|Proposed letter to Legislature|
Co-Chairs Beyer and McKeown and Members of the Committee:The highest priority for the Salem is not "Salem River Crossing (Phase 1)." That project is currently being litigated at LUBA and there is considerable evidence that in its present form it is deeply, fatally flawed. There is also considerable community criticism and opposition. Even if you do not agree with that criticism, it is a fact that there is no local consensus around the SRC. In a 5-4 Council vote on an intergovernmental agreement with DLCD, the City of Salem recently sent a message in opposition to the SRC's current form. The SRC does not deserve any such "top priority." It deserves a high priority only if you already "know" it deserves a high priority. This is circular! An impartial planning process and impartial public participation process would not lead to this claim for #1 priority, and would recognize that there are important issues yet to settle.
The Salem-Keizer Area Transportation Study (SKATS MPO) is the regional metropolitan planning organization for the Salem, Keizer, Turner and surrounding urban areas, with an area population over 250,000 residents.
In April and May, the SKATS Policy Committee discussed the subject of proposed state-MPO taxing districts that is being considered by your committee’s transportation bill. SKATS members see the potential benefits of the district concept for cost-sharing large projects, but of course, have questions about the specifics of the proposal and look forward to seeing how these districts will be defined in the state transportation bill. They also raised a concern that all the non-Metro MPOs would have difficulty in matching state funds at a 50-50 level -- especially for high-cost projects -- and request that provision remain open for a subsequent discussion and decision by the Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC).
The Policy Committee also discussed major congestion and freight projects that might be funded through this proposal. The following is a list of six projects within the SKATS MPO boundary that would improve freight mobility and congestion on both the state and Salem-Keizer regional systems. Each project shows the county is it located in, along with its planning level cost estimate. The Salem River Crossing (Phase 1) bridge is our top priority along with these listed projects, all of which are significant to the sustainability of our transportation system. The remaining projects are listed in order of decreasing costs:
- Salem River Crossing (Phase 1) [Polk County & Marion County]: $250 million
- Chemawa Road @ I-5 Interchange Upgrades [Marion County]: $210 million
- Salem Center Street Bridge Seismic [Polk County & Marion County]: $60 million
- OR22 @ O51 Interchange & Frontage Roads [Polk County]: $55 million
- Cordon Road Capacity Upgrades [Marion County]: $47 million
- New interchange at OR22 @ Cordon Road [Polk County]: $36 million