Tuesday, April 30, 2013

West Salem Urban Renewal Board to Discuss Third Bridge Wednesday

On Wednesday the first, the West Salem Redevelopment Advisory Board will be discussing the Third Bridge.

We love West Salem, and especially love Edgewater, and we know you've put in lots of time and energy on revitalizing the district. We wouldn't think of doing anything that might harm that. You can be sure we'll do everything we can to protect your efforts here.  We care, we really do. Trust us.

Right? Isn't this the way the conversation's going to go?

All the buildings between West Side Station and old City Hall:  Gone
But the bridge plans, no matter how they try to spin them, contain a giant system of ramps and viaducts for the bridges and Highway 22.

Old Morton's and Crooked House:  Gone

Monday, April 29, 2013

Legislative Update, Week 12 - First Winnowing

Is it over yet?
So a week or two ago the first deadline passed, and bills that did not have worksessions or hearings scheduled officially died in committee.

(Sausage, it's like sausage making!  Even with the new "Oregon Legislative Information System," deadlines like this aren't posted in obvious places, and to non-experts such deadlines remain "secret voodoo" known only to initiates.  Sometimes it doesn't seem very democratic or accessible to ordinary citizens.)

Down at the end of the post is the scrap heap and dead pile.

At this point it's hard to see that any significant legislation will pass on behalf of people who bike.  Even transportation-related bills of a more general type seem to suffer from an enthusiasm gap.

Once the session ends, it's possible that the bill for which there was the most enthusiasm will be the exception from the cel phone ban for those paragons of careful and virtuous driving, the taxicab operators.


Two hearings, one on Wednesday, May 1st on a mileage tax; the other on Wednesday the 8th on the celphone exemption for taxicab operators.  See below for links to the hearings agenda.

The different piles after the jump.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Tall Bikes and Other Scenes around Town

Maybe you saw something on STOOPIDTALL, a bike of epic proportions in LA.  Images and talk of it have been zooming 'round the internets.  It's scary tall.

Tall bikes of course have been around for a while, but up until now, it hasn't been clear there were any in Salem.

But Salem does have at least one tall bike, it turns out!

Tall Bike at Wulapalooza 2013
Students at Willamette University's spring festival Wulapalooza said they'd rescued it at their house from a pile of stuff left 3 or 4 renters back.

Anyone know more about it or about a tall bike subculture here?

Elsewhere around town...

Friday, April 26, 2013

Monster Cookie opens Wheeling Season on Sunday!

The beautiful sun we're having might not quite last through the weekend, but even if it clouds up a bit, the weather for the Monster Cookie on Sunday the 28th looks quite nice!

So enjoy a metric century through the rolling hills of French Prairie!

Advanced registration has closed, but day-of-ride starts at 8am in front of the Capitol.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Tumlin Talk on Walkable Cities attracts City Staff and Interested Citizens - UPDATED

Jeffrey Tumlin addressed a decent enough audience at the Library yesterday.

One City Councilor, and a whole lot of the Community Development Department attended. Many fewer from Public Works and Urban Development were there. (Though at least some of Public Works were likely at the Active Transportation Summit at the Conference Center.)  The big sad face, of course, is that most of the people who actually make policy, especially the seven other Councilors, as well as the Mayor, and the City Manager, were not there.  And we didn't see folks from the Chamber of Commerce or Salem Health, either.

But it was all so very relevant to current topics in Salem!  Our supposed "need" for a Giant Third Bridge and Highway, and our actual need to reexamine parking downtown were right there.

Regular readers here would have found little new.  But there were still some new metaphors, new ways to conceptualize old ideas.

The Traffic Engineer v. Economist

One favorite idea was to underscore in a table the difference between the way an economist looks at the value captured by a congested roadway full of people on foot, on bike, in bus, and moving slowly in cars, and the way a traffic engineer sees the same congested road.  Tumlin's big on shifting the conversation from engineering analysis and metaphors to economic ones.

Level of Service
Traffic Engineer A F
Economist F A

A traffic engineer sees rapid, free-moving traffic as an "A."  But an economist sees only through-traffic and empty space on the road, with no people stopping and spending money.  A traffic engineer sees congestion as a failed roadway, as an "F," but an economist sees a vibrant streetscape full of people lingering and spending.

Their perspectives are really reciprocals of each other.  But it shouldn't be so difficult:  When people slow down and want to linger, they spend more!

