Thursday, February 28, 2013

Wait! Marquis meet Breitenbush: Why isn't the Care Facility talking OSH North Campus?

So there are doubtless a whole lotta complicating details - cost, schedule, asbestos abatement, etc., etc., etc....

But why aren't we at least talking about Marquis Companies reusing the existing health care facilities the State wants to sell off as surplus at the State Hospital?

The people on right are walking along Front Street!
The first thing that comes to mind is the Belluschi building, Breitenbush Hall. Visually it half-rhymed with the proposed building by CB|Two. Why not reuse a building by a modernist icon already configured for hospital services?

Half of Belluschi's Breitenbush Hall - A shallow strip, super wide
And if that building required too much modification, there are at least three other similar buildings on the north campus that are not as architecturally distinguished and could totally be gutted and reconfigured in adaptive reuse!

McKenzie Hall (pictured), Yaquina, Santiam, and Eola
are low-priority for preservation
There should be more discussion of this!  Maybe it's a non-starter, but it would be good to learn more about the reasons why.  And if there's something to the idea, let's see more consideration of it.

Care Facility at Boise and Proposed Sidewalk Deletion at Planning Commission

In the news today is a note about the Boise site and the proposed Marquis care facility. You may recall a note about it from a few days ago.  There are, yet, a few steps in the process, and one will take the project to the Planning Commission next month.
Clinic and care facility at the Boise site
The paper has a few additional details:
The latest proposal for the vacant Boise Cascade site could bring a $13 million medical rehabilitation facility and 50 jobs to downtown Salem.

Marquis Companies wants to build a 38,000-square-foot acute rehabilitation center on a portion of the Boise site...

Scott Miller, director of property development for Marquis, said Tuesday that the company intends to be under construction at the Boise site by early 2014.

The company hasn’t yet closed on the purchase of the land in Salem.
The building is proposed to back against the railroad, wedged in along Front street going south.
Movement on Phase II at Boise!
As you can see it's a low-rise strip office building behind a parking lot, though part of it will front the sidewalk. My initial assessment was more skeptical, but the wedge makes it an awkward site, and this may be a decent way to fit a building.  It's still worrisomely more on a surburban and strippy model than in an urban mode, but there may be limits to what can be done.  The right-in, right-out driveway access will also be a challenge for traffic.  It'll be interesting to follow.

But that's not the first hurdle.  Turns out a hearing before the Planning Commission is necessary.  The City had turned them down, it seems!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Help Build Skyline Trail near Sprague this Saturday

You probably know about the Spring Valley Park trail project spear-headed by the Salem Area Trails Alliance.

And you may know about the "secret" trail along Croisan between Croisan Scenic Way and Spring Street.

Skyline Trail at Sprague, Work Party March 2nd
It turns out there's also a growing network of trails around Sprague High School!

This Saturday, March 2nd, Mark Wigg and trail volunteers will be working on a northern section of the trail system. Mark writes:
We will be meeting at the first parking lot off Kuebler at Sprague HS at 9am Saturday March 2. Bring hoes, rakes, loppers, but no power tools.

We have permission to work on the skyline trail extension. It is mostly hoe work. With a dozen people, we can complete a connection from the current loop to Joseph St. that would be suitable for hiking. I will have some hoes and pulaskis provided by our friends at Salem Parks, bring your own tools if you want. I promised the city that we would transplant any sword fern we need to remove from the trail. I will be there at 9 am and plan on working until noon.
Mark also promises bonus lore: A beaver dam for urban naturalists, and even a ghost story - with recent sightings!

If you'd like to help built trails inside the city, here's a great opportunity!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Lancaster is still Deadly: Two Dead, Hit-and-Runs and Might-makes-Right

One word: Stroad. Stroads are mixed-up hybrids, neither fish nor fowl, neither street nor road. They are roads built for higher speeds and high through-put, but with tons of intersections, drive-ways, and turning movements like a neighborhood and local street. With sidewalks and crosswalks and bike lanes, they look like places for walking and biking.  But they are dangerous and unpleasant.  And in attempting to be a generalist, they end up doing nothing well and being dangerous instead.  Lancaster is a stroad.

Even more than this, a stroad like Lancaster is designed for failure. The engineering details make it more likely for a person on foot to be in someplace where a driver doesn't expect them.  These details and posted speeds encourage higher speeds and autoist expectations for people on foot to stay out of the way because cars rule the road.

Stroads are terrible and they kill people.

In the last two weeks there have been too many crashes involving people on foot.  Each crash is different, and in not every case is the person on foot blameless and the driver solely to blame.  But in all cases, the road design makes it more likely that a mistake, sometimes small, by driver or walker, will cascade to catastrophe.  There's a pattern of crashes here.

