Monday, March 17, 2014

A Rebel ACT at the OTC? Also: Fiscal Cliff and Reallocation of CRC Funds

The Oregon Transportation Commission meets this week on Thursday the 20th, and not surprisingly there's lots of talk about funding.

ODOT's Funding Crunch
There are several versions of this chart floating around, but it's nice to see the "you are here" indicator on it.

It's part of a breakaway attempt down south. You've heard of the "State of Jefferson"? Well, Josephine County, where Grants Pass is located, also has a minor transportation rebellion.  They want to break off from the Rogue Valley Area Commission on Transportation (like our MWACT) and form their own Area Commission. The problem? Too many on the Commission are Jackson County votes and some feel there's an imbalance with not enough Josephine County votes - and with the smaller total pie, fights over the thin slices are growing in vehemence.

I have no idea how serious is the proposal, but as another sign and consequence of our messed-up approach to transportation funding, it is significant and worth noticing.

There's also more evidence that megaprojects matter. Elsewhere long-time bike and transportation advocate Evan Manvel has highlighted another agenda item. In the Federal Transportation Authorization, about $116 million had been tucked away to service debt on the CRC consruction.  Note that's just servicing debt, not an amount for capital construction costs! At an early stage you know that's almost all interest and no principal.

With the cancellation of the CRC, those monies can be reallocated by ODOT for "fix-it" kinds of projects that preserve and maintain.  It's paint, pavement, and bridge repair! So instead of going to banks or investors, it's going to local construction companies for real jobs.  Sounds nice, doesn't it!

In recognition of the funding crunch, ODOT is developing legislative concepts for the 2015 Legislature.  These include a new round of ConnectOregon, some multi-modal funding, and a reallocation of the Jobs and Transportation Act. As you can see these are mostly "placeholders" at the moment.

ODOT Legislative Concepts for 2015
The Commission will also hear more about those oil trains that seem to have snuck up on us.

Oil on our Rails
Finally, there's more on the I-5 at Kuebler interchange.  It had seemed like the more traditional clover had prevailed, but the developer asked for some additional modeling and clarification.  That yielded a much less strong recommendation against the diverging diamond proposal. It seems now to be regarded as close to a toss-up, with a slight preference for the old and the known.

Diverging Diamond
Does anyone know why the developer is so passionate about this design? What's the advantage they get? ODOT continues to recommend for the clover and is looking for the OTC to ratify that preference.

At any rate, the question we asked back in November remains today:  "Is there any reason in the second decade of the 21st century, we are still designing highway on- and off-ramps that require people on foot and on bike to play frogger on the crossroad?"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Here's a great video about the pedestrian environment at a diverging diamond interchange: