Monday, March 23, 2015

Local MPO meets Tuesday, Draft Regional Transportation Systems Plan Released

The Policy Committee for our local Metropolitan Planning Organization, the Salem-Keizer Area Transportation Study, meets on Tuesday, and they'll advance the 2015-2035 Regional Transportation Systems Plan with a public draft and public review process.

Carbon is a huge void at the center of the plan
Draft RTSP, with chart from CO2Now
The most significant thing about the RTSP is the donut hole: At the center of it there is a huge void where we should have talk and policy about greenhouse gas emissions.

In the complete document of 219 pages, the word "carbon" appears 15 times - but 14 of them are about "carbon monoxide" only.

"Greenhouse gas" appears 8 times, and the sentiment is summed this way:
Greenhouse Gases (GhG), which were a major topic in 2008‐2009 for the Oregon legislature, has not received much attention in subsequent sessions. It remains to be seen when the SKATS area will be required to address the issue as Portland and Eugene‐Springfield were required.
The Policy Committee has been skeptical, unwilling to do more than was "required." At last month's meeting on the 24th, they reaffirmed this:
At this point, SKATS is essentially unaffected by the greenhouse gas reduction process. SKATS was asked if they would like to perform a baseline assessment. The response at the time of the request was to wait....

Mike Jaffe expressed concern that SKATS might miss funding opportunities if SKATS doesn’t perform a baseline assessment. He suggested that the SKATS Policy Committee should consider this issue further....

Salem City Councilor Jim Lewis commented that it may not be prudent to appear uncooperative to funding organizations.

Commissioner Brentano commented that he believes that the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions is based on faulty information.
The Carrot has failed, and it's time for the Stick! As it stands now, the only thing that will move our MPO on this is the threat of penalty. Withholding funding is the only language that will have meaning.

There will be a public hearing on the RTSP on May 26th, and perhaps there will be more to say then, especially depending developments with the Legislature or DLCD.

Also on the agenda is the formal adoption of the 2015-16 work plan, which includes a new project for the Third Bridge process, an acknowledgement that even with the bridge, "forecasted traffic conditions in year 2035 will exceed the mobility targets."

The Preferred Alternative won't fix congestion
In other words, the Bridge won't solve congestion, the very problem it purports to solve! Let's spend $500 million (and likely much more) on an ineffective solution!

Finally, there are also some administrative house-keeping details on managing relatively small amounts and details on federal funding, and the changes indeed look small and reasonable, a good instance of reducing red tape. (Think otherwise? Chime in!)

Safe Routes to School at Technical Advisory Committee

Separately, earlier this month at the Technical Advisory Committee, Kari Schlosshauer of the national Safe Routes to School project gave a presentation.

One of the members of the TAC represents the school district and also sat on the advisory committee for Bike and Walk Salem.

Perhaps there will be new movement on local Safe Routes to School programming!

SKATS Policy Committee meets at noon on Tuesday the 24th at 100 High St. SE, Suite 200, above Bar Andaluz and Table Five 08.

Full agenda and meeting packet here.

Full public draft of RSTP here.

For all notes on SKATS see here.

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