Hit and Run is a Felony, Remember?  And people on foot
do have the right-of-way in marked and unmarked crosswalks
Four recent crashes, including a fatality last night, on Lancaster and nearby should remind the City and County that it's almost certainly the worst roadway in the Salem area.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Volunteer Activism, the Parks Plan and the Bridge in the News

Out now for a month or so, the new online weekly Salem Is has featured terrific longer-form stories about Salem.

If you're not reading it, get started!  It straddles a nice line between magazines, daily journalism, and blogging, and adds perspectives that aren't much voiced right now.

New Journal Salem Is - Story of Volunteer Activism
Today's story, written by Beth Casper, is about volunteer activism. She writes about institutional and personal struggles with the Salem Saturday Market's now stalled "zero waste zone" project, as well as the challenges that Barbara Palermo faced with urban chickens and transportation advocate Curt Fisher with Kidical Mass and Bike and Walk Salem. In all three cases getting volunteers and creating an ongoing and sustainable enterprise was difficult or impossible.  Even more, the drain on personal energy proved too costly and was unsustainable.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Legislative Update, Week 3 - CRC Tsunami Swamps Opposition

Last Monday the bill for the Columbia River Crossing, Portland's $4 Billion Bridge and Highway proposal, moved out of Committee and will have a vote on the House floor tomorrow, on Monday the 25th.

Standard Oil Monopoly, 1904. Detail:   Library of Congress
This really is going to be the theme image for the session

Clouds and Shadow
There's nothing new to say other than, "wow."  Pick your metaphor and image:  tentatacular, steamrollery, blitzkriegy...Whether it looks like cthulhu or nike, it's the goddess of greenhouse gas, corporate victory and pave, pave, pave.

Here are some links.  (So many of the arguments map directly to our third bridge mess.)  BikePortland on the committee vote and on Monday's floor vote - below check out the awesome animated gif of the bridge from the post!  Willamette Week on the fictions behind the financing "plan." A separate post has a long quote from Senate President Courtney in it.  Former BTA-Director Evan Manvel has a piece on the flip-flops of politicians, including Governor Kitzhaber who once said "It's time we challenged the idea that says we can build our way out of congestion by adding more freeway lanes."  And economist Joe Cortright offers an analysis of the funding plan in HB 2800

More interesting perhaps, at least because it is different, is the Portland BTA update on its legislative agenda.  As for the CRC, they say, "The BTA does not support HB 2800 and we are not working on the bill."  They posted their position paper on it, and while it says
We cannot support a project that will lock up state, federal, and other transportation money for the next two decades, increase congestion, and increase global warming pollution from cars and trucks.
They also don't say they oppose HB 2800. I don't see how they can remain on the sidelines for this.

As for their priorities, they cite SB 247 and HB 2310, and also two bills that don't have a number yet.  The deadline for bills - something of a soft deadline, it's true, since a very small number of "priority" bills can still be introduced - was on Thursday, and it is concerning that they weren't able to line up details to get the bills introduced earlier.  Maybe they'll be able to pull out a rabbit with a gut-and-stuff, but overall it looks like a legislative agenda of diminished expectations and nibbling around the edges.  Not very inspiring.

Two of the bike-relevant bills have Salem-area origins.  As the BTA has cut loose advocates downstate, and retrenched for the Portland area alone, they may have hampered their ability to forge a broader statewide consensus on multi-modal transportation issues.  Portland-area legislators by themselves may not be able to carry out the BTA agenda, even as modest as it is.  A Salem-area legislator, Representative Kevin Cameron, has introduced a bill that would toll people who bike on the bridge.  (BikePortland reaction here and more on co-sponsor and person who bikes Rep. Tobias Read here.)  Senator Winters' bill for a task force on bicycle safety could frame the debate in negative terms.  The BTA's decision to go at things alone with a Portland-centric focus has possibly made it more likely that unexpected and potentially unhelpful developments will arise from legislators and attract significant support outside the Portland area.

The Active Transportation Summit agenda has finally been released, and it will be interesting to see how the lobby day goes in late April at the legislature.  It's looking like the important action will all be wrapped up by then. 

In committee meetings and hearings, the House Committee on Transportation and Economic Development will hold a hearing on HB 2453, which will move road funding towards a mileage tax rather than gas tax. Details and agenda below.

Other bills remain in committee. More detailed updates - and the gif! - after the jump.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

City Council, February 25th

Is this really that important?
Doom at the airport.  At least that's what the City and airport boosters want you to think. 

The hearing on the airport master plan has been pulled from Council agenda, and it's interesting this coincides with the doom-and-fear in the headlines today - something that looks like it's meant to gin up support for the airport.  (Is it also posturing in the Sequester battle?)

In the legislative positions it is interesting to read that the City is apparently ok with increasing the tax on aviation fuel, as
the additional revenue would be used to support Oregon Department of Aviation grant programs for both State-owned airports as well as other public-use airports across the state, including Salem. The funds are anticipated to be used towards deferred maintenance projects that are not federally eligible and also to provide grant match assistance. The benefit to the Salem Airport is it would provide access to additional funds to help improve the airport that federal dollars are not authorized for, and also to offset local match requirements for federal grants.
But the City's not ok with any increase in the gax tax for deferred road maintenance and other transportation improvements.

