Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Poopy Orts: Middens at the Police Station, the Belluschi Crater, Rain Garden Slalom on 12th

The debate on the SRC is heavy and heated, and maybe something trashy and low would be welcome.

Here are notes on some poopy things around Salem.

Did you make it by either the Mill or the Library for the temporary exhibits on the archeology digs at the new Police Station site?

The version at the Library was a little underwhelming, perhaps because it was still early in the assessment process. I was hoping for a little more narrative sweep and analysis, but it was mostly lots of things. Things with tags. A little bric-a-brac-y.

The outhouse and midden at the new Police Station
They found plenty of evidence for Kalapuya life, a hitherto unknown well, and lots of glass and ceramic, much of it apparently from one or more outhouses. It was nice to see the middens represent! Hopefully they'll present a more formal report later on. (Previously see: "Traces of Old Hotel at New Police Station Site? Archeology Day Offers Glimpse of Older Salem!")

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

City Council, January 30th - The Wager of the SRC

The prelude to the big showdown on the SRC is tomorrow, Wednesday the 30th. Council has scheduled a work session and hopefully it will not just be a staff presentation and Councilors will be able to question, even cross-examine, staff. No public comment will be taken at this time in order to allow Council and staff to focus. (Comment will be received at a later meeting in February.)

It happens there's a big sports event this weekend, and what Council is asked to do is not so much to evaluate certainties, as it is to evaluate a wager. Sports betting is in many ways a good lens through which to consider the SRC.
  • Is the SRC and its Preferred Alternative a good bet? Are its predicted outcomes a good bet? It is a good bet to come in at or near budget?
  • Are there other, better bets out there for meeting some of its stated goals?
  • How much of your own money would you be willing to bet on any these?
By these measures, trying to think of risk in a personal way, I think the SRC scores very poorly. It's not a good bet at all.

This should not surprise us. Very large projects fail most often. Bent Flyvbjerg is probably the world's authority on them, and he has identified a great number of problems with them. We see many of these problems here.

Megaproject expert Bent Flyvbjerg in the New Yorker

10 Characteristics of Megaprojects in his
Oxford Handbook of Megaproject Management
If you think we need to consider more about greenhouse gas emissions, the SRC is not a good bet to reduce them at the scale we will find necessary, if it even reduces them at all. There should be lots of doubt here.

Monday, January 28, 2019

SRC Cost Estimate and 40% Contingency Nearly Certain to be Inadequate

On questions about earthquake and seismic resilience, the Q & A makes what looks a little bit like a move for false equivalence. They are shading matters so they don't have to face the question squarely.

In Section 20.c of the Q & A they write (and Category 5 is most hazardous, Category 1 the least) that
  • The Preferred Alternative east side bridge landing is primarily Category 3; the western bridge approach is primarily Category 4, transitioning to Category 2 with some Category 3.
  • The current bridge locations, east side, are primarily Category 5, transitioning to Categories 4 and 3. On the west side, the bridge landings are primarily on Category 3.
This makes the current bridge locations look worse, right? Category 5 is worse than Category 4. Of course we should build the SRC on those more stable soils!

Section 20.b and 20.c
But when you look at the map - and it is significant the Q & A omits the map and merely references one in a different and hard to find document - the whole flood plain across which the SRC would cross is Category 4. The map is dated 1996, and since then there has been a great amount of gravel quarrying and there may be an additional factor of industrial disturbance to increase these soils' propensity to liquefaction. (It would be interesting too if there is any updated version of the map.) In any case, if distance or area is at all a factor in multiplying odds of an event or multiplying the severity of an event, the larger extent of Category 4 soils make the Preferred Alternative meaningfully more risky than the current bridge crossing sites.

City Council, January 28th

Council meets tonight, and since the focus here is really on Wednesday's Work Session on the SRC, just bullets:

Where's the bike lane? - January SPRAB presentation
Maybe you will see something more interesting or significant.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

SRC Q & A Misleads on Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Oregon Global Warming Commission 2018 Biennial Report

Oregon Global Warming Commission 2018 Biennial Report

Oregon Global Warming Commission 2018 Biennial Report
Now let's look at how the SRC Q & A tackles greenhouse gas emissions.

