Friday, November 22, 2013

Death on OR-22 Ramp near Edgewater Shows Problem with Marine Drive and Park

Wednesday night a person driving a car struck two people on foot and killed one in a crash near Capital Manor on the Highway 22 ramp westbound onto Edgewater.

Highway 22 and the ramp system are real barriers
and there is no place to cross safely
Asking "why were they crossing the road here?" may not be very helpful, as the primary destination across the highway are homeless camps, and it doesn't seem likely they were in a marked or unmarked crosswalk. But they might also have had a car breakdown or something. We don't know the answer, and there may not be a socially sanctioned "good" answer to the question. The question shouldn't distract us from the awful fact that a person died and another was gravely hurt.

the online news piece
So we should instead ask about the structure and design of the road - how is this structure similar to other structures or contemplated structures in Salem? If there were a sanctioned development across the highway, how would a person from the Manor or nearby neighborhood reach it?

1937 propaganda - via NYRB
I can think of two places where we have or are considering an inappropriate co-location of a facility for youth, and a high-speed expressway.  That is, places where people, especially kids, have good reason to want to cross a high-speed expressway (even if we say that wish is might result in an unwise crossing).

The medium alternative, UC, has ad estimated cost of $9.5 million
One is the Kroc Center, where a ten million dollar bridge and overpass was seriously considered as the "middle" cost option to bridge the Parkway, and even though we're choosing the low-cost option, it's still going to be a few million dollars in additional cost.

The other is the proposed Marine Drive by Wallace Park, part of the giant bridge and highway known as the Third Bridge. (With more time you may think of others?)

Marine Drive high-speed expressway skirts Wallace Park
Kids will want to cross it to play in the park

Wallace Road is already a formidable barrier.  Few parents, independent children or whole families are comfortable biking or walking from homes in West Salem to the park for play and recreation.

Marine Drive will add another layer, a busy barrier of zooming cars.  And people will not want to make the lengthy out-of-direction travel to reach the signalized crossings - and indeed, if Marine Drive is designed primarily as an expressway, places where we might think signalized crossings are appropriate will find them erased as high-speed auto through-put is prioritized in the design process.  Already we have seen a morph in the "Salem Alternative" towards the bigger 4D.

What happened on Wednesday night will happen on a high-speed Marine Drive near the park.

And the story will be, as it seems likely to be here, that the people on foot were in the wrong place and they were in the way - that this was an unsurprising-but-tragic outcome after a bad choice by a person on foot. The driver will not be at fault.

And that's because we design roads (or segments of roads) explicitly for this outcome: To exclude road users other than people in cars.  (And we buttress this with a legal framework of authorized crossing points at marked and unmarked crosswalks.) This system might be ok for rural interstates, but in many ways it is not appropriate for urban byways.

If we know a "jaywalking" fatality is a likely outcome of a design for an urban highway, why would we continue to use such designs?

1 comment:

Curt said...

On Marine Dr. Recently no third bridge has been attacking the Salem alternative because it doesn't provide a Marine Dr. Expressway. They have not been arguing against Marine Dr. They have been arguing that it doesn't provide the benefits of an expressway for regional traffic.

I believe that configuration of Marine Dr. is already in the TSP and supported by the West Salem NA. So at least from a planning level, the damage is done.

One of the missed opportunities in the no build fundamentalism is improving the design of these intersections. A roundabout would be the best option for Glen Creek intersection. If you ever get a chance to ride in Bend, I think you would agree that they are far superior to signalized intersections for a variety of reasons.