Tuesday, August 6, 2013

West Salem Apartments at Planning Commission; Third Bridge and Transit Implications

Tonight, on Tuesday the 6th, the Planning Commission meets to consider a proposed 13 unit apartment complex in West Salem near the corner of Brush College and Wallace Roads.

Site of proposed 13 unit apartment complex
adjacent to park-n-ride lot
13 units is pretty modest and the applicant is the Catholic Community Services Foundation.  Adjacent, as it is, to a park-n-ride lot, it also ought to be an easy site for a lower-car life.

But almost surely it won't be.  The site plan looks like it has more surface area for parking and cars than for housing and living, and even if you wanted to walk to the bus stop, the frequency of service may not be enough.

Three buildings, even more car surface
More interestingly, the review criteria and response are totally silent on the ways that development here in West Salem puts pressure on the existing bridges.  If new development is what is causing the whole giant bridge and highway rigamarole, then why don't we have systems development charges for the infrastructure to service this new development?

Negative impacts do not include bridge congestion!
Instead, we allow new development to proceed there and punt down the road the cost of transportation infrastructure for drive-alone trips, and maybe most importantly, ask everyone else but the main users to pay for it.

And we tolerate the gradual and imperceptible increase in the conditions that proponents think will make a giant bridge and highway necessary.  Talk about slowly boiling the frog!

River Crossing and Transit

Over at N3B, there's a interesting note about Cherriots.  At a recent Cherriots board meeting, Mark Wigg gave testimony to request Cherriots to ask
the City to prepare a Supplemental Draft EIS that describes the Salem Alternative and includes an assessment of a transit, bike, and pedestrian alternative to achieve congestion reduction goals.
Wigg included an interesting proposal to use Marine Drive and the abandoned Salem, Falls City & Western for multi-modal rapid transit corridors.

Cherriots has really missed the bus on the whole Third Bridge thing.  The answer to Mark's question is likely to be that a 2007 memo already assessed transit/bike/walk alternatives and found them wanting and that an appropriate transit/bike/walk assumption has already been built into plans.  This conclusion was folded into the Alternate Modes Study.  And it has cascaded in a chain of ostensibly unassailable conclusions:  We need a bridge!

But it's a house of cards! And Cherriots should have pressed a critique and asked for an honest and more robust analysis - and they still can do so.

For example, as has been noted several times the TSM/TDM analysis of transit was profoundly flawed and, by a straw man argument, concluded transit was helpless to alleviate congestion:

Sloppy or Intellectually Dishonest?
In many ways this is the faulty foundation of the whole chain.

Here's the relevant TSM/TDM memo from the Task Force proceedings and an earlier discussion of it on the blog.

Interestingly, the study actually found that metered parking would be helpful! (I know, if you reject one part of the study, can you turn around an accept another?...yeah, that's a reasonable critique, but we're talking generalities here - see below for conceptual nature of the thing.)

Metered parking could reduce auto trips on the bridges by 10%
Still, the memo is short, the analysis pretty thin, and its authors stress that it offers only "preliminary" and "conceptual" recommendations.

Modeling shows metered parking increases transit use
Nevertheless, study recommendations
are "preliminary" and "conceptual"
Unfortunately the project team took them and ran with them, elevating them into firm conclusions on which definite policy recommendations might be based.

The "preliminary" recommendations didn't stop the project team from
formalizing them into an 8% reduction swag
Everywhere you turn, you see that 8% bandied about.

The Alternate Modes Study could have been a whole lot more robust and included at the very least more detailed modeling and analysis beyond the "preliminary" and "conceptual" nature of the TSM-TDM memos.

More usefully, Cherriots could have been a force for not just more detail, but a thorough-going critique and robust set of alternatives.

They missed the bus.

It's not too late for the next one.  Mark's got a fine idea.


Jim Scheppke said...

I think I heard Bob Krebs tell the SRC Oversight Team at their meeting on July 31 that he thinks better transit could reduce traffic on the existing bridges by 10-20%. He also distributed copies of the Mark Wigg email. Of course all this fell on deaf ears and the Oversight Team voted to spend $300,000 to study the Salem Alternative. Krebs is a good man, but he's way too nice.

Jim Scheppke said...

I should have explained that Krebs is a member of the Salem Keizer Transit District Board and their representative to the SRC Oversight Team.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Here's the decision on the apartments. Interestingly, because Wallace is a state highway, a new driveway and curbcut requires an application to ODOT. So this is a fine example of Wallace being turned into a stroad.

Jim - as you say, Krebs is a very sweet man! It was with great delight a year or so ago that I saw him when the Oregon Electric rails were turned up in the paving at State and High, and he was also taking pictures of them.

Part of the problem may be that the board of Cherriots has given its representative direction much too tentative or agreeable; the board probably needs to stiffen its resolve and not cave to the bridge mania.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Apparently there's a tree removal variance in process now for cutting down a 25-inch Oregon White Oak where the driveway onto Wallace needs to go per ODOT.