The defense of the bridge hangs its hat on the notion that only by speeding up traffic can we reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Tailpipe emissions are the main problem. It discounts "driving less" as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to reduce congestion. On this view speed is good. In 2040 the No Build state is modeled to offer an average speed of 13.1 mph, and the SRC once built would offer 21.9 mph. Emissions are meaningfully worse at the lower speed because of motor inefficiency and idling. It concludes, therefore, the SRC is better at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Traffic Modeling and False Precision in the SRC Q and A

The big Q & A on the SRC has several sections that use traffic modeling, but no section on the modeling itself. The document assumes the truthfulness and usefulness of a set of traffic forecasts for 2040.

I want to step back a little and ask some questions about the way we handle the traffic forecasts. Above all, the SRC team, and traffic planners here generally, both in public employment and in private contracting, pretty much everyone involved in traffic engineering, elide the uncertainty around forecasts. If there is any statistical uncertainty around the projections, you'd never know it.

There are also a couple of other ways that planners play fast-and-loose with the forecasting.

Traffic Forecasts Generally Deserve Margins of Error

As we receive the forecasts now - and they are delivered rather ex cathedra - they are full of false precision.

2040 counts from Section 13.c

2040 counts from Section 15.d
All of these numbers should have a 95% or 80% confidence interval on them. Or some other sign of the margin of error and uncertainty.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

"Daunting" Q and A Casts Unfavorable Light on Planning Goal 1 and DEIS

The Q & A for the SRC Council Work Session is a funny thing. It's supposed to be neutral and even-handed, but it is not.

from the Introduction
In the introduction they admit "some of the references may not be the seminal work or the latest on the topic."

Why doesn't this Q & A represent the best state of the research on a given topic? This is a strange thing to admit from the start - unless that's an indirect admission that the document is already biased.

Q & A on Induced Demand Biased, Depends on Out of Date Scholarship

At the center of the materials published for the Wednesday Work Session on the SRC is an omnibus Q & A, a staff report arranged as a series of questions and answers. It is almost medieval in form, a modern quaestio or Sentences! It aspires to be a Summa.

You know that's an ironic setup. The report is supposed to be magisterial and neutral, but it is biased and unrepresentative. Too often it is ideologically motivated. Rather than the best of medieval scholasticism, it is the worst of it, narrow, cramped, and oriented with a determined teleology.

Here we will look at Induced Demand.

The Sources are too Few and are Biased

In the discussion of induced demand and traffic forecasting the material is shaped in order to position autoism as a "neutral" description of reality, the natural order of things, rather than a highly ideological and heavily subsidized position resulting from multiple policy decisions over years and even decades.

(Ian Lockwood, via Public Square)
Though the tone of the discussion in the Q & A is ostensibly even-handed, in the discussion of induced demand the last bit on a "preference for suburban living" gives it away. But the preference for suburban living requires heavy subsidies for the car-dependence. If "lawn and driveway" zoning weren't mandated in our vast swaths of our single-family housing districts, we might look at highway investment a little differently.

"preference for suburban living"
As it happens, the study cited here by "Professor Cervero" (it is frequently a sign of status anxiety when it becomes necessary to attach this honorific, and this is a tell) is old, from 2003, and published by a notorious autoist and anti-transit advocacy group that advocates for sprawl.

Friday, January 25, 2019

The SRC's Disconnect on Decongestion Pricing

One of the memos for the Wednesday Council Work Session on the SRC that has been published is the "Salem River Crossing Revenue Projections." I don't remember seeing the final version of this memo published before.*

And here is what might be the single most important take-away. This chart isn't from the SRC. But it is drawn from the table just below, table 5 in this "Revenue Projections" memo. The table is from the SRC's own materials, and the data the chart expresses comes from the SRC's own internal assumptions.

Just tolling solves all our congestion problems!
(Chart not in memo; all other clips here are from the memo)
As soon as we toll the bridges - poof! All our problems with congestion go away on the existing bridges.**

Memo on Mission Street Slights Costs of Overpass

There's a flurry of memos published in advance of the Wednesday Council Work Session and Showdown on the Salem River Crossing. It'll take some time to work through them all, and multiple people will take passes at the material. Rather than first trying to write any kind of overview, here we'll go at it in bits and pieces and will early next week in a summary post try to give shape to the material, bring it together, and engage interesting analysis and comment from others.

