Monday, July 27, 2020

City Poised to Oversize Broadway at Pine Street; Engineer offers Counter

A neighborhood advocate and professional traffic engineer is circulating a critique of the City's plan for Broadway at Pine Street NE.

Josey's at Pine and Broadway
Originally an early 1960s A&B Drive-in (2012)
The concerns are not new, unfortunately. The Highland Neighborhood has been asking about the design of this segment since at least the summer of 2017. With the context of the project a 4/3 safety conversion on the Broadway corridor, they wondered why this particular section was staying in a four lane and less safe configuration.

Broadway here at Pine is four travel lanes
Josey's driveway on right
You might remember Gary Obery from the 2010 Smart Cycling Classes and or know him from Salem Bike Boulevard Advocates. He's also a traffic engineer. While Obery approaches the problem of Broadway at Pine especially through the lens of crosswalk length and safety for people on foot, the City's proposed design also illustrates the systemic misalignment of our street planning with goals on improving all kinds of non-auto travel and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Our City road engineering and design practices still are too often stuck in the past century, prioritizing auto capacity and its pollution, and are not catching up with the exigencies of our climate emergency. We could be anticipating a Climate Action Plan instead of bulldozing forward with antiquated 20th century style plans.

The larger corridor project in the 2021 CIP:
"one through lane in each direction
with center turn lanes and bike lanes"
As with the zone change on Hickory, Pine Street here was part of the SRC bridgehead, and there are reasons to be suspicious of the widening on that account also. (This note from 2012 shows earlier SRC concepts that definitely included the intersection itself.)

Broadway and Pine is part of the SRC east bridgehead area
Description of Preferred Alternative (January 2019)
In multiple ways the City's plan looks autoist and inadequate to our 21st century needs.

From Obery's circular letter (with slightly different photos swapped in here, and italics added):
Some of you may have heard me express concern about the city’s plan to add a right turn lane on the northbound approach of Broadway Street at Pine St as part of the upcoming street reconfiguration project. I still have those concerns as I believe that the volumes, impact to Josey’s parking lot, and degraded pedestrian safety for people who live and work in this area do not justify the small increase in traffic capacity offered by the right turn lane....

[T]he city is proposing to make the northbound approach of Broadway at Pine street look similar to this picture at Edgewater & Rosemount in W. Salem:
Northbound Edgewater flares at Rosemont
 with two car turn lanes and
an awkward weave/merge for northbound bike travel
That right turn lane at Edgewater & Rosemount likely carries ~300-400 cars in peak hours.

The northbound right turn demand at Broadway & Pine is about 80 cars in the peak hour; not anywhere near making a strong case for that right turn lane. Bigger intersections consistently lead to poorer safety records, especially for pedestrians; and bigger streets consistently rate poor for livability for those who live in the area.

So I don’t believe that a right turn lane needs to be added. I have proposed a design like this (pic from 17th & Market [17th & State is the photo]) which would still operate well under full capacity and preserve the existing footprint of the intersection:
17th Street southbound at State Street (not Market)
has a center turn lane with a through lane and bike lane,
and no right-turn only lane.
(17th here is one of the earliest 4/3 conversions in Salem)
This is the problem with our current paradigm of "congestion relief." We build today for future traffic volumes - volumes, if we are serious about climate, we don't actually want to see! We need to start building for the future we desire, and inducing MOAR CARS is not that future.

On safety, on climate, on livability, the City's plan fails.


Unknown said...


Susann Kaltwasser said...

Is there any way to stop this? Or is it too late now?

And going forward how can we track these projects sooner?

The current CIP is way too hard for the average person to read and understand. I do wonder if that is by design.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

As for altering the design, write your Councilor to let them know you have concerns.

(What do you mean by track? We've mentioned the project briefly here in 2016, in 2017, in 2018, and at other times, so it's not like the project is suddenly appearing from nowhere. The note in 2017 was the first time there were public questions about the turn lane. The City is not in the habit of publishing preliminary design drawings to solicit comment, so that's something they do make difficult. The CIP, as you suggest, is a tedious document.)

Susann Kaltwasser said...

I'm old, i.e. been around a long time. Once upon a time in Salem, when the City put an item in the CIP they would take it to the neighborhood association for awareness and sometimes comments. That has not happened for a long time now, so we get surprised pretty easily these days. We could look at the CIP and dig out any references to our neighborhood, but you and I know that its not likely to happen. I don't even recall how long ago, I saw a breakout of projects by wards. This specific project is not in my neighborhood, so it is very easy for me to miss it. But it did make me wonder if there was a current process that I am just not aware of. Sounds like there isn't.