Thursday, April 15, 2010

Salem Greenway Project Hopes to Preserve Church St. as Low-Traffic Connection

Yesterday at a kick-off meeting for Bridge to Work Day, we met Susan Miller, who is spearheading the Salem Greenway project.

The project originated with significant support from SCAN, the South Central Association of Neighbors.
Through the Salem Greenway Project, we plan to advocate for the walkways that connect 5 of our city parks – Bush Park, Pringle Park, Riverfront Park, Wallace Marine Park, and Minto Park. The walkways already exist, but there are a few missing links.


(Detail from Salem Greenway Project map)

While much of the greenway is parkland or multi-use path sheltered from motorized vehicles, a few important segments are on shared roadways.
Leaving Bush Park below Bush House, we can cross Mission in a pedestrian friendly crosswalk and go north on Church Street through a tree shaded walk to Pringle Park. At Pringle Park we pick up the walk that goes west along Pringle Creek, south of the SAIF building and south of Pringle Parkade. The walk goes under Liberty and comes out at the City Hall lagoon. Now we have one of the missing links – a walkway under Commercial to the Boise Cascade development and then to Riverfront Park. Wallace Marine Park is reached by crossing the Union St. pedestrian bridge. The other missing link is the bridge to Minto from Riverfront.

This connecting route is a “rolling trail” – no steps or dangerous intersections. And it shows off the beauty of Salem. We want to encourage people to walk and visit our parks.

Our goals are:
* To publish a map of walkways
* To advocate for the walk under Commercial St.
* To join the Friends of 2 Bridges in advocating for the bridge to Minto
* To preserve the “greenness” of Church St.

Church Street is a particular area of interest and concern. The Oregon School for the Blind had been located on an 8 acre parcel at the corner of Church and Mission. The State of Oregon closed the school and is slated to sell the property, presumably for some kind of commercial development. Miller said that neighbors are concerned that a high-volume parking structure could empty onto Church, that road widening might lead to tree removal, and that a traffic light might be installed at the intersection with Mission.

Bicyclists use Bush Park and Church street as an important alternative to busy north-south streets like 12th/13th, High, and Commercial/Liberty. Routing large amounts of auto traffic onto Church could harm Church as a bikeway. Indeed, we hope that Church street, and the connection to Bush Park, will be improved even further for bicycle and pedestrian traffic, and not enlarged for increased auto traffic. We're glad to see the neighborhood association concerned about Church street.

5 comments:

Jeff McNamee said...

This is very cool! Would you help Susan and I connect so we might discuss the integration of the Salem Greenway with the Salem Greenway Trail? If these projects, along with Battlecreek and the bridges, could be integrated, Salem might be ranked in the top 5 soon!! Maybe it's time I pitch the Salem Greenway Trail to your Vision 2020 group? Thanks Eric.

MWVBTA said...

I'm sorry! I should have included that information. Susan can be reached at gsmilleror [at] msn [dot] com.

Talk to Julie Warncke about getting on the agenda for Vision 2020. I think that's an excellent idea!

Dan O said...

Seriously? There's a tunnel under Liberty St by City Hall? And you can ride your bike through it? Wow.

I tried working my way across in that area one morning - didn't really have much trouble with traffic, but there were signs at the library that said no bikes. Do you have to get off and walk at City Hall? Anywhere else?

MWVBTA said...

Like the paths around the Library and City Hall, the path underneath Liberty is currently signed against bicycling. Council intends to change that, however. See the note on preliminaries here.

So yeah, strictly speaking you're supposed to dismount by Salmon's Run, the Pringle Postoffice, the underpass, and the paths around City Hall and the Library.

Rebekah said...

I love those walkways and I'm so glad that Susan got this group together. Its amazing what a few concerned citizens can do when they get together and raise awareness!