We'll start with an easy bit.

14th and Mission, looking west
When it was slow, more people biked there!
Salem Library Historic Photo Collection
One of the memos is the soothingly titled "A Mission Street Retrospective." It's a cheery stroll down memory lane on the planning process for the Mission Street overpass between 12th and 17th Streets.

You can read more on it, including a transcription, in a previous note on its "establishment history." The retrospective makes no real attempt to engage the disruption created by ramp spaghetti. Because the neighborhood was having some trouble, it justified disruption by saying "it's already bad, so no big deal." It uses "slum clearance" as rationale:
Many of the buildings had been neglected and in a state of disrepair. Less than 8% of the structures surveyed showed evidence that the owners were maintaining them.
Houses were demolished or moved. Blank spaces and walls created a fissure between two neighborhoods. And the "improvements" for people who walk and bike are uninviting, and work mainly in theory as lines on a map. They are not very good in practice. They fail a "family-friendly" or "all ages and abilities" test. You would not send a child on them alone. The Mission Street overpass may have been good for "moving traffic," but it had many other ancillary costs that we do not adequately reckon with. When we privilege "moving traffic" through a place, we systematically erase the place itself and the values of people for whom it is a place. Limited by its hydraulic autoism, the retrospective centers "moving traffic" at the expense of everything else.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Electric Avenue Charging Station Concept for State Street Bears Watching

In Salem Reporter's piece on the State of the City address, there was a bit of techno-hype for electric cars:
[Mayor] Bennett also revealed the city is talking with Portland General Electric to add a so-called "Electric Avenue," a bank of electric car chargers. He said the bank could serve four vehicles and that PGE would pay to build it and run it for 10 years.

The hub would be located on State Street near the Capitol building, said Kristin Retherford, director of the city's Urban Development department. Retherford said PGE approached the city last fall. The two sides are near an agreement, she said, but are still figuring out how paid parking will factor in to the electric vehicle stations.

"I think from the city's perspective there is strong interest in the community in curbing greenhouse gas emissions," Retherford said.
There's not enough detail here to be sure of anything, but it bears watching.

You might remember that the Downtown Mobility Study was working on making State and Court streets two-way and including bike lanes.

State Street

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Mayor Spins SRC at State of City Address - updated

Yesterday the Mayor gave an annual "State of the City" address, and the Mayor lamented difficulties on the Salem Rivercrossing and tried to rally supporters in the face of increasingly doubtful prospects for the SRC. It was spin. With gloom-and-doom alarmism, he shaded matters to put his case in the best light and verged sometimes on outright misrepresentation.
Bennett didn't have good news for proponents of building a third traffic bridge over the Willamette River, saying the proposed crossing is "teetering on the brink of failure."

"Council action on the project’s environmental impact statement will occur in the next couple of weeks, and it will either be build or no-build," Bennett said.

"If build does not move forward and no-build becomes the preferred alternative, we will have to make a whole new set of plans for resiliency related to our connectivity between West and East Salem if there is a major disaster," he said.

At last year's State of the City, he said the project was "stalled." This year, the prospect of building the third bridge has become "increasingly unlikely," Bennett said.
Earlier live tweets suggested the misrepresentation might be worse, but it turned out mostly to be spin rather than falsehood.  

Original Post

The Mayor gave his annual State of the City speech today at noon. As represented in first-hand reporting, some of his statements about SRC appear so misleading that they merit some quick response.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

City Council, January 23rd - Council Policy Agenda

Council meets on Wednesday for a Work Session on goals and policy.

There's a ton of material, and at a glance it looks like rather than letting values drive decisions, the Staff Reports are designed to have too much detail and to slow-walk decisions. There's something weird about all the stuff and clutter. It's like "are you sure you want to do this?"

Maybe this misunderstand things. At the very least, it's a reminder of the vast amount of material we ask Councilors to understand, and a reminder of the time it requires for that understanding.  To exercise real oversight and not merely to "rubber-stamp" staff recommendations is a lot of work.

We're just going to look at a few transportation things here.

