Monday, November 11, 2013

Kuebler Widening Looks to Hoover up Bond Surplus

The final recommendations for the bond surplus are out and will be decided at Wednesday 's Council Streets and Bridges Bond Subcommittee meeting.

Recommendations seem follow tactics of ad hoc dispersal rather than a strategy of concentration.

Brown Road:  No sidewalks or bike lanes
Shouldn't we be investing more in basic mobility?
Too often this is our baseline.
I have listed the total cost in order to show the larger sense of priorities, so the total is substantially larger than the expected bond surplus.  In many cases the bond surplus is being used to back-fill with completion funding or used as a local match for other funding sources.

Of course these things are political as well as strategic, so some amount of "local pork" and "retail" neighborhood projects will be sprinkled in.  But as I read the list, it is striking how little from Bike and Walk Salem is recommended for funding.  It's almost as if that project never happened.  The selection critierion is independent of Bike and Walk Salem - "provides access to schools, parks, transit." So it doesn't look like the plan is meaningfully directing future investment or strategy.  Instead, the project list looks like an ad hoc response to local politics.  On the surface, there's not much strategy here. (Maybe you see something I don't?  It's hard to see a politically realistic balance that yet advances substantially our investments in basic mobility and non-auto travel.)

Selection Criteria (click to enlarge)
In an alternate universe, it is plausible that the bond surplus would fund a large number of high-priority projects from the new biking and walking plan - maybe even a complete corridor or family-friendly bikeway. In this world we would take greenhouse gas reduction goals seriously, and show a serious commitment to mobility choice and transportation options.

Instead, one capacity expansion project gets the largest share:  Kuebler widening is assigned $3.2M out of just over $8.1M.

And, remember, Kuebler already got a big chunk of the first round of surplus!  With those savings,

Council adopt[ed] Resolution No. 2013-46 authorizing use of Streets and Bridges Bond proceeds to fund improvements at the Commercial Street SE/Kuebler Boulevard SE intersection ($2, 187,000), Fairgrounds Road NE/Hood Street NE intersection ($325,000), and 25th Street SE/Madrona Avenue SE Intersection ($5,000,000).
So that's $2.2M out of $7.5M.  Why, just why?

There might be more bikes parked at the Union Gospel Mission
than anywhere else in Salem on a daily basis.
Many of those who ride and use the Mission's services are Veterans.
Don't we owe them better support for bicycling and
a better set of transportation options?
In a world in which we don't have a complete sidewalk and bikeway system, in a world in which maintaining our bridges and fixing "structurally deficient" ones remains a fantasy, in a world in which we clearly cannot maintain the roads and bridges and sidewalks we already have, why are we expanding any road capacity for cars?

So, I guess those are leading questions.  Still, what do you think about the list?

Primary Recommendations:

CategoryLocationTotal CostPriority
Arterial SafetyBrown Road upgrade (extends existing project)$2,750,000first
Pavement RehabEola Drive pavement rehab (extends existing project)$700,000
Neighborhood bike/pedRR quiet zone crossing improvements at Woodrow and Silverton Road NE$1,750,000not listed!
Neighborhood bike/pedCourt Street wood bridge over Mill Creek$250,000not listed!
New CapacityKuebler at Commercial dual turn lanes$4,700,000this makes things worse!
BridgesScour Mitigation for 13th st bridge over Shelton Ditch$100,000
Neighborhood bike/pedNew and repair sidewalks - inner Salem neighborhoods$1,500,000unknown
New CapacityWiden Kueber, I-5 to Commercial $5,000,000this makes things worse!
Arterial SafetyBrush College (north side sidewalks)$1,435,000second
SafetyFixed-Pole Radar signs$50,000

Secondary Recommendations:

None of these are high-priority, first-tier projects:

CategoryLocationTotal CostPriority
Neighborhood bike/pedRiver Road South - repair path and retaining wall, rehab pavement - between Fir and Croisan Creek Rd$1,500,000second
Neighborhood bike/pedCunningham Lane South - 1/2 street bike lanes and sidewalks$1,500,000second
Neighborhood bike/pedSidewalk at Madrona and Liberty for Salem Heights Elementary School$200,000third?
Neighborhood bike/pedSidewalks on Lone Oak (Silver Hills to Cimarron)$420,000second
Neighborhood bike/pedSidewalks on Doaks Ferry (Glen Creek to Grayhawk)$300,000second
Neighborhood bike/pedSidewalk on Orchard Heights (south side east of snobird along city reservoir)$430,000second

Two important projects look to have funding from other sources now and are not included on this list:

Neighborhood bike/pedSignal and Crossing at Union and Commercial$1,075,000first
Neighborhood bike/pedMinto Brown Trail (augment existing funding)$1,000,000first

Brown Road

The Brown Road project heads the list, and it is interesting to look at the way the project is being funded.  The project was important enough to head the list in several funding rounds - but never important enough to fund outright in one complete package.

With the bond surplus, STP-U/TA funds will
complete the section south of San Francisco
There are four major funding sources:
The difficulty in funding what is a high-priority project like this for the City speaks volumes to the second-class status still of active transportation and legacy remediation for basic sidewalks and bikelanes.  I mean, really, does it have to be this difficult?

The subcommittee meets at noon on Wednesday the 13th, in the Public Works Conference Room at City Hall, 555 Liberty Street SE, Room 325.

If you think Bike and Walk Salem is more important than more Kuebler, let the subcommittee members know!

Brad Nanke Ward 3 
Councilor: Brad Nanke
Phone: 503-399-7803
Term Expires: December 31, 2016
Address: 555 Liberty St SE, Room 220, Salem OR 97301

Rich Clausen

Ward 4

Councilor: Rich Clausen 
Phone: 503-399-7804
Term Expires: December 31, 2014
Address: 555 Liberty St SE, Room 220, Salem OR 97301
Dan Clem Ward 8
Councilor: Dan Clem
Phone: 503-399-7808
Term Expires: December 31, 2014
Address: 555 Liberty St SE, Room 220, Salem OR 97301

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