Sunday, September 17, 2017

Hops are More Important than you Might Think!

Have you seen today's long front-page article on hops?

It's hop harvest time
It's glorious to see more mainstream attention to hops in culture, in history, and in our agricultural economy.

The article's focus is more on the development and late 20th century influence of the Cascade hop, developed at OSU and featured in what some have said is the most influential modern beer: Sierra Nevada's Pale Ale first released in the late 70s, a few years before Oregon's pioneering brewers were starting in the mid-80s.

The pre-history before the Cascade doesn't get much ink, though:
Early Oregon farmers rarely grew hops for beer.

In the 1800s, before Goschies began growing hops, fresh cones were stuffed into pillowcases to lull children to sleep, used as an antibacterial agent in soap, and served as a homegrown antidepressant.

But as beer popularized, so did hops, and harvests became larger and larger. The Goschie family started growing hops commercially in 1904. By then, brewers were the customers.
That understates the local significance of hops and the scope of hop ranching and hop harvests!

It was featured on the now-demolished First National Bank as for a reason.

Hop Harvest on the now-demolished Belluschi Bank,
relief by Frederic Littman

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Debate on I-5 Rose Quarter Project

You might have noticed that there's a new debate over freeway widening in Portland.

Probably the best summary of it is at the Portland Mercury: "Oregon's $450 Million Plan to Widen I-5 Has Portlanders Preparing for War: But Can Activists Kill Another Highway Megaproject?"

Portland Mercury
BikePortland gets into the weeds with the most comprehensive coverage:
The coalition opposing it has a project site, No More Freeway Expansions.

The Street Trust, formerly Bicycle Transportation Alliance, has distanced themselves and seems to be trying to have it both ways: "The Future of the Rose Quarter."

Via the AP, the local presentation at the SJ
Almost certainly the single most important takeaway is the concept of trying out decongestion pricing first. See how that does or does not tame the traffic. And then consider other measures if it fails. But try pricing first.

This story we probably won't follow closely here, but may update this post for reference and to keep a running tally on it as it develops.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Bike commuting Flat in 2016

There are some new census numbers on commuting coming out, and in our era of cheap gas, they are not good.

At 1.3%, Salem's at the top of p.2
Several cities actually show declines. As far as I can tell, Salem's rate remains unchanged, fluttering historically around that 1% to 1.5% level, within the error bars for any assessment.

For bigger cities there is more hand-wringing:
Here the lesson surely is that if we want to see fewer drive-alone trips, we are going to have to dig in more and make more of an effort. Mostly we're adding doilies and trinkets and bikey bric-a-brac on the margins, not making determined structural and systemic efforts to make walking, biking, and busing more convenient and more attractive and less costly than drive-alone trips, especially for short trips.

Our Metropolitan Planning Organization has said
The SKATS MPO -- along with our local jurisdictions and ODOT -- invests in a balance of travel modes: auto, transit, bicycle and pedestrian projects.
And 1.3% is the resulting "balance."

That's not balance. That's tokenism.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Jazz first comes to Salem in 1917

August 8th, 1917
One of the interesting things to come out of reading about Riverside Dip was the fact that once the summer bathing season was over, it also had a "dancing pavilion." And even more interesting than the mere existence of the pavilion was the sudden appearance of "jazz" in Salem.*
Have you heard of the Jazz band and the jazz music and the new jazz dance? While very few of the up-to-date dancers are dancing the jazz dance, never the less the jazz band and jazz music is with us and will make its first appearance next Saturday evening at the dancing pavilion of of Riverside Dip. Lyle Bartholomew, who has charge of the Dip during the afternoons will probably also superintend the dancing pavilion. A jazz band to be a real jazz band must include a piano, xylophone, drums and either banjo or saxophone. All the musical instruments must be of the loud kind in order to make more noise than the walking feet of the dancers. The jazz dance is coming.
The word doesn't seem to have appeared in the paper before 1916. In 1916 it first appears.** The context is baseball, though, not music.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

