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.

25th street here  is posted for 45mph, lacks bike lanes
Madrona here has bike lanes, but no sidewalks
Walking needs for area
Biking needs for area
Bike and Walk Salem shows 25th and the intersection of 25th and Madrona as a high priority for walking and biking improvements. It also identifies this segment of Madrona as a medium priority for sidewalks.

Sometimes when a business or development wants to go into a new area, it is generating new demand.  The Kroc Center is a good example of this.  It's not fair for the Kroc to make other entities pay for trips it alone is generating and supporting infrastructure.

Here, however, in the Fairview/Airport area there is already a strong demand for facilities, and the City should be making these improvements anyway.  If the new development accelerates the schedule, that doesn't seem like such a bad burden, and in the trade-off of new jobs and economic development (in an industry for which Salem is particularly suited!) for infrastructure improvements seems on the surface like it might be a fair one.  Hopefully more will come out about the prospective costs and funding sources.

Additionally, canneries employ a high proportion of people who commute by bike, many of them "workforce" cyclists who may not also own a car.  As part of the permitting process, the City should encourage NORPAC and Hennington to install higher quality bike parking, as many of the older cannery facilities in Salem have wheel-bender racks only.

Some have observed that there are vacant canneries and ice warehouses scattered around the city, in West Salem, along 14th street south of Hines, and on Front Street. Maybe there are others.

It's hard to know how to assess the question here of building new vs reusing old.  That seems like a good question. Siting in West Salem is probably not a good idea, as the Fairview/Airport area offers much better connections to I-5, direct connections to rail, and avoids bridge crossings or the Edgewater/Wallace charlie foxtrot.  Other sites, however, might be candidates for reuse.

It would be interesting to know the balance of prepared foods to frozen foods the facility would process, as frozen foods have public health benefits that prepared foods do not always share.  

On balance, this looks like a good development, the kind of thing we should embrace. and a helpful prod to the City for better bike lanes and sidewalks in this area.

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