Thursday, August 2, 2018

Congestion Task Force meets Friday

The Congestion Relief Task Force meets tomorrow morning, the 3rd. It would be nice to have something to say, but the materials are not posted in a public form.

The agenda is still password protected and goes to a 401 error
Last month the presentations and agenda were posted a few days in advance, but this time there isn't anything public.

And this is not a completely isolated instance. You might recall a few broken urls that were posted to the Downtown Streetscape Study site. There have been other examples, and things aren't always posted in a timely fashion. Some committees post bare-bones agenda, but never post meeting packets and presentations. Just generally the City process for making information public does not seem to be buttoned down after a year of the new website.

via Twitter
Yesterday there was big, big news in local media. Maybe new competition and investigation will finally prompt the City to be a little more timely with sharing public information!

See Oregon Business as well as Poynter for more, and the SalemReporter site itself. The project will be digital only, behind a paywall, and subscription supported.

The main capital and funder for the project seems problematic, and it will be interesting to see if the newsroom can function truly independently of the funding side. Despite the promising rhetoric of the initial press releases, it looks more like a move for a captive PR agency, honestly. But the editor is a respected investigative journalist and should press hard for independence. It looks like a recipe for conflict, but we will see!

This post will be updated! 

We need to join congestion talk and emissions talk!
Here we go!

Here's the agenda now


Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Well, shortly before noon they flipped the switch on the agenda and removed the password. So that's available now. But there's no additional materials posted and the idea that they are going to "review and approve conclusions" in an hour-and-a-half seems hasty, superficial, or unlikely. Perhaps all three.

Also added a clip on climate disruption. That we are pursuing policies to induce more driving instead of making it clear that emissions call for less driving and for corresponding policy changes is together just more folly.

Maybe tomorrow they will post more documents and there will be more to say.

Sarah Owens said...

City staff have said recently, in response to queries/requests to improve agendas/info sharing in advance of meetings, that all boards and commissions will be migrating to (i.e. posting agendas in, etc.) the legistar system ( that the CC uses (and adopting those protocols). So, the City recognizes the current arrangement for sharing documents isn't satisfactory from a number of perspectives, including the City Recorder. Unfortunately, we can't expect things to improve until the migration is complete, likely not earlier than 2019.

Susann Kaltwasser said...

Based on the comments of City Councilor Chris Hoy at the East Lancaster Neighborhood Association meeting on Thursday, I do not expect anything too exciting to emerge from the Congestion Relief Task Force.

Two big problems seem to be hindering big changes.
1) the studies show that the congestion is not that bad. It is mostly perception. And even the most dramatic changes do not result in major changes in the time it takes to commute through the downtown and across the bridge. Yes, they can maybe get a few minutes reduction, but the cost if prohibitive.
2) lack of significant funds to implement major changes.

While the addition of a lane on the bridge might be possible, it is unclear that it would help he congestion significantly because the problem is not on the bridge, but in the approaches to the bridge.

Personally, I think it is a PR problem. I have traveled across the bridge frequently in the past 8 years after having lived 30 years near Lancaster Drive. Yes, you can tweak anything a bit here and there, but truth is that real change takes a lot of money and a lot of time. We did a study of Lancaster to make it work more efficiently back in 1993-4. The results were a few basic improvements like timing of the lights, but others were in driveways and adding turn lanes and creating turn pockets. Those projects cost millions of dollars and at least 20 years to implement. In fact some of the proposals like closing some driveways are still in process.

So, I do not expect much to come of the congestion recommendations in the near term. Maybe in 20 years...or more, we will see some improvement when ODOT gets around to re-building one of the bridges. But unless someone comes up with a way to get more ways to access the bridges, we just need to relax, turn up the radio and be thankful traffic is not as bad in Salem as it is in Portland....yet.

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Les Zaitz said...

Allow me to weigh in, if I might, on the news of the Salem Reporter. You wrote: "It looks more like a move for a captive PR agency, honestly. But the editor is a respected investigative journalist and should press hard for independence." I'm the editor of Salem Reporter, taking on this mission after 45 years as an Oregon journalist. I have a record dating back decades of holding powerful people to account, no matter the party, no matter their influence. I'm not about to stop now. We have assembled a team of experienced journalists who have no limits. The responsibility for the news operation stops at one place -- my desk. No one -- no one -- else has the final say on our journalism, which we intend to be of the highest caliber. We hope you all with help us provide Salem residents important news by offering story suggestions and tips. Explore our website to join us. I can be reached readily: