Thursday, October 23, 2014

Fairview West Addition Looks Pretty Good

In my bikey Utopian fantasy, there might be things to criticize in the Refinement Plan proposed for the Eric Olsen development at Fairview.

Seriously, can new construction be any more adorable?
Edwards Addition, Monmouth
Eric Olsen Development
But since we live in Salem, it's difficult to find fault with the plan. It will be very interesting to learn if representatives from Pringle Creek Community, Sustainable Fairview Associates, Simpson Hills, or the Morningside Neighborhood Association find much substantive to critique. There are a number of technical details on the way the jigsaw puzzle fits together at the seams between different developments, and these seem like the most likely place for revisions.

Overall, though, from here it looks like a realistically optimistic and progressive plan that yet doesn't get too far out on front of the actual market in Salem. It's hard to see a reason this wouldn't speed through the approvals process. (Do you see something?)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

DAB Looks to end Downtown Parking Garage Subsidy; EOA-HNA Draft Reports Out

Tomorrow in the municipal acronymic pile-up, DAB and EOA-HNA meet!

(click to enlarge)

(click to enlarge)
You can't really see them at this size, but clips from the September minutes of the Downtown Advisory Board have some interesting tidbits:
  • Starting in 2017-18 the Board recommends that there be no more subsidy for capital expenses on the parking garages downtown. The subsidy will taper, and the allocation for 2016-17 will be less than half of the usual amount. This is likely to hasten a longer-term solution to the problem of funding downtown parking.
  • In addition to the light and other improvements at Union and Commercial, the DAB is recommending work, principally striping bike lanes, on the High/Church couplet  as well as eliminating several sets of dual-turn lanes. (Though the notes say "Union Street Family-Friendly Bikeway" and "High/Church One-Way/Two-Way Conversion" both labels are a bit misleading. The preliminary steps would involve paint and striping only, and still leave the real family-friendly and two-way conversions for later. See here for more on the Union Street details.)
  • There's also a cryptic allocation for a "Riverfront commercial facility." It's from the Downtown Strategic Action Plan and is still more general concept than detailed proposal or plan.
Here's the "short-term" chart from the final and adopted mobility study recommendations. With this funding plan, more than half of the "short-term" recommendations would be funded, leaving only work on Winter and Cottage Streets.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Is Alternative 2A really that much better than the Salem Alternative/4D?

Over at N3B, advocates are talking up Alternative 2A, which widens the existing Center and Marion Street Bridges, as a "compromise."

Alternative 2A, widening the existing bridges, from the air
from Task Force presentation, April 2012
The one clear advantage of it, is that if adopted, it would be easier to modify or dial-back in ten or twenty years as conditions change. It is much more revocable than the others!

But is it truly better?

Here are some of the real trade-offs for people who are not driving cars.

from Chapter 2 of Draft Environmental Impact Statement
(comments in black added)
Maybe the biggest one is the loss of the path along the Center Street Bridge. This would shunt all people who are walking and biking across the river to the Union Street Railroad Bridge. If you are coming from Edgewater, or if you are a speedy, confident cyclist, this removes the most direct route and imposes a good bit of out-of-direction travel.

The out-of-direction travel is even more aggravating for people on foot, for whom the deflections add several additional "block equivalents" to travel time.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Oregon Supreme Court; CAN-DO on Liberty and Broadway - Bits

In a nice appreciation today of the Oregon Supreme Court, Hannah Hoffman describes it as like "watching the ballet."

The building, too, is quite handsome, and it's 100 years old this year.

As the weather has so completely turned around from yesterday's glory, it's a reason to console yourself and take a moment to appreciate one of our most important institutions!

Supreme Court Building today
Its designer, William C. Knighton, is responsible for
several of Salem's loveliest buildings

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Costs of Autoism: 2.5 Million trips to the ER and $18 Billion each Year

Maybe you will say that it was a slow news day, but it is interesting to note that of the first three pages in the paper this morning, two are devoted nearly full page to the tragic aftermath of automobile crashes.

Page three on survivors

Front page on one who perished
It's more than 30,000 dead each year. The Center for Disease Control says,
More than 2.5 million people went to the emergency department (ED) – and nearly 200,000 of them were hospitalized – because of motor vehicle crash injuries in 2012, according to the latest Vital Signs report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Lifetime medical costs for these crash injuries totaled $18 billion. This includes approximately $8 billion for those who were treated in the ED and released and $10 billion for those who were hospitalized. Lifetime work lost because of 2012 crash injuries cost an estimated $33 billion.

