Monday, October 7, 2019

Union St Bikeway at Risk, Shrug on Greenhouse Gas: At the MPO

As the current inflationary construction economy seemingly busts all budgets, the City of Salem is considering cancelling parts of the Union Street Family-friendly Bikeway. The MPO also appears lukewarm, even sandbaggy, on Governor Brown's recent letter requesting action on greenhouse gases and transportation.

The Technical Advisory Committee for our local Metropolitan Planning Organization meets on Tuesday the 8th, and there's not a lot directly on the agenda for us.

One item on the agenda is that letter from the Governor.

"information" only
It's presented without comment in the meeting packet.

Staff could have embraced the letter, made a recommendation, and said "Let's get behind this!"

But no, it's just an informational item, something to be acknowledged and ignored. "Move along now, nothing to see."

Maybe there is some other strategy to this presentation, and that a flat affect is in fact the best way to elicit action.

But based on the MPO's previous sandbagging, this seems more likely to be an instance of doing the minimum to ensure that the minimum is continued.

While the TAC itself is not going to set the policy and nature of compliance, strong or weak - the Policy Committee will do that part - the TAC should write a statement to the Policy Committee in support of strong action on Governor Brown's requests. The MPO doesn't have to wait for direction from ODOT or DLCD; they could initiate actions on their own, and course-correct as necessary once they receive formal direction.

Floating idea of reducing Union St Bikeway
Not on the agenda, but in the minutes from last month's meeting is a disappointing note about further cost overruns.

We are failing badly on walking and biking
(final June Our Salem indicators)
While the City of Salem is prepared to continue funding an intersection package with new traffic signal on Commercial Street and widening for a turn pocket on Hilfiker, they floated the idea of reducing the scope of the Union Street Family-friendly bikeway.

We have to stop adding car capacity and inducing trips
This is all wrong. If we want to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, we need to prioritize non-auto travel and start de-prioritizing new auto capacity. The moment for decision discloses our real values, and the City appears poised to fail.

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 8th, at 1:30pm. SKATS is at 100 High St. SE, Suite 200, above Table Five 08 and Epilogue Kitchen.

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