Monday, January 22, 2018

Brown Road Completion Funds and Start on McGilchrist ROW at the MPO

The Policy Committee for our local Metropolitan Planning Organization meets tomorrow the 23rd, and it looks like they are ready to send out a formal proposal on the $5M in bonus funds from changes to the Congestion Management and Air Quality program.

Recommendation: Top 4 get full funding, next 3 partial
The Technical Advisory Committee landed on a recommendation, and the Policy Committee can endorse it unchanged or make changes. (It will be interesting to see if it happens that the PC and TAC are out of step on this.)

Once the recommendation is ratified by the committee at the meeting, it'll go out for a 30 day Public Comment period, and then next month they'll make formal adoption of it.

Under this recommendation, the top four get full funding:
1. Brown Road NE Sidewalk and Bike Lane
2. Center St: Lancaster to 45th Pl NE Upgrade
3. SAMTD Transit ITS Project
4. McGilchrist Complete Street Project ‐ Right‐of‐Way

The next three get partial funding:
5. Connecticut Av: Macleay to Rickey West Side Bike/Ped
6. Wheatland Road Multimodal Corridor Plan and Conceptual Design
7. Turner Road Downtown Urban Upgrade

Orchard Heights is out of luck:
8. Orchard Heights Road NW Pedestrian Improvements and Pavement Preservation

At the point, the main question seems to be whether the Center Street project is sufficiently up-to-date with best practices for car travel speed and lane width, as well as its deployment of bike lanes and sidewalks. (Some previous discussion here.)

As far as the disposition of funding goes, given the actual projects that were submitted (which is to say, we might wish that local governments had submitted juicier projects for congestion relief and air quality), it's hard to argue with the way it shook out. It might be nicer to see the Connecticut Avenue project get full funding, as it is so near a school - I'd swap out the Center Street project for more design refinement - but Center Street is an important corridor and connection to Lancaster. Orchard Heights indeed seemed like a low-priority and odd project to try to slip into the funding process. Altogether the recommendation easily meets the test of "reasonable people can disagree."

In some minor amendments, a couple of projects on Wallace Road will be combined, but the official description still contains mention of "rectangular rapid flashing beacons." In the big scheme of things this is a minor matter, but it is interesting that so far there has been no explicit discussion in any staff reports at the City or now the MPO of the fact that they seem no longer to be permitted. (See previous discussion here.)

Still the flashing beacons?
On the formal Work Plan, as the City of Salem moves towards conducting some kind of greenhouse gas assessment, the intransigence at the MPO on greenhouse gases will seem increasingly retrograde and embarrassing. We could chose to do one fewer widening on a major arterial or major intersection, and fully fund a greenhouse gas assessment project. Currently it is being treated almost like an unfunded mandate - but in fact it is about policy choices and should be clear as having a moral dimension. We choose to fund analysis of greenhouse gas emissions because inducing more traffic by widening roads will make emissions worse and is not consistent with an interest in reducing emissions.

We will not do any GHG assessment
unless you pay us extra and make us do it
And the SRC fan fiction is even worse. They're still saying the final Environmental Impact Statement will be done this year.

Still saying the SRC final EIS will be done this year
As this is a formal work plan, SKATS should stop with the obfuscation and spell out plainly that until the Urban Growth Boundary and land use issues are resolved, the final EIS cannot be issued. The rhetorical disconnect here is willful and strange.

If they are not going to halt work on the final EIS, how hard would it be to insert truthful language along lines like this:
At present there is a disagreement between the MPO and State on the one hand, and Salem City Council on the other. This impedes final adoption of the EIS. We will continue to work on the final EIS analysis in the background while we wait for a change of heart by the City of Salem.
This is disagreeable, but it is plain and truthful at least.

On the adoption of formal Safety Targets, SKATS looks to adopt the same metrics the ODOT is adopting, and there doesn't seem to be much new to say.

Look for the historic sign
next to the entry
You can download the agenda and meeting packet here.

SKATS Policy Committee meets Tuesday the 23rd, at noon. SKATS is at 100 High St. SE, Suite 200, above Andaluz Kitchen and Table Five 08.


Susann Kaltwasser said...

In defense of the Center Street project, it does act as a school walkway. Children who attend Auburn Elementary must walk along the street for some distance and then cross to get to the through street at 45 Place. They also cross at Royalty, but at least there the street has a sidewalk for most of the way.

There is an apartment complex just west of Shores (near the bowling alley) where many student live and attend Auburn. They must walk on the gravel side of the road for over a block to get to where they must cross without a crosswalk.

Many mothers from those apartments and the other one just to the west must walk in the gravel walkway along this busy street to get to Roth's or Lancaster. This is a good project that is long overdue.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Susan K.'s description of the conditions along Center Street. The project will help kids walking to Auburn School as well as making it safer and more enjoyable to walk to Lancaster. The city, county, and MPO staff have often discussed the need for this project and how it will benefit pedestrians and bicyclists (of all ages). It will also be a benefit to transit riders getting to and from bus stops on Center Street that use Route 5, one of the busiest routes with over 1100 boardings per day.

Mike Jaffe
Transportation Planning Director
Mid-Willamette Valley Council of Governments