“In 2012, nearly 7,000 people went to the emergency department every day due to car crash injuries,” said CDC Principal Deputy Director Ileana Arias, Ph.D. “Motor vehicle crash injuries occur all too frequently and have health and economic costs for individuals, the health care system, and society. We need to do more to keep people safe and reduce crash injuries and medical costs.”
For each person who dies, eight are hospitalized
and 100 go to the ER
On top of $18 billion in medical care, that's $33 billion in lost wages. That's a lot of productivity, too, sucked out of our economy.

If something is dangerous and costly, rather than trying to do the same amount of it but a little safer, maybe a better approach to risk management is to do less of it.

Making it easy for people to choose not to drive should be at the center of the ways we make driving safer for those times when using a motor vehicle is truly the best transportation choice.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Hearing Date Set for Fairview Refinement Plan of Eric Olsen Development

Eric Olsen development on Rural Street South
You may remember in 2012 the debate over the third Fairview Refinement Plan for the Simpson Hills property. It took a while and many were not satisfied by the final outcome.

A Public Hearing has been set for the first pass at a fourth Refinement Plan, that of Eric Olsen's development just south of Leslie Middle School, and on the surface it looks a lot more sensitive to the Master Plan than the Simpson Hills plan ever was.

The City has set up a project site here, and there are several documents to review.  Here's the concept site plan. Note the alleys for car access and storage in the backs of houses.

Concept Plan for the development
This is by design of course. Olsen's website blurbs "The Front Porch is Back," and the development on Rural by the cemetery and the development in Monmouth both put the porch rather than the garage front-and-center.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Super-Sized Wallace and Glen Creek Remains Charlie Foxtrot for Many

Is there any point to talking about Wallace and Glen Creek again?

But the autoist propaganda machine is at it again! So it seems like it's necessary to rant point out that there's a lot of cost to the intersection engorgement.

While the existence of crosswalks - indeed an increase from three to four crosswalks -  sounds like it might be an improvement, because of the massive widening, the intersection will be more forbidding than ever before to travelers on bike and on foot.

On a map it looks like it might be easier to cross, but in reality the crossings will be longer, there will be more lanes of streaming car traffic to contend with or evade, and it will be more stressful, not less. Hale and hearty 20-year-olds might not find it difficult, but those at the ends of the 8 to 80 spectrum will certainly do so. How many parents would send their kids alone across the intersection? How many would want their own parents walking across it?

It's also clear the "improvements" are fundamentally hydraulic autoism, all about flow and pumping more cars through the intersection. (We might, for example, have spent $10 million on alternatives to drive-alone trips, thereby reducing traffic rather than accommodating it and inducing even more traffic and congestion in road widening.)
Once the lights are turned on the traffic lanes are opened, drivers will have some major changes to contend with. The new configuration will provide dual left-turn lanes from northbound Wallace to westbound Glen Creek, in addition to dual right-turn lanes from eastbound Glen Creek to southbound Wallace. There also will be two dedicated left turn lanes, rather than one, from westbound Glen Creek onto southbound Wallace Road.

“What we hope to accomplish is getting more of those cars off of Wallace during the evening peak hours, and in the morning peak hours getting more cars off of Glen Creek onto Wallace,” [Project Manager] Kimsey said.
The crosswalks and necessary traffic light timing for them all constitute "pedestrian impedance," delays and clogs in the ideal world of free-flow and autoist trafficky goodness. 

Here again are the plans from 2011 with an inset of the now-former conditions:

This is from 2011 and may not represent the final, built design
click to enlarge and see notes
Maybe on a sunny day it after the traffic wands and barrels are gone it will be possible to take a picture from the west, uphill side that will show adequately the vastness of the intersection. It's an urban highway, not some pedestrian-friendly byway!

On Glen Creek looking west, up the hill

Here's a second thought: How much Cherriots service, calculated from the current "inefficient" configuration, would $10 million buy? Is that months of service, years of service, decades of service? How far would $10 million go just in West Salem?

It is convenient, but not very truthful, to treat the system reboot
and the Third Bridge as wholly separate matters
This is hypothetical, because the funding sources are entirely different, but that might be the best way to think about the opportunity cost of super-sizing the intersection here.

Also, previous notes on this project, going back to 2009, are collected here.