|River crossing at Lockhaven (1984, from below)|
A Beltline doesn't Solve Traffic
You might have seen this "Salem Beltline" map recently.
|This concept may be from 1979 - via Facebook|
Moving a few years forward, in the "Year 2000" regional plan from 1984, there was indeed a beltline concept with bridges at Lockhaven Road in Keizer (detail at top) and southwest of Minto-Brown Park connecting with Kuebler Boulevard.
|In 1984 we thought we'd need new bridges by 2000|
(in red added; boxed comment in original)
|Lockhaven/Chemawa concepts eliminated in 2002|
A bridge at Kuebler would not effectively address the need of reducing traffic on the existing bridges. A Kuebler bridge would, however, serve as a bypass around downtown Salem, but would not be expected to significantly reduce the through traffic on the downtown arterial system. While large trucks may continue to be only a small percentage of the overall traffic flow, there will someday be a point when it will be desirable to remove these trucks and other through traffic from the downtown Salem street grid....[We recommend] retain[ing] the Kuebler Corridor for further consideration because of its ability to connect Highway 22 with Kuebler Boulevard and I-5, thereby providing an alternative long-term route around the downtown Salem core area.The general beltline concept was also retained and the study deferred "the beltway concept for further consideration and study at some future date."
It is curious that while they retained "the beltway concept" in general, they also kept finding difficulties with key parts of it, and nothing in the analysis pointed to a beltline that actually would work. It remained a vague, theoretical hope mostly unsupported by each current study's modeling and analytics. It might be right to call it "a fantasy."
Still, they came back to it again.
|In 2006, Nos. 1, 2, & 13 scored low on congestion relief|
The most obvious pattern evident from the v/c result is that the furthest south (Kuebler) and northern two (Lockhaven and Chemawa) corridors do the poorest job improving river crossing demand in the peak westbound direction.If you accept the traffic modeling (and there are reasons not to! but for the moment in the argument here, we will accept the conclusions), a beltline concept with bridges at or near Lockhaven and Kuebler doesn't much reduce congestion.
That's why we haven't been talking about a beltline during the SRC process. It was not one of the Alternatives evaluated for the draft Environmental Impact Statement.
Induced Development on the Edges
|Eugene has a beltline (click to enlarge)|
A complete beltline will induce more sprawly, car-dependent development on the "other side" of it.
We see this clearly on Kuebler Boulevard also.
Making a choice for a beltline is to induce more traffic and more low-density development on the city edges. That's why a beltline concept even in general should not be attractive.
Part of our hydraulic autoism is that we think of an existing pool or stream of traffic that we have to relieve. Under this model we build a new road, and there is now free- or freer- flowing traffic. We have relieved the pressure. But mostly we exclude the new travel and new trips induced by the new capacity - the "new" pressure.
But as we know from the foundational paper, "The Fundamental Law of Road Congestion," "increased provision of...major roads is unlikely to relieve congestion." New trips and new development will fill the road and adjacent areas.
|(It's still a free download!)|
Drawing Lines on a Map
|This floodplain map from 1973 is very clear|
But if you look at the floodplain, a span at Chemawa would still be wider than you might think. It's even wider just a little north of there, and Willow Lake and the wastewater plant also make a Lockhaven extension more difficult. (At Kuebler is another matter, and even more difficult; there the river's plain is wide.)
Over and over it's clear why our bridges are all clustered downtown. The geography of the river's waist is destiny! Those 19th century engineers knew a thing or two!
|First bridge of 1886, probably from Minto looking north|
(Salem Library Historic Photos,
but mislabeled as second bridge of 1891)
Do we let traffic drive land-use? Or ask land-use to drive traffic?
In the end it is likely that we need to focus more on land-use policy and planning than on traffic policy and planning.
Or, less abstractly, we can make congestion the primary problem to solve, or we can make housing the primary problem to solve.
And the essence of the matter would seem to be: Why aren't we rushing to make housing the center of our analysis? (So maybe "Our Salem" and not the SRC should drive the process and planning.)
Once we decisively put housing at the center of our analysis, we will look at traffic and congestion in a much different light. Broadly speaking, we can continue to maintain our exclusionary apartment ban and force new housing and development into greenfields at the edge of the city, which requires one approach to cars and congestion; or we can end the ban and focus new development on areas already well served by walking, biking, and transit, which entails a different approach to cars and congestion.
We need to choose one, and not try to satisfy both at the same time:
- A traffic policy that induces development on the city edges
- A land use policy that induces development nearer the city center