Friday, October 18, 2019

Considering near-Final Slate for 2021-2026 Funding: At the MPO

The Policy Committee for our local Metropolitan Planning Organization, SKATS, meets on Tuesday the 22rd, and they've got a mostly baked proposal for funding in the 2021-2026 cycle.

this is helpful! A table with proposed funding
and rough notion of schedule
In the meeting packet is this helpful summary, and just as the presentation of information it's an advance on what we have seen previously.

Altogether, the funding proposal is also pretty reasonable. The gigantified five-lane Center Street project is out, the revised three-lane State Street project is in. Urban projects mostly have greater priority than ruralish suburban ones (like those in and near Turner - but see below for note on regional balance in the MPO).

Several other projects to improve safety and comfort for non-auto travel are also included.

The alternate plan bumps crosswalk funding
So at this point, I don't see any meaningful criticism to direct towards it. The "recommended" alternative does seem better. In recent years attempts to get funded an Orchard Heights project has consistently not scored well. East Salem also deserves the investment more, and so the Connecticut project is worth including. The enhanced crosswalks for Salem also get pushed out two years in the "alternate" scenario. I do not see a reason not to embrace the recommended scenario.

Cherriots' Director Carney has good questions!
(We may check in on Cherriots in a separate post later,
she has good questions there also. Keep an eye on her!)

SR2S calls out its own staffing, crosswalks, and buses
Earlier in the month the Safe Routes folks posted to FB a link to an interesting pamphlet.

One of three pamphlets on MPOs
It is worthwhile to note. Here's the link.

The booklet, with a little bit of "how-to" on local advocacy, mainly focused on small projects, like how to advocate for a sidewalk near your neighborhood school. It was for a genial, uncritical kind of advocacy. A pessimistic take on it is that it is a capitulation to the "arguing over table scraps" model on which non-auto mobility has seemed to depend. More optimistically, given the current system, it may the most realistic model to guide parental advocacy. So it's just a little ambiguous, that's all.

The note on MPO structure seemed most relevant
But really, one of the most important parts was on the structural problems of MPOs as they are constituted. "MPO boards simply are not structured to adequately represent the needs of central city residents...urban jurisdictions received 29 percent of MPO board votes but contained 56 percent of the MPO area population."

This structure is certainly what we see at SKATS. The City of Salem has one board vote, the same weight as the City of Turner. The same weight as the City of Keizer, the same weight as unincorporated County land. Together, the County, Keizer, and Turner greatly outweigh in vote power the City of Salem. This is messed up, and one place where it has had clear impact is the resistance of the MPO to analyzing greenhouse gas emissions and evaluating proposed transportation projects by emissions as part of the scoring process. (And see today's piece at BikePortland on opposition to a proposed bridge between Lake Oswego and Clackamas County and ways the Clackamas Commissioners are also using it as a horse-trading chit for more highway expansion in a prospective Portland area MPO transportation bond.)

If you are interested in MPOs, the pamphlets are interesting and there are useful things in them, but they are very much oriented to working within the system for small, incremental change, and not to changing the system for greater change. In a narrow scope of routes to schools and our existing system the approach may be adequate, but it is important to note that it is not adequate to the problem, scale, and scope of climate disruption and transportation.

Look for the historic sign
next to the entry
The agenda and meeting packet can be downloaded here.

SKATS Policy Committee Committee meets Tuesday the 22nd, at noon. SKATS is at 100 High St. SE, Suite 200, above Table Five 08 and Epilogue Kitchen.

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