Neighborhood Issue Story – River Road Community

Julian Massenburg

Issue Story

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River Road, one of Eugene’s most dangerous and congested streets, is the central thoroughfare for one of the city’s largest residential areas. Accidents between cars, cyclists, and pedestrians have been a recurring theme along River Road. There have been two collision fatalities on River Road within the past two years.

Congestion and traffic hazards are the largest concerns for commuters along River Road. Commuters also experience traffic jams lasting up to 45 minutes. Pedestrians and residents of the River Road community want to see improved regulations and enhanced safety features along River Road.

In August 2011, a collision between a bicyclist and a driver ended in fatality.  Mingo Shay Pelkey, 39, of Eugene, was killed while riding her bicycle along River Road. Pelkey attempted to merge over to make a turn when she was struck by a vehicle near the intersection of River Road and Hunsaker Lane.

It is certain that speeding along River Road has been a recurring issue. Kurt, 46, of Eugene, has been a resident of the River Road community for over 20 years. He admits that speeding is his number one issue concerning River Road.

“I’d like to see River Road slowed down,” Kurt said. “It’s kind of a thoroughfare. The speed limit is 40 miles per hour; I’d like to see it reduced to 30 miles per hour to make it a little easier for bicyclists and pedestrians to get around.”

Kurt is one of many who have concerns regarding the speed and traffic flow along River Road. Liz Psomas is a frequent River Road commuter who has experienced a fair share of traffic problems in the area, including near collisions along River Road.

“Over here by the Fred Meyer, because of the way those parking lots are, I’ve had three or four friends that have gotten into car accidents just trying to pull out,” Psomas said. “I was over there last week, and I almost got nailed by a car.”

Slade Hart of Eugene is another River Road community resident who has observed traffic instabilities within the community. Hart’s biggest concern stems from congestion along River Road.

“The side streets going off of River Road, especially the ones with the schools, can become quite congested…” said Hart. “There’s a lot of pedestrian traffic, and they just walk right in the middle of the road.”

Commuters along River Road suggest the implementation of traffic reinforcement to help monitor traffic. Traffic cameras along River Road would improve safety along the road, and generate revenue for the City of Eugene.

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