|It's a highway bridge, for highway speeds and dust|
not for pleasant walking
You can see a very large (12mb) map here of the "Salem Alternative." Additional notes here.
Currently the "Preferred Alternative," the so-called "Salem Alternative," is in process between draft Environmental Impact Statement and final Environmental Impact Statement.
Current Action - Late July 2017
On December 5th Council voted 5-2 for the Urban Growth Boundary expansion to fit the bridge and for a set of amendments to the Transportation System Plan for the bridge.
On December 30th, at least two appeals were initiated with the Land Use Board of Appeals. A group of eight Salem residents have filed a notice of intent to appeal, and the state Department of Land Conservation and Development also filed a notice.
Subsequently, DLCD dropped their appeal and negotiated an intergovernmental agreement with the City of Salem that proposed some limits on the SRC. (More on the agreement here and here.)
In what might be a "seismic" shift on the Salem River Crossing, on April 24th City Council voted against the agreement with DLCD to allow the SRC to move forward.
On the one hand, the rejection of the agreement means that absent any action at LUBA, the SRC can move towards the Record of Decision full speed ahead.
On the other hand, the decisive 5-4 vote shows publicly that Council is determined and has the votes for change. This may cause Staff and others to recalculate what is possible in the future and influence the shape of future initiatives or other negotiation. Additionally, it may signal to the Legislature, to ODOT, and to the MPO, that it is a seismic retrofit, and not a new bridge, that is the great local priority.
In any case, there is a newish schedule from the spring. It does not reference or incorporate the appeal at LUBA, and so it still seems optimistic and unlikely. The hearing with oral argument was held July 13th, and a decision is expected by August 3rd. All in all, it's very difficult to see a December 2017 end and formal Record of Decision.
|New, this winter/spring!|
Urban Growth Boundary Analysis
Here was an analysis of the Preferred Alternative and the proposed UGB expansion. Councilors who supported the bridge did not engage the critiques in any way. (The list has been updated with new posts.)
- The 2014 letter from the DLDC - Third Bridge Cranking Up Again
- A right-sized Marine Drive can be separated from the UGB expansion - OAR on Rural Roads
- N3B brought to light two new memos; they treat bikes, the Comprehensive Plan, and TDM/TSM measures strangely - New Land Use Memos
- The analysis of Alternative 2A - Can Widening Existing Bridges Meet Need?
- What about Contra-flow, Flex Lanes on existing bridges inside the UGB?
- The Preferred Alternative Scores Poorly on Volume/Capacity Measures
- Cost Overruns and poor planning for unstable soils on the US 20 Pioneer Mountain to Eddyville Echo in Geology Report for SRC. It also fails badly to account for the Cascadia Subduction Zone quake.
- But wait! It turns out that buried in the Findings Report is a claim that the bridge will be engineered to a 9.0 standard. The $430 million cost estimate almost certainly does not include this level of seismic work.
- The Wildlife Addendum is cavalier about the McLane Island heron rookery and other agencies call for more time for review. (Not very relevant to the UGB argument, but perhaps interesting for other reasons are two history notes on McLane Island, here and here.)
- The SRC will increase energy consumption by 16% over No Build, and this is inconsistent with Statewide Goal 13 and our Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goals in HB 3543.
- More on Greenhouse Gases and Energy - Greenwashing the SRC? Air Quality/Emissions and Energy Analyses may not Match
- The document dump just before the Public Hearing is inconsistent with Statewide Planning Goal 1, on "Citizen Involvement."
- Questions about Public Process and Schedule with regard to Statewide Planning Goal 1 on Citizen Involvement: Two Interpretive Questions: Goal 1 for Part or Whole? What does Implement Mean? In advance of the December 5th conclusion to the hearing, the SRC published their response to public comment, but again left only a few days for Council to absorb nearly 400pp of materials.
- Comments submitted from DLCD don't contest many claims head-on, but instead suggest that there are many, many gaps in "the findings" and analysis in support of the UGB expansion.
- A July 2015 memo, essentially secret until now, on the Alternate Modes Study overstates its progress on recommendations to avoid drive-alone car trips across the river, Part 1 and Part 2. The lack of progress is not consistent with OAR 660-12-0035(4) to "increase transportation choices and reduce reliance on the automobile."
- Three posts developing a critique of the way we understand the directive to "implement" alternatives before building new highways: The Mostly-Ignored High Level Consensus to Reduce Drive-alone Trips, Two Interpretive Questions: Goal 1 for Part or Whole? What does Implement Mean?, and ODOT Memo on Highway Plan Policy 1G seems Shallow.
- A critique of the whole Transit/TDM/TSM analysis that attempted to debunk walk/bike/bus/carpool type mobility solutions: The Origin of the 8% Reduction is a Rhetorical Sleight of Hand!
Much earlier in the process, the Task Force was deeply split, however, far from agreeing on the bridge alignment.
|Task Force Assessment, Pro and Con|
Whether you think a bridge like this is necessary or a bad idea, it would be the largest infrastructure project in a generation here and therefore should receive exceptional levels of scrutiny.
(All of the significant Breakfast Blog pieces on the bridge are tagged "Rivercrossing - Third Bridge" and can seen here.)
Needless to say, many of us think it's a bad idea. Here's why:*
The Case Against the Highway and Bridge
Modeling and projections for future demand are wrong
- Total mileage and trips across the bridge are not rising: Absolute trip counts are flat
- Each person is driving less: Vehicle miles traveled per capita is down - this started before the Great Recession!
- Young people are getting fewer licenses and are driving even less
- Pricing used in the modeling is wrong: gas and energy costs will rise; carbon, congestion, mileage will likely be taxed in the future
- Salem Weekly has a story on population modeling: 2012 forecasts are significantly below the 2004 forecasts used in the DEIS process, and the modeling should be updated with the new, revised figures.
- Using the project's own internal assumptions, tolling itself depresses demand so much that no new bridge is needed.
- Even the Feds are beginning to doubt 20th century growth rates: The FHWA has recently changed growth rate projections downward and a Federal Judge in Wisconsin criticized projections for a project there.
- Modeling from the late 1970s and early 1980s badly missed and overestimated trip counts in downtown. There is a systemic bias towards overestimating driving and trip counts.
- Obesity and diabetes are increasing (national and state reports, also nice summary here at The Atlantic)
- Maintaining and preserving existing infrastructure should be higher priority. The Marion Street Bridge is rated "structurally deficient" and will require repairs; the Center Street Bridge is "fair" but that's not a whole lot better than the Marion St. Bridge and it too will require repair.
- The proposed alignment goes over risky soils and unstable banks.
- There is a desperate need to invest in seismic retrofits for our existing bridges. A seismic reinforcement of the existing bridges is far cheaper than a brand new bridge.
- Investing in transit and other alternatives to drive-alone-trip will better allocate existing capacity
- In fact, a ridiculous level of 10-minute rush hour service and weekend service could serve West Salem for about $15 million a year, about 1/3 of the yearly debt service on the current $430 million planning level cost estimate for "the Salem Alternative."
- Both AAA and the CDC suggest the costs of death and injury and property damage significantly exceed "the costs of congestion" and that investing in safety, risk- and harm-reduction offers better returns.
- The onramp system (here and here) will degrade highland neighborhood and harm historic properties
- Other cites are taking out, not adding, urban highways and viaducts.
- Privileging through-movement drastically harms internal connectivity and create barriers and the supposed "benefits" to people on foot and on bike are a sham.
- The proposed bridge is outside of the Urban Growth Boundary and is not consistent with Oregon Land Use goals. (See above - at least at the moment, Council has decisively rejected this claim.)