Thursday, May 17, 2018

Congestion Task Force Meets Friday Morning

The Congestion Relief Task Force meets early tomorrow morning. There's not a whole lot new to say, so we'll bury that down at the end, and meander first over a couple of related topics.

Last month at the meeting of the Policy Committee for our local Metropolitan Planning Organization, in the context of conversation about the current Salem City Council politics on the Salem River Crossing, Councilor Lewis indicated he thought that there might be changes to the composition of Council.

Changes to City Council? Yes, indeed!
He got his wish!

On Tuesday, though Micki Varney was not able to defeat Jim Lewis for the position in Ward 8 on City Council, Jackie Leung did defeat Steve McCoid in Ward 4.

In the paper today, she offers a very strong statement of her position on the current SRC.

"No intention," "not healthy," "nightmare":
No ambiguity here!
What had been a one-vote difference, 5-4 against it, now will be 6-3 against it, and Councilor Lewis will have to flip two votes, not just one. It does not seem likely that this is the exact kind of "changes to city council composition" he was envisioning! (Hopefully he's not thinking of change arising from any malignant cause other than proper electoral process.)

SKATS meets next week, and there will be more to say later about the state of the Salem River Crossing and about Greenhouse Gases. As you can see from the clip at top, our chapter of is very active at SKATS now, and they have indicated they "plan to attend every meeting of the SKATS Policy Committee to stay on their case with our demand that they address climate change in the regional transportation goals."

It's possible that we are at a tipping point for the MPO, and that a real push will finally spur some change and a reconsideration of just what exactly constitutes the right "balance" in our transportation system.

Another bare-bones agenda and no additional materials
Our proper subject here, the Congestion Relief Task Force, meets early tomorrow morning - two of whose members seemed to be the chief candidates for "flipping" on the SRC - and the City continues to publish little about it. The meeting agenda is skeletal, and there are no additional meeting materials or packet with the agenda. It would be helpful, for example, to see more on the "capacity relationship concepts." And for the other numbered items also.

The City did finally publish both the full raw response list (99 pages!) to the survey and a much shorter summary. But these are lagging close to a month behind the task force meetings themselves. Skepticism about the task force seems prudent at the moment (see "Congestion Relief Task Force Already Skews to a Preferred Outcome") and it is difficult to see much other than an orchestrated theater of process towards solutions "balanced" for increasing auto capacity.

The Task Force meets Friday the 18th at 7am in Public Works on the 3rd Floor of City Hall.

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