EmX opponents mount grass-roots campaign

By Evan Sernoffsky

In the new age of mass communication, some forms of advertising stand the test of time. Eugene businesses on West 11th Avenue in Eugene are taking an old-school approach to fighting what they see as a David vs. Goliath battle to stop a proposed bus extension.

“No Build” banners, yard signs and large billboards dominate the landscape of one of Eugene’s most congested, commercial strips. The ubiquitous logo of a green bus with a red line through it has become the dominant insignia of west Eugene, and it’s catching on around the rest of the city.
Tensions flared in recent months regarding the proposed transit system, prompting a group of business owners calling themselves Concerned Citizens of Eugene to start the “No Build” campaign.

“LTD is spending thousands on advertising and all we have is this grass-roots campaign of business owners,” said Erin Ellis, one of the group’s organizers in charge of e-mails and marketing.

The group is also using the Internet and social media to further its cause. On its website, www.ourmoneyourtransit.com, you can find a point-by-point breakdown about why it thinks this transit system is a bad idea. There are also media links to recent protests and a photo gallery of businesses that support the “No Build” campaign.
LTD is engaged in an advertising campaign of their own that includes television commercials, as well as ads in print and on the radio.

The money spent on the campaign, however, has incensed the Concerned Citizens of Eugene. “Why is LTD spending public money on these ads?” asked Erin Ellis.

Because of growing traffic congestion and lengthy travel time from recently developed areas, LTD says it is working to meet the needs of the community with a more efficient and sustainable form of mass transit.  The Concerned Citizens, however, see West 11th traffic as business — fewer cars mean fewer shoppers.

According to Lane Transit District spokesperson Mary Archer, “the proposed EmX line has only gone through 10 percent of the preliminary engineering design.”

“We are working with anyone who will sit down with us so that we can create a win-win situation with the community,” Archer said. “We have had more than 150 mitigation meetings with businesses to reduce potential impact, including redrawing plans and paying for parking alternatives.” As of now, the engineering plans for the project are still being developed and open to change.

“There is a lot of confusion out there,” Archer said. “Things are out of proportion and that is why we are trying to educate the public about this proposed bus line that construction won’t start on until 2013 and won’t be operational until 2015.”
On LTD’s website, www.ltd.org, visitors can review the “Alternative Analysis” page that outlines all of the proposed designs, mitigation meetings and potential environmental impacts of the new transit system.

For more information about LTD’s west Eugene EmX:

This article originally appeared here.


About evan1983

Evan Sernoffsky is a freelance journalist in Sacramento, California.
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