Monday, February 25, 2019

Safe Routes to Schools at the MPO

Our local Metropolitan Planning Organization meets on Tuesday the 26th, and mostly they've got a bunch of administrative housekeeping on the agenda. We've talked about project scoring for the 2019 RTSP, and that debate and analysis continues, but I'm not sure there's anything new to say. (See previous notes from the Technical Advisory Committee and discussion.)

For all the mania the MPO has had for the Salem River Crossing, it's crickets now! Maybe it's merely a superficial observation, but it's interesting that on the agenda there is nothing about the finality of Council's vote on the SRC earlier this month. Maybe there will be informal conversation - or maybe there is only secret plotting now. The silence is a little strange and seems worth noting.

What is on the agenda and new, is a proposal to support Safe Routes to School personnel.

The agenda item

The end of a draft letter to Cherriots
Why is SKATS telling Cherriots about Bend?
And it too is a little weird.

As I read it, the tone and language is less about supporting an existing application for funding, but is rather more like a pitch to Cherriots to make the application. It doesn't actually read like everybody's on the same page quite yet. Instead they're trying to talk Cherriots into making this "non-infrastructure grant" application, which Cherriots has already once declined to do. The whole things just feels a little unsettled rather than firm. ("Come on, Cherriots, you can do it!" It's also not clear yet how much of a committed partner is the School District. The McNary/St. Edward mess suggests the District remains committed instead to autoism and to larger parking lots. A District fully invested in Safe Routes would have managed the problems at McNary very differently.)

How the partial funding fits is also not clear. I can't find the citation, but I seem to recall that when the SR2S grant that supported the position for Salem and Eugene was announced, it was for three years, and stepped down by thirds each year with the assumption that local funding sources would be found and would kick in to cover the salary. The grant contained a phase-out.

This may be mistaken and should be regarded as very tentative, but it is possible that this SKATS/Cherriots proposal is a piece of that funding to continue the current position.

A more exciting interpretation is that this would represent a wholly new hire and position and would represent an expansion in the SR2S programming here.

So we'll see what it ends up being.

SR2S programming is part of Cherriots Strategic Plan
Safe Routes programming was part of the 2015 Strategic Plan that Cherriots rolled out for the Rideshare program. They've rebranded as Tripchoice, and may have revised the Strategic Plan since then, but I believe it remains part of the overall plan. Even if Cherriots thinks the timing is off, the general proposal seems consistent with their adopted plan.

Look for the historic sign
next to the entry
(The MPO website has been down, and when it comes back up, I'll update with the link to the full meeting packet and agenda.)

This regular Meeting of the SKATS Policy Committee meets Tuesday the 26th at noon. SKATS is at 100 High St. SE, Suite 200, above Table Five 08.


Walker said...

No recognition of the boondoggle’s demise evident here:

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

I know, right?! They are slow to update that site!

(Also, updated with link to agenda and meeting packet.)

Anonymous said...

Regarding the SRTS item: For clarification, the letter to Cherriots that was included in the packet was from 2018 (about one year ago) when Cherriots was considering funding a SRTS position. The 2018 letter was included for background purposes.

The request in 2019 is for SKATS to support allocating funds for an ODOT non-infrastructure grant application. If the grant is provided from ODOT, the ODOT & SKATS funds would be used to hire a SRTS Coordinator to work with the school district and individual schools.

Mike Jaffe
MWVCOG Transportation Planning Director

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Whoops! Didn't read the date closely enough. Thanks for the clarification.

(Though even having made an error on the date - most of the observations about the letter seem to stand; it's still odd to lecture Cherriots about Bend, when they would know what their peers around the state were doing.)

But who is actually making the grant application for the ODOT non-infrastructure grant? That part is still not clear!