Thursday, August 22, 2013

Here's One Idea for Pringle Square Access - What's Your Idea? - updated

The "all or nothing" rhetoric that has seemed to coalesce around the Boise Redevelopment right now is a little alarming.

Are we really at that point? Or is this just positioning and talk?

One idea for the access problem
Anyway, here's one idea for a solution.  It accepts the basic deployment of the building units.

(A different site plan is almost certainly necessary for an optimal access solution.  As one commenter pointed out on the paper's article yesterday, the development lacks a waterfront restaurant.  It really seems like a better, more vibrant mixed-use scheme can be envisioned, and with that would come a different circulation pattern.  It's likely in the community's interest to go slow and get it right; the developer, on the other hand, probably wants to build now.  Somewhere in the middle hopefully there's a sweet spot of compromise.)

The idea here uses an already-planned driveway that goes underneath the trestle.  It then requires a footbridge across the creek for access to the apartments.  It would be preferable to have a public footbridge and for the apartment complex to be less of a gated enclave, but if necessary, the parking lot and footbridge could be private.  The footbridge concept is - perhaps naively - premised on the notion that spanning pringle creek is much shorter and would be easier and cheaper than spanning the slough.  The connection to the Carousel lot would be retained, but only for non-motorized travel (and emergency response).  This would give people on bike and on foot a direct shot to State Street and downtown.

Also since the Carousel parking lot is also unused at night, it seems like it ought to be possible for the City to sell to the development some nighttime-only parking permits to better utilize existing parking capacity there.  It seems like creating a tiered parking system with variable pricing - some free, and some "premium" parking for a fee - might better allocate stalls and reduce the net parking requirements for a successful development.

The First Idea was Bad

For comparison here's the first iteration proposal.  It involved closing the State Street crossing at the Carousel and adding a new driveway to Front Street southbound (with no access from Ferry Street and no crosswalk).  

Former access plan with new rail crossing, long drive, and State St. closure
Imagine a visitor walking down State Street to the Carousel.  The gates would be closed!  This plan created lots of out-of-direction travel, and created barriers at the intuitive connection down State Street to the Carousel and Minto Bridge.  It was a bad idea.

Fortunately, that concept had an expiration date, which has passed.

So what's your idea?  We're at a point where we should all just be spitballing ideas to see if anything sticks!

ODOT Rail:  No New Crossings for You!
(email in Revised Decision for Site Plan Review Case SPR13-01,
March 22, 2013)
And remember:  The big constraint?  No new driveways across the railroad.  Also, new parking garages are super expensive - think $25,000 a stall - so it's not like "stacking" on a surface lot would be a preferred option.

Also, just for context, remember how much parking there actually is in downtown Salem.

Downtown Surface Parking Lots in Red
Parking Garages in Solid Brick Red
On-street parking stalls not included
click to enlarge (1 mb total, 1874 x 1114 px)

Update, August 31st

Architect Geoffrey James (comment below) has been circulating this fine idea!

Another idea, using Bellevue Street access
Courtesy of Geoffrey James
As I see it, the only problem is that this requires a new at-grade crossing at Bellevue, which ODOT doesn't want (see letter above).  In the current regulatory environment, then, it would require closing the State Street crossing at the Carousel, which seems like a very bad idea.

But as far as pure auto access goes, it may well be better than the undercrossing concept.

Thanks, Geoffrey!

And Another...Pringle Square Access

A group calling themselves Pringle Square Access has another approach to southside access.

Multiple access points by Pringle Square Access
Instead of a footbridge, they argue for a full capacity auto bridge across Pringle Creek (#2). They also add two new at-grade crossings, one at Bellevue for emergency access (#1), the other aligned with Ferry Street and alongside the nursing home (#4).

People really seem to think adding new at-grade crossings is an easy and obvious solution. Maybe something has changed, but ODOT Rail has seemed pretty clearly opposed to new at-grade crossings. We'll see.  A change of heart would be terrific and make this project much easier.

"ODOT Rail...would not grant a new at-grade crossing without
completely closing another existing, nearby at-grade crossing"
From September 28, 2009 staff report


Brian Hines said...

Well said. I like your Pringle Square access approach. Mirrors what some commenters on the Statesman Journal story suggested.

This shows how much better the development could be with the addition of some creative thinking. And more involvement of the Salem community.

You stimulated my own blog post on the Pringle Square subject:

Mike De Blasi said...

Here's my idea for the Boise property:

Eliminate all of the development on the River side of the RR tracks and give it to the park. Take the footprint of that development and turn part of it into some covered structure, similar to what Missoula has down by the Clark Fork River in downtown. This could be used for the farmer's market throughout the summer and any other event. A restaurant could go in there too-something like Tavern on the Green in Central Park NYC- as well as a roller rink/ice skating rink. Eliminate the parking in the Slough parcel and put in a foot/bike bridge over the creek and a trail that comes out at Bellevue St.

For the development on the other side of the tracks, push the buildings closer and put in a parking garage on the first floor but make sure it doesn't look like one and there are building entrances on the first floor. Pull all development back from the creek and restore the habitat. This can become the "backyard" space for the development.

Eliminate a lane from both Commercial and Front Streets and put on street parking along the entire frontage. Then work with the landowners to the south, between Bellevue and Oak Streets, to take up some of the parking area and build the buildings that were going to be on the river side. With a parking garage on the first floor all the tenants at the "Residences" would have riverfront views. Again, the street face would be business and residential entrances.

The combined effect will be a better park experience, more compact development and less land dedicated to parking. This could have positive ripple effects further down Commercial and the south end of downtown Salem.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Thanks for the Missoula info! Here's a link to an aerial. Missoula seems to have done a much better job with the riverfront.

Making the west side of the RR park land has been floated before, though, and so there must be some non-public reason it is more difficult than we might think.

This whole process needs to be much more transparent than it has been.

Geoffrey James said...

I just posted an Alternative Access Solution on Facebook (under "Geoffrey James") that avoids any violation of Riverfront Park. Sent it to City Council. There is a color map. A written report is available, and some links to related videos. Can email it as a pdf or jpeg to anyone who is interested in a viable solution.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Thanks Geoffrey! Post is updated with a clip from your proposal!

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

updated with pringle square access concept map and clip from 2009 staff report on no new at-grade crossings

Anonymous said...

In facebook comments on today's SJ editorial in favor of the access drive, one of the organizers of the proposal makes a remarkably strong claim:

"A few years ago the developer would not have been able to get another at-grade railroad crossing off of Front Street. The Carousel agreed to close the entrance at State Street and share an share a new crossing with the developer just a little farther south. Things have changed. It is no longer necessary for the Carousel to close their entrance in order to get another crossing, and the developers do not need to take land from Riverfront Park for their access road. These are the facts."

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Certainty about the diminishment of opposition to new at-grade crossings is very interesting. It would be great to see, of course, but no one had shown an official statement from ODOT Rail suggesting the change of heart is actual policy and not just fluffy wishful thinking. Very cautious optimism may be the right note here.

Anonymous said...

IN a comment on the SJ, Pringle Square Salem says:

"The Slough Parcel you mention is within the 100 year flood plain and cannot be considered a reliable primary access for any portion of the development.

Please note, the only place to find true, and accurate, information is at"

That the slough parcel is in the 100 year flood plain may not be as significant as the developers suggest, but it is a legit data point to consider.

On the other hand, it's more than a little humorous that they claim they themselves are "the only place to find true, and accurate, information..."