Sunday, February 12, 2012

City Council, February 13th - State St Goes Two-Way for another Block?

Let's start off with some good news!*

In advance of the Downtown Circulation Study, which will assess converting a substantial part of the one-way grid to two-way traffic, City Council will consider converting one block of State Street, between Liberty and Commercial.

The former Bicycle Manager for the Oregon Department of Transportation used to say that the single best thing Salem could do for bicycling was to ditch the one-way grid and return to two-way traffic. This is a step!

Oh, it's not perfect. More could be done for mobility choice. I hope more consideration will be given to the lane widths and making sure people who bike are not crowded against the rear of angle parking and in the door zones. Maybe more sharrows are in order here, too. I also wish the parking were reconfigured. But this is a step, and after the downtown circulation study there should be more steps. I'm excited about this.

Other Matters

In a set of comments on specific bills, the Council Legislative Priorities also includes support for a fee on studded tires. It's not a ban, but a fee would help offset the damage studded tires create and in an incremental way improve the increasingly wretched and problematic ways we fund roads. This is also good news.

Capital Improvement Plan

Council will hold a public hearing and consider the final Capital Improvement Plan (for more discussion see here.)

Bank Drive-Through

In an information report Council will hear that the bank drive-through at State and Commercial has been approved. (It seems likely that making State two-way is also linked somewhat to the drive-through, as this will make access from the south of town easier for both the bank and the Pringle Square/Boise project.)

Council Goals

Council will adopt revised Council Goals.

Goal: Pursue opportunities to improve overall bike, pedestrian and vehicular connectivity.
Goal: Pursue opportunities to improve overall bike, pedestrian, and vehicular connectivity;reduce congestion; and enhance mobility.
It's hard to see how improving bike, pedestrian, and vehicular mobility doesn't also reduce congestion and enhance mobility, and I worry an ostensibly innocuous tweak indicates a retreat, since "congestion" effectively always implies cars.

System Development Charges

Council will consider a change to the Transportation System Development Charges to add a new "eligible project," Linwood St NW. I don't understand this, and it seems like this is an area where greater consideration should be given to transportation solutions with better mobility choice, but there also seems to be great inertia for maintaining traditional and car-centric funding patterns. There's more here to understand - if you know, please pitch in with comments!

Minto Bridge and Path

Finally, on the Minto Bridge and Path, there's some $60K in a change order on the design of the Minto Bridge and Path and a separate resolution to allocate an additional $60K in Urban Renewal funds. I can't tell if these are linked, however.

Perhaps more interesting is the "preferred route" on the path system:

* There will be bad news in a separate post tomorrow.


Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

ON the SJ, Claudia Howells, who is active in promoting improved rail, and is, I think, a retired ODOT rail administrator notes both an old planning game and a downer detail about the "quiet zone" and sort-and-separate planning:

"Anybody still have the game from the early 80's about Salem's street planning? It would be good to make Church and High two way again, but keep Commercial and Liberty one way. Extending an east-west two way grid will jeopardize the train whistle quiet zone if the two-way grid extends to 12th."

Hopefully you could make State and Court two-way until Waverly or 12th and then keep the one-way couplet for crossing the tracks. Or something. Just don't let the RR determine how we manage traffic in the downtown core!

Curt said...

The more I think about it, the Liberty St. bottleneck is a major source of all the congestion and traffic problems downtown. Two way traffic on Commercial would allow all traffic direct access to the Front St. bypass without the jog on Ferry St. This would cut the size of the Liberty St. platoon in half. Then take Liberty St. down to 2 lanes with a center turn lane. Separated bike lanes of course. I would bet you $50 that by eliminating extra lanes and all the pointless lane changing they induce, traffic would actually move faster from Trade to Marion St. Then you would have a Commercial serving River Rd., Fairmount, Front St. traffic; Liberty serving traffic from South Salem; and High St. serving Bush Park, Gaity Hill. Probably too much to hope for in my lifetime.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Last fall the Salem Downtown Partnership showed a concept for a Liberty St. treatment along the lines you suggest. There's some interest there!

I'm confident that State/Court and Church/High can be made two-way easily and quickly (whether they do it, of course, is another question). I'm much less sure on Commercial/Liberty and Center/Marion. I'm inclined to think that changing these will need to be staged until after other changes, including better multi-modal accommodations, are made first. But I'm not sure on this.

You should write up a more detailed analysis and proposal!

You can find information on traffic counts here and here.