|On Glen Creek looking west, up the hill
It's just insane. That's all.
|The plan from 2011
|Concrete and grading on the Glen Creek Path
|Grading crosses the straighter, more direct path
|Path zig-zags across existing desire trail
(click to enlarge)
In the form of Marine Drive and the OR-22 connector, that same autoism threatens to obliterate or hide the path with a fly-over ramp. There's a sense in which the shiny wonderfulness of the new path will be short-lived and futile. It also exemplifies the lousy trade-offs in the Third Bridge and other large road planning: By our road widening and intersection hypertrophy, we profoundly degrade connections for people who walk and bike. We compensate for this with ornament. The path will be nice, of course, but it doesn't complete a missing connection, and cannot compensate for the way getting from West Salem neighborhoods to the bridge will be even more difficult. It is not non-functional ornament, but it is only partially functional. Mostly it's shiny.
The path project is also interesting because I think it is the last of the projects being funded with "stimulus" funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. In a way it is WPA-style make-work. Because it met the "shovel-ready" requirements it, and not more valuable projects, was able to get funded.
But just think what we might have been able to accomplish if our national politics had enabled a more substantial WPA-style program of capital investment. There's a lot of 1930s construction here, construction we look at today with great fondness and admiration, that was funded by one or more programs in the New Deal. We might not have got a new Capitol after the 1935 fire without that Federal money, for example.
Anyway, these two projects form an interesting and illuminating pair, and they are worth walking by. They also suggest ways that our transportation toolbox might need both more free-market, libertarian impulse at the micro-level and more big-government investment at the macro-level. (But that's a big topic for another day.)