Friday, October 12, 2012

Salem River Crossing Oversight Meeting Memo Shows Mania

Notes from the Oversight Team meeting on August 23rd are finally posted.

There are no great revelations, but many details that suggest the disconnect between reality and wish on the river crossing project - and point to another document that might repay more attention and more money.

Alt modes and regular modes
In plain sight was a rational conclusion, but it may well be ignored, and bridge proponents will just simply talk over it, as if it had never been uttered:

A significant number of [task force] members supported the No Build because they were not comfortable with the Build alternatives and felt that there were smaller projects that could solve the problem in a less expensive or intrusive fashion, including alternative modes...
In fact, throughout the meeting notes there is lots of talk about "alternative modes" and the Alternate Modes Study

But will they take it seriously enough to fund it?

Investing aggressively in the "alternative modes"* at 10 cents on the dollar would yield an amazing menu of mobility choices, and return a host of benefits in health, in economic growth and budgetary thrift, and in civic vibrancy.

Just 10% of the cost of the bridge would create a world class set of walking, biking, and transit connections!

(Hopefully folks will also begin to realize that the scope of the alternative modes study was too small in many ways.) 

Funding was an issue.

there was some frustration among Task Force members about the lack of detail regarding funding, since this decision structure is different from personal or business decision-making procedures that most people use, and it is therefore counter-intuitive.
Forecasting was highlighted, and fact neutered as mere opinion.

some Task Force members were concerned that the traffic volume forecast numbers were overestimated
This is not an idle belief, and at least for the years from about 2005 to the present is fact. It is a fact that the current actual traffic numbers are less than projected!  It is an opinion that future numbers will continue to come in under the projection, but it is a fact that current numbers are coming in under. 

From the more narrow question of bike transport and facilities it was alarming to see the team consider the possibility of diverting directly or indirectly funds for non-auto transport to the bridge:

There was some discussion about the possibility of adding bike/pedestrian connections at Wallace Road and the Salem Parkway – it was suggested that adding this improvement may help the project gather funding from more sources.
Finally this is an interesting wrinkle:

the Build alternatives that go outside the urban growth boundary would need exceptions that are more difficult to obtain. A Greenway Goal exception would be needed for all Build alternatives.
The full memo is not long, only 8 pages, and it is worth reading. In it, it is clear that the Oversight Team has no obligation to listen to the Task Force, which is "advisory" only.

Salem City Council will hold a hearing Monday, November 5th at 6:30pm.  Critics of the bridge project will hold a briefing on the project on Sunday, November 4th at 3pm at the Library. 

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

* And tattoos for everyone? The "alt" modes are so edgy!

1 comment:

Jim Scheppke said...

You continue to cover this story much better than our local daily paper. What a sad excuse for the "fourth estate." And your analysis is right on. I hope your readers will come to the NO 3rd Bridge Briefing at Salem Public Library, Anderson Room, at 3 pm on Sunday, November 4th to hear transportation expert Scott Bassett, and members of the project Task Force and Oversight Team discussing the proposal.