But the nature of the matter looks instead like something that should have gone before the Oversight Team as well as City Council for a more public analysis and debate.
Back in June of 2017, or thereabouts, ODOT realized they had missed a September 2016 deadline on the Salem River Crossing. They wrote to the Feds for an extension.
|Letter from FHWA Dated August 3rd, 2017|
Thank you for you June 29, 2017 [before the LUBA remand was issued], letter requesting an extension to the provisions set forth in 23 CFR 630.112(c)(2), commonly referred to as the PE 10-year rule, until September 30, 2019. The Salem River Crossing (SRC) project was first authorized on March 1, 2006 (Oregon Federal-aid Agreements S000(287) and S000(288)), and Oregon thus had until September 30, 2016, to undertake a construction project or repay the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) the sum of Federal funds paid to ODOT under the terms of the agreement. However, FHWA regulations allow a time extension with no repayment of Federal funds, when requested by the State and considered reasonable by FHWA.So there are a number of interesting things here:
The SRC project is complex...FHWA recognizes ODOT's current efforts to actively advance the project through the environmental review process, with the Final Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision scheduled to be completed by December 2017 [didn't happen]. Recognizing the project's many complexities and ODOT's demonstrated commitment to advancing the project through the environmental review process, it is reasonable for FHWA to grant a time extension to ODOT until September 30, 2019....[italics added]
- The original agreement from 2006 already assumed that no-build would be rejected and that a construction project would be undertaken. This is more evidence about the pre-determined conclusion, or a pre-determined range of outcomes, built into the "process" from the very beginning. "The environmental review process" was not so much an actual review as a rubber stamp and box-checking. ODOT is "actively advancing" it, working actively to shape it, despite whatever headwinds it might endure, and not merely abiding by any ostensibly impartial assessment and outcome.
- The request for an extension was submitted well after the SRC had blown past the September 30, 2016 deadline.
- The request for an extension was submitted just before LUBA published its decision and made the remand to Salem City Council.
- It is likely that pro-SRC advocates at ODOT and SKATS are making an argument entailing or involving a form of "sunk cost" fallacy: "We can't waste this money, we have to build!" or "We can't pay it back!"
This extension might be evidence for the reasons SKATS keeps the SRC in the Work Plan for this coming year.
|The formal Work Plan for the MPO|
Earlier we saw how the approach to walking, biking, busing, car pools - all the things we call "transportation demand management" and those things near it - was structured in such a way to avoid making "all or any of these investments in alternative modes" so that the SRC process could avoid "being tied to implementation of the needed highway improvements which are as yet unfunded." The real aim of the SRC process is to build nothing but a giant bridge and highway. (The "assumption" that we will do things to assume an 8% reduction in drive-alone trips is a sham. ODOT and the SRC intend to do no such thing.) The highway things are "needed," but support for any "alternative modes" is wholly optional.
|(SRC memo from October 14, 2008 - see long discussion here)|
And since this matter has not been publicly discussed, it is a reminder that there's probably a good number of other memos and decisions on the SRC that have not been made public. Too much of it is secret, and that's not right.
Ah, but the schedule has been updated some time this spring. Here's the one from late last fall...
|Last fall's schedule did not directly acknowledge LUBA's remand|
|Now, an undated schedule says "TBD" for the FEIS and ROD|
It turns out the West Salem Neighborhood Association has talked some about the fact that the SRC does not meet mobility standards or "solve" congestion.
|April 16th presentation to WSNA|
There is increasing talk that the way out of the repayment problem is for the Final Environmental Impact Statement to recommend and then the Record of Decision to ratify a finding for the No Build Alternative.
|DEIS, 2.3.1 - No Build Alternative|