And a city whose congestion problems are solved is like Detroit - depopulated and desolate.  Only by ruining your city, he said, can you solve congestion.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Airport Woes: Opportunity Knocks and Points to Commuter Rail, Transit, Biking, and Walking!

In the paper today is another story on the airport, "Budget Woes Threaten McNary Tower."

But maybe a better headline would be, "Budget talk gives Salem opportunity to reevaluate total transportation system."

When you look at how Salem's airport stacks up relative to other state airports (not including Portland international), it's clear just now much of a marginal, regional, local airport it really is:

Portland — Hillsboro, Hillsboro
Total operations 2005: 219,065
Total operations 2010: 242,544
Mahlon Sweet Field, Eugene
Total operations 2005: 92,806
Total operations 2010: 87,369
Portland — Troutdale, Troutdale
Total operations 2005: 66,225
Total operations 2010: 76,538
Redmond Municipal — Roberts Field, Redmond
Total operations 2005: 62,708
Total operations 2010: 66,530
Rogue Valley International, Medford
Total operations 2005: 61,629
Total operations 2010: 65,936
Klamath Falls International, Klamath Falls
Total operations 2005: 53,822
Total operations 2010: 47,473
Salem McNary Field, Salem
Total operations 2005: 46,608
Total operations 2010: 57,866
Southwest Oregon Regional, North Bend
Total operations 2005: 41,982
Total operations 2010: 49,700
Eastern Oregon Regional, Pendleton
Total operations 2005: 26,091
Total operations 2010: 24,777

Isn't it time we looked to something that could be a strength instead of something that isn't clearly needed and may be overcompensation for a weakness?

Instead of continuing to indulge in wishful thinking for air service, how about we really double-down on commuter rail service up and down the I-5 corridor? Now that's something worthwhile!

Talk on Eight Steps to a Walkable, Wealthier, Healthier City at Lunch Today

If you're not at the Active Transportation Summit, don't forget about Jeffrey Tumlin's lunchtime talk on walkable communities..

Today, Wednesday, April 24 from 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm in the library in Loucks Auditorium, Tumlin will lecture on "Eight Steps to a Walkable, Wealthier, Healthier City."

He's on a lecture circuit sponsored by the Oregon Chapter of the American Planning Association.

Tumlin is the author of Sustainable Transportation Planning: Tools for Creating Healthy, Vibrant and Resilient Communities and he will "demystify complex transportation planning concepts and discuss how advocates of sustainable communities can contribute more effectively to transportation decision-making."

It's a lecture and brown bag lunch just across the street from City Hall. Hopefully electeds, city staff, health care professionals, and other interested citizens will attend.

Yesterday's Headline about School Cuts
In light of ignorance or convenient forgetting about the costs (including the opportunity costs of not doing other things, like investing in better education, public health, nutrition, safety, and exercise, because we can't afford them) of building a giant bridge and highway costing hundreds of millions, the talk is especially relevant just now.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Go to Council Tonight. It's Important.

Do you remember Sandow Birk's show on Dante at Hallie Ford?

Birk's vision of both Heaven and Hell, employed a dystopian vision of highways and urban decay.

It's not like we have to go far to find examples in Salem.

Refuse under the bridge at Riverfront Park
Maybe the giant bridge and highway proposed for West Salem and the Highland neighborhood won't quite yield the apocalyptic maximum, but why tempt fate?  The giant bridge and highway will surely degrade and cheapen our city, bringing far more blight than prosperity.

No Third Bridge asks, "Will you stand up for Salem?"

Legislative Update, Week 11 - Active Transportation Summit

Wednesday and Thursday bring the Active Transportation Summit to the Conference Center.

As with years past, the event has a strong Portland flavor. Moreover, with the way things are going in the Legislature, the Thursday lobby day may be too little, too late.

Several of the BTA focus bills, or otherwise bills of interest, look stalled or dead:

House Bill 3320 would create a new residential speed limit of 20 mph.

House Bill 2500 looks to expand the "types of costs that qualify as approved transportation costs for purposes of State School Fund distributions."  These would include "Expenditures made to improve  safety for students traveling to school by means that are not provided by the school district and that:
(i) Include walking or using a bicycle, scooter, skateboard or similar device..."

