Downtown Springfield LTD station dedicated to DeFazio


SPRINGFIELD –  Thirty-six. Count ‘em. Thirty six white and blue balloons strung around the Lane Transit District Downtown Station last week. Thirty-six years of representing Oregon’s 4th Congressional District. 

Last week, area leaders gathered to “welcome home” Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-Springfield), who will retire from office in January 2023 after representing Oregon’s 4th Congressional District for 36 years. 

Recognized as a visionary leader to public transit, LTD has dedicated the Downtown Springfield station to DeFazio – a station that would not otherwise be there, had he not been. 

More than one million annual passenger boardings are recorded at the Springfield Transit station, said Mark Johnson, LTD’s interim general manager. The plaque now affixed outside of the Downtown Springfield station “memorializes the story about how the station really came to be,” which begins with DeFazio, Johnson said. 

In 1999, community members and elected officials pegged a vacant site for a new transit station between South A Street and the Mill Race, and between Pioneer Parkway East and 4th Street. That area operated as a railroad junction beginning in 1891, when the Coburg to Springfield and Natron railroad line was constructed to support the bustling lumber industry. In its time, the Mill Race helped generate power, while the junction was a crossroads for commerce. 

In 2003, Congressman DeFazio led the negotiations for the sale of the property from Union Pacific Railroad to LTD to build a new Downtown Springfield station. 

A year later, the Downtown Springfield station opened to a standing room-only crowd. 

“When this station was completed in 2004, it was the first new construction to happen downtown in decades,” said Vonnie Mikkelsen, Springfield Area Chamber president and CEO. “It was built to last. It was built as a critical connector for our community that would serve generations – a catalyst for all the great things that were and still are happening in our city.” 

State Senator Lee Beyer (D-Springfield) said that the “renaissance” in Downtown Springfield was spurred by this transit station, noting other infrastructure improvements attributed to DeFazio over the decades that are “undervalued.”

“If you look at the bridges across the Willamette or McKenzie rivers,  it wouldn’t have happened without Peter. The interchange at Gateway ….  the Ferry Street Bridge would not have happened without Peter,” Beyer said. “If you look at the airports big and small, whether it’s Creswell or Portland … it wouldn’t have happened without Peter.”

Beyer said that his depth of knowledge is unparalleled. “Peter may have been the most informed congressman in the history of the country when it comes to infrastructure,” he said. 

Come January, “I’ll be entering a new chapter, but I’m not going away on these issues,” DeFazio said. “I’m not going away on the needs of the country.”



View this profile on Instagram


The Chronicle (@thechronicle1909) • Instagram photos and videos