Other stuff

Two property owners on Second St. NW are unable to reach agreement with the City in "cordial, ongoing negotiations, but the owners have not been willing to sign and complete a transaction."  The City wants land for the Second St parking lot project.  (It's a lousy project, far from the bike boulevard and rail-to-trail conversion they might have done.)  So the City's going to invoke Eminent Domain

Second Street Parking Lot Project
As part of the path connecting the Minto Bridge to Minto Park proper, the City needs to transfer $48,000 for a survey.
City staff has not been able to identify a source of Urban Renewal Agency or other Funds that qualifies to pay for land survey services outside of the General Fund, thus making the transfer from General Fund contingencies necessary.
$48,000 isn't that much, but is pulling something like that for a survey from a contingency fund actually the best use of what look like "rainy day" funds?  I wish the City pursued other transportation matters with the same zeal, sometimes.  Too many resources are being used on the bridge and path at the expense of other projects that would better improve the City's transportation network.   It's not that the bridge is a bad project - indeed, it's a very good one - but its benefits are overstated, and other projects might offer a greater return on investment right now.  (It's also an example of the City "loving" bikes as long as people on them don't impede those in cars.)

The North Broadway Parking Study will be pushed off a few months in order to coordinate its recommendations with the Parking Task Force, whose zone of study was expanded to include the North Downtown area.  

The Parks Master Plan update will go to a public hearing before the Planning Commission.  The plan documents were updated a couple of days ago, and draft v2.2 is now available here

Finally, in what looks to be a gesture related to the City's termination of the contract with the Salem Downtown Partnership, Mayor Peterson is introducing a motion to "remove Carole Smith from the Downtown Advisory Board property owner/business owner position with a term expiring 12/31/2013."  No matter what has happened, it is an unfortunate setback and unwanted turmoil for downtown.  The Partnership was trying to effect some change, and impartial observers might well find entrenched interests resistant to change behind whatever other very real difficulties there might have been.   Hopefully more will come out about the struggles in implementing the Economic Improvement District - and will help folks who want to cheer for downtown in discriminating between substantive and collateral (or political) matters in the dispute.

Friday, February 22, 2013

More on Boise - also Snark, Art, and Cussedness. Friday Newsbits

Too many small bits of insufficient moment for a full post!  (Plus, lots of it'll make you cranky - but there are a couple of bits of sunshine in here...)

The paper's helpfully posted the slide deck and handout brochure from the Commercial Real Estate Economic Forum at the Conference Center yesterday.

It's really interesting to see how the presenters at the forum frame stuff and what they comment on.

One tidbit that was especially interesting is more on the Boise project. The other parcel north of the creek apparently has substantive plans and at least one actual tenant.
Movement on Phase II at Boise!
Apparently Marquis Acute Care Rehabilitation is going to put in a clinic here.
CB|Two is doing this clinic apparently
It's a low-rise strip office building behind a parking lot, though. Kinda reminds me of Vista Place.  CB|Two has been developing concepts for Marquis in Newberg and Tualatin as well.  At any rate, it's another thing on the surburban model rather than the urban mode fronting the sidewalk. It'll be interesting to see what they do about traffic - if the right-in, right-out driveway remains or they try to do something else. 

But is this the kind of tenant and development that will draw people to want to live in the condos in the Boise shell?  This doesn't exactly scream, "downtown living!"

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

City Club Talks Streetcar - But are we Missing Simpler Solutions?

Streetcars are really difficult to assess. On Friday the Salem City Club will discuss them.

Streetcar on Commercial Street, 1909 in front of Holman Building
On the one hand, 100 years ago Salem enjoyed a pretty good public transportation system. Streetcar lines covered much of the city, and several railroad lines filled in the gaps.

More than this, no single transportation choice dominated minds or streets the way the drive-alone trip dominates today. Back then, horses, bicycles, streetcars, and a small number of autos filled the roads. If the past has a lesson, it is not the specific technologies behind the choices, but rather the robustness of possibility and diversity of choice. Streetcar was a critical part of that.

Here you can see the streetcar network in black circa 1920, at the peak of service. Lines went out south Commercial, 12th street, State street, Chemeketa and Center Street, 17th street, Summer street, and Fairgrounds road. The Southern Pacific; Oregon Electric; Geer; and Salem, Falls City and Western railroads are in blue. You'll recognize the line up High Street and Broadway and the tracks uncovered last summer.

Streetcar and Interurban Rail Network in early 20th Century

Unfortunately in Salem, little is left of the network - or of the commercial buildings that used to line them.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Proposed Apartments for Boise Site Turn Backs on Park

It's great news that things are heating up again on the Boise redevelopment project.