ConnectOregon V reform -  House Bill 2310 to fund "ConnectOregon" has moved out of committee and picked up amendments to include bike/ped projects, but there has been no movement for a month now. Senate Bill 247 and House Bill 3348 looks to be dead.

Maybe insiders will have more to say, but on the surface it doesn't look like there's much interest in any of these. The Legislature is preoccupied with other matters, and there just doesn't seem to be much activity on transportation.


Didn't turn up any significant hearings for this next week.  (Have you seen any?)

More updates (and tedium at this point) after the jump.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Columbia Bank's Acquisition of West Coast Bank: No New Drive-Through in Historic District?

With the corner of State and Commercial in the news, your thoughts might have turned to the empty lot across the street.

At one time Columbia Bank was proposing a new bank building and drive-through for it.

The plans would have deliberately avoided creating a continuous procession of storefronts, and filled in half the lot with another surface parking lot.  The corner building wasn't bad at all, but the disposition of parking and reliance on drive-through traffic in the historic district was bad.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

TIGER Grant Program to be Discussed Tuesday

On Tuesday at noon, the Salem-Keizer Area Transportation Study, our local Metropolitan Planning Organization, will be discussing prospective project applications for the fifth round of Federal TIGER grants.  In this round about $475 million is expected to be available nationwide.

Unfortunately, the list is full of old-school projects looking hungrily at a new-school pot of funding.

The TIGER program was originally part of the "stimulus" package of 2009.  With buzzwords like "sustainability," "multi-modal," and "innovation," the program was intended to spur funding and construction of new-school projects for the 21st century.

According to Transportation for America, four Oregon projects have been funded in previous rounds:

SW Moody in Portland
SW Moody Avenue will be reconstructed in the South Waterfront area, elevating the roadway by 14 feet to cap contaminated soils. It will include three traffic lanes, dual streetcar tracks and pedestrian and bicycle facilities. $23,203,988
EV Corridor along I-5
This project will provide Direct Current Fast Charge Stations for the length of the I-5 corridor in Oregon with gaps not exceeding 50 miles, with a goal of deploying 42 sites. $2,000,000
Coos Bay Rail Line
This will rehabilitate the track structure of the 133-mile Coos Bay Rail Link, which closed in 2007 as a result of deferred maintenance. $13,573,133
Sellwood Bridge completion funding
[T]he final piece of funding for the complete replacement of the Sellwood Bridge. $17,700,000
SKATS is discussing six local possibilities to advance for consideration:
  • McGilchrist Street: ~ $19.5 mil
  • Verda Lane: Combine three projects ~$10.3 mil
  • Kuebler Blvd: I‐5 – Turner Rd: $18.2 mil
  • Gaffin Rd and Cordon Road: ~$12.3 mil
  • Cordon @ OR 22E: ~$31.6 mil
  • OR 22W @ OR 51 [Expressway Management Plan recommended projects]: ~$29.5 mil (2007 dollars)
The urban projects would include sidewalks, bike lanes, and center turn lanes, and the highway projects are more about enlarging interchanges, though they would include bike lanes as required.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Council says "Frack Earth Day, Let's Drive More!" Third Bridge Hearing on Monday

Earth Day is Monday, April 22nd.  It is also, as many have pointed out, the day Council has chosen to start the Public Hearing on the latest Third Bridge concept.

Even if the coincidence is accidental, it's still cheeky and ironic, don't you think? And dispiriting.

Proposed Alterations to 4D
During the last Council meeting, on April 8th, one member of the Task Force expressed her dismay to Councilor Diana Dickey:
The enthusiasm for a giant Third Bridge and highway might remind us of other notable "solutions" that turned out terribly wrong...

The other old ads here are pretty amazing too
Sometimes "the experts" are right, but sometimes they are so, so wrong.

This is almost certainly one of them.  Don't let the "Third Bridge" solution to traffic and congestion sedate and hypnotize the City and its neighborhoods!  The solution here is far worse than the supposed disease.  And there are other solutions that better address the legitimate problems.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

100s of Trees Still at Risk in Council's Latest Third Bridge Plan

On Monday City Council will hold a public hearing on the massive tree removal project also known as "the Third Bridge."

Tree Removal at Edgewater and Murlark
It would take out hundreds of trees in parkland, wetland, and river bank environments. It would also take out street trees in the Highland neighborhood and along Edgewater in West Salem.

