Sunday, August 30, 2015

City Council, August 31st - The Third Bridge and River Valley Subdivision

Council meets on Monday, and there's a few transportation things of interest on the agenda.

Perhaps the most interesting is a willful silence on the impacts of the proposed Third Bridge.

Over at N3B they point out that the City's got a misleading report on a subdivision and potential hazards to it.

At the last Council meeting, a citizen asked why a geological assessment wasn't done for the River Valley Subdivision. Apparently the prospect of a new 60-unit apartment complex next to existing single-family homes raised the question.

The landslide risk appears to be in a borderline, middle zone where reasonable people can disagree. (And perhaps a minor administrative mistake was made as well.)

Much more interesting is the final statement in the Staff Report, which is simply delicious with tart irony.
There is no reason to believe that there is any danger associated with the homes in the River Valley Subdivision.
Well, this is plainly false!

On the map of the Salem Alternative, you can see how Hope Avenue, Marine Drive, and the bridge approach run right through the south edge and several homes of the "subject area" in the City Staff Report.

How is that not a danger to the homes?!

If the City honestly plans to build this thing, then they need to stop approving buildings that will need to be demolished. Not to do so is wasteful and callous.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Getting to the Fair, Crash on Lancaster, Lottery Dollars - Newsbits

The State Fair started yesterday, and the new quasi-public corporation thingy operating it doesn't seem to have focused much on transportation this year.

Parking is $5, and there's no published information on a Cherriots shuttle or bike corral. It may be, in fact, that there is only the dinky bike rack indicated by the map off of 17th Street.

Bike rack location on 17th Street

Full map
Plan accordingly!

Last night a driver struck a person on foot trying to cross the canyon we call "Lancaster." (Note the reversion to the passive voice, abstracted "pedestrian," and driverless car!)

Friday, August 28, 2015

New Treatment Proposed for Liberty-Commercial Y Junction

There's a couple new memos posted for the Commercial Vista Corridor Study. Mostly they look like "refinements" and additional detail or analytics, and do not seem important to drill into. (There's still too much about meeting hypothetical automobility standards for 2035, for example.)

New details and new treatment
for the Liberty-Commercial split
One item, however, is new and looks interesting.

The City requested a new option for the difficult crossing just south of Alice where Commercial and Liberty form an awkward Y junction.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Cherriots Board to see new Rideshare Strategic Plan

The Cherriots Board meets tonight, Thursday the 27th, and while there aren't really any new action items of interest, some items in minutes and reports scattered in the meeting packet are of great interest.

Most exciting? The new Cherriots Rideshare Strategic Plan!

Rideshare Staff will be presenting the Plan to the Board. (Here's the report and slide deck. The Plan itself is not yet published to the web, so we'll update the link later.)

This is important because the Rideshare program is potentially really powerful, but it is also tremendously underpowered right now. It has a large tri-county coverage area, and it is woefully understaffed and underbudgeted. It's thin, thin, thin.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Another Congestion Story Misses on Carbon, Crashes, and Compliance

Crank up the "carmaggedon" and "cost of congestion" memes!

The AP - and doubtless other services - have churned the latest press release from the autoist and highway lobby:
More jobs and cheaper gasoline come with a big, honking downside: U.S. roads are more clogged than ever now that the recession is in the rearview mirror.

Commuters in Washington, D.C., suffer the most, losing an average of 82 hours a year to rush-hour slowdowns, a new study finds. Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York come next on the list of urban areas with the longest delays.

But the pain reaches across the nation.

Overall, American motorists are stuck in traffic about 5 percent more than they were in 2007, the pre-recession peak, says the report from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute and INRIX Inc., which analyzes traffic data....

Overall, Americans experienced 6.9 billion hours of traffic delays in 2014 compared to 6.6 billion in 2007 and 1.8 billion in 1982.
Over at the City Observatory, they've got a handy critique, "Questioning Congestion Costs." One of the slides has an especially damning methodological point:
The way the travel time index is used to compute “costs” is to compare what are called “free flow” speeds with the actual speed on the roadway system.

The baseline assumption used by the travel time index–that any reduction in speed from free flow levels on the roadway system represents a “cost” is simply wrong. Free flow travel speeds on many roads exceed the posted speed limit, and so the travel time index methodology can compute a cost associated with the time lost to travelers who cannot exceed the speed limit. Todd Litman estimates that a significant fraction of what is labeled congestion costs is actually compliance with posted speed limits.

