Monday, May 7, 2012

Salem River Crossing Whopper: Bait and Switch for People who Bike

The chapter on Environmental Justice contains what might be the biggest whopper for people who walk and bike:
Other direct impacts of the project on low-income and minority populations would be positive, such as improved commute times and nonmotorized transportation (such as walking and bicycling) connections. Reliable transit service and safe, and continuous paths for walking and bicycling are important to low income individuals, especially those without access to a motorized vehicle.
Here's the truth about the "positive" and "safe and continuous paths for walking and bicycling...important to low income individuals":

The Purpose and Need Statement says (emphasis added)

Existing pedestrian and bicycle facilities on the Center Street and Marion Street Bridges are minimally adequate and, in some cases, do not meet Oregon Highway Design Manual (ODOT, 2003) bridge cross-section standards for bicycle/pedestrian facilities. Improvements to these facilities would make walking and bicycling more feasible travel options in Salem. The existing pedestrian and bicycle facility across the river on the north side of the Center Street Bridge is a two-way, 10-foot-wide, barrier-separated concrete path. In addition, sight distance and illumination are limited along the segment of the existing bike path located between Wallace Road and the Marion Street Bridge.

The Marion Street Bridge has no on-street bicycle facilities. It does have a 5-foot-wide sidewalk on the north side of the bridge that is separated from traffic lanes by a barrier and railing. This width is significantly below ODOT standards. Consequently, the sidewalk presents safety hazards to users, such as from two-way traffic or mixed pedestrian-bicycle traffic.

Pedestrian and bicyclist connections to and from the bridges are indirect. On the east side, the two ramps from the barrier-separated path on the Center Street Bridge terminate at Front Street and Water Street, and do not provide direct connections to the downtown Salem street system. The westside connection at the Wallace Road intersection is indirect and awkward, in particular for users traveling to and from the west side of Wallace Road.

The recent conversion of the Union Street Railroad Bridge to a pedestrian/bicycle facility only partially addresses the pedestrian/bicycle needs noted previously. This bridge and associated pathways currently stop at Wallace Road (at the west end) and Union Street (at the east end). Therefore, no clear and/or convenient connections exist to the Edgewater Street corridor in West Salem or to downtown Salem.
The high-build options for a new bridge will not add convenient connections to Edgewater or downtown Salem! To claim otherwise is meaningless, empty verbage at best, and dishonest at worst!

It's kinda like saying, "let's build I-5 so we can put a terrific separated path alongside it for people who walk and bike!"

But the problem is crossing I-5, not moving parallel with it.

The high-build options will multiply barriers and inconvenience - just like the ramp systems elsewhere in Salem have created barriers and inconvenience. The high-build options are bad news for people who depend on walking, biking, and transit.

For more on the River Crossing see a summary critique and all breakfast blog notes tagged River Crossing.

1 comment:

Curt said...


From Ch. 3.2:

The No Build Alternative would not advance plans 
and policies that encourage the improvement of 
facilities for alternate modes (that is, bicycling, walking, and transit) and reduce reliance on single‐occupant vehicles. 

The Build alternatives would improve bicycle 
facilities across the Willamette River. They 
would also advance plans and policies that 
encourage the improvement of facilities for 
alternate modes (that is, bicycling, walking, and 
transit) and reduce reliance on single‐
occupant vehicles.