|Draft 2021 Transportation Improvement Program Survey|
But it's basically a charade - but not really in a dishonest way. The projects have already been through rounds of scoring and vetting, including solicitations for public comment, and what we see here is hardly a draft. It's baked, it's done. The emphasis is on final in "final draft." It would take an extraordinary amount of public comment to change something. Not just lots, but some kind of epic avalanche, including electeds. You'd have to show some kind of giant mistake.
I'm not really sure what is the point of making a big show about collecting public comment at this moment in the process. We're all just rubber-stamping at this point. This solicitation of comment now is a procedural requirement and formality, but there were previous moments for comment also. So it's a charade, yes, but not a malignant one.
|The full project list, adapted from the brochure|
|No sidewalks on this part of Commercial Street - Project 13|
I have concerns that project 23, the realignment of 22nd at McGilchrist, and the current design concepts for McGilchrist more generally, still will offer old-school 20th century bike lanes and sidewalks and will not modernize the street for non-auto travel sufficiently. At the same time, any sidewalks and bike lanes will be an improvement. The same is true for project 10, which will create bike lanes on a terrible gap on Commercial Street by the new Police Station and UGM shelter.
And that really is the dominant mood here. More could be done for non-auto travel and less could be done for congestion relief and flow. But on balance there are many incremental improvements here, the projects have been vetted and I do not see any that are so awful or boondoggular that they demand to be canceled.
Maybe the the I-5 project, $35 million for a new lane in South Salem, is the most objectionable, and it will be nice when we stop widening highways. But this is not the same as the I-5 Rose Quarter mess, and urban funds aren't being spent on it, so it's not like SKATS or the City of Salem has some oversight, and I'm not sure from where exactly to mount a critique - other than rising greenhouse gas emissions. (See notes here and here.)
But that's really a system problem rather than something particular to this one project. what we need is not new criticism or analysis of particular projects. What we need is a substantially new framework for evaluating all of them. That remains a ways off.
In the meantime, this slate of projects will be approved and funded, and we'll move on to the next round.