At SCAN's May meeting or in the annual newsletter, you might have heard about an interesting part of the Mission Street repaving project scheduled for this summer.
The intersection of Mission and Winter has been a problem for a long time. Winter Street is a key bikeway running north-south, and Mission Street a busy road making for a difficult crossing and significant barrier.
|On Winter looking south from the bike lane at Mission, 2009|
|SCI concept from 2011|
argue[d] that the Bicycle System Element of the city’s TSP include plans for improving the bicycle facilities at the adjoining intersection of Mission and Winter Streets, and that the hearings officer erred in failing to require the Hospital to construct those improvements.So here we are, not even two years later - and lo! this summer with City's project to repave of Mission Street, we will get a better solution to the intersection.
The hearings officer relied on the testimony of the city public works department and two transportation engineers to conclude that no additional circulation or transportation improvements were necessary to comply with SRC 220.005(f)(3)(B)...The hearings officer specifically rejected petitioner SCAN’s argument that SRC 220.005(f)(3)(B) requires the Hospital to construct bicycle facility improvements referenced in the city’s TSP. Petitioners have not established that the hearings officer erred in so concluding. SRC 220.005(f)(3)(B) does not reference the TSP or require site plan review applicants to construct the bicycle facilities referenced in the TSP. Absent a more developed argument based on the requirements of SRC 220.005(f)(3)(B), petitioners’ arguments under these assignments of error do not provide a basis for reversal or remand. [SCAN et al vs. City of Salem and Salem Hospital, more here]
At the very least there looks to be a little bit of irony in "the testimony of the city public works department and two transportation engineers [concluding] that no additional circulation or transportation improvements were necessary." (Strictly speaking, in legal terms the argument was about "compliance" not "need" - but still.)
Better late than never, as they say!
|Where the SCI concept used a "Y" in paint, this is in concrete|
Mostly this seems like a great improvement.
It is conceivable that there might be some queuing congestion when multiple people want to cross, but that's already a problem, and this will be an incremental improvement on the current conditions.
Beyond the physical layout, there is also the dimension of time and sequencing.
Despite the "beg buttons" for the crosswalks, the traffic signal here is on a cycle with fixed times, so there's no need to install a separate pole mounted beg button for those on bike. And indeed the plans don't appear to show one. You'll just have to wait. Traffic on Mission Street here is the priority, and those buttons are essentially dummy buttons. (It may be that new pole-mounted video detection will be installed, however. And perhaps the cycle length can be adjusted or an interrupt inserted so that at least during off-peak hours it is faster to obtain a crossing light. There might be more to say on this later.)
|Three lanes + curb strips with trees = very tight|
No new bike lanes will be striped on Mission Street with this project. Initially for the Blind School project the Hearings Officer had required the Hospital to "to dedicate an additional 12 feet of right-of-way along Mission Street" for bike lanes and sidewalks, but this was deleted. Constructing bike lanes - then or now - would require widening the roadway here and the existing right-of-way is a fairly hard constraint at the moment. You can see how many trees it would take out and how much rebuilding an addition of 12 feet of width would require. Because of the parking lot for Bush Park and requirements for emergency access to Winter Street, it's probably unwise to remove the turn pocket to reallocate road space. Sometimes turn pockets seem like an excess, but this is not one of them. Even if you narrowed the travel lanes, I'm not sure you can squeeze out room for two standard bike lanes. (And there's still the crosswalk refuge in the median at Church Street as well as the historic stone wall at Bush House. Constraints abound here.)
Bike lanes on Mission Street here is a tough one with no easy solution. They seem almost certain to require a major rebuild of the road.
All in all, while the lack of bike lanes on Mission Street will remain a real problem, the north-south crossing will substantially improve. That will be a boon for bike travel!
Progress with Bike Counters
Less dramatically, there's what looks like some exciting news buried in a Minor Historic Review decided recently.
Last month City staff approved "a proposal to install a new 2" fiberglass conduit and associated equipment, including a utility vault on the Union Street Railroad Bridge..."
And what might that be for?
|via City of Portland|
Both the Union Street Railroad Bridge and the Minto Bridge are scheduled to get automated bike counters this summer. (Though with Minto construction somewhat delayed, it would not be surprising if that installation were also delayed.)
The City hasn't shared anything specific about the model, so it's not clear that they will have displays or public web graphing like the ones on the Hawthorne Bridge in Portland.
But however they are configured, they will help in establishing some baseline numbers for assessing bicycling in Salem.
I'm sure there will be more to say later this summer on this project.