100s of Trees along Edgewater, in Wallace Park,
and around McClain Island would be removed
with Giant Bridge and Highway
Additionally, it would make Keizer Station and the Woodburn outlet mall the preferred shopping destination for many, especially those in West Salem and Polk County, by-passing downtown as a shopping destination.

(For more on the River Crossing / Third Bridge see a summary critique and all breakfast blog notes tagged River Crossing. The No Third Bridge advocates also have lots of useful information.

The Staff Report and recommendation for City Council was presented to Council on Monday, April 8th, and a public hearing is scheduled for Monday the 22nd at 6:30pm.

If you like trees in Salem, please write your City Councilor about this massive tree removal project.)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Salem Neighbor joins the Little Free Library Movement

You may have seen historian and humorist Bart King's opinion piece about neighborhood libraries in the Oregonian the other day.

He writes:
An urban blight is threatening Portland. No, not condominiums without adequate parking spaces, though those are quite worrisome. Rather, I refer to the scourge of Little Free Libraries....

Little Free Libraries (LFLs) are spreading like an epidemic across the U.S., and there are now more than a dozen in the Portland metro area. The supposed intent of the LFL movement is to inspire reading. That is, since anyone can use an LFL to take (or leave) a book, free literature is available to any and all passers-by.

Some people will maintain that LFLs are harmless, but let's consider some of the threats they pose. For example, what organization polices the contents of these library boxes? What prevents patrons from stealing free books? And is the Dewey Decimal System being properly adhered to?

I'm also concerned that these libraries discriminate against 21st-century readers. To illustrate this, I took my e-reader to my nearby LFL. But after scouring the entire book-box, I was unable to discover any downloading capabilities. The shelves contained nothing but antiquated, physical books....
Well, the "blight" has reached Salem!

Salem's First Little Free Library?

Salem's library even has a facebook page. Apparently it went live the end of March, and a ramble over the weekend turned it up!

The Little Free Library has a webpage and ambitions to exceed in number (if not in size or cost!) the entire Carnegie program of well over 2,000 libraries.

Salem's Carnegie Library on the left
The Little Free Library sells plans, bookplates, and other supporting materials if you're inspired to contribute to the blight.

The available books are a random jumble, of course, but that's part of the charm.  You may strike out, you may find something you didn't even know you wanted.  And then it's your turn to pass on a book.  Keep 'em in circulation. 

(But, yeah, no ebooks yet...)

More than the circulation of books and ideas, things like this are a great way to liven up the streetscape and to knit connections among neighbors. 

Nicely done!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Camas is Blooming!

With urban nature in the news this week, don't forget to enjoy the camas while it lasts! It's up at Bush Park in the lower fields and may also be blooming at the Fairgrounds near 17th and Sunnyview.

Spring 2011 (or maybe 2012)

(Blogging will be light this week, but also don't forget about the Third Bridge at City Council on the 22nd.)

Friday, April 12, 2013

Jeff Speck Walkable City Open Discussion

It has been pointed out that Jeffrey Tumlin's talk, on walkable communities, conflicts with the active transportation summit.

But isn't that ok?  Tumlin would just be preaching to the choir at the summit, and maybe some folks who wouldn't go to the full two-day summit will go to a brown bag talk across from city hall at the library.  Outreach, not echo chamber!

For the weekend, you may recall a friend of the blog has shared a copy of Jeff Speck's Walkable City for review.

There don't seem to be very many reading it at the moment, but maybe we'll put out an open thread over the weekend, and see if it'll generate any discussion.

In his intro Speck says:
In the absence of any larger vision or mandate, city engineers - worshipping the twin gods of Smooth Traffic and Ample Parking - have turned our downtowns into places that are easy to get to but not worth arriving at.
And off he goes. Here's another choice quote:
Underpriced curb parking is no fairer than giving random discounts on other municipal services like water or electricity based upon who circles the block the longest...
But here's one that challenged a core value here in favor of bicycling:
The latest enemies of on-street parking...are two erstwhile friends [of Speck, one presumes]: bikeways and transit lines. Stripping a sidewalk of its protection [which a row of parked cars provides] in order to add bike lanes is just sacrificing one form of non-motorized transportation for another.
So if you're reading it, or have already read it, what has stood out? Did Speck have any insights or analytical notions especially relevant to current projects and problems here in Salem?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway Changes Routing in Salem

The Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway has changed its alignment in Salem and Keizer from one along Rivercrest Drive and Front Street to one using Maple and Winter streets.