Interestingly, the condos in the Boise shell itself are on the backburner, and apartments for what had been the third phase are now on the table. The location has significant challenges for different kinds of access as it is hemmed in by the railroad, park, and creek on each side. It's not likely an easy site to work with. But...there's always buts.

View of backside from park - a bit of a three-story wall
It is also interesting that Hill Architects is at least the third architect on the project.  They offer "specialized expertise in the master planning and design of destination resorts, hotels, senior living communities..."  Unfortunately, those are the kinds of projects this feels like - much more so than part of the most important urban redevelopment in Salem's downtown core. 

More particularly, the design, called The Residences at Riverfront Park, actually turns its back on the Park and creates something of a gated community instead of a procession of interesting urban spaces from public, to private-public, to private. On the edges and at transitions, it doesn't collaborate very well with the park.  But because of its location and the incentives offered by the City for developing it, it is reasonable to ask that it collaborate and be a better partner. 

Unfortunately the approvals process does not call for a public hearing, and it may not be possible to alter the design on this phase.  Hopefully this will not set the stage for design on what was phase I, the Boise shell proper.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Council Field Trip to Precede Tuesday Work Session on Third Bridge

Tomorrow, Tuesday the 19th City Council is going to take a field trip and visit bridge potential sites for a third bridge.

According to the paper,
The council is scheduled to take an afternoon field trip before its next River Crossing work session. The session is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at the Broadway Commons, 1300 Broadway NE....“The tour is going to take them to a couple of locations where the bridge facility will take off and land,” [Public Works Director Peter] Fernandez said. “Its purpose is for them to see what the locations look like today and what the possible impacts of a structure may be.”
It will be great for Councilors to see a grounded and richer dimension of existing conditions.

The intersection of Commercial and Pine at dusk in winter
At the same time, it will show an area that is currently neglected in Salem, and which deserves more investment.

Site map and key to Alternative 4D at bridgeheads in Highland
So the question is, will Councilors see that the kind of investment it needs is not the kind that a giant bridge and highway viaduct represents?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Legislative Update, Week 2 - Bridge Mania Unabated

Standard Oil Monopoly, 1904. Detail:   Library of Congress

Yes, there likely tentacles here too!
Monday brings the second big committee meeting on the Columbia River Crossing, Portland's $4 Billion Bridge and Highway proposal.

The "Joint Committee on Interstate-5 Bridge Replacement Project" meets again at 3pm on Monday the 18th in Hearing Room F for a public hearing and possible work session on HB 2800.  

If you're interested in following along, the hashtag #crc as well as reporter Andrea Damewood from Willamette Week and House Republican Deputy Leader Julie Parrish were active with useful and interesting updates on Twitter. 

If you're interested in going, here's the Portland facebook page for CRC opponents and organizing attendance on "round II." 

Questions and opposition from Clark County here and here and here. The "green tea" alliance here.  Economist Joe Cortright's testimony in opposition here.  BikePortland here.  From the libertarian and conservative side, Americans for Prosperity weigh in on the "boondoggle."  And from the left, former BTA director and current Cascade Bicycling Club advocate Evan Manvel summarizes.

And much, much more out there! There's more now than is convenient to link to comprehensively.  (Sorry for so much coverage of a Portland thing, but the implications for statewide funding and debt are huge, and the issues map in so many ways to the issues on our own third bridge boondoggle.  Don't forget about Tuesday's work session for Salem City Council at Broadway Commons.)

Senate Bill 247, which would create an alternative transportation fund with lottery dollars has a hearing on Tuesday the 19th at 3pm in hearing room B.

Senate Bill 9 has a hearing ("possible reconsideration and work session") on Monday the 18th at 8:30am in HR 343.

Other bills are mostly sitting chill in committee. More detailed updates after the jump.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

More Belluschi Bits - And what about Hallie Ford?

Breitenbush Hall at the State Hospital is impossible to photograph.

It's organized as a thin, shallow strip along a long, long axis: All width and no depth. Presumably there's one long axial corridor with rooms on either side.

Half of Belluschi's Breitenbush Hall - A shallow strip, super wide
It's also set back pretty far from the sidewalk and with lots of trees to hide it from casual view - and to make shadows for a picture!

As people think about redeveloping the north campus parcel, the building has some challenges for retail and might be better suited for education or small office space or some other commercial use. Maybe you could create studio/1br apartments.  It's an interesting challenge for a distinctively shaped building - though one whose architectural detailing isn't perhaps the most compelling.

A Belluschi Bell?  Other Mysteries!

Just where is the Belluschi Bell Building?  In her book on Belluschi, Meredith Clausen says that Belluschi designed several buildings for the phone company around the state, including one in Salem.  But she does not specifically discuss a particular one in Salem.  Several news articles also reference a telephone company building in Salem he designed.

