Saturday, February 6, 2021

City Council, February 8th - Transportation and Climate

There's not a lot on Council agenda for Monday, but a couple of items show that we remain misaligned in our climate talk and our climate walk.

Front page, summer 2019

The Mayor announced the Council appointments to various regional bodies, and in that list is a renewal of Councilor Lewis on our regional transportation planning and coordination group, the Metropolitan Planning Organization. Over on FB last month there was some criticism of Councilor Lewis' 20th century autoism, skepticism on climate, and discussion of making a different appointment to the MPO.

If the City of Salem is serious about climate and making the necessary changes to our transportation system, Councilor Lewis may not be not best suited to represent Salem. On previous debates over the Salem River Crossing and on a Goal 7 in the RTSP, Councilor Lewis has had difficulty representing the formal City position and has free-lanced a little, undermining the formal City stance. There is reason to think he will not advocate very forcefully for new climate initiatives or for projects that better align with our climate goals. Council should consider overriding the Mayor and making a different appointment (and to MWACT also), someone who is more passionate about climate and about transportation for the 21st century.

But there are formal, institutional problems also.

Summary of Cordon Kuebler Study
in draft MPO Work Plan
(not in the Council agenda)

Also on the agenda is an intergovernmental agreement for the Cordon Kuebler Corridor Study.

The ultimate cross section for this corridor is intended to include four travel lanes, a landscaped median with turn pockets, and a multi-use path. This planning study will help prioritize future investments in this corridor and identify management strategies to promote safe and efficient operation for all modes of transportation.

But there is nothing about climate here, and there are very real questions whether any expansion to "four travel lanes" will induce more travel, induce more carbon pollution, and be inconsistent with our climate goals. It's all premised on assumptions for more driving. Any "multimodal analysis" is very much a side matter. The basic frame for the study is wrong, inadequate to our 21st century needs.

Our most recent GHG assessment:
It's still the cars

We say we are engaged in a Climate Action Plan, but our policy actions yet are often misaligned. 

This is not to say that the City should not engage the Cordon Keubler plan, but it is to say that our engagement should be more critical and steer it to include greater consideration for climate. Right now this is not coming from the MPO, which remains resistant to thinking about climate, and the City should lead on this. It is important also for the City to align policy actions like this more strongly with our more general words on climate. We need to start doing what we say we are going to do.

1 comment:

Sarah Owens said...

The biweekly meetings of the Legislative Committee (YouTube) are another source of information/insight. Find a COS-centric summary of the bills the City's watching here, divided in to homeless and climate.