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.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Oregonian Pulls Thatcher Endorsement for Senate Over Road Construction Mess

Late yesterday, after State Representative Kim Thatcher's campaign for State Senate collided with some road construction problems over the weekend, The Oregonian changed course and withdrew its endorsement.

The Statesman picked up the story off the wire
This wouldn't be news here, but Thatcher's business is in fact a road construction firm, and contracts with ODOT appear to be part of the mess and reason for the de-endorsement.

From the weekend's piece:
Newly disclosed state records show state Rep. Kim Thatcher's closely held construction company destroyed evidence and engaged in a cover-up to fend off efforts four years ago to investigate allegations of state contracting fraud.

A state judge hit KT Contracting Company Inc. with a $60,000 sanction in 2010 for its deceit. Two company officials -- Thatcher's husband, Karl, and their nephew -- repeatedly asserted Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination when questioned under oath about the evidence destruction....
The Statesman then picked up the news story off the wire (clip at top).

The Oregonian's Editorial side hadn't been aware of the story, and decided the news was big enough they needed to revise editorial positions.

Also perhaps of note: Thatcher's opponent apparently bikes, or at least has courted people who bike in Portland.
(Since there's no substantive transportation policy matter here and this blog is not meant as a place to talk about why one person is a better candidate than the other, comments are turned off.)

Monday, October 13, 2014

A Forgotten Master of Brick? Lyle Bartholomew's Buildings Stand Up

While it has not been difficult to find out a little about the planning and design of Parrish Middle and North Salem High Schools, the planning and design of the old Leslie Junior High has been a minor mystery. But it turns out that its designer has a meaningful body of work in town.

Salvation Army, circa 1930 (or 1938?)
via City of Salem Walking Tour
(attribution tentative)

Old West Salem City Hall, 1936
via Waymarking

Leslie Junior High School, 1937