Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The New Bark Mulch Setback and the Old High Street Bypass

Things are a little slow at the moment, and there seems to be less of immediate interest to talk about or comment on. Here's a couple of odd - and a little spleeny - bits that don't really fit into any larger discussion right now.

The High Street Bypass

One thing that has been of a long but slow interest is the way we treat High Street just south of downtown.

High Street Bypass says it's for "local traffic only"
How many people register the sign at the intersection of Mission and High?

Local traffic only - Through traffic use Commercial Street.

If they do register it, it is routinely ignored. In the afternoon, High Street sees a steady stream of drivers using it as a bypass out of downtown. They turn at Rural or Hoyt, using the light there as a way to get back onto Commercial going south.

The problem of through-traffic is acute enough that on the crest of Fry Hill, where the sightlines are reduced, both crosswalks are closed and auto traffic given full priority. Kids, too, sometimes drive too fast there in order to hop the crest and catch some air.

Sidewalks closed on High and Oak by Library
The six lanes of the Liberty/Commercial couplet are just one block away, however, so there is no need for a parallel throughway, and yet we also treat High Street as a throughway here.

One of the things that came out of Bike and Walk Salem is that people on bike prefer a Church Street alignment for north-south travel. So this is not an urgent problem. But if we took literally the "local traffic only" for High Street, we could install one or more traffic diverters or other traffic calming in between Mission and Rural, as well as open the crosswalks on High and Oak, and really make High Street a pleasant byway and adjunct to the park for walking and biking

Why isn't non-auto traffic prioritized here?

Bark Mulch Setbacks


Bark landscaping and doorless faces make this a Potemkin Village!
I think this is in the County, not City, Off Munkers

After: New Panera on middle Commercial

Waterplace and Orupa

Clinic under construction, 2012, at Patterson and Edgewater

Anchoring the corner?  Windows, but no front door to sidewalk.
The door instead faces the back parking lot!

Building elevation from northeast corner looking southwest
via CB|Two (click to enlarge, and see here for more)
Clearly this is what our codes require right now. What's the deal? Why not entries and building faces with zero setback right on the sidewalk?


Unknown said...

Hey - a post I can comment on! The City has minimum setbacks coupled with minimum landscape requirements. We try to use these areas for bio-swales when possible, but for a myriad of reasons, they rarely survive the design phase. The final reason would be vision clearance triangles - to make intersections safe - buildings are pushed back into the site. Sometimes other issues like topography come into play as well. Additionally, in many locations, the City has utilities running through these areas - so nothing other than bark mulch!

Curt said...

High St. bypass:

When going south to get to Commercial you need to fight your way across Liberty to the other side of the couplet to get to S. Commercial. Many factors limit access to S. Commercial: the civic center superblock, poor connectivity of the street grid, signals that prioritize northbound traffic on Liberty, and the perils of crossing three lanes of traffic on Liberty at a non-signalized intersection. All these unintended consequences of the one-way couplet make High St. much more user friendly.

Jim Scheppke said...

Thanks for blogging about High St. I ride my bike from my house near South High back and forth to downtown all the time. Coming home is really difficult with no bike lanes on Mission or High. Going south on High past the park you have to weave in and out of parked cars and cars headed south often want to pass you if they can avoid cars headed north. It's a bad accident waiting to happen. Maybe it's time to eliminate all street parking on High Street. That would help.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

re: "vision clearance triangles"

(Thanks for the comment and info, btw!)

I suspect this comes from letting excessively high design speeds for turning movements drive a "need" for larger sight triangles.

This should be regarded as bass-ackwards!

A desire for more a more walking-friendly environment with lower turning speeds should drive acceptance of shorter sight triangles.

The engineers may say we need longer clearances to make the intersections safe, but this engineers forgiveness for higher speeds into the intersections and in the end makes them less safe and inviting.

We should follow older districts and older buildings that have the shorter sight triangles!

As for the utilities - yeah, that makes sense, and I forget about them. I wonder how this is handled elsewhere.

Unknown said...

I agree wholeheartedly regarding our societal interpretation of safety and prioritizing speed.

I should mention that most of the time, the City prefers to keep its utilities in the public right of way. It's PGE and others that do the opposite.

Anonymous said...

RE: High Street, high speeds, and hopping the crest of the hill.

From the Statesman today:

"A car crash on High Street near Oak Street SE caused one vehicle to go over an embankment and into a ditch Tuesday morning.

Just before 7 a.m., a 2007 Subaru Forester driven by Jean Marie Rover, 70, of Salem, was northbound on High Street when Rover slowed to make a turn, said Lt. Jim Aguilar of Salem Police.

The vehicle behind Rover, a 2006 Honda Pilot driven by Zane Hylton, 28, of Salem, rear-ended the Subaru and sent it over an embankment.

Salem Police officers responded to the scene and closed High Street to traffic between Oak and Mill streets. A tow truck removed the vehicle from the ditch and both drivers remained on scene and cooperated with the investigation, police said.

Aguilar said that both drivers were wearing seatbelts and neither suffered injuries. Hylton was cited for following too closely."