Saturday, December 10, 2011

City Council, December 12th - More on Minto, Council Goals

Lots of transportation and transpo-relevant stuff on Council agenda for Monday!

Minto Path

You'll recall the vigorous debate over applying for "flex fund" dollars to finance the Minto trail.

The City has identified a new grant source for the trail project, the Federal Highway Administration Transportation Community and System Preservation Program (TSCP). According to the selection criteria, "priority will be given to requests that address livability, especially from a highway perspective." Since this a recreation play rather than a highway alternative or enhancement, I'm not sure how strong the proposal meets this set of criteria, either. Still, since the dollar amounts are the same, City staff also say,
FHWA grant awards will likely be announced in April2012. If the Agency is notified in March that the requested amount of ODOT Flexible Funding will be awarded for the Minto Trail staff will withdraw the FHWA application.
So this is pretty clearly a back-up funding plan.

"Takings" and Right of Way Acquisition

A couple of meetings ago Council discussed condemnation at Lancaster and Market. Monday Council will declare
the public need and the City of Salem's intent to negotiate the acquisition of right-of-way and easements for construction of the Eola Drive NW Corridor Improvements, from Kingwood Drive NW to Gehlar Road NW....[here's a google view]

[Staff further observe] two of the needed acquisitions will impact entire properties in such a way as to require acquisition of the entire parcels...
It seems clear - but to many it may not be - that facilities for walking and biking should proceed in the same manner as facilities for car driving. The City should not have a double standard here. At the same time, perhaps we should consider how we can meet transportation needs by solutions that take up less space - like bikes!

Also, not on Council agenda, but worth mentioning here, there are meetings for the Eola Ridge Park Master Plan. The next one will be Tuesday, January 10, 2011, 6 p.m. at the West Salem Roths. The park potentially connects Burley Hill Drive and Eola Drive. It may be that some of the problems created by the omission of bike lanes on Burley Hill can be mitigated. If you live near there - get involved!

Updates and Check-ins

There's an update on the Stimulus Funding (ARRA) projects. The City got "awards totaling over $13.5 million" and it's interesting to see them all. The most notable for B on B, of course, is phase 2 of the Union Street Railroad Bridge, consisting of $3.5M:
The project has resulted in the encapsulation of lead-based paint, painting, bridge repairs, and installation of security cameras.
On summer days, not just hundreds, but more than a thousand people use the bridge! This will go down as a very good investment, and once connections across Commercial and Wallace are knit, even more will be able to use it.

And there's an update on the Council goals. Some of them are relevant to the bike plan update.

The Downtown Mobility Study is key:
4. Create a bike/pedestrian avenue downtown (possibly High, Church, Chemeketa Streets)
Status: Pending
The draft Bike and Walk Salem Plan proposes Church Street NE/SE, Union Street NE, and Chemeketa Street NE as bicycle corridors through downtown. City Council and Planning Commission held a joint work session on this planning process on October 24, 2011. The Planning Commission opened a public hearing on the proposed amendments to the Salem Transportation System Plan on November 1, 2011, and continued the public hearing to January 3, 2012. Following Planning Commission recommendation, a public hearing will be scheduled before City Council. Implementing bicycle corridors on Church Street NE/SE and Union Street NE will require a traffic engineering analysis to address both the direction of travel and intersection safety. This analysis will be part of the proposed scope of work for the Central Salem Mobility Study.
5. Improve bike/pedestrian connections to the Union Street Railroad Bridge
Status: In Process
Studying how to improve bicycle and pedestrian connections to and from the Union Street Railroad Bridge will be an area of focus undertaken through the upcoming Central Salem Mobility Study. City Council held a work session on November 7, 2011, to better define the components of the study. As a result of this work session, staff is preparing information on potential scope elements to share with City Council. It is anticipated that a Request for Proposal will be issued within the next two months. Following consultant selection in the 3rd quarter of FY 2011-12, staff will bring a report to the Council to refine the scope of services before entering into a contract. The study will take approximately 12 to 18 months to complete.
(I'm surprised to see the study so far out; I had thought that it was already in motion. Informal conversations, however, have suggested that the scope of data gathering and complexity of modeling have introduced difficulty and delay. I hope to learn more about this.)

Other matters

In passing, the intergovernmental agreement between ODOT and the City for enlarging the intersection of Wallace @ Glen Creek should be noted.

I haven't followed Mill Creek Industrial Park very closely, but it is interesting to see a proposal to push the Project Completion Date from December 31, 2011 to December 31, 2014. Probably a consequence of the crappy economy, but you have to wonder also about the future of suburban office/industry parks on a city's periphery.

There was an interesting piece in the New York Times about this. Writing from her new book, Pastoral Capitalism: A History of Suburban Corporate Landscapes, Louise A. Mozingo notes that
suburban offices are even more unsustainably designed than residential suburbs. Sidewalks extend only between office buildings and parking lots, expanses of open space remain private and the spreading of offices over large zones precludes effective mass transit.
Finally, the mixed-use redevelopment project for the Marion Parkade is stalled and City staff recommend that its deadlines NOT be extended. (Here's an update from a year ago.) The City here is pretty clearly signalling dissatisfaction with the development team.

This is on Union, between, Liberty and High, and there's lots of potential for a bike-friendly development, and it will be interesting to see how it goes, though it will almost certainly go slowly now.


Curt said...

The debate around "takings" is exasperating. As you have documented before, Salem is littered with streets that are overbuilt and underutilized. Lanes are too wide for their intended use, the right of ways have been built out but aren't being used productively and blocks of on street parking spaces sit empty most of the day. The city already took one lane of traffic on Church to use for buses and traffic flow has not been affected at all. The city could easily remove one lane of traffic along Church and reallocate that space to a bike lane separated from car traffic by parallel parking. Then we would have something to get excited about!

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Good point about the pinch on Church between Court and Chemeketa! It'll be interesting to see if the City is taking traffic counts there and how the Downtown Circulation Study includes this as a datapoint. I bet it's the two-way conversion, rather than the road diet on a one-way, that is the complication, however.

Interestingly, Oregon City just returned its downtown core to two-way, and from angled to parallel parking.

“Two way is more customer friendly and provides better access to our side streets,” said Lloyd Purdy, downtown manager.