December 5th, 1976

Friday, February 15, 2013

Bridge Congestion Measures and Chamber in the News

Mark Wigg has a letter to the editor in the paper today with suggestions for immediate traffic demand measures:
1) Impose a road use fee on employers with more than 500 employees, (i.e. the state). Charge $50 per month for every employee that works an 8-5 schedule thereby encouraging large employers to adjust work hours.

2) Allow free parking weekdays at Wallace Marine Park. The park is currently empty during the week. People could walk across the bridge to their jobs and save on parking fees.

3) Install bridge congestion signs on Interstate 5 and other major roads that alert drivers when congestion is severe. Some people would avoid using the bridge.

4) Acquire the right-of-way for Marine Drive NW from Riverbend to Wallace Marine Park and develop it as a multi-use path.

5) Choose not to add to congestion. Many people in the bridge queues could choose not to be there. If just a few hundred people delayed their trip over the bridge by 20 minutes, the congestion would be eliminated. More thoughtful drivers could be the solution and they would reduce everyone’s frustration.
Alt Modes Study
In so many ways the City should immediately begin implementing the measures - for people in cars, on buses, on foot, and on bike - outlined in the Alternate Modes Study. Relative to the cost of the bridge, the measures are very cheap indeed, and we might all find ourselves pleasantly surprised about how effective they all could be, exceeding the miserly baselines assumed by the outdated modeling.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Fix-it First; Climate Change Rally; Oswald West and the first Beach Bill - Thursday Newsbits

If you missed the State of the Union Address, transportation advocates have been interested in the "Fix-it First" proposal.

Transportation for America has more here, and No 3rd Bridge adopts it cleverly as a way to reframe the choice about build alternatives for the Salem River Crossing. Fix what exists already; don't build something new we can't afford to maintain.

From the President's prepared text:
Ask any CEO where they’d rather locate and hire: a country with deteriorating roads and bridges, or one with high-speed rail and internet; high-tech schools and self-healing power grids. The CEO of Siemens America – a company that brought hundreds of new jobs to North Carolina – has said that if we upgrade our infrastructure, they’ll bring even more jobs. And I know that you want these job-creating projects in your districts. I’ve seen you all at the ribbon-cuttings.

Tonight, I propose a “Fix-It-First” program to put people to work as soon as possible on our most urgent repairs, like the nearly 70,000 structurally deficient bridges across the country. And to make sure taxpayers don’t shoulder the whole burden, I’m also proposing a Partnership to Rebuild America that attracts private capital to upgrade what our businesses need most: modern ports to move our goods; modern pipelines to withstand a storm; modern schools worthy of our children. Let’s prove that there is no better place to do business than the United States of America. And let’s start right away.
The President also made several remarks on climate change and the need for action.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

More on Arthur Moore! A 1948 Profile

Reading Sunday's profile of Michael Wolfe I thought of Arthur Moore's profile from 1948, when he was 75! 

Even as a feature, it is a little embellished and the writing padded; it glows with a bit of a mythic aura. It's not advertorial, but it reads like PR. And there's no mention of brother Frank J. Moore, so its cheer might be suspect. There's also what looks like a compositional or editorial seam at the end where the reference shifts between "Moore" and "Mr. Moore."

Still, even if it might not have much value for the particulars of Salem history in the 1890s and early 1900s, it is certainly interesting as a document of the way bikes were perceived in 1948.

Do you know anything about the other details, especially about bicycling during World War II or the dancers? Downtown in the 30s and early 40s sounds like it was hopping!  Can you imagine that level of activity now?

But nevermind the historical and interpretive uncertainty!
Arthur Moore: Cycle King

Proprietor of Foremost Bicycle Shop in Salem Recalls Period of Gay 90s When Pedaling Provided Zest of Life

Bicycles came to Salem to stay many years prior to 1912 when Arthur H. Moore, 6-foot-4-inch son of F. A. Moore, early day judge of the state supreme court for 30 years, decided to make a career of the wheel business.
It continues,

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

State Bike Committee to Meet Friday; Safe Routes to School Mapping Webinar

Friday the 15th, the state bicycle advisory commmittee meets to talk about the the current round of bike/ped and transportation enhancement grant applications.  On the 21st there will be a webinar on mapping good routes for kids to take to school.

OBPAC in 2011
From the advisory committee blurb:
SALEM – The Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee will have two meetings this Friday, Feb. 15. The first is a breakfast meeting from 7 – 8:15 a.m. at the Sassy Onion in Salem, 1244 State St. The committee will consider a grant modification request from the City of Ontario, ex-officio committee membership and other items related to recruitment for the committee.

OBPAC members will then join the Transportation Enhancement Advisory Committee for a meeting from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Transportation Building, 355 Capitol Street NE in Salem. Committee members will be concluding the first TE-Bike/Ped joint funding process by selecting projects to receive awards. The process included multiple committee reviews of proposals as well as public input. Public comments about proposed projects will not be accepted at this meeting.
In years past there was a separate pot of bike/ped funds that OPBAC administered.  This cycle, the OPBAC funds are combined with the Transportation Enhancement funds.  Next cycle (2015-18), there's an even larger pot of Enhancement monies, but no specific set-asides for bike/ped projects.