One of the reports is on the 17 recommended actions arising out of the Congestion Relief Task Force.

Do we really need a UGB amendment
for a right-sized Marine Drive?
Though they are "not in priority order," at the head of the list is Marine Drive. And it is interesting that one of the "future steps" on it is an amendment to the Urban Growth Boundary.

You might remember from back in 2016 a discussion of some of the Administrative Rules that would govern Marine Drive:
Transportation Improvements on Rural Lands
(3) The following transportation improvements are consistent with Goals 3, 4, 11, and 14 subject to the requirements of this rule:
(g) New access roads and collectors within a built or committed exception area, or in other areas where the function of the road is to reduce local access to or local traffic on a state highway. These roads shall be limited to two travel lanes. Private access and intersections shall be limited to rural needs or to provide adequate emergency access.
(h) Bikeways, footpaths and recreation trails not otherwise allowed as a modification or part of an existing road;
(i) Park and ride lots; [italics added]
A collector-level Marine Drive for local traffic would not necessarily require an amendment to the Urban Growth Boundary.

The TSP currently calls for a "collector" level Marine Drive
(Street System Element of February 2016)
A UGB amendment is necessary if Marine Drive is envisioned as an arterial-sized urban highway.

Monday, January 21, 2019

At the MPO: SKATS Still Weighing the Evaluation Criteria for 2019 RTSP Project List

The Policy Committee for our local Metropolitan Planning Organization meets tomorrow on Tuesday the 22nd. There's no important immediate decision on the agenda, but lots percolating on the total transportation funding system.

SRC Update

There is an update on the SRC and the Council Work Session later this month:
The city of Salem has scheduled a work session on January 30th at 6:00 p.m. for the Salem City Council to discuss the Salem River Crossing project. SKATS assisted city of Salem staff prepare a “Salem River Crossing Project - Question & Answers” report to the council. The draft report has over 130 questions divided into 22 different categories. Staff will e-mail the city’s report to the SKATS Policy Committee when it is completed.
Presumably the City will publish the document as part of the Staff Report for the Work Session, and it will be very interesting to read. Probably it will have a bias for the SRC, and it will be necessary to read it closely and perhaps even to interrogate or "fisk" it.

In the formal Work Program, the SRC is a little mysteriously omitted. I don't know how important that is, as the present document is a draft only and is not complete, but it's always interesting to read (and in this case not read) what is the MPO's formal position on it.

TOC says subsection A

Pages 25-26 omit the SRC subsection
Evaluation and Scoring Framework for the RTSP

In the minutes from the last meeting, there was a short bit on the contested Goal 7 on greenhouse gases:
Referencing RTSP Goal 7, Mayor Gary Tiffin asked about the status of the goal. Mr. Jackson responded that evaluation criteria will be developed for Goal 7 once the language for that goal is completed. He added that the impact of the criteria for a single goal is unlikely to have a huge impact on project selection as it would be scored either a zero or 1 point.
It is significant that the "evaluation criteria" are constructed in a way to minimize the effectiveness of a strong Goal 7. That is, the criteria are so thoroughly autoist in total concept and system, changing the language in one goal cannot alter the total balance. It is going to take more work and a rethinking of the whole suite of goals in the RTSP (and elsewhere) to adjust for an actually balanced system that offers meaningful transportation choice. The Staff Report on the latest discussion of the criteria finds that "projects that score well in one option tend to score well in the other options."

Headline Omits Verb, Erases the Driver; New TRB Paper Addresses Problem

Not only is the driver erased, so is the headline verb
So this was casually picked up off the AP wire as filler for page 2 of the paper today, and maybe we shouldn't make too much of it, but the multiple layers of inattention are symptomatic.

First off, the headline: "2 Pedestrians [blank] by van..."

The verb, the action, the collision itself is totally erased. That's merely a typo, an error in copy editing, but it is also one helped along by the way we mystify collisions in order to insulate drivers from fault and driving itself from an awareness of its routine dangers.

The rest of the short piece is a tissue the more customary mystification, of "the van [verb]" formula that makes the van the subject of all sentences rather than the driver.

A driver struck two people walking.

