Thursday, October 4, 2018

City Council, October 8th - Safe Routes to School?

City Council meets on Monday, and we finally get to see a list of project applications for the new Safe Routes to School funding.

Crossing projects to offset 45mph posted speeds?
The City proposes to apply for a little over $1 Million in funding for several projects. One of the projects is related to one has been around for a while, the one on Macleay (one round in 2016 and another round in 2017 of unsuccessful application for different funding sources*), and the other two are wholly new:
Based on grant award criteria provided by Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), City staff have identified three projects that should be competitive in the next round of screening by ODOT.
  • Liberty Road S: Install a pedestrian median island on Liberty Road S at Liberty Elementary School. Estimated project cost is $175,000.
  • Macleay Road SE: Install missing sidewalk on the west side of Macleay Road SE, serving Miller Elementary School and Houck Middle School. Estimated project cost is $430,000.
  • Kuebler Boulevard S and Skyline Road S: Install pedestrian median islands on Kuebler Boulevard S at Croisan Scenic Way S, and Skyline Road S at Croisan Scenic Way S, serving Schirle Elementary School, Sprague High School, and Crossler Middle School. Estimated project cost is $445,000.
On the location map, shown above, the City helpfully shows the posted speeds.

So yeah, getting across a lot of these streets is difficult.

But maybe we need think about speed reductions also? Even with a median, death is almost certain at 45mph. Sure there are temporary school zone speed reductions, but the roads are fundamentally designed for zoomy capacity, and medians may not by themselves constitute enough traffic calming and induce meaningful numbers of new walking and biking trips.

Streets like these are still zoomy - via Twitter
Last month ODOT mentioned in their announcement that "We received 142 letters requesting a total of almost $100 million!" That's great, but there's only $10 million available, so at least by dollar, only 10% of projects will be funded. There's a huge demand.

For Salem to win 1 of the 3 would be a good result. 2 of 3 would be amazing, and 3 of 3 highly unlikely.

Bike and Walk Salem had a full Safe Routes Analysis
The location of the projects is also interesting. You might remember the 2011 Safe Routes analysis that was part of Bike and Walk Salem. It was supposed to generate a formal list of projects and more follow-up, but that never did seem to happen. While it had an overview of 33 schools, it focused more closely on five of them:
  • Englewood
  • Hoover
  • Washington
  • Faye Wright
  • Walker
None of the current applications are at any of these schools. Conditions and priorities change, and the Statewide Safe Routes funding has its own criteria. There might be good reasons for non-overlap. But the staff report is silent on the 2011 memo and how the current slate of applications might be responsive to that earlier analysis and memo.

The City should also publish a more detailed analysis of the other six projects that were evaluated and not chosen as well as a more detailed discussion of why the three clusters were identified as most competitive. The selection process is a little opaque and does not show how the applications and need relate to previous rounds of analysis.

Equity is also supposed to be a criteria, formally captured by "Title 1" status, but does the Sprague area really meet the spirit of that requirement? The Macleay area project seems much more likely to.

All in all the Staff Report is very thin.

725 High Street: To be a short-term rental, back in July
There's also an appeal on approval to convert a house on High Street at the base of Gaiety Hill to a short-term rental. The neighborhood is in denial of the ways that Mission Street is already in transition. Some of the rhetoric against it also expresses the exclusionary sentiment for single-family housing to which we will return, especially as the Comprehensive Plan update cranks up. (See here on historic districts and on deed restrictions.) It will be interesting to see what Council decides.

There's also an information item on the approval for the clinic at 245 Patterson in West Salem. (See previous note here.)

* Update: This is actually a different project, now that I look at it more closely. The two previous ones were on Connecticut Ave and were County projects. This one is on Macleay itself and is a City project. So all three may be new.

1 comment:

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

(Edit: Revised the bit on the Macleay project, which I misremembered.)