BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS'

REGULAR MEETING

August 25, 2004

1:30 p.m.

Commissioners' Conference Room

APPROVED 9/15/04

 

Commissioner Bobby Green, Sr., presided with Commissioners Bill Dwyer, Don Hampton, Anna Morrison and Peter Sorenson present.  County Administrator Bill Van Vactor, Assistant County Counsel Stephen Vorhes and Recording Secretary Melissa Zimmer were also present.

 

  17.    PUBLIC WORKS

 

a.        STATUS REPORT/West Eugene Parkway.

 

            Ollie Snowden, Public Works, recalled that in 1985 there was a draft Environmental Impact Statement prepared for the WEP.  He said it looked at two alternatives.  He added in 1986 there was a supplemental draft Environmental Impact Statement that looked at five alternatives between Seneca and Highway 99.  He noted in 1990 there was a final Environmental Impact Statement that was followed by a decision that selected the approved design for construction.  He indicated in 1997 there was a supplemental draft Environmental Impact Statement that looked at changes to the approved design that would improve traffic operations and reduce impacts to wetlands and rare plants.  He noted at that point there was a modified project to replace the approved project design.  He said in 2001 the Eugene voters endorsed the WEP and in 2002 the Board and the Cities of Springfield and Eugene amended the Metro Plan, TransPlan, West Eugene Wetlands Plan and the Lane County Rural Comprehensive Plan to facilitate construction of the West Eugene Parkway.  He added in 2003 there was a LUBA decision that upheld most of the actions that local government took with respect to the WEP.  He said the Court of Appeals upheld the LUBA decision and in December the Board approved a response to LUBA on a remand of four issues.

 

            Snowden indicated that currently they are in the re-evaluation phase of the WEP.  He noted that according to federal regulations, if it has been more than three years since a draft of an acceptable EIS was submitted, they have to do a re-evaluation.  He said the purpose of the re-evaluation is to determine whether a supplemental or new draft EIS is needed.  He noted that according to David Cox, Administrator, Oregon Division of Federal Highway Administration, the re-evaluation report is intended to look for unanticipated changes since the draft EIS. He said the re-evaluation should determine whether any unanticipated changes are significant enough to change the decision on the preferred alternative identified in the supplemental EIS.

 

            Carl Viseca, ODOT, passed out a draft report on the WEP. (Copy in file).

 

            Snowden noted on the last page of the Board packet is a memo from Bob Pirrie (ODOT), dated June, that discussed in detail the re-evaluation of the parkway and the things they are looking at.  He indicated that ODOT has a $1.7 million contract with URS Consultants, who is going to look at some of the unanticipated changes to the modified project that has happened since 1997 and include those impacts in a draft final EIS that ODOT hopes to have out next year.

 

            Snowden passed out a copy of a letter dated August 20 from David Cox to the concerns that were addressed from the Julie Dugan memo.  He indicated this was new material. 

 

            Snowden explained Unit 1 of the WEP couldnít meet the mobility standards that are identified in the Oregon Highway Plan as it is currently designed.   He added the Federal Highway Administration is saying if the project canít be built to meet the Oregon Highway Plan mobility standards, in order to use federal money on it, it should be built to meet the TransPlan, the local mobility standards and that is the reason for the jurisdictional transfer.

 

            Viseca noted that building Unit 1 to ODOTís standards would change the voter-approved facility from four to six lanes and would have an interchange at Seneca.  He said it is staffís opinion that it is no longer the facility that the voters approved.  He said by applying the level of the service and the mobility standard closer to the old highway division standard, they were able to keep the facility at four lanes and meet the intent of the project.

 

            Dwyer asked what it meant for Lane County government with responsibility to put money into the project.

 

            Snowden responded that it had a potential to change.  He noted the MOU is an indication that the three agencies are going to discuss this.  He added in the Board packet they raise issues that need resolution and if the local agencies are going to take it over, who will build it and what happens if the cost overruns on Unit 1 a) are more than $17.7 million.  He wanted to know who was responsible for Unit 1 b).  He added there are more questions that local governments want to see resolved before they would come back with the proposed IGA.

 

            Viseca explained what he was looking for from the MOU is the design standards that would be used for Unit 1 so he could complete the technical analysis.  He said the questions the Board was asking would be found in an IGA.  He indicated they have a $1.7 million contact that they are ready to move forward with and an IGA would take longer.  He believed an MOU would set the framework for the design standards so they could continue to make progress on the project.

