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Sunday, 28 February 2010

The Shape of Eugene Part 2: West 11th Avenue

11th Avenue is the main artery into Eugene from the West, under the guise of Oregon Highway 126, aka the Florence/Eugene Highway. Florence is the nearest coastal town, about an hour's drive away over the Coastal Mountains, where Highway 126 originates.

As you approach the outskirts of Eugene driving East along 126, the first big building you see on the North side of the road is a Target store (on the corner of Beltline and 11th), and opposite on the south side is a Wal*Mart Super Center, where I currently work. Driving on, and slowing down as the speed limits decrease, you are driving along the road I consider the equivalent of London's Oxford Street, but with one big difference - few people walk far down West 11th Avenue, it's far too long and not pedestrian friendly.

There is a bus service running the length of the Avenue, taking people to and from Downtown. There are many retail outlets along its length between Beltline Highway to the west and Garfield Street to the east. Beyond Garfield the avenue continues into Downtown but becomes one way (going west), so drivers continuing east turn either north along Garfield to continue east along 7th Avenue (still Highway 126), or south to 13th Avenue which is one way going east.

West 11th offers department stores (Target, Wal*Mart, Fred Meyer), restaurants (generally bigger chain names like Applebee's and Shari's), fast food outlets with drive-through windows (KFC, Arby's, McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Taco Bell, Jack in the Box, to name just a few), big specialist stores (e.g. Lowe's for DIY, Staples for office supplies) many automotive centres (Les Schwab, Oil Can Henry's, Autozone etc) for supplies and servicing of vehicles, and UPS store and the Post Office, the DMV center. Many people coming into Eugene from the smaller outlying towns to the west (Veneta, Noti, Vaughn) will stock up supplies here on West 11th and never drive further into town.

I have a fondness for this area because when Beth and I came to visit in June 2009, wide awake at 2am through jet-lag, we came here to poke around Wal*Mart which is open 24 hours. If you don't have a car then I think it'd be a pain to visit and you'd do your shopping locally, but of course in the USA only the very poor, the very young, the ultra-green and students don't have a car.

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