dkSez : : : : : : Don Kahle's blog

Quips, queries, and querulous quibbles from the quirky mind of Don Kahle

dkSez : : : : : : Don Kahle's blog random header image

Skybridge’s Limits Will be Most Public

July 19th, 2019 by dk

If you plan to drive from downtown Eugene to downtown Springfield after dark this summer, here’s a word of advice. “Don’t.” A contraction is technically two words, but corners must be cut. That’s the real topic I’d like to explore.

University of Oregon is building an enclosed footbridge over Franklin Boulevard that will connect the Knight Campus north of Eugene’s most traveled roadway with its main campus on the south side. All vehicular lanes will be closed and detoured in both directions between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. Everything should be back to normal by Labor Day.

Constructing a 500-ton suspension cable bridge in less than two months with only these nighttime disruptions is an engineering marvel that shouldn’t be overlooked. A few inconvenienced drivers for a few weeks is a small price to pay for what will emerge.

The skybridge could become a signature structure for Eugene. It will be prominent. It will be graceful. And it will be private. The public will not be allowed to do anything but pass beneath it and appreciate its beauty from below. That’s the corner that shouldn’t have been cut.

Portland offers a telling contrast. OHSU had land on the city’s South Waterfront district, far removed from its campus in the Marquam Hill neighborhood. The university and the city shared a vision that started with a need to move a few people from one place to another. Together, they built the nation’s only commuter aerial tramway outside of New York City. The public is not only invited to use the Portland Aerial Tram. It has become a tourist destination and a point of civic pride.

Eugene is settling for so much less, and it’s not the first time.

One of the last crusades mounted by legendary Register-Guard columnist Don Bishoff concerned a Lane Transit District’s transfer station. Construction included a bathroom, but its use was reserved for drivers and LTD staff. Bish railed at a bathroom built with public funds that the public cannot use.

I asked Bish what he’d like named in his memory someday, and he suggested a public bathroom that’s open for public use. When a need is clear, and a solution is there, it’s a terrible tease to offer it only to a few.

If you’ve ever crossed Franklin Boulevard when it’s hot or cold or wet or windy, imagine how it will feel, staring up at others crossing in safety and comfort. I know that city and campus leaders are working together toward the IAAF World Championships in 2021. This project is not a good look, and that’s a shame.

The 14-foot-wide walkway was not designed to accommodate all the variables that come with public access. I understand that. But did anyone from the city ask, “What would it take?” If so, how did the university respond?

It surely would have required more width, more money, constant upkeep and security. Maybe all that wouldn’t have been worth it. Without knowing whether those possibilities were explored, I’m afraid the skybridge may come to represent a missed opportunity — a prominent, graceful, public, missed opportunity.


Don Kahle ( writes a column each Friday for The Register-Guard and blogs at

Tags: No Comments

Leave A Comment

Are you human? *

0 responses so far ↓

  • There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below.