Friday, November 8, 2019

City Proposes to Reduce Union Street Bikeway: At the MPO

The City will explain the current proposal to reduce the Union Street Family-friendly Greenway and Bikeway at the MPO on Tuesday.

On the agenda: Use Summer St bike lanes

(map and commentary not part of agenda)
I don't even understand it.

The proposal is
that the connection to the 12th street path be made via existing bike lanes on Summer Street that connect to the Capitol Mall and from there to the existing route on Chemeketa Street that makes the connection to the 12th street path.
So on a map, the "L" via Summer and Chemeketa is roughly equivalent by taxicab geometry to a continuation on Union Street and corner elbow to 12th.

But Summer Street is one-way south. Its existing bike lanes wouldn't work for two-way travel!

Using the existing route on Winter and Chemeketa Streets makes more sense from that perspective.

But Union Street is supposed to get upgrades and protection to a level that Winter Street and Chemeketa Street, marked by sharrows only, both lack.

Cutting the Union Street bikeway down like this is also a further reduction in its "family-friendliness." We haven't yet embraced a full "all ages and abilities" design standard on any complete bikeway, and the reductions here represent an additional retreat from a full embrace.

For comparison, here is the treatment between Summer and 12th (from early 2018) that is being cut:

Union St Bikeway: From Commercial to 12th (2018)
At Summer Street there would have been a transition to a two-way path segment around the elbow from Union to 12th.

And here is the end of that two-way path segment connecting to the crosswalk on 12th at Marion Street.

Two-way separated path in the Union/12th Elbow at Marion (2018)
I'm not sure the transition at Summer Street to the two-way path was the best, but it would be a more inviting option than routing onto some combination of Summer/Chemeketa or Winter/Chemeketa. The Marion Street connection also served the North High area better than a Chemeketa connection.

Even though this area is outside of the Urban Renewal Zone, because portions west on Union Street are in the zone, it seems like we could have found funding if we weren't maxing out URA funding for the Police Station.

Presumably, by using surface streets for this eastern connection, a better path connection or some other arrangement could be another future phase.

We have to stop adding car capacity and inducing trips
At some point we will have to draw a line and make clear choices about prioritizing non-auto travel and de-prioritizing new auto capacity, compromising on cars and being uncompromising for other travel.

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 12th, at 1:30pm. SKATS is at 100 High St. SE, Suite 200, above Table Five 08 and Epilogue Kitchen.


Jeff Schumacher said...

It's pretty discouraging that so many in this city consider it normal to ask for a new bridge over the Willamette to shorten a commute by 10 minutes yet we cannot even fund relatively minor improvements to an existing street (in an effort to provide sustainable transportation infrastructure). Thinking about how we fund - or don't fund - our transportation projects is so confusing to me.

Tom Andersen said...

Councilor Andersen here. I sent this blog post to Julie Warnicke, the City's Transportation Planner, for her response. Here is what she sent in reply - an earlier email from her to the Mayor and Councilor Kaser, in whose Ward the bikeway is.

Mayor Bennett and Councilor Kaser,

I wanted to reach out to you regarding a proposed modification to the Union Street Bikeway Project. This project was originally identified in the Central Salem Mobility Study (2013). We applied to SKATS for funding of this project in 2016. The project was awarded $2.3 million of federal funds and the URA allocated $1.5 million for a total project of $3.8 million.

In the early stages of design this summer, our engineering staff reviewed the estimate given cost escalations we have experienced in the last couple of years. We found that the estimated cost for the project had increased significantly (from $3.8 million to $6.4 million). Given the significance of this increase, staff reviewed the scope and are recommending that east end of the project stop at Summer Street. This continues to support the connection from the Union Street Pedestrian Bridge to the North Capitol Mall and to the 12th Street Multi-use path. The connection to the 12th Street Multi-use path would be made by way of the existing bike lanes on Summer Street and/or the bike route on Winter Street. See the attached map showing recommended connections. I have also attached the original concept for reference. Making this modification will also reduce the impact to the tree canopy. The original concept would have resulted in removing all of the trees in the median on 12th Street as it curves onto Union Street. Given the cost and other implementation issues associated with this east connection, we will re-evaluate how the connection works once it is constructed to Summer Street. At that time, we can determine whether to continue to pursue funding for the original concept or instead focus resources on improving connections via Winter, Summer and Chemeketa Streets.

This recommended modification will be discussed at the SKATS TAC meeting on November 12. I wanted to let you know about this in advance and offer to meet to provide more detail if you would like. Our engineers are currently moving forward to get a consultant on board to initiate survey and design work. We currently anticipate construction in 2022.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Thanks for the info.