Monday, May 13, 2019

Looking Closer at Project Applications for 2021-2026: At the MPO

The Technical Advisory Committee for our local Metropolitan Planning Organization meets on Tuesday the 14th, and they're in a moment of process: they've got discussion on the agenda, but no big action items.

However, the minutes from April's meeting show one of the giant, almost structural problems at the MPO: The problem with driving and greenhouse gases. There's just no explicit awareness of the contradiction and trade-off, even among the technical staff.

More and faster driving? Or less Carbon pollution?
The Great Impasse (from the April minutes)

The MPO is just in deep, deep denial
The facts are out there, and at least they could say, "we know driving is the biggest driver of local greenhouse gas emissions, but because people are so attached to driving, we are not going to do anything about it. We are also not going to tell the public very much about how driving is a problem. We cannot discourage driving. We looooove driving."

We're just doomed, aren't we.

As part of the discussing and vetting process, in the packet are some additional questions on the project applications for the $15 million or so in funds from 2021-2026. They'll be discussing these and making a preliminary ranking.

Here are some of the more interesting bits.

Someone helpfully asks whether "protected bikelanes" could be included in the Broadway project.

Questions on Broadway and Cherry
Someone else suggests deferring the Cherry Avenue and Parkway crossing project to be deferred for the Cap and Trade bill's funding. (So I guess we're aware of carbon emissions, but we can't do anything now about them? There's no urgency here, only the technical detail about which is the right funding source.)

There are two projects on State Street, one in the County, the other in the City.

The dead-ends on Elma at the Geer Line are still public ROW?
In the notes on the County project, there's a very interesting idea for a low-volume north-south alternative to Lancaster Drive between Auburn and Rickey. That's a significant stretch! It would also connect to Four Corners Elementary. That's an idea that deserves more attention and discussion! (Though, to be clear, it's not one of the formal project applications.)

Concept pitch for Geer Line crossing on Elma
On the City project, the 4-lane hybrid concept is making the crosswalks more difficult.

A similar four-lane crosswalk on Market and 19th

Questions about the 4-lane hybrid
Back to the April minutes, there's brief conjecture on local priorities:
[City Staff] thinks the city of Salem’s top priority project among the preapplications is likely to be the McGilchrist project....[Marion County Staff] commented that the Center Street Phase 2 project is the top-ranked project for Marion County. The State Street project is second with either the Delaney Road or Delaney bridge project next.
The Center Street project is an enormous widening project for more driving, taking it to five auto lanes wide (4 travel, a center turn pocket). See last month's notes for additional comments.

The TAC will have a better sense for the priorities at the end of this meeting, and then there might be more to say.

Look for the historic sign
next to the entry
You can download the agenda and meeting packet here.

SKATS Technical Advisory Committee meets Tuesday the 14th, at 1:30pm. SKATS is at 100 High St. SE, Suite 200, above Table Five 08 and the new Epilogue Kitchen.

Unrelated Postcript

You might remember Professor Marc Schlossberg from the 2010-2011 Sustainable City Initiative residency the University of Oregon conducted here. The Monday link roundup at BikePortland includes a note about a fantastic naming project Schlossberg led.

This school year, his students worked on a new problem: What is the right name for the next iteration of a bike lane, a shared mobility lane for skaters, scooters, and micromobility beyond the bike?

He recently posted the winning concept and design, and it's pretty compelling!

The SMILE lane with stencil -
Michael Dooley and Daisy Jones, via UO
The unpacked acronym is a little awkward, but that's not the important part.
the SMILE Lane, or the Shared Micromobility Integration Lane with Emergency access.
It's the mood and the freedom of mobility with a smile! This very much seems worth boosting to see if it will gain traction. (We'll be coming back to it.)


Susann Kaltwasser said...

Once upon a time I looked at the path of the old Geer Line ROW as saw that it is still pretty much undeveloped from I-5 to Willamette University. I can't help but wonder what it would take to turn that into a bike path...even if roads crossed it.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

The ownership of the Geer Line ROW has become very fragmented with multiple owners, and it would be difficult now to reassemble a continuous path - not impossible, I think, but difficult and more costly. The opportunity was much greater a generation ago.

Anonymous said...

In case anyone reads this post again, it should be noted that the gap on Elma where it crosses the Gear line (see photo in the original post) was paved in 2019, so there is a road and bike connection across the Gear line on Elma. I believe this was done as part of the housing development they squeezed in along the Gear line (both east and west of Elma).

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Thanks for the update! (The Geer - double-ee - Line is named for the Geer family, most notably Governor T.T. Geer, whose extended family included Homer Davenport and R. C. Geer, whose historic farm now operates as Geercrest. It's an important name locally!)