Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Downtown Board Looks at Replacing Planters on Ferry at Liberty

The Downtown Advisory Board meets tomorrow, Thursday the 9th, and they'll be talking about the lousy crosswalk between the Conference Center and the Liberty Parkade as well as ways to increase usage of the parking garages.
Proposed Screens to replace Concrete Planters
Recognizing that the connection from the Conference Center to the core of downtown is not very inviting and requires crossing a zoomy state highway, DAB proposes to fund replacing a cluster of big concrete planters. These partially block the sidewalk and guard against too speedy turns that depart from the roadway. DAB proposes to replace them with more decorative metal railings consistent in style with our wayfinding and historical signage.

Long Crosswalk with dual turn lanes on OR-22

From the Staff Report:
Each year more than 88,000 people attend conferences at the Salem Convention Center, which does not include the hotel guests at the Grand Hotel. When exiting the Hotel or Convention Center at the Liberty and Ferry Street entrance, the pedestrian view looking into downtown is dominated by the Liberty Parking structure. At the ground level, the pedestrian crosswalk to downtown can be challenging because of the dual left turn lanes from Liberty to Ferry Street. In addition, when a pedestrian reaches the north side of Ferry Street, two large block planters are positioned in such a way that they block visibility into downtown and pedestrians have to navigate around them. It is difficult for two individuals to be able to stand on the sidewalk by the block planters without one feeling pushed into Liberty Street.
OR-22 at Liberty and Ferry - via streetview
As a way to encourage visitors, residents, and employees from locations south of downtown, a project was proposed to remove the block plants and replace those with a visually appealing metal screens. The replacement screens would have design elements that match the current downtown wayfinding system.
On the one hand, these will probably look better than the planters, and they will be less of a sidewalk space hog, but they don't alter the fact that the primary problem is with a roadway design that prioritizes wide, zoomy turns from Liberty onto Ferry Street. It prioritizes auto through-put over all other functions and road users. Back in 2010 Councilor Nanke even indicated outright he was reluctant do to anything to encourage people to use the crosswalk and thereby impede auto traffic.

(Previous notes on this location and problem: Welcome Center in 2010, Welcome Center 2, Welcome Center 3, Project Space in 2013.)

Staff also propose electronic count-down signs that show the number of available stalls in the parking garages. These they hope will induce greater useage of the garages. This also avoids grappling with the primary problem of underpriced on-street parking - for some a feature, for others a bug.

Both of these projects seems like potentially useful, though incremental only, improvements.

The Board meets Thursday the 9th, from 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm in the Urban Development Conference Room, 350 Commercial St NE, underneath the Chemeketa Parkade.  

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What is especially needed at this intersection is better or more lighting. As a frequent driver through this intersection, it is difficult to see the pedestrians when I'm driving once it gets dark (which in the winter is around 4:00 and on) and risky to cross the street when I'm the pedestrian.