs on improved asphalt streets was $92 million—a reduction in the estimated backlog of needed repairs of $79 million since the 2008 bond was approved. Despite this downward trend, the backlog is projected to continue to grow unless there is an increase in funding that is both sufficient and sustainable.

To ensure accountability for the expenditure of voter-approved bonds to fix streets, an outside auditor reviews the City of Eugene’s use of bond proceeds, determines whether proceeds were used as approved by voters, and prepares a public report.

In addition, the citizen Street Repair Review Panel meets several times a year to look at recently completed street repair projects, learn more about plans for future repair projects, review in depth the expenditure of bond funds to fix streets, and produce an annual report.

Project Maps

2017 Bond Measure Project Map

2017

2012 Bond Measure Project Map

2012

2008 Bond Measure Project Map

2008

Other Resources

News Stories

General Information

2017 Ballot Measure 20-275

2012 Ballot Measure 20-197

2008 Ballot Measure 20-145

What’s Your Goal? (Videos)

What’s the goal for your family?

What’s the goal for your family?

Whatever you call it—Vision Zero, Target Zero, Drive to ZeroZero Fatalities, Toward Zero Deaths, Moving Toward Zero Deaths, or Towards Zero—is all about eliminating deaths and life-changing injuries on our roadways. Some people may think zero is an impossible goal, but when it comes to your family and friends, what other number would be acceptable? An increasing number of cities, counties and states are aiming for zero because every one matters.

Here are some videos making the case for zero as the right goal:

Safer Streets for Everyone!

UPDATE 7/31/2016: Amend language of petition to call for pursuing the “9 Components of a Strong Vision Zero Commitment.”

UPDATE 4/24/2016: Now that the Eugene City Council has adopted Vision Zero with Resolution No. 5143, amend language of petition to address other local elected officials.

Sign Pledge + Petition

Pledge

  • I will behave safely and responsibly at all times on public streets, respecting and empathizing with other people’s need to get where they’re going safely.
  • I acknowledge that traveling on public streets can be risky, and I resolve to be alert to the surroundings.
  • I also recognize the role of the roadways, paths, and sidewalks as public space in the community, not only a means for travel, and resolve to share the road with all users, whether they are traveling to a destination or enjoying the street appropriately as public space.
  • I will be a good example, and I want my neighbors to slow down, say “hi,” and join me in spreading the word.

Source: City of Portland, OR

Petition

On November 18, 2015, in response to an earlier petition organized by Better Eugene-Springfield Transit (BEST), the Eugene City Council adopted Resolution No. 5143, “setting as official policy the Vision Zero goal that no loss of life or serious injury on our transportation system is acceptable.”

Now I call on Eugene (and other local governments) to pursue the “9 Components of a Strong Vision Zero Commitment”:

  1. Political Commitment
  2. Multi-Disciplinary Leadership
  3. Action Plan
  4. Equity
  5. Cooperation & Collaboration
  6. Systems-Based Approach
  7. Data-Driven
  8. Community Engagement
  9. Transparency

Source: Vision Zero Network

Vision Zero

Vision Zero is a strategy to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries, while increasing safe, healthy, equitable mobility for all. First implemented in Sweden in the 1990s, Vision Zero has proved successful across Europe—and now has been embraced by New York, Boston, Chicago, Austin, San DiegoLos Angeles, Santa Barbara, San José, San Mateo, San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland.

Sources: Vision Zero Network, Wikipedia

Vision Zero uses a multidisciplinary approach of the “Six E’s”—engineering, enforcement, education, encouragement, equity, and evaluation (and planning)—involving highway and traffic engineers, law enforcement, vehicle designers, medical specialists, educators, social scientists, media, government officials, and others. Sweden’s program is based on four principles:

  • Ethics: Human life and health are paramount and take priority over mobility and other objectives of the road traffic system;
  • Responsibility: Providers and regulators of the road traffic system share responsibility with drivers and other users;
  • Safety: Road traffic systems should take account of human fallibility and minimize both the opportunities for errors and the harm done when they occur; and
  • Mechanisms for change: Providers and regulators must do their utmost to guarantee the safety of all citizens and cooperate with road users, and all three must be ready to change to achieve safety.

Sources: Connecticut Office of Legislative Research, Puget Sound Regional Council

U.S. DOT Mayors’ Challenge for Safer People, Safer Streets

Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy and Springfield Mayor Christine Lundberg each accepted the U.S. Department of Transportation Mayors’ Challenge for Safer People, Safer Streets:

  1. Take a complete streets approach.
  2. Identify and address barriers to make streets safe and convenient for all road users, including people of all ages and abilities and those using assistive mobility devices.
  3. Gather and track walking and bicycling data.
  4. Use designs appropriate to the context of the street and its uses.
  5. Take advantage of opportunities to create and complete walking and bicycling networks through maintenance.
  6. Improve walking and bicycling safety laws and regulations.
  7. Educate and enforce proper road use behaviors by all.

Source: U.S. Dept. of Transportation

Road Traffic Fatality Facts

Leading causes of death in Oregon in 2013:

  • Ages 15–24: 1) suicide, 2) road traffic crashes, 3) poisoning
  • Ages 25–34: 1) suicide, 2) poisoning, 3) road traffic crashes
  • Ages 35–44: 1) suicide, 2) poisoning, 3) road traffic crashes

Source: WorldLifeExpectancy.com

In 2015, traffic deaths in Oregon were 20% higher than in 2014, the second highest percentage increase in the nation.
Source: National Highway Transportation Safety Administration

Fatal traffic crashes in Lane County 2007–2013:

Lane County Road Fatalities 2007-2013

Each red dot represents one or more lives lost.

Source: Lane Council of Governments

Feds allocate up to $75 million to West Eugene EmX

There was some very good news about the West Eugene EmX project today. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced  allocations for FY 2014 and also released the President’s recommended budget for FY 2015. The West Eugene EmX project received $24 million in FY 2014 and is recommended to receive $51 million in 2015. That would total $75 million from the FTA Small Starts program, which represents about 80 percent of the project cost and is the maximum available under the program.

» See FY 2014 Section 5309 Fixed Guideway Capital Investment Grants Allocations (Table 7)…

» See Proposed FY 2015 Section 5309 Small Starts Projects (page 12)…
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