 

            Green commented while the MOU in the recital spells out what the intent is with the terms and conditions, there is an expectation after it is signed by ODOT that there would be some binding agreement afterwards.  He said that could be done after all the terms and conditions are met.  He asked how binding this was and what the next step would be.  He asked if they canít reach agreement on the different points, what happens.

 

            Snowden indicated that Viseca is trying to avoid spending another $1.7 million on additional analysis on this project if it is not going to go anywhere.  He understood the intent of the MOU was that at least local government was willing to consider jurisdiction transfer seriously enough to allow Viseca to go ahead and spend the $1.7 million.

 

            Sorenson wanted Public Works to send an e-mail to the Board answering the questions submitted by Rob Zako.  He thought it was important to process all the information.  He noted the original project was state highway designed and built and maintained by the state government.  He said the plan is being changed to suggest that local government take over a portion of it.  He asked why half of the WEP is now being designed as a city street.

 

            Snowden responded the intent is for the state to build it and pay for the construction.  The local jurisdiction would have the responsibility of maintaining it.  He said the primary reason is the inability of Unit 1 to be built in such a way to meet the ODOT mobility standards in the ODOT 1999 Highway Plan. He commented the Evaluation Report from Federal Highways states if they are going to use federal money and canít build it to meet the ODOT Highway Plan mobility standards, then they would have to build it to meet TransPlan standards or some other mobility standards that are already in an adopted plan.  He noted that ODOT makes agreements with local jurisdictions when they are improving a state highway where ODOT puts money into a project and the County takes over.

 

            Green asked what happens if there is not enough money to complete the project.  He asked where the other source of funding would come from.  He asked what impact it would have on local governmentís ability to access other funds through the STIP.  He asked if the $17.7 million could be used on other local streets and projects if not for this facility.

 

            Jeff Sheik, ODOT, explained that decisions about usage of state highway dollars for construction projects are with the Oregon Transportation Commission.  He said they have made a commitment through the 04/07 STIP for the funding of Unit 1 a) of the West Eugene Parkway for $17 million.  He said if that doesnít go forward, the project would be cancelled and the money would return to the OTC for a decision as to where it should be applied.  He commented if there were other opportunities that were ready that would match the funding timeline in Lane County, those could compete for it as well as other places in the state.  He added with modernization dollars, it could go onto state highway facilities and with the long list of needs for the state highway; the money would stick with the state highway system.

 

            Green asked if it made sense for the County to initiate the signing of the agreement and what affect it would have on the city if they were not inclined to do the same, given the improvements being made to local city streets and not county roads.

 

            Snowden said if they want to have a response in writing to the Zako comments, they could do that and they could come back after the City of Eugene has a chance to discuss this.

 

            Green asked what their next step was.

 

            Snowden said the project could go ahead without the County ever signing the agreement.  He commented that if the County elects not to sign the MOU, and elects not to sign the IGA, it means they are bound by the 1978 IGA and it would be up to the City of Eugene to proceed with the rest of the project.

 

            Dwyer suggested coming back October 15 with a report that answers Zakoís questions.  He added that they would have an idea of what the City of Eugeneís discussion is about their involvement.  He added they would know better then why it would be in the Countyís interest to sign the MOU.

 

            Green indicated the Board would be receiving an e-mail correspondence on the questions that have been framed by Rob Zako.  He noted the next step will be the concerns from the Eugene City Council and then as a board they will review that in mid-October for a report back.

 

            Sorenson asked why they went from a federally funded state project to be used to construct the West Eugene Parkway to ODOT asking for an MOU that poses the option of having the federal and state government pay to construct the facility to local standards, and maintenance  pushed onto the local governments.

 

            Shiek said it has not been meeting the state mobility standards as defined by the 1999 Oregon Highway Plan.

 

b.         ORDER 04-8-25-9/In the Matter of Authorizing The County Administrator to Sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Regarding the West Eugene Parkway. (PULLED)

 

  18.     COMMISSIONERS' ANNOUNCEMENTS

            Green stated he participated in an AOC Commissioner Exchange Program.  He participated in Jefferson County .

 

            Morrison reported the new NACo president appointed her to the large urban caucus.

 

  19.     CORRESPONDENCE TO THE BOARD

            None.

 

  20.     OTHER BUSINESS

            None.

 

There being no further business, Commissioner Green recessed the meeting into Executive Session at 3:00 p.m.

Melissa Zimmer