New Alignment along Maple/Winter
While the Rivercrest Drive leg is pleasant, the Front Street leg on busy downtown streets was not. This new route will be much quieter - hopefully there will be signage at Union and Winter, and at Chemeketa and Winter to direct folks to the Union Street Railroad Bridge and to downtown.

Maps and signage aren't fully updated, so the best mapping is online here with gps coordinates and elevations.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Prospect of Union Street Bikeway Might Remind us of Heritage Trees Lost and Remaining

While the Zelkova trees on State Street at Ladd & Bush Bank get the headlines today, there's another downtown site where an official heritage tree was cut down in 2007, and another venerable tree sits neglected, too often unnoticed, and possibly at risk.

Venerable Honeysuckle at Union and Cottage

In 2007 Heritage Tree Restaurant on Cottage Street between Union and Marion enjoyed a century-old walnut tree. About the tree, the LaFolette Black Walnut (also La Folette), the city wrote:
Situated near the southeast corner of Union and Cottage Streets in Salem, the LaFollette tree is one of largest trees of its kind in Marion County. The Harry Widmers moved into the adjacent residence in 1905 and said the tree was big then. An old man about town named LaFollette told the Widmers he started the big tree about 1880 or earlier as a nut brought by wagon from Nebraska. The tree is fronted by the Heritage Tree Restaurant on Cottage Street.
When the house was moved from Cottage Street to State Street that year (and photos of the move itself here) the tree was cut down.

On the adjacent corner, there's another gnarled old tree.  It's not clear how healthy it is.   Maybe it's just old, maybe it's at the end of its life.

If it is just old, and not diseased, it might be nice for it to get some official love when streetscape changes are made to Union Street. 

Garfield School and former site of Heritage Tree Restaurant in back
According to an April, 2005 story on a heritage tree walk, it's not a tree, but a vine!  One of the guides introduced it:

Monday, April 8, 2013

State Street Trees in the News Again

Back in October and again in January there was talk about the street trees along the south side of State Street between Commercial and Liberty at the Ladd & Bush Bank.

The trees are in the public conversation again.

Trees have been an enduring part of the streetscape.
Note also the bikes! Photo, 1891: Salem Library
(This photo has been scanned well, and will enlarge to show great detail)
According to Salem Cherry Pits, the trees are Japanese Zelkova trees, and the matter has been deliberated on several times, most recently with the Director of Public Works overruling, apparently, the recommendation of the City Shade Tree Committe.  (At least one Zelkova variety is on the City's approved list of street trees, it should be noted.)  Removal could happen this month.

While street trees are an important part of traffic calming and pleasant sidewalks, the cast iron facade of Ladd & Bush Bank is unique in Salem and historically rare in Oregon. The Ladd & Tilton and Ladd & Bush banks were nearly twins in the 1860s, and in the 1960s when the bank was nearly completely rebuilt, the facade from Ladd & Tilton, which had been salvaged at demolition, was incorporated into the expanded facade of Ladd & Bush.

Ladd and Bush Bank in Late Winter, new trees on right, old trees on left
The bank's facades and elevations belong to a very small number of Salem buildings whose aesthetic and historical interest may be greater than the beauty provided by the natural order. In fact, Salem's Revised Code [SRC 86.130(c)(1)] touches on this and contains a provision for downtown street trees in the historic district:  "Trees shall not be planted in a location which would obscure significant architectural features."*  The current size of the trees seems to run afoul of this.  Note how dark is the sidewalk in the photo from the fall (below). We should be able to see more of Ladd & Bush! (Apparently the trees' root systems are also interfering with sewer lines.)

Legislative Update, Week 9

Contemplating the gas tax
Super abbreviated this week. Too much going on with the Salem River Crossing and other stuff.

