Tuesday, March 27, 2018

A Survey on Goals in the new RTSP, Mixed Signals on the SRC, Scorn for GHG Reduction - At the MPO

The Policy Committee for our local Metropolitan Planning Organization meets today the 27th, and while there's not a whole lot of decisions on the agenda, the general tenor of the last month is perhaps interesting to note. (We'll shift back-n-forth between last month's minutes and this month's agenda.)

Most significantly, Staff is proposing to send out a survey on goals in the new 2019 Regional Transportation System Plan that they are just starting to write. This will be an opportunity to include language about greenhouse gas reduction and to strengthen goals for mobility and safety on trips other than driving.

Salem River Crossing

MPO Policy Committee Chair Clark - via SCV
On the Salem River Crossing, it's full speed ahead, never mind the nay-sayers.

Remember the letter from the City? "City Council is not at a point to support completing the environmental impact statement for the Salem River Crossing."

At last month's meeting it did not seem to register very strongly:
Chair Cathy Clark made note of the copies of the letter from Salem Mayor Chuck Bennett related to the city of Salem City Council Congestion Relief Task Force that were distributed prior to the meeting....Julie Warncke, Salem Public Works (SPW), provided an update related to the Task Force. Members of the community are being asked for input and ideas to relieve traffic and congestion in west Salem and downtown through a short, online survey. Commissioner Craig Pope asked how the data from the survey would be presented to the Salem City Council. Julie Warncke responded that the data may be tabulated; or if a large percentage of people advocate a concept(s), the information could be presented as themes. Discussion continued related to individuals possibly submitting more than a single survey. It was noted that the IP address is generally tracked. However, individuals with multiple devices could attempt to skew the survey results; but the amount of time and effort necessary to make a significant impact on the survey data makes it unlikely to be an achievable outcome.
A few days after the SKATS meeting, Chair Clark presented to the Oregon Transportation Commission (clip at top via SCV), and suggested it was all hunky dory.

If the City of Salem intends to signal anything, it looks like a stronger signal may be necessary. Otherwise SKATS and ODOT and everyone else is happy to ignore the City and to motor on.

Greenhouse Gas

This month, the Committee will be continuing to discuss the goal statements for the 2019 Regional Transportation System Plan. The Committee is not at present interested in adopting any language about greenhouse gas reduction as a goal for the Regional Transportation System Plan.

Public comment from Salem's 350.org chapter
Again at last month's meeting,
Referencing Goal 7 and Objective 5 (Environmental goal and objective) and the e-mail suggestion submitted by Linda Wallmark related to Greenhouse Gas (ghg) emissions reduction, Mike Jaffe informed Colleen Busch (alternate for Kathy Lincoln) that the issue could be discussed now or in depth at a future meeting. Several committee members expressed disapproved of the suggested additional language. Committee discussion focused on the City of Salem Climate Action Plan mentioned in Ms. Linda Wallmark’s e-mail (included in the agenda packet). [italics added]
On a separate matter at that meeting, regarding proposals for new Transportation Planning Rules,
In respect to Greenhouse Gas emission’s reduction issues, Commissioner Craig Pope asked if there was any consideration to technological advances that could produce emissions’ reductions when the targets were developed. He expressed frustration related to advances in technology apparently not being given more weight. Mike Jaffe replied that when the state originally developed the GHG reduction targets, the state agencies included forecasts for higher mileage vehicles and more electric vehicles in the fleets, among other technology and fuel changes. It was suggested that the base assumptions should be reviewed periodically.

Councilor Jim Lewis asked if the public will have a sufficient opportunity to weigh in on the proposed revisions to the TPR. Mr. Jaffe responded that a public hearing is likely to occur in May 2018.

Committee discussion focused on equality versus equity issues with some dissatisfaction being expressed related to the apparent lack of flexibility addressing the varying situations of larger and smaller jurisdictions. Mayor Gary Tiffin commented that the state is attempting to force equality on everyone. He asked if it is worthwhile to comment on the proposed revisions or if the outcome is predetermined. Chair Cathy Clark reiterated her ongoing support for funding for the necessary improvements to achieve emissions’ reduction goals. Commissioner Sam Brentano expressed frustration regarding DLCD’s lack of accountability to the public.
Some observers may feel that there is a rather different problem with accountability.

However, it looks like a survey may launch later today, and this would be an opportunity to get behind the 350.org request and lobby SKATS for a greenhouse gas goal in the new Regional Transportation System Plan.
Staff is proposing to present the revised Goal statements to the public via an online survey to solicit feedback as to their adequacy. The survey would be available to the public from March 27, 2018, until April 16, 2018; and the results presented to the Policy Committee at their April 24, 2018 meeting.
Union Street Bikeway and Safe Routes

Back to Tuesday's agenda, there's a housekeeping detail regarding Urban Renewal funding on the Union Street Bike Boulevard project. Though it is merely shuffling funds, it requires formal approval. It's not very significant, but always a good reminder of some of the constraints, even red tape, throughout our current system. Things that appear obvious or easy are sometimes quite the opposite.
Because of the limitations on spending UR funds outside the URA boundary, Salem is requesting to move federal funds in the TIP from the construction phase into the PE and ROW phases so that no UR funds are allocated to the area outside the URA boundary. The UR funds would be moved into the construction phase. There is no change to the total amount of federal or local funds programmed in the project....This is considered a TIP adjustment, which requires Policy Committee action.
And the gory details:
for Project Key Number 20737 [Union St. NE: Commercial St. NE to 12th St. NE] move $717,348 total funds ($643,677 CMAQ funds and $73,672 required local match) from the construction phase and add $412,348 total funds ($370,000 CMAQ funds and $42,348 required local match) to the preliminary engineering phase and add $305,000 total additional funds ($273,677 CMAQ funds and $31,324 required local match) to the right-of-way phase of the project.
And most positively, again from last month,
A draft letter to support the transit district hiring a part-time coordinator to launch a Safe Routes to School Program (SRTS) in the SKATS region through Cherriots’ Trip Choice was distributed at today’s meeting. Councilor Jim Lewis commented favorably on the inclusion of funding for an education component to the SRTS program. Policy Committee members directed the chair to sign the letter of support by a consensus vote of the committee members present.
Look for the historic sign
next to the entry
You can download the agenda and meeting packet here.

SKATS Policy Committee meets Tuesday the 27th, at noon. SKATS is at 100 High St. SE, Suite 200, above Andaluz Kitchen and Table Five 08.

1 comment:

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

The survey link went out this afternoon, and inserted a link into the second paragraph.