Sunday, July 12, 2009

Some Good News amidst the Rivercrossing Hooey

The River Crossing process (Alternatives Page) contains lots of hooey:
During the alternatives development process, a stand-alone Transportation System Management and Transportation Demand Management (TSM/TDM) alternative was studied and determined not to meet the project Purpose and Need all by itself....To make sure the Salem River Crossing project still supports the goal of decreasing single-occupancy vehicle travel across the river, the project team is pursuing the following approach.

First, the Draft EIS will assume that the future demand (year 2031) for vehicle trips across the river is 8% less than otherwise forecast. Basing the project design on a reduced traffic volume anticipates a high degree of success in increasing non-auto travel across the river and also helps prevent the project from being overbuilt.
Fortunately, the hooey is also generating a project that stands to do some good:
The Project Management Team (PMT) has initiated the Salem River Crossing Alternative Modes Study to identify potential transit and other alternative mode improvements that could be made either at the same time as, or separate from, the Salem River Crossing project. This study will help assure that all potential TSM/TDM options are fully studied and that they can be implemented independent of the Salem River Crossing project if needed.

Further details regarding this approach are documented in the two background documents below:
Approach to Analysis of Transit/TDM/TSM Options Memo (PDF, 206KB)
Summary: Demand Reduction Assumptions Used For Travel Demand Analysis (PDF, 309KB)
In late June and again in early July, the Alternate Modes Study study group met twice to discuss ways to reduce congestion. At the second meeting, a charette, about fifteen community activists representing pedestrian, bicycling, transit, and rideshare interests split up into three groups to plot solutions and ideas on maps of Salem. Each group rotated and spent time at each of three map discussions: Bike/Ped, Transit, Carpool/Vanpool.

These photos are taken at the Bike/Ped table. Rory Renfro and Jessica Roberts from Alta Planning + Design led the discussion. Alta is a national leader in bicycle planning, and they will push for bicycles as well as anyone can.

Most importantly, the project will develop ideas and proposals that will be valuable independent of the bridge. If the bridge gets built, the plans will be important mitigation. If the bridge doesn't get built, the plans can be a terrific part of a rational transportation plan for the 21st century, part of which will make Salem truly bicycle-friendly. Either way the project stands to give momentum and value to the plans. With luck, the project will also make some of the hooey more transparently visible.

(For a more skeptical view, which really zeros in on the hooey, see the excellent and passionately argued posts at LoveSalem.)

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