A person was driving a vehicle, and a person in charge of that vehicle struck two other people who were walking. The van does not yet have agency and is not a robot. Only the human operator of the vehicle has that agency, and is responsible for the safe operation of the vehicle.

Patterns of erasing the driver
At the Transportation Research Board annual meeting earlier this month, researchers presented a paper, "Editorial Patterns in Bicyclist and Pedestrian Crash Reporting," that confirms the pattern we all see of erasing the driver.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Salem's Four Opportunity Zones Overlap with Urban Renewal Zones

You might have seen the Bloomberg Business "Welcome to Tax Breaklandia" headline circulating the last couple of days.

via Twitter and Bloomberg
From the piece:
Among a nationwide patchwork of struggling areas, there are a small number of thriving communities that may draw an outsize share of investors’ cash. In some cases, the law may boost returns on investments that would’ve happened anyway....

Portland’s zones are so atypical that Barry Sternlicht, the real estate investor and founder of the Starwood hotel chain, used the city as a punchline when he criticized Congress for passing the tax breaks. “That’s not a blighted district,” he scoffed...
Locally there hasn't been much talk about Salem's zones. A couple months back on FB there was a little bit of talk about how the entire downtown area was eligible, but nothing in detail, and nothing about our other zones.

Salem also has several zones
It turns out we have at least four of them:
  • The whole of downtown, south to Mission and east to 12th/RR
  • Much of Highland/Grant north to Pine Street, also bounded by the RR on the east
  • The Edgewater District and a pigtail along the RR path to the Union St RR Bridge
  • And the whole of the airport, McGilchrist, and Fairview Industrial area (but not the Mill Creek Industrial park area)

Saturday, January 19, 2019

State's Chief Autoist Resigns; Time for New Leadership at ODOT

Remember this from back in 2015?

Doubt about ODOT
(See "Former Government Official Blasts ODOT in Today's Paper" and "David Bragdon's Reforms for ODOT and our Transportation System.")

Yesterday ODOT, the Governor, and the OTC shared big news for transportation here:
SALEM — Oregon Transportation Director Matthew Garrett announced today that he will resign as Director of the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) on or before June 30, 2019. “I’m eager to take the next few months to explore the opportunity to do something new,” Garrett remarked. “It was important to me to provide enough notice to allow time for a search to identify my replacement and provide a smooth transition to the new Director,” he added.

In his resignation letter to Governor Kate Brown and Oregon Transportation Commission Chair Tammy Baney, Garrett noted that he has been at ODOT for 22 years, the last 13 of which he has served as Director. Garrett has led the 4,700 person department under three Governors -- Kate Brown, John Kitzhaber and Ted Kulongoski. Garrett is the longest continuously serving department of transportation director in the nation.

Governor Brown thanked Garrett for his service: “Matt Garrett has driven Oregon forward through his steadfast commitment to improve transportation for his fellow Oregonians, both today and in the future. He has led ODOT with distinction, guiding the agency through the implementation of a historic transportation package, and we will reap the benefits for decades to come. I have deeply appreciated his thoughtful counsel and collaboration and want to extend my gratitude for his service to our state.”

“Matt has been a dedicated public servant in our state for almost a quarter of a century,” said Transportation Commission Chair Tammy Baney. “He is highly respected throughout Oregon and in transportation circles around the country. The Commission appreciates Matt’s many contributions to modernizing Oregon’s transportation system. We will work closely with him in the coming months to ensure a smooth transition from Matt to his successor.”

The Oregon Transportation Commission has the statutory authority to hire a new director for the department.
The laudatory tone is at odds, of course, with that editorial from 2015, and indeed with our efforts to reform transportation for walking, biking, busing, and greenhouse gas reduction. Which have failed badly.

It's time for a new vision at ODOT, one that is not so bull-headedly autoist.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

The Proposed 20 Indicators for Our Salem May Have too Much Overlap

The process to update the Comprehensive Plan has published the initial set of metrics they call "indicators," and it's a little surprising.

On FB, one advocate described them as "A BIG DEAL," putting "the environment and environmentally friendly transportation as the central issues to address as Salem grows":
Of the 20, six speak to non-auto transportation: complete neighborhoods, walk and transit friendliness, access to frequent transit, bicycle and pedestrian use, traffic/pedestrian accident, and active transportation.

