Saturday, March 21, 2015

City Council, March 23rd - Transportation in the CIP and ARTS

A couple of wonky transportation things leads for us on Council's Monday agenda.

The Salem Bicycle Boulevard Advocates hope to be out in force as the City starts adoption of the five-year Capital Improvement Program. Public Works is also applying for a grant from the All Roads Transportation Safety program.


When the "future report" for the CIP came out, it was pleasant to note an expansion of the Union Street bikeway project.

There are no other new bikeway projects, and perhaps the Boulevard Advocates will ask the City to consider more of them. But the rejoinder will be, of course, how do we fund them?

Overall funding sources for transportation
You'll see that the bond funds from property taxes are all obligated and no longer visible in the tables - it's a quirk of accounting that even though the work's not even started, the money is still "spent."

Several of the funding sources are constrained. ODOT grant funds can't be shuffled around, and Urban Renewal funds have separate processes for allocating them.

But some of the funding sources may be deployed by some amount of staff discretion with no public application or public comment. Here are some two of them it looks like:

System Development Charges ($5.2 million total over five years):
  • $220,000 out of $2,777,000 for 12th Street widening between Hoyt and Fairview widening
  • $1.6 million out of $3.1 million for Fisher Road NE Extension to Market St. NE 
  • $50,000 for flashing yellow light signal upgrades at various sites, $25,000 for signal interconnects, and $500,000 for fiber optic interconnects
  • $200,000 for developer reimbursement on Battle Creek Road improvements.
  • $750,000 for 22nd Street extension at Madrona
  • $1.1 million for Marine Drive "design, analysis, and Right of Way acquisition"
  • $750,000 for Lone Oak Bridge across Jory Creek
It's interesting that two little stub road connections at Fisher Road and 22nd will be funded out of SDCs.

Maybe most interesting is that in addition to some bond proceeds for Marine Drive, now some SDCs are contemplated. That $1.1 million could instead be used for better bike lanes in West Salem instead of car lanes along Wallace Park. That's a pretty clear policy choice for autoism over human capacity.

The other fund is the Salem Renewable Energy and Technology Center or SRETC ($4.3 million divided over two years):
  • $800k for Gaia Street, Phase I (If you can't bike or walk to it, Gaia's a pretty cheeky name, don't you think?)
  • $2.9 million for Gaffin Road widening
  • $600k for traffic signal at Gaffin and Cordon Road
This SRETC-designated transportation funding source is a new one, and it will be necessary to learn more about it. But if Salem has a surplus of industrial land, are these the investments we should be making? And what exactly is the source of this funding? (See below on the surplus, and here also is SEDCOR on SRETC.)

(The Staff Report on the CIP doesn't add much commentary, and this version of the proposed CIP is easier to read than the second-generation scan in the Staff Report!)

In addition to the CIP, there is a grant application. I don't know if it's really a "big data" project but the All Roads Transportation Safety Program talks data:
The All Roads Transport​ation Safety (ARTS) Program (formerly known as Jurisdictionally Blind Safety Program) is a safety program to address safety needs on all public roads in Oregon. Only by working collaboratively with local road jurisdictions (cities, counties, MPO’s and tribes) can ODOT expect to increase awareness of safety on all roads, promote best practices for infrastructure safety, compliment behavioral safety efforts and focus limited resources to reduce fatal and serious injury crashes in the state of Oregon. The program will be data driven to achieve the greatest benefits in crash reduction and should be blind to jurisdiction.
ODOT's automagic cost/benefit calculator
March 11th kick-off presentation
The entire program will be data driven and based on benefit cost analysis. Benefit cost analysis factors in the amount of crashes, crash reduction factors (CRF) and project costs. The program will prioritize projects based on benefit cost ratios - which locations will get the most crash reduction for the cost of the project.
So Salem is applying for some grant money.
The ARTS Program will allocate half of the federal safety funds to locations with histories of fatal and serious crashes, known as hot spots. The other half of the federal safety funds will be allocated using a systemic approach designed to identify and fund low cost measures that can be widely implemented. Hot spot lists will be developed by ODOT and shared with local agencies, which will give input into the selection of the hot spot projects. Systemic projects will be selected through an application process for three different categories of crashes: Intersection, Pedestrian/Bicycle, and Roadway Departure (mostly rural)....Two of the three systemic categories are applicable to locations within Salem: Intersections and Pedestrian/Bicycle.
Solutions for "Intersections and Pedestrian/Bicycle" facilities sounds good! Grant money could fund things like:
Sample Pedestrian/Bicycle Countermeasures:
  • Install raised median with crosswalk;
  • Install rectangular rapid flashing beacon;
  • Install pedestrian countdown timers;
  • Provide bicycle and pedestrian intersection illumination;
  • Install no pedestrian phase feature with flashing yellow arrow;
  • Install curb ramps and extensions; and
  • Install bike lanes or buffered bike lanes
The City does not yet have a specific plan or sites chosen yet, so there's not much to report. In general this seems like a fine thing. But it is important to note that a Salem application may not be very competitive if it is too general, too non-specific, or too shallow. (There will be more to say, obviously, when specifics are out.)

