Thursday, March 23, 2017

City Council, March 27th - A Draft CIP

Council meets on Monday, and in the proposed Capital Improvement Plan are several interesting details, including more on hopes for a $16 million TIGER grant.

There are several other agenda items to note also.

The Draft 2018 CIP
The TIGER line item is something that's been talked about as a hope, but not heretofore as something gained and done. Here's the $16 million line item for the McGilchrist project from 12th to 25th.

Looks like a $16 million TIGER grant
The only problem? The 2016 list of TIGER awards doesn't have it. It's also not in the TIP that SKATS is working on right now. So it looks like something more hypothetical and hopeful at the moment.

So why is it in the CIP? Staff say it's a "placeholder" - and, indeed, a hopeful thing. Subsequent drafts of the CIP will presumably make it clearer that it is not yet funded. (But are there other items in the CIP that are not actually funded? This seems to violate the spirit of the CIP, which lists "projects where likely funding sources have been identified." I guess it turns on your definition of "likely," but usually funding sources in the CIP have been much less speculative than this.)

Moreover, who knows whether the TIGER program will even be continued under the current regime. As a program that "supports innovative projects, including multi-modal and multi-jurisdictional projects, which are difficult to fund through traditional federal programs," it may not align very well with our kleptocratic priorities at the moment.

There are also some other interesting projects that aren't also in the TIP (generally because funding is all local and there is no component of Federal funding), at least in the form they have in the CIP. Here are three that will make a difference for all road users.

$3 million for downtown streetscape work
It will be interesting to learn more detail on the streetscape project, but it sounds like most details are to be determined.

Funding for the enhanced crosswalk and beacon
on 13th and Marion by the Safeway (more here)
The larger project along 12th is in the TIP as "12th St NE Signal Improvements," but not the detail about the enhanced crosswalk at 13th and Marion by the Safeway.

And of course the Union Street bikeway's middle phase, between Commercial and Winter Streets. Again here details are to be determined, and there may be advocacy opportunities to ask for more than a painted buffered bike lane!

More on the Union Street bikeway
between Commercial and Winter
There is more subsidy for the Mill Creek Corporate Center and Renewable Energy Technology Center. It remains to be seen if these investments in total will ever truly return value for the City, or if they will require a constant drip-drip of infrastructure and tax subsidy in the name of "jobs!"

$2.9 million for Gaffin Road

$2 million for more Kuebler widening
And two projects that were completely new.

RR Crossing on Salem Industrial Drive
It's a little disappointing that more thought does not appear to be given to an eventual connection between the Kroc Center and the Winter-Maple Family Friendly Bikeway. This project seemed mostly focused on the freight angle, though.

Two-way conversion on State Street?!
And what exactly does $200,000 get us on a two-way conversion of State Street downtown? That'll fund some striping - but what about new traffic lights? And protected bike lanes? This seems awfully thin. It will be important to learn more about this. This is the most mysterious of all the projects in the CIP!

(One possible omission? The $3.5 million Marine Drive project isn't listed. Even though it's not yet constructed, it may have been budgeted in a previous year, however. That could be why it doesn't show up here. But if that's true, that's a way documents like this are deeply counter-intuitive for the general public. It should also be easier to match up the CIP with the SKATS TIP and other compilations.)

Dan Burden via PPS
Councilor Cook proposes a workship with transportation advocate Dan Burden:
The Safe Routes to Schools National Partnership has tentatively scheduled Dan Burden for a workshop to be held in Salem on Wednesday, May 24. Mr. Burden is a nationally recognized authority on active transportation, Safe Routes to School, bicycle and pedestrian facilities and programs, complete streets and livable and sustainable communities. Kaiser Permanente, AARP of Oregon and the Safe Routes to Schools National Partnership have signed on to provide the primary coordination and organization of an event featuring Mr. Burden.

A full or half-day workshop has been proposed on one or two of the following topics, which will be determined together with City staff:
  • Safe Routes to School/Complete Streets
  • Working with public transit to ensure safe routes to transit
  • Walkability/bike-ability workshops
  • Walking audits
  • Technical drill-downs
  • Active-transportation master plans/documentation/comprehensive plans
  • Charrettes for specific projects
I hope they do a Safe Routes to School workshop that focuses not on specific treatments, but on the political problem of shoring up interest and support both inside the School District and with parents. Between City Staff and local consultants, there is plenty of expertise here to solve the technical problem of changes to infrastructure. But without the political support for funding and for pushing and urging on the City, stuff doesn't happen, or it happens too timidly. These events also need to engage the skeptics - the Chamber! the Hospital! the School District! - and not simply preach to the choir.

Here are some previous talks that seemed to leave little deposit in momentum or action:
The most successful has seemed like Chuck Marohn's talk in October (preview here, link to video here), but it subject was considerably broader than just talking about active transportation. Still, as a way to keep momentum, it might be worthwhile to consider building off of, or at least explicitly dovetailing with, Marohn's talk.