Five address environmental concerns (in addition to emphasizing walking, biking, and transit). They are: tree canopy, proximity to parks and trails, development in environmentally sensitive areas, reduction in air pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions.

Two speak to affordability: Total affordability and housing affordability.
Overall this is great to see.

What special sauce does "Our Salem" have that this did not?
But as always, it's what the City does, not what it says, that is important. We've been down this road before: Every time we have some shiny new and exciting policy language, somehow it is ground down to something much less innovative or transformative in action. Writing and adopting the language is not the primary thing to laud or criticize: It's the budgets and decisions that follow that are critical. Our current Comprehensive Plan has lots of juicy language we routinely ignore or interpret in the most generous of ways, we should remember.

Still, if we assume this new language will be effective, is it actually the right balance?

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Senate Highways Committee Introduces our Gas Tax in 1919

As the City considers a local gas tax, it is interesting to recall that the nation's first gas tax was created by Oregon in 1919.

From January 16th, 1919, here's the first mention of it as legislative concept, not exactly buried in the paper, but on an interior page.

On the interior, page 5, January 16th, 1919
The focus of the story is really on the bond and its projects, and less about the funding mechanism. In fact, for as novel as the gas tax apparently was, it is just mentioned in passing like was already no big deal. That matter-of-factness is striking.

As the bill progresses we'll post occasional updates, as it really is a milestone in road funding and interesting to know more about.

There were different topics on the front page that day, and the mood in 1919 remains fascinating.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Hospital Evicted from Orphanage, Moves to McKinley School in 1919

When McKinley Elementary turned 100, you might remember that it had been used as a hospital during the Flu Epidemic of 1918.

It turns out the building was first used in 1919 during the second wave of flu.

January 15th, 1919
And what prompted using the school in this way was not an overwhelming wave of flu cases and any need for an auxiliary building, but was the relocation of Salem Hospital, which at that time was over by the State Hospital, in the former orphanage, located near the Dome Building and former footprint of Breitenbush Hall. The State wanted the land and building, and Salem Hospital had been essentially evicted through Eminent Domain. So at least at this time, as the move into McKinley is being planned, we should not interpret it as a "flu hospital" made necessary by a shocking number of deaths and ill people.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Apartment Block at 260 State Looks to get Historic Design Approvals

260 State Street birds eye view
(Marion Car Park on left, and Scott's Cycle in middle)
On Thursday the 17th the Historic Landmarks Commission will consider the project planned for 260 State Street, the empty gravel lot at State and Commercial. (Staff Report here, full agenda here.)

When an earlier note was posted to FB, it immediately brought talk about parking: The project must have underground parking, there's not enough parking, it's impossible without more parking, etc.

Our mania for subsidized, free car storage is the dominant interpretive lens for anything downtown, and even dominates in residential areas.

We have to interrogate and end this!

If we demand that land and construction budget be allocated to car housing, how are we ever going to create affordable housing for humans?! This is a real trade-off that people don't want to take very seriously, or want to wave off as something that can magically be resolved. But car parking adds to the cost of housing, whether it's downtown or in a residential neighborhood. If we want to reduce the cost of housing, eliminating mandatory car parking is an important and direct step. It won't solve affordability problems by itself, but it's an essential ingredient. (See these discussions of the cost of housing and ways to reduce it for Portland and Seattle.)

18 spaces on the interior:
A very small parking area behind ground floor retail
And indeed, this project is oriented for car-free and car-lite living. There is a small parking lot of 18 stalls on the first floor, tucked in under a second floor courtyard. The project will require creativity and exceptions in our usual parking requirements. It is likely there will be a separate policy or agreement that utilizes stalls in the Liberty and/or Chemeketa Parkades. We should also be talking about ways to utilize Riverfront Park or other surface lots during the nighttime when demand is slack. There are efficiencies to be found in cooperative offset sharing agreements. We have tons of parking! (Materials do reference an additional 130 stalls off-site. This will be an important detail, but uncertainty on that should not itself be reason to halt or delay the project.)

Friday, January 11, 2019

City Council, January 14th - Crosswalks and Green Bike Lanes

Council meets on Monday the 14th. Councilor Leung will be sworn in for the first time.

