A plan to move trucks and reduce crashes between Interstate 5 and Diamond Lake Boulevard is drawing criticism from Roseburg cycling activists.
The City Council on Monday unanimously gave its support to the Oregon Department of Transportation’s $12 million plan for the Highway 138 corridor.
State officials hope to make the highway safer, while city officials want to encourage businesses that rely on freight trucks to locate on Diamond Lake Boulevard.
Members of the Roseburg Bicycle and Pedestrian Coalition, however, told councilors the plan should be revised to make the corridor friendlier for cyclists and pedestrians, as well.
“We want to see the trucks moving through town, but not at the expense of someone trying to walk,” coalition member Dick Dolgonas said. “What we want is a transportation system that works for everybody.”
The city will contribute $1 million to the project, which is scheduled to be completed in 2015.
City Manager Lance Colley told the council that several businesses, including Costco, have balked at building along Diamond Lake Boulevard because trucks have difficulty getting there from I-5.
ODOT project manager Elizabeth Stacey said state planners will have the final say on the design. ODOT’s top priority is reducing the number of accidents, she said.
The state once considered the corridor the most accident-prone stretch of highway in the state. It has since dropped to number two. “We still have a large issue with crashes at this location,” Stacey said.
State planners hope to change that by adding turn lanes, improving railway crossings, widening the road, moving a section of Southeast Pine Street and building pedestrian islands at the intersection of Southeast Stephens Street and Diamond Lake Boulevard.
City Public Works Director Nikki Messenger said the city is also concerned about safety and hopes the changes will alter driving patterns. “You see some really aggressive driving down there,” she said.
Bicycle and Pedestrian Coalition member Burt Tate urged planners to do more. He suggested the state create beauty and shade to encourage pedestrian traffic and slowing traffic to 20 mph.
“Study after study throughout the country shows when you slow down the cars ... you reduce the accidents,” he said.
Messenger said pedestrian and beautification improvements may be added to the city’s plan if its application for a $1.2 million state transportation grant succeeds. One improvement would be signs to direct bicyclists to the safest bike routes, she said.
City councilors, however, requested that the state not require bike lanes along a short stretch of Southeast Stephens Street between Douglas Avenue and Diamond Lake Boulevard. Messenger said the city wants to add a left-turn lane at the intersection of Southeast Stephens and Douglas. That would widen Stephens, ordinarily triggering a requirement that bike lanes be added to Stephens between Douglas and Diamond Lake.
Messenger said city planners would rather encourage bicyclists to stay off the Highway 138 corridor and use Douglas Avenue for east-west travel and the bicycle path along the river for north-south travel, connecting to both via Spruce Street.
• You can reach reporter Carisa Cegavske at 541-957-4213 or email@example.com.