Bullet points only!
  • Studded tires.  House Bill 2277 has a work session on Friday, April 12th.  Progress!
  • School transport. House Bill 2500 looks to expand the "types of costs that qualify as approved transportation costs for purposes of State School Fund distributions."  These would include "Expenditures made to improve  safety for students traveling to school by means that are not provided by the school district and that: (i) Include walking or using a bicycle, scooter, skateboard or similar device..."  For a long time it looked stalled, but there's a work session on Monday, April 15th.
  • Helmets. Senate Bill 741 would require persons "of any age to wear helmet when using bicycle, skateboard, scooter, in-line skates or roller skates when participating in organized exhibition, competition or contest."  It has a work session on Tuesday, April 9th.  The companion bill, raising the age from 16 to 18 for helmet use, is not in this work session and may be dead.
  • Suspended Licenses. HB 3047 would double the length of a motor vehicle license suspension from 10 to 20 years.  Hearing and work session held, but no action or amendments yet. There is another work session scheduled for Wednesday, April 10th.
Everything else looks pretty much the same, so see notes on week 8 for more detail and more bills.

All of this year's legislative updates are tagged 2013 Legislative Session.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Salem Weekly Gets One Right, Misses Another

Salem Weekly has a couple of interesting pieces this week. Strangely, they seem to embody contradictory stances on mobility, access, and the hegemony of the car and drive-alone trip.

People in the Way: Photographing the Human cost of a Third Bridge looks at families and businesses threatened by "displacement" should a giant bridge and highway be built.

It's great to see real people behind the abstract notions and euphemisms in the rhetoric of "displacement."

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Urban SKATology: The Mission Street Overpass in Establishment History

At the City's "River crossing" mini-site, folks from our local Metropolitan Planning Organization, SKATS, distributed a "history" of the Mission Street overpass to Council and staff.  Critics here and elsewhere have cited it as an example of the negative impacts and blight resulting from overpasses, on-ramp spaghetti, vacant spandrels, and barriers. 

It seemed worthwhile to reprint it here and to illustrate it with some pictures. The text in italics is directly from the history, A Mission Street Retrospective.  The pictures and captions are added.

Sunset looking east on Mission Street above 14th Street
A Mission Street Retrospective


As a state capitol, Salem was entitled to a freeway spur from I-5 into the city proper. This freeway spur would have been called I-305.

In the mid 70’s, the Federal Highway Administration denied a request that I-305 include a bridge over the Willamette and connect to Hwy 22. Salem and its regional partners determined that if they couldn’t get the bridge, then they didn’t need the freeway spur. The region took advantage of a program that allowed them to transfer the federal money allocated for the I-305 freeway spur to other locally needed projects. The transferred money was used to pay for building the Salem Parkway, widening the Marion Street Bridge, widening North River Road, widening South Commercial Street, and widening Mission Street.

At about the same time, an inspection of the Center Street Bridge revealed significant scouring damage to the bridge piers. The Center Street Bridge needed to be replaced and qualified for special federal funding. In order to maintain traffic across the river during construction, the Marion Street Bridge was widened and served two-way traffic until the Center Street Bridge was completed. At the time, ODOT only wanted to build 3 lanes in each direction, Salem wanted 4 lanes. The resulting bridges addressed the then current need for expanded traffic capacity across the river and the consideration of a new bridge at Pine Street was put on the back burner.
Widening Mission Street between 12th and 25th Streets and constructing an overpass over the railroad was the last in a series of projects designed to effectively move traffic to the Marion and Center Street bridges.

What was Mission Street like back then?

In 1979 there were 32 trains per day using the tracks through the middle of town. There was only one grade separated crossing of the railroad – at Portland Road, 2.5 miles to the north.

Mission Street, a primary gateway to the City of Salem, was two lanes wide. For the most part it had no curbs, no gutters, no paved shoulders, no sidewalks, no bike lanes, and no street trees.
14th and Mission, looking west, Salem Library Historic Photo Collection

Friday, April 5, 2013

City of Salem Proposed Modifications to Alternative 4D: It's Still a Giant Bridge and Highway!

A couple of teaser items for Monday's Council Agenda...

An abbreviated staff report is out with proposed modifications to alternative 4D on the Third Bridge.

Proposed Alterations to 4D
Guess what? It's still a giant bridge and highway! The deletions don't fundamentally alter the structure of the thing, and the clouds indicating areas for further study are just playing with food on the plate, shoveling it in circles.

This represents a political response to some of the neighborhood associations' criticism of the project, but doesn't in any fundamental way represent rethinking of the basic structure of the beast. 

There will be more to say over the weekend.

This recommendation is being presented to Council and then on Monday, April 22nd, the plan is for Council to take comment on it in a Public Hearing and then to adopt a formal preferred alternative for the project team.