Salem is applying for one project only in the TE/OBPAC round, for sidewalks and bikelanes on Brown Road.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Michael Wolfe and State Hospital Redevelopment: In the News

There's a nice profile of South Salem Cycleworks owner and long-time bike advocate Michael Wolfe in the paper today!

Also Michael Rose has a piece on the Leland Report on prospects for redeveloping the North Campus of the Oregon State Hospital.

Some preliminary thoughts here if you missed them on Friday.  Rose reports that nearly 500 residences and half a million in annual property taxes could be realized from a redevelopment.  (But, again, remember the similar and stalled Fairview redevelopment for critical perspective on these claims.)

Legislative Update, Week 1 - Bridge Mania

Standard Oil Monopoly, 1904. Detail:   Library of Congress

Are there tentacles here too?
Monday brings a big committee meeting on the Columbia River Crossing, Portland's $4 Billion Bridge and Highway proposal - the Dr. Evil up north to Salem's Mini-Me SRC?  Is it the start of the showdown?

The "Joint Committee on Interstate-5 Bridge Replacement Project" meets at 3pm on Monday in Hearing Room F.  Here's a facebook page for CRC opponents and organizing attendance.  As Willamette Week points out, the committee is stacked with newbies who seem less likely to buck legislative leaders.  The deck looks pretty stacked.  It will consider HB 2800.

On the other hand, both Clark County and Clackamas County are seriously considering resolutions in opposition to the CRC.  Folks are beginning to see that these mega projects also threaten to suck up all the monies for transportation statewide - and are coming around to the common-sense notion that the ability to carry out several smaller projects might very well be preferable, more effective and more nimble, to one ginormous charliefoxtrot.

Things are heating up.

There's also a Tuesday hearing on Senator Courtney's bill to increase the penalties for driving while talking/texting.

Other bills are mostly sitting chill in committee. More detailed updates after the jump.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

City Council, February 11th

On the Council agenda for Monday is the announcement of the next Third Bridge work session. Council has moved the meeting to nearer the Highland neighborhood, and to an area and building that shows off the kernel of a walkable commercial district. This is streetcar logic!

And despite some concerns about this site, it may be a propitious location to think better about non-auto mobility. There's also a field trip scheduled for before the meeting. (More to come on that, surely.)

There probably won't be a grill
but hopefully more open-minded discussion
Interesting also is talk about a proposed fee for street lights.

Work Sessions

Salem River Crossing – To be held at Broadway Commons, 1300 Broadway Street NE, Magnolia Room #305 ~ Tuesday, February 19, Field Trip: 3:30 p.m. and Work Session 5:30 p.m.

Parking Task Force ~ Tentative: Monday, April 8, 5:30 p.m.

Proposed Fee for Transportation Funding – Street Light Fee
Monday, 5:30 p.m. – Library Anderson Rooms

Infrastructure and Funding

The Urban Renewal Agency has a report on Urban Renewal financial impacts.  This year the urban renewal districts in Salem will cost other entities like Chemeketa, the Salem-Keizer School District, Marion County, and Cherriots a total of $9,110,927.  It would be so very interesting to have an impartial review of the URAs.  As talk about closing the Pringle Creek URA suggests, it is not clear the urban renewal districts are actually adding value above and beyond inflation.  At the same time, the kinds of projects the agency is funding are very different from those projects in the 70s and 80s.

There's a project to add to the System Development Charges eligible list.  A third bridge should be added to it!  If the current developments in West Salem serve as a baseline for a bridge system that is still functional, if occasionally irritating, new development above and beyond this baseline should bear the cost of the bridge.  Isn't that the idea behind SDCs?  But our current system externalizes this cost. 

Proposed Front St Ramp and Parcel
Back in mid-January, No 3rd Bridge advocates argued at Council that parts of Riverfront Park should not be transferred from the Urban Renewal Agency to the City of Salem proper. 

The matter is back at Council.  Staff argue that
None of the Willamette River crossing alternatives being considered by the City Council envision using the subject Parcel.
The point of the No 3rd Bridge team is that a lower-build cluster of recommendations from the Bridgehead Study should be implemented first. These are, as the staff report dances around, not formally part of any build alternative being analyzed in the draft Environmental Impact Statement.  The staff report also says that bioswales are planned for this parcel. 

For people who bike, the proposal by No 3rd Bridge should occasion some pause. The free-flowing off-ramp to Front Street would eliminate the multi-use path on the Center Street Bridge, a separated facility that isn't very good, but yet provides the most direct access to Edgwater and points significantly west of Wallace Road. Even after the Union St. Railroad Bridge was opened, half of those who biked previously on the Center St. Bridge continued to do so, even with the much prettier railroad bridge connection.