City Council, September 11th - Bridge Seismic Retrofit

Center Street at Commercial, one-way at present - streetview
Council meets on Monday and they will consider an intergovernmental agreement on the Center Street Bridge Seismic Retrofit.
An Intergovernmental Agreement has been prepared to identify the roles and responsibilities for the seismic upgrade study. Highlights of the agreement are as follows:
  • The cost estimate for the seismic study is $200,000. MWVCOG will provide $179,460 of federal funds; ODOT will provide $15,405 of local match funds; and the City will provide $5,135 of local match funds.
  • ODOT will select a consultant to perform the study and be responsible for overall management of the work.
  • City staff will assist ODOT with the consultant selection process and provide input on key decisions and the final report.
  • The study is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2018.
Additionally, the State of Oregon recently received Legislative approval through the Transportation Funding Package for an estimated $60 million dollars to complete seismic upgrades to the Center Street Bridge. The City will continue to coordinate with ODOT after the seismic upgrade study is complete to facilitate the design and construction of the final improvements.
The proposed IGA is limited, however, and Council may want to consider holding off a little and expanding it.
the Parties agree to cooperate in the preparation of a seismic retrofit study of the Center Street Bridge and connected structures that will produce a plan and cost estimate for completion of seismic retrofit measures for the identified vulnerable elements based on a full (Phase 1 and Phase 2) seismic retrofit approach such that the bridge and connected structures would survive a major seismic event and continue to provide a functioning crossing of the Willamette River...
The plan right now does not appear to give sufficient consideration to movement, to mobility, beyond the structural engineering necessary to make the structure survive a quake. After a quake, presumably the Marion Street Bridge will be toast, and two-way functioning across the remaining bridge will be necessary, at least until the Marion Bridge is repaired or replaced. This is, then, both an immediate problem after quake, and a medium-term one in the aftermath. So there's a case that the formal Plan for Seismic Retrofit should embrace both structural engineering and traffic engineering.

1917 History of Bridges Talks about Funding and Costs

Planked westside approach to first bridge of 1886, detail
(Salem Library Historic Photos)
This is the most comprehensive history I have seen of our first three bridges across the river, the bridges of 1886, 1891, and 1918.

September 8th, 1917
Sometimes a history suggests a comment on the present, but I'm not sure this one does. Conditions are different enough with funding, population, and transportation technology that I don't think there are really any direct and transferable lessons for our current bridge debate. Even with a little bit of Kingwood Park gridded with streets, West Salem was effectively totally rural. This article, then, is more for reference, a curiosity and footnote, than part of any argument we regularly make here against the Salem River Crossing. Maybe you will discern something or read it differently.

West Salem in 1917: Gridded a little, but not built up
Brush College, Chapman Corner, Eola are all rural places
(USGS historic maps)
The headline is about funding. Since the first bridge lasted only 4 years, and the second was hardly 25 years old, it's not so surprising they might not have been fully paid off. (Parallels here might be more like Courthouse Square.) As far as structures go, the Union Street Railroad Bridge of 1912 has been the enduring one.

Indirectly it is also interesting that Polk county opposed paying for a bridge. Note Asahel Bush's role in "bridge" financing! Perhaps if the very first bridge had been a toll bridge, development in West Salem would have been different and we would be having different conversations about "induced demand." In any case, the first bridge was free, and by a great margin, people continue to expect a "free" bridge.

(There are no illustrations with the article, and I have interpolated the map, several photos, and a traffic count that are not themselves part of the article.)

Thursday, September 7, 2017

We all got Eclipse Glasses, Why not a Carbon Tax and Climate Plan?

Most everybody got eclipse glasses, right? Scientific modeling said it would pass over the Salem area and that totality would occur a little after 10:15.

The immediacy of totality in Salem - via Twitter
It arrived on-time, as predicted.

Astronomy has a longer track record, it's true, but scientific modeling also predicts increasing levels of carbon dioxide and consequent climate disruption.