Sunday, September 10, 2017

City Council, September 11th - Bridge Seismic Retrofit

Center Street at Commercial, one-way at present - streetview
Council meets on Monday and they will consider an intergovernmental agreement on the Center Street Bridge Seismic Retrofit.
An Intergovernmental Agreement has been prepared to identify the roles and responsibilities for the seismic upgrade study. Highlights of the agreement are as follows:
  • The cost estimate for the seismic study is $200,000. MWVCOG will provide $179,460 of federal funds; ODOT will provide $15,405 of local match funds; and the City will provide $5,135 of local match funds.
  • ODOT will select a consultant to perform the study and be responsible for overall management of the work.
  • City staff will assist ODOT with the consultant selection process and provide input on key decisions and the final report.
  • The study is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2018.
Additionally, the State of Oregon recently received Legislative approval through the Transportation Funding Package for an estimated $60 million dollars to complete seismic upgrades to the Center Street Bridge. The City will continue to coordinate with ODOT after the seismic upgrade study is complete to facilitate the design and construction of the final improvements.
The proposed IGA is limited, however, and Council may want to consider holding off a little and expanding it.
the Parties agree to cooperate in the preparation of a seismic retrofit study of the Center Street Bridge and connected structures that will produce a plan and cost estimate for completion of seismic retrofit measures for the identified vulnerable elements based on a full (Phase 1 and Phase 2) seismic retrofit approach such that the bridge and connected structures would survive a major seismic event and continue to provide a functioning crossing of the Willamette River...
The plan right now does not appear to give sufficient consideration to movement, to mobility, beyond the structural engineering necessary to make the structure survive a quake. After a quake, presumably the Marion Street Bridge will be toast, and two-way functioning across the remaining bridge will be necessary, at least until the Marion Bridge is repaired or replaced. This is, then, both an immediate problem after quake, and a medium-term one in the aftermath. So there's a case that the formal Plan for Seismic Retrofit should embrace both structural engineering and traffic engineering.

Though we have heard very little about it, there is apparently an emergency plan for two-way traffic. This should be dusted off and expanded.

The discarded Two-way Alternative from the DEIS should also be dusted off and analyzed in more detail, retrieving parts of it as seem useful. Here are some previous notes on two-way functioning, both temporary, and longer-term:
In order for the seismic retrofit to be most functional, minimally functional even, we should also have a traffic plan. An ancillary benefit of a two-way traffic analysis and plan will be expanding the universe of ideas for reducing congestion across the river, some of which should be formalized as part of the suite of actions we use instead of building a new giant bridge and highway.

By not considering this, we reinforce the current tendency for a new giant bridge and highway. The tendency of everything in the SRC process so far has been to enforce a path-dependency on a new bridge. In doing so we have deliberately neglected less costly options.

Today: Getting closer to an embrace of "fix it first"
We have so many bridges we need to reinforce yet that it remains essentially absurd to talk about a new giant bridge and highway.

ODOT setting up the doubt
It's also important to make sure ODOT is fully committed to the project. In public comments from July, ODOT seemingly undermined prospects for and confidence in the project. (If ODOT is going to embrace a skeptical approach to things, it would actually be helpful for ODOT to redirect skepticism like this to the SRC, which has many any number of dubious assertions.)

Panasonic Solar to Shut Down and Mill Creek Corporate Center

Panasonic Solar to shut down
(Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification)
Not itself on the agenda, but surely big news, is a factory closure. Back in 2013 Sanyo Solar laid off about a third of its work force. In 2016 another third. And a few days ago Panasonic announced they were shutting the whole thing down. Apparently they met the bare minumun to be in compliance with the $42 million on incentives and subsidies that had been the lure to attract them in the first place. So it will be a good time to perform another "review of incentives."

Sanyo Solar, back in May 2013
Curiously, the paper hasn't reported on the closure. (The Oregonian reported on it a few days ago.)

That again, is not on the agenda.

The general business park area is on Council agenda, however. The City still thinks the Mill Creek Corporate Center is the bees knees.
In order to accommodate potential new development within the Mill Creek Corporate Center on sites C, E, and F (Attachment 1), the following projects from the master project list are being recommended for completion in FY 2017-18. According to the IGA, these projects are to be funded with Development District fees.
  • Sewer abandonment and relocation $121,000 Sites C and F
  • New sewer line $ 98,000 Site F, includes relocation of existing sewer
  • New sewer main $213,000 Sites E and F
  • Total recommended projects $432,000
The recent Amazon thing sounds great, but the Sanyo/Panasonic clusure should prompt more skepticism: Why are we subsidizing it when the robots are going to be replacing the humans in not very long at all?

Slides in our Strategic Planning process
The Mill Creek center is shiny and new, but it remains far from clear how it actually functions in the context of a sustainable approach to corporate subsidy, city growth, and municipal finance. The sewer project may be funded out of Development District Fees - more or less a system development charge - but the road building, Kuebler and I-5 expansion, and other infrastructure are not paid for out of the Development District, and instead are indirect subsidies.

The Sanyo/Panasonic closure shows the ephemerality of the businesses we too often choose to subsidize.

Bullets for the rest:

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