Monday, April 12, 2021

Prepping for an Infrastructure Bill: At the MPO

The technical committee for our Metropolitan Planning Organization meets on Tuesday the 13th, and they are starting to think about what could happen if the Biden administration is successful with additional big legislation.

Preparing for bonus Federal funds

A preliminary candidate list of projects

The initial draft candidate project list is a mix.

There is old-school autoist widening:

  • I-5 Brooks interchange
  • I-5 Delany Road to Albany
  • OR-22/Mission Street additional turn lanes at 25th and Hawthorne
  • Cordon Road at OR-22 interchange

There are projects useful to people traveling without cars - none really new-school, however:

  • Wallace Road underpass at 2nd St is framed as a bikeway (though there are still details on a connection with Marine Drive that remain very, very murky)
  • Sidewalks on a section of Orchard Heights by the park, creek, and social housing (this is completion funding for a project that was only half-funded in previous rounds)
  • Projects (presumably with bike lanes and sidewalks) from Keizer's forthcoming Wheatland Road study
  • Sidewalks on Pringle Road between Madrona and McGilchrist
  • The McGilchrist corridor (still with too much freight emphasis, and not enough of best standards for sidewalks and bike lanes on a busy street)
  • The path between Mirror Pond and Riverfront Park along the creek that missed the State funding cut recently

There is likely an advocacy opportunity here to ask the MPO to focus on greenhouse gas reduction in project evaluation, and to push for better kinds of sidewalks and bike lanes. (Maybe the Feds will attach criteria also.) 

Our Strong Towns chapter also shared a link to the first of a five-part analysis and criticism of the proposed legislation, "The American Jobs Plan Will Make Our Infrastructure Crisis Worse," and that will be interesting reading. Also, previously here, "Too Much EV Mania in the Biden Plan?"

So this is something to watch, especially if the legislation and funds actually materialize.

Really hoping funding priorities echo this

The MPO is also working on an updated bike lane inventory, much like the sidewalk inventory from last fall. One thing that might be helpful is to score bike lanes by current all ages and abilities standards. The existence of a bike lane on a busy street shows up as a blue line on facilities maps, and it looks like there is full connectivity. But an unprotected, non-separated lane on a street signed for 40mph (whose 85th percentile speed is doubtless much higher!) is useful only to confident and practiced people, and does not meet any family-friendly standard. Mere lines on a map are not sufficiently nuanced at this point in our needs. The user-oriented bike map makes some of these distinctions in function and comfort, and facilities-oriented inventory maps should echo them more.

The committee zooms at 1:30 on Tuesday the 13th. (Download the full agenda and packet here.)

Meeting details


Anonymous said...

Regarding the Orchard Heights project: if you look in the column on the far right of the table, it notes that the SKATS 2021-2026 TIP is funding the south side of the project (next to the public housing). However, because there wasn't sufficient funds to do the north side of Orchard Heights as well, its on the list of projects that can use additional funds.

Mike Jaffe

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Thank you! Corrected that note.