Somewhere between a quarter to half of estimated congestion costs represent speed compliance. In more congested cities like Los Angeles and Miami, a majority of all time losses attributed to congestion involve slowing down to the posted speed limit. [italics added]
Slowing in order to comply with the lawful speed limit is counted as "congestion." That's messed up, and a terrible instance of padding the results. But counting anything less than free-flow as a fault is the essence of hydraulic autoism!

Maybe this latest study's different, but it would be surprising. Be very wary of its claims.

From back in June, with assist from CO2Now
It also, as was the case with the story in June, completely misses the ball with carbon pollution and climate change. Even if driving were an unalloyed social and economic good, there are still reasons to cut down on it because of climate change. Greenhouse gas emissions have to be accounted for in any argument for increasing free-flowing traffic, and they cancel the case.

Additionally, we should also consider safety, and crashes cost far more than congestion.

2011 AAA Crashes vs. Congestion Study
A complete accounting of driving and congestion suggests that the best way to solve the problem is with systems that make it easy to drive less.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Archive Owner Joins DAB, Vagabond Brewing and Frontier to Open Downtown

The Downtown Advisory Board meets on Thursday the 27th, and while there doesn't seem to be any action item of great interest here, there are a couple of items from the minutes that are worth a passing note.
Most interesting thing? Generational change at the DAB. Justin, on the right, is now a member of the advisory board that oversees urban renewal funding downtown. That's great to see.

In the minutes for the last meeting were also references to two brewing emporia. (Maybe someone has published this news already? But it doesn't seem to be out there yet.)

The alley was earlier this year the site of a food truck kerfuffle
see Hinessight for one take on it
An the Salem Arts Building (155 Liberty NE), in the alley space, suite 120, which was occupied for a time by Indigo Wellness, and then some food trucks on the sidewalk, Vagabond Brewing looks to open a taproom of some kind. Permit applications with the City have been on file since early August.

Information on this one is less developed, but it looks like in the Electric Apartments (249 Liberty NE), just one door north of Kraftworks, Frontier Ale is going to open - but one permit application with the City says Frontier Cider. (I didn't see an OLCC permit yet - but perhaps you know otherwise?)

Gilgamesh, Santiam, and Wandering Aengus have already tried downtown locations - but you'd think at least one brewer would be able to find a good site and a foothold sometime. It's great folks are still trying and hopefully both of them will succeed this time.

Meeting agenda and packet is here.

The Board meets Thursday the 27th, from 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm in the Kalapuya Conference Room, 295 Church Street, Ste 201.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Strange GHG Editorial, N3B on Radio, SESNA, State Bike Plan: Newsbits - updated

Yesterday's editorial featured three ways to cut greenhouse emissions:
  1. Reduce engine idling and "follow the 10 second rule."
  2. Find out what drivers need
  3. Unleash high school students
This is a bizarre list.

It shows no awareness of scale. It's all about how to maintain current driving patterns while making teensy-tiny sweet nothings.

Buried in the wind-up is a real suggestion: Park the vehicle and walk.

Finding ways to substitute bike/walk/bus trips for drive-alone trips is far more powerful than starting and stopping your engine in the drive-through or figuring out ways to use your car's a/c without the engine running during a break.

How about "carbon tax" and raising the gas tax. Those are market-based solutions that don't involve regulations or other "red tape." How about better transit and facilities for people who walk and bike. There are lots of substantive policies the editorial might have embraced - but the piece instead carefully avoids anything that might look like "government action." Bigger steps will be necessary, though.

Third Bridge on the Radio

Also, you may have seen the N3B has been running commentary (here and here) on some talk radio appearances by the Mayors of Salem and Keizer and a representative from the Chamber, all to extol the Glorious Splendor of The Third Bridge.

Endless Prosperity will be ours with the Third Bridge
International Institute of Social History Collection
You can listen to the full podcast here (40 min, 17mb). It's hard to say how useful it is to drill into. It's talk radio, after all, where truthiness prevails. Not everything said will be truthful or probable.

Fortunately, today Monday the 24th, two from N3B will be on the air for rebuttal. The show is at 4:30pm, and you can stream it at this link. If you'd like to call in, the number is (503) 393-1430.

We'll post the podcast link and update the post on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Update: Here's the podcast with N3B, 22mb, 55min, N3B at about the 24:30 mark.