|Front Street Bypass FEIS, 1979|
Read in light of the Salem River Crossing process, there are some interesting ironies.
|More of them|
At the same time, in several places, not just this section on "adverse impacts," they predict the buildings along Front Street would gentrify and increase in tax value.
As we have seen this has been quite a struggle.
|D.A. White Seed Company, still languishing|
Claims for new economic vitality resulting from a highway or expressway expansion need to be read with a very skeptical eye!
1984 Salem Tomorrow plan.
|Riverfront 2000 vision: Salem Tomorrow 1984|
(click to enlarge; comments in red added)
Planned commercial land uses along Front Street and west of Liberty Street are expected to be enhanced through better access and traffic control.This trades on the autoist assumption that the only kind of access that matters is access for those in cars.
But even people arriving by car have to get out and walk. Very few people walk along our zoomy Parkways, along Salem Parkway, the Front Street bypass, the Pringle Parkway, Kuebler Road. Parkways and Major arterials are inimical to people on foot. Until we create streets that actually invite walking, strolling, lingering, even some amount of flaneur-y and loitering, traffic will zoom past the area and further depress sidewalk and commercial life.
The Rivers and now the 245 Court Street project are happening independently of the Front Street Bypass, and the 245 Court Street project mostly ignores it, preferring to face and greet Court Street. (The views, of course, are for the river, not Front Street.)
Another concept that carried forward to the 1984 study is for a skybridge system.
|In 1979 they paired skybridges with parking garages|
Fortunately, not all were built.
|The revised vision in 1984|
Eric Dayton, Minneapolis resident and son of Minnesota’s governor, disagrees [with the skybridges]. His great-great-grandfather founded Dayton’s department store, which later became Target. Dayton’s downtown Minneapolis location is now a Macy’s that has announced it’s looking for buyers....Dayton has watched countless retailers leave Minneapolis’ downtown core in recent years. When a journalist suggested today’s Dayton’s buy back the Macy’s building and use it to bring back some downtown vibrancy, Eric said he’d be game — if the skyways were gone.Vitality arises from people on foot, not those in cars.
A conversation was sparked. “Is downtown Minneapolis a good environment for investment right now? Do the skyways create structural headwind for retail in downtown Minneapolis?” Dayton asks. “I would argue that it does. As long as they’re in place, that makes me unfortunately not inclined to invest downtown...."
Dayton founded the Skyway Avoidance Society, which asks people to take a pledge that they will walk the sidewalks, not the skyways, in an attempt to bring vitality back to street level.
It is also interesting to see notes from the "Salem Area Bicycle Advisory Committee." Watching bike committees at the State level and in Portland, and also seeing how the City of Salem uses its advisory committees, I'm not sure they are really necessary or useful. They have to have real power, not just be a social hour to rubber stamp projects or to provide a feeble kind of critique that allows the City to say "we listened to Stakeholders." This one appears to be sponsored by the MPO, an earlier form of SKATS, but the observation remains true at that level as well.
Here in the Bypass FEIS, it seems like even with the Bike Bill in force they struggled just to get bike lanes striped on Liberty and Commercial Streets north of downtown. It was a push just to get a very basic level of coverage, and bike lanes that today we see clearly are far from family-friendly.
That's darn close to two full generations.
It's just effing insane that it takes this long.
Maybe we'll come back and look at the traffic projections. Unfortunately when they scanned the study, they did not unfold the maps, and much of the traffic count data is in map form. But it is very interesting how little feedback and assessment we have formalized in any post-plan evaluation. We never go back years, decades later and ask "How did our predictions do?" or "Did this actually accomplish what we wanted it to do?" And most crucially, "Was it worth it?"
Update, December 17th
And here's some traffic projections. (Remember the maps were not unfolded for digitizing, unfortunately.)
|Almost all of the current traffic counts|
are much less than Year 2000 projections
But there is one very interesting exception.
The Commercial/Liberty couplet running through downtown north of Trade/Ferry has way more traffic than they projected! What appears to be the case is that they expected the Front Street bypass to carry much more of the north-south traffic than it in fact does. Instead, more of the through-traffic has remained on Liberty and Commercial. Traffic also projected for the High/Church couplet might also have shifted to Liberty/Commercial. The total amount of traffic for Front+Commercial+Liberty still remains below the year 2000 projections, however.
So while the Front Street bypass did less for Commercial/Liberty in downtown than planners had hoped, it is still also true that the total amount of traffic in the downtown system is significantly less than the modeling projected.
This might repay another more in-depth visit, as our current reality in counts just looks so much different from the future envisioned here. Do you see anything especially interesting?