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Concerns raised over cost of "Beltline Highway" renaming

Reported by: Chris McKee
Email: chrismckee@kmtr.com
Last Update: 3/12 6:38 pm
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Concerns raised over cost of "Beltline Highway" renaming

(Chris McKee, KMTR-TV)
(Chris McKee, KMTR-TV)
EUGENE / SPRINGFIELD,  Ore. (KMTR) -- The Beltline Highway will soon have a new name, but the cost to renaming now has many residents in the area upset.

The Oregon Transportation Commission voted unanimously Thursday, March 11th, 2010 to rename the Beltline Highway to the "Randy Pape Beltway." The renaming is in honors Pape, a civic and business leader in the area for decades. He died in 2008 from a heart attack at age 58.

Pape sat on the Oregon Transportation Commission for years. He was a driving force behind dozens of road and transportation projects across the state, including the ongoing Beltline Highway flyover project. Pape pushed the "ConnectOregon" grant program.  That's given out 3 billion dollars to various Oregon transportation projects over the last several years.

The decision to rename Beltline Highway was pushed by Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski. He asked the OTC to honor Pape earlier this year.

ODOT is now working on the redesign and replacement of the "Beltline Highway" signs. It estimates there are about 50 signs that will need to be replaced. ODOT says preliminary estimates show it will cost 250,000 dollars.

KMTR NewsSource 16 asked about 15 people today what they thought about the project and the cost behind it. While everyone we spoke with agreed Pape should be honored in the community, many say they're unsure about the project because of the cost and confusion that will come with a name change. Here are the comments we heard:

"You could use that to fix roads." -- Jason Ehrlich, Springfield.

"He might now even think that's the best way the money should be used." --Vanessa Thompson, Eugene.

"Right now this is not the time, we need to put all of our money into jobs got out folks." --Fred Hunt, Springfield.

"Of course I hate to spent money but I think its a wonderful thing to honor someone who has done so much for our community." --Linda Peterson, Eugene.

"It would be very nice if the next time there's a new road that's put in place to name it after Mr. Pape." --Gail Cushman, Eugene.

"I don't think we should be spending money we can't afford." --Sharon Bradley, Springfield.

"I think the cost is too much." --Justin Bradley, Springfield.

As of 6pm, Friday, March 12th, 2010, KMTR's Facebook page (facebook.com/kmtrnews) received 40 comments about the issue. 39 of 40 of those comments were in disagreement with the decision, again, for varying reasons.

Meanwhile, Governor Kulongoski's office is defending the decision to rename the highway. It says many of those signs will be improved with this project. "The standards for signs and what they require change rapidly and so as these signs are in place, we'll see an improvement with the way signs are built and reflectivity so there will be a functional element," says Rem Nivens, a spokesperson for Governor Kulongoski's office.

An official renaming ceremony for the "Randy Pape Beltway" will take place in the coming months. Governor Kulongoski's office is putting it together. It's hoping to have that by Spring or Summer 2010. New signs will roll out after that.
Featured Comments
susanlovan - 3/19/2010 8:11 PM
Ok maybe if we had enough police to take care of our needs, all of our roads where paved, the city busses didnt break down, we had more places for the homeless to go. Maybe then we could squander the money needlessly.What a bad decision, I understand that they would like to Honor him but a plaque would suffice.

thinkabout it - 3/17/2010 7:31 AM
This is a Prime example of the fleecing of America. Two weeks ago we were on Highway 18 going to the coast. We just about flew off the road because of a huge rise in the road being caused by a rock slide. We called to ODOT in outrage at the lack of marking the road and getting people to slow down. They apologized and said "We do not have the money in the budget to repair this highway and have no date set to do so". What is wrong with people when they say we have an extra $250,000 to spend on renaming a highway. The signs are not broken and so why fix something that is not broken and why not fix something which is endangering lives. This is an outrage and we as Oregon State citizens should activate and make Kulongoski accountable for inappropriate spending of our money.

wyldaxe - 3/16/2010 3:27 PM
What the hell is wrong with Oregon's government. They ask for more money, raise taxes to get it, and then instead of putting the money toward schools (where it's desperately needed) or even road repair, our wonderful governor Ted Kulongoski has decided to spend it changing the name of a road. Aproximately $250,000 so that we can rename the Belt Line after a buddy of his! Does anybody else see the logic in this because I sure don't. Why not name a new road (don't we have a new fly over going in), a bridge, or even one of the many wonderful bike paths after the guy? Why do we have to waste taxpayers money on renaming something that has been just fine the way it is for many years now. Hey Ted! If you want to rename the Beltline so bad, why don't you pay for it! -Michael

metagg - 3/16/2010 12:04 AM
What's wrong with keeping it named "Beltline". Do they realize that this is a major road when telling family and friends how to get to your house. It's easy to remember. Now I got to say, "Take Randy Pape Beltway to Barger..." It sounds like a fast food joint.

chrisw50 - 3/15/2010 7:47 PM
The OTC that approved of this wasteful spending of tax payer money is a 5 member commission APPOINTED by the governor, remember just a couple of months ago with the gas powered motor ban vote for crater lake(?(. How those commission members said they were pressured by the governor to vote the way he wanted, well this might be just another example of the governor getting his way!!! He's a lame duck governor paying back his cronies!! Out with these politicians and put people in who we can trust... If the governor wants to pay for this or even the Pape family, then sure go ahead.. NOT with our money... Who gave this commission the right to spend tax payer money in the first place? i thought the legislature had sole authority to do so. Time to change the constitution to put a stop to this and other politicians from wasting out money-whether democrat or republican they all seem to be crooks!!




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