Regardless, any plan for a talk should also have a plan for action afterwards so there is a deposit, and so it is not just one more in a series of pleasant chats that don't change anything. These previous talks should be, among other things, negative examples of things that didn't quite work. As a transportation Engineer said about the just wrapped up Active Transportation Summit, "Bummed to be missing the #ATSummit2017, but frankly Portland needs less summiting & more doing rn." The same is true for Salem: We need fewer meetings and talks among the faithful, and more doing by the City.

Other Items

One possible concept for a bandshell in Riverfront Park
The City proposes to formalize plans for a bandshell in Riverfront Park:
The Rotary Club of Salem, in celebration of its centennial in 2020, will be donating a new covered stage and supports for lighting, rigging, sound systems, and other features. At this early stage in both Rotary’s fundraising and the City’s master planning process for Riverfront Park, staff recommends Council approve the proposed area to be reserved and incorporated into the new Riverfront Park Master Plan. The purpose of Council’s adoption of [this] ahead of the full master planning process is to reserve the amphitheater space for the planned donation by the Rotary Club of Salem.
That seems like a wonderful thing!

The City proposes to allocate $37,500 for more outreach on the Strategic Plan:
With Phase I complete and Phase II underway, staff anticipate a similar level of effort in stakeholder and community engagement. While some engagement was envisioned for Phase II, staff and the consultant team are recommending a broader effort to support the development of the strategic plan. Engaging a broad range of perspectives strengthens the foundation of the strategic planning effort. [italics added]
This seems warranted - and necessary, in fact. A durable and sufficiently powerful plan does need more outreach and deeper support.

The Legislative Positions have a few bills to note. The City:
  • Opposes no-cause 30 termination of month-to-month rental agreements (HB 2240)
  • Supports increasing penalties for driving while using a mobile device (HB 2597)
  • Opposes allowing school bus operators to video drivers failing to stop for them (SB 475)
  • Opposes special parking regulations on the Capitol Mall, removing them from City control (SB 467)
  • Opposes replacing older diesel engines with newer, more efficient, cleaner diesel engines (HB 2110)
  • Opposes a requirement for the City to process applications for affordable housing projects before all other application types (HB 2007)
  • Opposes statewide TNC regulations in one bill (HB 3157), supports in another (HB 3246)
Diesel Pollution in Salem - via OPB
There are several hearings and other meetings coming up to note.

PUBLIC HEARINGS - Held in the Council Chambers unless otherwise noted
  • Capital Improvement Plan and State Revenue Sharing - Wednesday, April 12 at 6:00 p.m.
  • Relating to Transportation Network Companies; Amending SRC Chapter 30 - Monday, April 24, 2017 at 6:00 p.m.
  • Relating To Land Use; Establishing Regulations Applicable To Short-Term Rentals and Accessory Short-Term Rentals - Monday, April 24, 2017 at 6:00 p.m.
  • FY 2017-18 HUD Consolidated Annual Action Plan - Monday, May 8, 2017 at 6:00 p.m.
  • Relating to the Utility Code; Amending SRC Chapters 70, 70A, 71, 72, 73 - Monday, May 22, 2017 at 6:00 p.m.
BUDGET COMMITTEE MEETINGS - Held in the Council Chambers unless otherwise noted
  • Budget Committee Review FY 2018 Budget - Wednesday, April 17 at 6:00 p.m.
  • Budget Committee Review FY 2018 Budget - Wednesday, April 26 at 6:00 p.m.
  • Budget Committee Review FY 2018 Budget - Wednesday, May 3 at 6:00 p.m.
  • Budget Committee Recommends FY 2018 Budget to City Council - Monday, May 15 at 6:00 p.m.
  • Budget Committee Recommends FY 2018-22 Capital Improvement Plan to City Council - Monday, May 15 at 6:00 p.m.


Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

OPB has a piece on diesel pollution and the proposal at the legislature for replacement engines - which the City is formally opposing. Maybe if they saw more about the amount of diesel pollution in Salem they would feel different!

(I wonder if this is, or is not, a criteria pollutant involved in the CMAQ assessments.)

Edit: inserted graphic from OPB.

Susann Kaltwasser said...

The City has put together a Downtown Streetscape Committee. They will have their first meeting on April 5th. The scope is not very clear, but it seems that they will be looking to make recommendations to staff on what type of projects they should consider, and a $3 million budget was mentioned, so perhaps this is a beginning. This amount of money would not do much for the whole downtown area, but maybe if they combine it with making State Street two-way again, it might make a difference.

Thanks for the link to the diesel pollution. I am pursuing an issue regarding Metro bringing garbage to our area to be burned and this would mean a lot of diesel trucks. I know that the State lacks adequate air monitoring stations, so any data is good. Makes me wonder if we perhaps should be having emissions control testing, but just don't know it because of poor monitoring. What you don't know, can kill you!

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

By email a comment on TIGER:

"In the first proposed budget from the Trump Administration, the TIGER program is part of the cuts to the USDOT (whether this is what the Congress includes in the final budget remains to be seen)."

Thanks Susann for info on the Streetscape Committee!