Friday, August 12, 2016

State Street Study looks at Draft Zoning and Street Redesign Concepts

The State Street Study just published a new memo on land use and transportation. It looks to be preparatory to an Advisory Committee meeting next week, and then a full Open House next month.

Zoning

Two mixed-use zoning concepts with the geography
further split at Mill Creek in different patterns
Two zoning approaches were examined to achieve the goal to create a new mixed-use zone. One considered modifying existing zones and the other focused on creating a new zone. Based on staff input, it was determined that a new zone would best effect the kind of change that is envisioned for the State Street corridor....

The recommended zoning framework is a “family” of two related, context sensitive, new mixed-use zones that would apply to portions of the entire corridor. At this time, there are a number of possible patterns for the two proposed zones, as described in the maps and evaluation criteria in the following sections. Each pattern or configuration provides a different response to the context and to community feedback, and performs differently against certain goals, objectives and criteria, according to the Evaluation.
  • MU-1 zone is the most urban and allows the highest intensity development. MU-1 is intended to result in buildings that are primarily multi-story mixed-use, with retail or office on the ground floor, and residential or office uses in upper floors.
  • MU-2 zone is a less intense mixed-use zone that is primarily multi-family housing and mixed-use buildings. Residential uses are permitted at the ground floor...Horizontal mixed-use buildings are permitted; standalone multi-family housing developments are permitted.
Several deployments of the two new zoning concepts are illustrated and scored. The highest scoring alternative is to rezone the full corridor with the new proposed mixed use designation. They do note, however, that "Alternatives with a focus on the west end of the corridor are more in line with a realistic path of development momentum, emanating from downtown’s higher value real estate."

Street Redesign

At least three separate cross-sections
I don't know that there's a simple way to discuss this, since there is so much variation between 12th Street and 25th Street.

As they note, "In the eastern half of the corridor [construction to current 96 foot standards] would require right-of-way acquisition of 36 additional feet."

Instead
Three street design alternatives have been developed to reconfigure the roadway cross section on State Street to support the project goals. All alternatives provide enhanced pedestrian facilities and routes for cyclists.

Alternative 1 provides four vehicle travel lanes (two eastbound and two westbound) with no median, while Alternative 2 makes use of a “road diet,” reducing the number of through travel lanes to one in each direction plus a center median/two-way left turn lane. Alternative 3 is a hybrid of Alternative 1 and 2.
  • Alternative 1 generally provides four travel lanes (two in each direction) with no median....This is similar to the existing roadway, although enhancements to the pedestrian realm are provided in each of the three Segments
  • Alternative 2 consists of two through vehicle travel lanes (one in each direction) and a center median/left turn lane...
  • Alternative 3...is a hybrid of Alternative 1 and 2.... State Street would include the Road Diet elements from 14th to 17th Street, without the bicycle lanes option, as described in Alternative 2. From 17th to 25th Street, this alternative includes the Alternative 1 Four Lane elements, including the option elements of new signals at 19th and 21st Streets SE.
And again, each Alternative is divided into thirds, one for each of the principal existing widths of State Street. So it's not real tidy.

On a first reading, it seems like the hybrid, Alternative 3, is the preferred one - why else would you splice elements unless you thought there were advantages? Though it is Alternative 2, the "road diet" that seems to score the highest.

One of the biggest demerits on all the Alternatives is the prospect of cut-through traffic:
The reduction in capacity and implementation of traffic calming measures would result in traffic diversion to adjacent major streets. While the model doesn’t show this level of detail, it is possible that this alternative would result in some additional cut-through traffic on residential streets. [italics added]
The framing here is a little suspect however - more fear-mongering than sober assessment based on best available information.

Alternative 2, the road diet, also has a demerit more scary than sober:
None of the segments along State Street are over capacity in 2035 except near 25th Street, which is over capacity under all alternatives. However, most segments between 13th Street and 25th Street will be approaching capacity with this alternative.
Why. Just Why. The concept here is we develop with multi-modal, mixed-use patterning, and thereby avoid the increases in traffic. Moreover, the model we are using to project traffic in 2035 is all wrong - The Feds, California, and Washington are all using different modeling standards, and this is strong evidence that any conclusions here using an obsolete model are suspect at best, totally wrong at worst. Our traffic modeling as it is presently done is a False Idol, and we need to ditch it.

Conclusion

The whole corridor for re-zoning and the road diet scores best:
In general, the most transformative options and alternatives performed the best against the criteria. The Entire Corridor Nodal Focus would be the most influential land use option to reach the City’s and community’s desires as expressed through the goals and objectives. The Road Diet (Alternative 2) would best enhance the pedestrian realm and draw people to stroll along the corridor and visit the shops and community gathering places that would be allowed with the land use alternative.
Additional Notes and Meetings

Mostly the study is recommending no bike lanes on State
and relying on Mill and Chemeketa for bikeway connectivity
For our purposes here, the important parts of the recommendations as a whole are
  • Wider sidewalks
  • Narrower auto travel lanes for traffic calming
  • No bike lanes
The absence of bike lanes in most of the recommendations on State Street - and I think it is fair to characterize the general thrust of the study as not recommending bike lanes on State - is terrible. But it's understandable given the realities of the project. I'm not sure there's a real benefit to protesting that very strongly. Maybe I will change my mind as I think on it more.

But if the study is truly going to bail out on bike lanes, then it needs to do two things:
  • Give more attention to what happens when a person on bike wants to reach State Street from Chemeketa or Mill Street. How does the north-south connectivity on the side streets work? And how do you cross the street if the business you want to visit is on the other side and is mid-block? Are we cool with sidewalk biking? Are there additional standards that need to be included in the zoning concepts for side-street bike access?
  • Give more attention to traffic diverters and a full bike boulevard upgrade for Chemeketa and Mill Streets. If we are going to keep bikes off State Street, can we keep fewer cars on Chemeketa and Mill Streets? Is there a real, meaningful trade here? Or are we securing a bike-free State Street with second-class "bikeways" that are merely signed?

The Stakeholder Advisory Committee will meet from 4 to 6 p.m., Wednesday, August 17 in the Anderson Rooms at the Salem Public Library. The committee will review and discuss land use and street design alternatives for the State Street corridor. The meeting is open to the public.

The next public meeting will be Wednesday, September 14 at the Court Street Christian Church at 1699 Court Street NE, Salem. The meeting, which will be from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., will focus on different land use and street design options for State Street.

(For all notes on the State Street Study see here.)

2 comments:

Rich Trotto said...

Regarding making Mill St more bike friendly, I wonder if it would be better to focus on making Ferry a better bike path? There's less traffic and it's a straight shot to the pedestrian path on 12th. It's not that great getting on to the 12th St path off Mill.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

You are right that Ferry would have even less traffic, and that the immediate connection to the 12th St. Esplanade is better, but Mill offers better connections to important destinations:

1) Mill connects better to Richmond Elementary
2) Mill has a crosswalk and better crossing at 17th
3) Mill connects better to Bush Elementary
4) Mill connects better to Willamette U and Tokyo International
5) Mill has a crosswalk and better crossing at 12th (Ferry has no crossing at 12th, of course)

There has also been talk about making a better connection from Mill to the 12th St Esplanade, and it is possible that a later phase of the Baggage Depot restoration, or some other project, will fund it. That problem may be fixed some time in the future.

There are trade-offs, but upgrading Mill to a full bike boulevard has seemed like it would serve more people than a Ferry upgrade.