Still, the big picture goal is to kill the big bridge, and until we have success there, this potential disagreement over detials is a nit.  If a free-flow off-ramp is a good idea or necessary, there might be ways to reconfigure biking connections to Edgewater that would represent an improvement on the current path.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Brainstorming the North State Hospital Campus

On Sunday the Statesman's going to have a piece on the north half of the State Hospital Campus.

Now that the new State Hospital facility is mostly finished, the parcel and buildings north of Center Street are surplus and the State is apparently looking to off-load them.

The last time we went through this we got Sustainable Fairview and the hospital's plan for a parking lot at the Blind School.

What should Salemites want from this 47 acres and likely development?

So far anyway, Fairview looks nothing like this

Six Institutional Buildings (Including the 1910-12 Dome Building)
and lots of greenspace at the State Hospital
At least some of the buildings have a distinguished history and ought strongly to be considered for creative reuse.

Dome Building last fall
While the Dome Building has an unfortunate recent history associated with its use for the Department of Corrections, previously it was used as the receiving ward and had been designed by Edgar Lazarus. Unless it turns out to be in worse shape than the Kirkbride building of Wilbur Boothby, it is certainly worth saving. Breitenbush Hall is by Pietro Belluschi. The other buildings may be of significantly less interest, and some are so depressing or dull they should probably just be demolished.  (Brick is an easy guide:  the buildings worth saving are probably faced or constructed in brick.)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Melee at the Mill: City Club hosts Luncheon on the Third Bridge

Tomorrow, Friday the 8th, the Salem City Club holds its third "Grassroots Ideas" luncheon and presentation:

City Club to Consider Bridge and Highway
So far anyway, City Council's work sessions have been one-sided presentations by project staff with a bias toward big built outcomes. Council's public hearings with their three-minute limits are more civic theater than organized debate, and lack a true give-and-take with informed proponents and critics. Their primary aim is rarely truth or the best policy choice.  So will this finally be a true debate on the bridge?

The City Club tees it up:
Any serious discussion of Salem’s transportation needs must consider the Third Bridge issue, the so called SRC or Salem River Crossing. To build or not to build? That is the question, and has been for the past 40 years.

Join us Friday, February 8th at noon when we will host a four person panel consisting of state, county and city professionals who will share their opinions and expertise about this ongoing concept. As we continue with our transportation series, the February 8 session will be reviewing the history of the SRC, the population and economic growth that continues to drive the discussion, and the 8 design alternatives currently seen as options. Adding more fuel to the debate is rush hour traffic congestion at the bridges and a perceived need for a Salem bypass to the West Valley.
Scott Bassett from No Third Bridge will present the critique. City Councilor Dan Clem, Transportation Planners and SRC Project staff Mike Jaffe and Julie Warncke will boost for the bridge.

It's too late to RSVP for lunch, but non-members can attend for $5.00.  The presentation starts at 11:30 at Mission Mill.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

$800M Bridge Fantasia to Trump Earthquake Prep?

Remember the big earthquake in Japan almost two years ago now?  How can you forget when concrete docks keep washing up on Washington and Oregon beaches.

There was another big quake in the south Pacific last night, and the State of Oregon is releasing a big report on Oregon's lack of earthquake readiness.

Think our bridge traffic is congested?  How about post-quake traffic!
And the SJ is editorializing about it.
So remind me again why we're looking to spend $800+ million on a new bridge and highway?

Is there budget for earthquake prep on top of $800+ million bridge?
The editorial sites a disaster scenario:
What would a Cascadia earthquake mean? The draft report, prepared by the Oregon Seismic Safety Policy Advisory Commission, states: “Available studies estimate fatalities ranging from 1,250 to more than 10,000 due to the combined effects of earthquake and tsunami, tens of thousands of buildings destroyed or damaged so extensively that they will require months to years of repair, tens of thousands of displaced households, more than $30 billion in direct and indirect economic losses (close to one-fifth of Oregon’s gross state product), and more than one million dump truck loads of debris.”

Healthcare facilities could be out of normal service for 18 months in the Willamette Valley — three years along the coast. Depending on location, drinking water and sewer service could be inoperable for one month to three years. Even the highest-priority highways in the valley could be impassable for six to 12 months.
Isn't it likely there are more important things than a big bridge and highway to be budgeting for?  What good's a big bridge and highway when the local roads are trashed, buildings are down, rubble is everywhere, there's no food and gas, and water and sewer are severed.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Arthur Moore Building Built by Bikes

It would be quite an exaggerated stretch to say that bikes built large portions of downtown. But bike business and businessmen did contribute to much more of downtown than we might suppose. That part of our history has been erased or neglected.

Across the street from Courthouse Square and the transit mall is another building related to transportation and funded by bikes. While part of its history is sad, it also represents a mixed-use development that points the way to 21st century redevelopment.

