Monday, August 27, 2018

Environmental Justice at the MPO Tuesday

The Policy Committee for our local Metropolitan Planning Organization meets tomorrow, Tuesday the 28th, and they'll be getting a refresher on Environmental Justice and Title VI requirements, will consider setting Legislative priorities for the next session, and ratify adopting more Performance Measures that ODOT has set rather than setting them independently at the MPO.

These are mostly just some notes in passing. (See also notes last week on continued intransigence on greenhouse gas assessment.)

On Environmental Justice, even though there is a formal and legal framework, it is more about process and procedure than about outcome, and it is not clear that it's actually very effective. Environmental Justice is another framework we could use for evaluating greenhouse gas emissions - and, indeed, the Federal lawsuit in Eugene may well develop new approaches along this line. But the MPO on its own could still interpret the legal requirements in more charitable and more effective ways rather than in the minimalist, pro forma way we see now.

SKATS currently evades
addressing "adverse environmental effects"
of greenhouse gas emissions

The EJ analysis is not very robust
For next year's Legislative session, the Eugene area MPO submitted a draft of priorities (1-17) for statewide consensus at a state-level organization, and SKATS can get on board with that or can develop its own list. The top of the list is dominated by non-auto mobility. SKATS has been lukewarm, and sometimes even hostile, to this general sense of priority, so it will be interesting to see what they have to say. Probably they will not adopt a concurrence.

(Part of first page only)
On the newly mandated Performance Measures, it makes a lot of sense not to reinvent the wheel, and certainly from the start it is a reasonable decision to use ODOT's standards rather than to formulate SKATS' own measures.

But one of them might give us pause.

"Reliability" on non-Interstate NHS includes
a lot of "non-highway"
You may remember a while back some comment on this measure (and even earlier on the first pass at new streets to be included in the NHS):
[T]he majority of non-Interstate NHS facilities defined within the SKATS boundary, and likely in most MPOs in the country, provide for the movement of traffic within an urban area including the distribution to lower-order roads. Often these roads have sidewalks and bike lanes and serve adjacent land uses, both residential and commercial/industrial uses, via driveways and other curb cuts....

A performance measure that focuses solely on the reliability of vehicular travel time in such a setting is potentially directing investment that could damage the urban fabric of the area and diminish the livability along the corridor. A more nuanced measure is necessary in such situations.
The networks of streets, especially those designated as minor arterials (update - see map below and clarification in comments), in the NHS is overbroad and autoist performance measures may degrade them or keep us from making useful adjustments to them.

Finally, in administrative adjustments, a couple of project changes of interest here:
  • The Mill Street RR crosswalk between the Depot and the Mill at the end of the Esplanade is slipping out and preliminary engineering won't start to next year - so construction will move out even farther.
  • 12th Street signal project - which I think is at Marion and associated with the Union Street Bikeway project - is also moving the engineering phase out a year.
Look for the historic sign
next to the entry
You can download the agenda and meeting packet here.

SKATS Policy Committee meets Tuesday the 28th, at noon. SKATS is at 100 High St. SE, Suite 200, above Little Owl Kitchen and Table Five 08.

Addendum, August 29th

Safe Routes to Schools submitted comment on the Legislative Priorities.

From the August 28th letter to SKATS
And here's a clip from Map 3-10 in the 2015/2016 RTSP. The roads in black are "principal arterials" and therefore part of the National Highway System. Some of these are dangerous roads for walking and biking, and I stand by the criticism that measuring vehicular-miles (they are not truly "person-miles," not until persons traveling by bus, on foot, or on bike are included!) that are "reliable" is potentially harmful.

Principal Arterials and NHS from
2015/2016 RTSP, Map 3-10


Anonymous said...

You write "The networks of streets, especially those designated as minor arterials, in the NHS is overbroad..."

As a clarification, the National Highway System is composed of the Interstates and roads with a federal functional classification of principal arterial.


Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Well shoot. Here's the basis for that statement. The map from 2012 [date corrected] that ODOT put out showed segments of streets like Orchard Heights, Doaks Ferry, and High St/Broadway NE as part of the NHS. These streets are still minor arterials or collectors, right?

There has been some revision, and so it may no longer be true that there are minor arterials designated as part of the NHS, but even some of the major arterials, like McGilchrist between 12th & 25th have needs beyond drive-alone vehicle delay. It seemed like the "principal arterial" criteria was used in an overbroad way.

Thanks for the correction. Is there a current, up-to-date map of Salem streets included in the NHS?

Anonymous said...

This might be more than you want to know, but ...

As part of MAP-21 (which was signed into law in 2012), Congress decided that ALL roads classified as principal arterials (under the federal scheme) would now be part of the National Highway System. This resulted in a number of roads in Salem being added to the NHS as they original had that federal classification. In Salem's classification scheme these roads were "Major Arterials" for which there is no direct federal equivalent, and so prior to 2012 these were classified as "principal arterials".

Post-2012 we spent time with ODOT and Salem staff to revise the federal classification of many of these roads to Minor Arterial to better reflect their current and near-term use. (apparently at the July 2014 TAC and likely PC meetings. Not available online - sorry!)

Pre-2012 the federal classification scheme was mainly meant for determining which roads were eligible for federal funds and was not used by the locals to determine width/lane configuration etc.

For a map of the NHS, see ODOT's Transgis site:
or chapter 3 of the current SKATS RTSP (map 3-10 for the region or the "b" district maps) or chapter 4 of the 2019-2043 RTSP (which will be available next month in the TAC/PC agenda packets).


Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Thanks. Added clips from Safe Routes comment on Legislative priorities and from Map 3-10 in the RTSP Ray references.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

(And here's a recent piece on a concrete situation involving Title VI in Ohio. "Let the people ride: Bringing buses to Beavercreek and revitalizing civil rights enforcement" is about a white suburb using expensive bus stop design criteria to exclude bus service from a largely African-American residential community to a jobs-rich area in the white suburb.)

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

And CityLab has an opinion piece, "Title VI Is Broken. Here’s How Transit Leaders Can Fix It."

"While many U.S. transit agency staff and leaders associate Title VI requirements with racial equity and social justice, these requirements do little to make transit more equitable. Rather, Title VI asks transit agencies not to let things get any worse, with no consideration or assessment of how equitable an existing transit system is today.

For social justice experts and advocates, “equitable” suggests something more ambitious, important, and challenging: proactively improving access to opportunity for those with the greatest transportation challenges, especially residents in low-income communities and communities of color

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

*NextCity, rather