It'll be very interesting to see how bike projects perform in the cost/benefit model ODOT developed. Bike deaths in Salem may be too randomly distributed still to discern patterns. And lesser injuries and smaller crashes, which would probably disclose meaningful patterns, may not meet reporting thresholds. Because people already fear to bike, project benefits may be understated in the model. This is almost certainly a program that will need to be iterated in successive rounds.

(See here for early notes on the ARTS program at the OTC.)

Other Stuff

The City's own press release for Council led with the update on the Park Parcel purchase at Boise, but there didn't seem to be anything new in it. (Except that the agreement with the DEQ never gets included in the Staff Report, so details on the pollution remains something of a secret.)

Also at Boise, the replat on the North Block for the office building, the Marquis nursing home, and the abandonment of the street and RR crossing concept has been granted an extension. (In it is language from PGE, "10 foot public utility easement required on all front street lots" and I hadn't put this together with the bark mulch setback before, but I think that's it.)

EOA-HNA draft Report - Jan 2015
(graph added from CO2 Now)
The Housing and Jobs analysis is formally at Council for adoption, and the Staff Report highlights some key findings:
  • We have too much industrial land (see those SRETC notes above!)
  • We don't have enough commercial/business land
  • We have way too much land for single-family housing
  • We don't have nearly enough land for multi-family housing
These high-level observations then will need to filter down to concrete zoning- and planning-level policy. There will be more public process for code changes.

And of course, the whole thing pretty much ignores climate change, carbon, and water. For more on the EOA-HNA, see notes here.

There's an update on ride-hailing applications like Uber, and it appears the City is looking to regulate them more like sanctioned jitney taxis rather than carve out an exception as if they were truly independent "ride-sharing." Staff look to recommend policy in three main areas:
  1. Public safety; 
  2. Equal application of requirements to all forms of vehicle for hire operations; and 
  3. The simplification and streamlining of requirements where possible.
The resolution in support of rehabbing Willamette Falls Locks will be official. (See notes on last meeting's agenda for more.)

In the City's latest round of Legislative Positions there are a few items to note in passing.
  • Oppose HB 2810, allowing one license plate only on electric cars
  • Support HB 2854 and SB 756, adding marijuana and e-cigs to prohibition on smoking in car with kid
  • Oppose HB 3153, prohibiting State monies for urban sidewalks (the Parrish bill)
  • Oppose SB 697, prohibiting Cities from using more than 5% of State Highway funds on admin costs.


Gary said...

Regarding the all roads safety program, I hope the city pursues a project to convert Broadway Street between Pine & the Salem Parkway from a four lane road to a three lane road. This would really help improve safety, livability, biking, and walking environment. I'd testify about this need on Monday night at Council, but my allotted 3 minutes are already full.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Yeah, the whole Broadway/High corridor is a strong candidate for calming and reconfiguring, especially with the Commercial/Liberty urban highway couplet right there.

In the supplemental Council packet there's an interesting note about the DMV and State Highway Fund:

"Last week the League of Oregon Cities (LOC) notified the City of ODOT's proposal to invest up to $30 million during the upcoming biennium and about $90 million over the next five biennia to upgrade and modernize the DMV's technology system. It is well understood that the DMV systems need to be upgraded. The benefits of the technology upgrades include improved service from DMV and access to real time driver license records for law enforcement and courts.

A comprehensive transportation funding package had been proposed at the start of the Legislative session. This proposal included an increase in the state gas tax to fund capital projects at the state level. That proposal is now in doubt of passage, so the LOC has indicated that ODOT plans to ask the Legislature to fund the proposed upgrades with existing monies from the State Highway Trust Fund. Funding the DMV technology upgrades without a commensurate increase in revenues means that most cities, including Salem, will experience a reduction in their state gas tax allocation

In the packet is also additional written citizen and neighborhood association comment and testimony in support of bike boulevards.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

There's a second supplement to Council's agenda, and in it are more letters in support of bike boulevards from the neighborhood associations. There's also a few slides on the general concept of bike boulevard itself.

Also, there is a motion to reconsider the denial of the petition to vacate 1st Street NW for the proposed Goodwill in West Salem. (More to come, it looks like.)