Son of Oregon Supreme Court Chief Justice Frank A. Moore, Arthur H. Moore finished the building in 1924 and moved his bike shop into it. He planned it with apartments above.

Arthur H. Moore Building on High Street

Frank A. Moore
Oregon Supreme Court
The Moore building has roots in a tragic loss, however, and it is part of the history of Salem bicycling.

The Moore family moved to Salem in 1892 when father Frank A. Moore was elected a Justice on the Oregon Supreme Court.

They appear to have lived on Oak Street in the neighborhood between Winter and 12th Streets where now is the hospital complex.

In 1904 son Frank J. Moore opened a bike shop.  Relative to the advertising of Watt Shipp and Otto J. Wilson, Moore initially had a small and modest business.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Meetings: Kroc Center, West Salem NA, Grant NA

Got kids or know families who have kids who go to Claggett or Weddle schools?

Because of the unfortunate siting of the Kroc Center, getting kids from Keizer to it is a huge challenge - and a surpassingly costly one, it looks like.

The Salem Parkway Kroc Center Access Feasibility Study is holding an open house at Clagget Elementary School on the 3 alternatives advanced to the final round of analysis.

It will be Wednesday, February 6 (4:00 – 6:30 PM) at Claggett Creek Middle School.

The operative question for parents is - would you really send your kids by themselves on bike, on skateboard, or on foot across these things? And if so, are any of them worth the cost?

The medium alternative, UC, has an estimated cost of $9.5 million
The high-medium-low cost estimates range from $16 million to $2 million and it's worth repeating that this is an excellent example of a transportation cost that got externalized out of the initial site and building costs when the center was plopped down in an industrial wasteland. Something like this should have been funded through a System Development Charge!

If large numbers of youth wouldn't use the proposed bridges and pathways, it is almost certain that we could better invest money at or near schools for improved walking and biking.  There are real questions about the return on investment.

West Salem Neighborhood Association on Monday

The Salem Area Trails Alliance will be presenting concepts for a "family friendly pump track, jumps and xc trails" in Wallace Marine Park north of the softball fields.  This could be a link in the wider trail system proposed by SATA for the river and Eola Hills, as well as a terrific urban facility for off-road biking!

The meeting will be on Monday, February 4, 2013, 7:00 P.M. in Roth’s West, Mezzanine, 1130 Wallace Rd NW.

Grant Neighborhood Association on Thursday

You might recall the driver who crashed into the Salem Alliance Church building on Fairgrounds and Hood.

Met Maker Driving into Church
Apparently it's not uncommon. The news story cites at least four other instances.

At the last Grant Neighborhood Association it was a topic of conversation:
Tim is continuing to work with the City on the placement of a barrier at Hood Street and Fairgrounds Road, but it is going slowly and he is getting some resistance. The building repair costs are now estimated to be $140,000. Also, SAC's insurance company is threatening to drop coverage if no protection is put into place. This building is occupied, at times, by 4-5th graders and also a Grant School after-school program. It is time to write and deliver the NA's letter to Peter Fernandez at the City.
This is likely a topic at the next meeting on Thursday, February 7, 2013 6:15 p.m. in the Grant Community School Library, 725 Market St N.

In Bike and Walk Salem, the north-south route along Winter Street was adjusted to cross Fairgrounds on Norway instead of the seven-legged intersection of Winter/Fairgrounds/Jefferson. Earlier there had been proposed a crosswalk, pedestrian median, and other traffic calming for this intersection, but the neighborhood objected.

Instead of accepting the straight shot that "forgives" high speeds and results in people crashing into the church building after failing to navigate the turn onto Hood at an appropriate speed, maybe it's time to reconsider traffic calming on Fairgrounds again?  A barrier does nothing to reduce the speeds, but traffic calming will!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

So What about that Belluschi Bank?

Over on the note about sidewalks and the Social Security Administration office, Jim proposes that the old First National Bank building designed by Pietro Belluschi might have been perfect.

And on the note about the McGilchrist building, Walker proposes a fee on vacant buildings as a way to incentivize improvements, leases, and ultimately occupancy.

What great questions! So what about that bank building? Here's a vacant building that shouldn't be vacant.

Doesn't it look like it belongs on the Capitol Mall? All marbled up and formal.

The lack of ground floor windows is a problem.  It's got that dark marble band instead of windows. The building really does turn its back, more than a little frostily, to the sidewalk.  It's not inviting and it's not connected to the wider life of the City as it passes on the street.

The building clearly anticipates most visits by car - through the drive-in in back and through the rear entry off the parking lot.  It's a mid-century autoist construct.

The light inside could be a problem, too.  There are four 3x3 clerestory windows on the north side.  That's it.  It may be a little dark inside.  Everything about the building makes me want to poke holes and to open it up.

Except for the reliefs!