Improvements to Springfield's Glenwood district have been in the works for decades. This spring, the Franklin redevelopment plan breaks ground. While progress is being made, officials say continued momentum depends on conditions beyond their control.
Even on a winter day, the view from the deck of Roaring Rapids Pizza is beautiful and calming. Across the Willamette River, an occasional dog walker strolls on the bike path. Abutting the water on this bank, however, is predominantly the back side of industrial businesses. Steven Roth owns Roaring Rapids and Camp Putt with his brother Paul.
Roth: “Right now it's just a shame that there's not more people enjoying the riverfront, and so the way that we can remedy that is to put bike paths in along the riverfront, open space, parkland, and mix that with some housing.”
The Roth brothers waited many years for Springfield to get the permits and financing needed to redevelop. Kristy Krueger, the city's Principal Engineer, says construction on the Springfield end of Franklin Boulevard will begin in March:
Krueger: “That piece will include a double roundabout, access lanes on the north side, an exclusive bike path, and also sidewalks.”
Traffic circles decrease injuries, Krueger says, because they eliminate head-on and T-bone accidents. They also get more cars through intersections faster and require less ongoing maintenance than signals. She says the second, smaller, roundabout adds a spur going toward the river. That road will eventually be the entry to the open space Steven Roth envisions. Courtney Griesel is Springfield's Economic Development Manager.
Griesel: “We have two parks slated as the what we call Park Blocks, and then we have a riverfront linear park. And that's very important, because that park runs the entire length of the river.”
Griesel says it's been quite an effort to get all the stakeholders on board.
Griesel: “There's been a number of emotions around it. There is just sort of an uncertainty about how we do this. There's been sort of an exploratory tone where we're working with partners and property owners to understand what all of our priorities are. We've had decades of conversation.”
The planning is now paying off. She expects once construction starts, people who have been waiting behind the scenes will step in to build up the neighborhood. Steven Roth thinks it'll take some work:
Roth: “If you can imagine downtown Eugene when they started their revitalization, if there had been no streets no sewers you know, nothing there, well you can't do it, and that's what we're doing here in Glenwood. We don't have any of that stuff. Some of that has to actually be in existence before developers will invest.”
Griesel says the Urban Renewal District that's in place through 2025 paves the way for infrastructure. The rest of the redesign of Franklin Boulevard relies on Washington D.C.:
Krueger: “Once we build this, we continue to look for funding to complete the whole corridor. We have city funds in there as well and some state funds, but it's primarily federally funded.”
Krueger says the initial construction from McVay to Mississippi Streets is expected to take two years. By that point, they'll see whether more federal funding is likely.
Back on the deck at Roaring Rapids, Roth gestures to where a bike path might go:
Roth: “We're working with the city and one of the ideas is to do a cantilever that goes around the patio. The other option is to go on the front side and create like a bicycle stop.”
Roth says he's not worried about losing business during construction. He says when the new EmX stops were put in, the number of customers increased.
Find more about the Franklin Boulevard project here.
Springfield has information about roundabouts here.