Friday, February 20, 2015

Motorcycle Crash Points to Contra-Flow Emergency Lanes; other newsbits

A motorcycle crash and a jumper blocked portions of the bridges this week. The events themselves are sad and have rippling effects for family and friends.

For the rest of us, the events and news become stories about traffic congestion. (It is terrible to use another's misfortune to illustrate an infrastructure solution, but here we go.)

The incidents illustrate ways we misuse excess capacity on the bridges and create a false narrative that we need to build a super-duper expensive new bridge.
Traffic might be backed up some on Marion...

Some queuing and slowing on Marion Street
(Yet it's not even total gridlock)
But there's plenty of room on Center.

Free flow and wide space on Center Street
One or even two lanes could be used for west-bound traffic
(Both traffic cam clips from during the crash and lane blockage.)

By developing a plan for contra-flow two-way traffic on either bridge when one bridge is fully or partially shut down, we could also use surplus capacity during rush hour. This would cost a lot less than a new bridge or even adding lanes to the existing bridges.

Our inflexible one-way grid imposed on the bridges creates an enormous amount of wasted space and wasted capacity. (On top of the wasted space created by cars!)
More on Low Snowpack

2nd consecutive year of low snow

New Farm Location for Willamette?

Earlier this month the Willamette Collegian reported that the University has shut down Zena farm at least temporarily, and maybe permanently.

Zena Farm house - farm and garden out back
The problem involves the terms of a conservation easement - and who knows how that's all going to turn out. (There's more here from earlier this week.)

This has been going on for a bit, and at the SESNA meeting in December, there was talk about relocating the farm and garden to an underused plot on the northeast corner of Shelton Ditch and 14th Street.

From the minutes:
WU’s Zena farm - should the university change 13th [14th] street dump lot to an organic farming plot and get rid of Zena farm. What does neighborhood think? Pros - get students into the n’hood, make it prettier.
The "dump lot" from above
Willamette owns a good bit of land in here.

WU owns land along 14th and the Geer Line
(notes added) from WU 2009 campus master plan
And you may recall some light talk about an interest in an urban renewal zone here.

With the Mission Street Bridge/overpass there, though, on the south, I wonder if the property would be too shaded for great farming.

At any rate, in no small part because of the Mission Street mess, this is a part of town that has languished, and there might be some fine-grained ways to invest in the neighborhood that would also benefit residents and not trigger the bad side effects we often associate with "gentrification." (Though in the past few months there's been some interesting research that suggests gentrification may not be a very useful analytical category, more myth and lore than empirically observable effect or pattern.)

In the longer term, Willamette may very well seek to redevelop the land they own, and so this is something to watch.

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