Five Crossing Safety Projects
Project estimate is now at $566,220
On the agenda are a couple of intergovernmental agreements with ODOT for walking and biking projects. One is a set of five enhanced crosswalks, some with additional bikeway components on the Winter-Maple Greenway at Pine Street and Fairgrounds Road. These are scheduled for construction in 2020. The very first estimates totalled about $250,000. Once the projects were scoped in more detail, the final estimate and contract was for $566,220. For two reasons this seems unlikely to be sufficient now. These were priced several years ago (notes from 2015 and 2016), and since then construction costs have risen. Additionally, the crossing on Fairgrounds is not a simple one, and though the City has not commented on this directly, it seems almost certain that the project will be phased and that the budget here will only afford partial construction.

There is a second agreement for signal enhancements and green bike lanes, but the project description is still a little vague:
Typical enhancements include intersection lighting upgrades, traffic signal equipment upgrades, the installation of protected/permissive left-turn phasing, and the installation of green bike lanes to alert motorists of the potential presence of bicyclists. One or more of these enhancements will be incorporated at each intersection identified above.
I think this is from the last round of All Roads Transportation Safety funding. Based on that 2016 description, here are the sites for green bike lanes:
But some projects from that 2016 list are not on this most recent list: The Commercial-Vista Corridor projects and Broadway at Pine Street.

The Staff Report does not explicitly reference the ARTS program, and it is unclear how directly the projects in this agreement follow from the ARTS list. (This is a way that transportation funding is rather opaque and mysterious to non-insiders.)

Restaurant concept for 245 Court Street, with some zig-zags
In the information items is a modification to the single-story retail space on the east side of the residential block at the 245 Court Street project.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Salem Poised to Win on One of their Three Safe Routes to Schools Applications

Earlier this month ODOT announced the short list of winning applications for Safe Routes to School funding.

The project at Liberty Elementary was the winner
You might recall back in October that the City to applied for a little over $1 Million in funding for several projects on the new Safe Routes to Schools funding program:
  • 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.
The Oregon Transportation Commission will adopt the funding list at their next meeting on January 17th and Salem has the Liberty Elementary School project on the list.

Salem looks to win a grant for an enhanced crosswalk
at Liberty School
Back in October, it seemed like winning more than one of the three projects was very unlikely, and winning one is indeed what is recommended.

Could put the crosswalk and median at the front door!
It's not exactly clear where the crosswalk and median would go, but certainly at the front door would be a candidate. Existing crosswalks at Boone Road and Skyline Road are a ways away.

The total demand for funding was something like 10x the available funding, and it is possible that the 2019 Legislature will consider boosting it.

Portland's first Jaywalking Ordinance Took Effect 100 Years Ago

The mixed traffic ecosystem in Salem:
Looking south on Commercial from Court, 1913
Here's a signal local moment in the invention of jaywalking!

As it was reported here in Salem
January 10th, 1919
Portland's first jaywalking ordinance went into effect on January 10th, 1919.  It ratified an important shift in burden for safety from driver to walker.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Will the Scooter Wars Play out Here in Salem?

You might remember a piece from last summer about "the scooter wars."

The SJ broke news today that Bird is considering launching rental scooters in Salem.

On balance more choices for micro-mobility would be a good thing.

But there are some real questions about scooters, and they show some of the gaps created and enforced by our autoism.

A scooter with a seat, in use on Saginaw at Mission Street
Even on a quiet street like Saginaw, I have seen adults on the sidewalk from time to time.

Library and Traffic Advisory Boards Meet Wednesday - updated

Summary of Annual Report in 1918
January 8th, 1919
Something's awry at the Library. You can read more about it at Save Our Books. They've got rid of the Reference Desk (and some number of Reference Librarians presumably) and been purging books beyond normal weeding practices. Though apologists have defended it as maintenance for a "dynamic collection," it looks rather more like the leading edge of radical change to the whole concept for our library. Is the library for books of enduring value and where you can do research? Or is it mainly for transiently popular best-sellers and where you can chat with your friends? That oversimplifies, and public libraries must do some of both, but each library's balance gets at the matter of focus and purpose. And if it's a change here of any magnitude, more of the community should be involved in the decision.