25th and Madrona

More interestingly, Council proposes to jump 25th and Madrona to the head of the list of candidate projects eligible for completion with the surplus bond bonds after the original project list is finished.  

State Bike and Walk Committee to Meet, State Announces new Bike and Walk Plan

Early April brings a couple of interesting things for bicycling at the State level.

Active transport and smoking at ODOT HQ
From one announcement:
SALEM – The Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee will meet in a phone conference on Tues., April 9 from 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. Although most members will be attending via phone, the public is invited to attend in person at the ODOT Mill Creek Building, 555 13th St. NE in Salem.

Agenda items include a presentation on ODOT's Fix-It program, a review of the recently completed grant program, and an update on committee member recruitment.
OBPAC in 2011
You can read more about the recruitment here.  It'll be interesting to learn more about how the bike/ped program will be involved on the Fix-it side of the funding, which gets 76% of funds and is meant for maintaining and fixing ODOT facilities. 

New Bicycle and Walking "Modal Plan"

Yesterday, the Department of Transportation also announced the process for a "Ped/Bike Modal Plan."

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Frozen Foods to Fuel Improvements on Madrona and 25th?

Today's paper has an announcement of a new proposed warehouse and food processing facility near the intersection of 25th and Madrona. NORPAC and Hennington Cold Storage propose to build a 260,000-square-foot cold storage warehouse, and NORPAC wants to consolidate HQ from Stayton and Lake Oswego sites to an adjacent office building.

NORPAC in the news today
According to the paper,
Both projects are contingent upon the city of Salem’s willingness to commit to infrastructure upgrades adjacent to the site, including intersection improvements, said a spokeswoman for NORPAC.

Widening Madrona Avenue SE, as well as adding curbs and sidewalks, have been discussed as possible improvements, said a Henningsen official.
The intersection of 25th and Madrona has a flashing red and one "right turn without stopping" lane and sign - but both Madrona and 25th have about 15,000 cars a day, just as much as 12th Street at Madrona. It's a local arterial road stuck in the Eisenhower era! Do we need more auto lanes? Hopefully not - but certainly we need better sidewalks, signals, and bike lanes.

State Transportation Strategy and Public Health Talk Show Problems with Third Bridge

Will we ever connect the dots? Two separate conversations about greenhouse gases and public health ought to have implications for the giant bridge and highway proposed to cross the river. But not only is the right hand not aware of the left, the two hands are completely severed and off in autonomous, zombie action!

Last month the Oregon Transportation Commission, which sets transportation policy for the state, adopted the StatewideTransportation Strategy.  As you can see, it's subtitled "A 2050 vision for greenhouse gas emissions reduction."

It should be obvious, but it's apparently not, that a new giant bridge and highway would represent a capacity increase incompatible with the goals and intent of this transportation strategy.

Healthy Communities and Planning Lecture

Wednesday, April 24 from 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm in the library in Loucks Auditorium, Jeffrey Tumlin will lecture on "Eight Steps to a Walkable, Wealthier, Healthier City." He's on a lecture circuit sponsored by the Oregon Chapter of the American Planning Association.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Marion Street Bridge Rated "Structurally Deficient" and will Require Repair in not so Distant Future

Well now. This is interesting.

Email conversation among bridge critics has touched on the map of structurally deficient bridges compiled by Transportation for America.  On it the Marion Street bridge is in red, as "structurally deficient"!

Is this good data?  It cites assessments from 2009 and in at least one instance shows outdated information.  The bridge on Capitol Street over Mill Creek was just replaced and is no longer deficient. So it is reasonable to verify the data in the T4American map. 

The more recent 2012 ODOT Bridge Condition Report (big pdf here) confirms the data.  In this report the Center St Bridge is rated "fair," and the Marion St Bridge is rated "poor" and "structurally deficient."

Busy April In the Neighborhood Associations!

All kinds of interesting things in the Neighborhood Associations at the start of April!

West Salem

The West Salem Neighborhood Association meets Monday, April 1, at 7:00 p.m. in Roth's West, Mezzanine at 1130 Wallace Road NW.

New(ish) Crosswalk and Swale on Rosemont at 3rd
On the agenda is information about the street light funding concepts; about the Eola Drive and Edgewater/Rosemont/Second Street Projects; and the Orchard Heights East Subdivision.

(More in Northeast Neighbors, Southeast Salem Neighborhood, Grant Neighborhood, and downtown after the jump)