Should River Street be closed?
Opponents support keeping Blue River route open
December 1, 2022 | View PDF
BLUE RIVER: A plan to block one of Blue River's few paved roads will be decided following a public hearing by the Lane County Board of Commissioners. If approved, a section of the road would lose public status and revert to private ownership.
The request to vacate part of the street was filed with the Lane County surveyor's office on November 18th by Earth Quest Partners, LLC, Christopher LaVoie, and the Willamette National Forest. Notices of the filing were sent to 43 area landowners as well as 15 public agencies and utilities. "With the feedback received thus far, this item would need to be heard by the BCC with a public hearing," according to Mikeal Blommé, the county surveyor. Additional public comments must be submitted by Friday.
Currently, River Street is classified as a Local Access Road (LAR). LAR's are public roads that people are allowed to use but aren't maintained by the county. If vacated, the county would also not be responsible for removing any asphalt, installing guardrails, or creating berms to block vehicles.
Chris LaVoie says safety issues were behind the idea to explore closing the road to through traffic. Those issues included "local drivers speeding through town at crazy speeds," as well as campers/partiers from nearby Blue River Reservoir "flying down the road," including a drunk driver who "flew over Blue River Dr and landed like this next to the Historic Ranger H ome and took out a power line."
People who support keeping the road open have referred to emergency exit concerns related to the Holiday Farm Fire
"This roadway should remain an accessible throughway and not closed off.," according to Betsy Gabriel. "The road is an alternative access and egress road in emergency situations, as well as one of convenience and maneuverability. The Blue River Water District also has lines in the area."
Joshua Cloke says many locals have utilized the road as a way to access Blue River for swimming and fishing, as well as a path to enter and exit the highway. "There has only been one wreck on that road in the five years I have lived in Blue River. In fact, this wreck was not due to the road. It was due to a drunk driver driving way too fast down Blue River Road and hitting a telephone pole."
Cloke also points to the main water line that runs down that road, including two gate valves and a fire hydrant that "would be useless to our community without through access."
He says River Street is "one of the better roads in the community. It is far better than most roads on the other side of the river in downtown Blue River."
Under the proposed closure, there would still be limited access from Hwy. 126 to the River Path Park and parking area on the banks of Blue River. LaVoie said he's committed to keeping the river path open and accessible but there have been problems with homeless campsites in the area, "filled with garbage and drug paraphernalia – the entire time worried I might get jabbed with a used needle."
Access to the trail will still be available at either end, he says. "They just will not be able to drive through River Street. That said – We would like to see the community come together and find an option for maintaining the River Path."
Written comments on the proposal must be submitted by 5 p.m. on December 2nd to the Lane County Surveyor's Office, 3050 N. Delta Hwy, Eugene, OR 97408.
Blommé said "if the petitioner wishes to move forward with this request, the date of the public hearing would be determined at a later date. Notifications will be provided by mailing or posting as to the time and date of the public hearing."