Thursday, November 18, 2021

McGilchrist Corridor Shut Out Again

Today the Register-Guard has news that Eugene won a $19 million Federal RAISE grant for the Franklin Boulevard corridor.

Although the USDOT web page does not have a formal press release and list of winning projects, the google turns up many Senators and Representatives with local press releases on winning projects in the last two or three days. The Eugene news appears to come from Rep. DeFazio's office on the 16th. (Update: Here's the full list. It confirms Salem did not win a grant.)

There has been a roll-out and it seems clear that we would have seen a similar press release locally from our delegation if the McGilchrist project had been successful.

Phase 2 at the University

On the Eugene project, the grant appears to complete Phase 1, a section in the Glenwood neighborhood, and also to fund part of Phase 2.

Phase 2, the more interesting segment, is at the University of Oregon. You can see the oval of the new basketball arena in the lower center of the image.

You can also see the roundabouts. The project is full of them! They also propose to double-track lanes for EmX, the bus rapid transit system, which currently use one lane a little awkwardly for travel alternating in both directions. There are multiple crosswalk enhancements as well. 

Phase 1 also contains a couple of quasi-boulevard sections, with through-lanes separated by a median from a local access lane for parking and transit. (The concept picture of Phase 1 is lower resolution than the picture for Phase 2, and later a better photo/image might prompt another post as this boulevard element might be interesting. The reliance also on roundabouts might be excessive, and there might be some criticism to make also.)

The whole is a considerably more modern project design than vintage design rooted in late 20th century standards proposed for the McGilchrist project. In addition to the ongoing building projects adjacent to the University in Eugene, the Glenwood area of Phase 1 also has a lot of redevelopment planned.

In order to field a competitive application, the City likely needs to improve the concept for non-auto travel, not just for freight. The surrounding monoculture of industry may make McGilchrist less competitive also. (Our balky blue dog might also be an impediment.)

After TIGER, after BUILD, now RAISE

The City also keeps including a grant in the formal CIP, but in successive cycles, TIGER under Obama, BUILD under Trump, and now RAISE under Biden, the City has not been successful. Including funding sources like this in the CIP is excessively speculative and should be discontinued.

In a more general comment, keyed to the larger infrastructure bill, last week the City Manager seemed to indicate he knew the McGilchrist application had not been successful:

At this time, we are monitoring the national dialogue and in the coming weeks, as more details are made available, we will identify projects that could be funded by the new federal legislation. Any potential project would have to satisfy the funding parameters established in the legislation and direction from the City Council. Some potential projects that could be identified and considered quickly might come from our Capital Improvement Plan or community-generated project lists in Bike/Walk Salem, the Transportation Systems Plan, the Parks Master Plan, or other infrastructure plans. McGilchrist Street SE is our singular, federally permitted, shovel-ready project. We need about $20 million to complete it.

The City should consider modernizing the McGilchrist project so that it is more competitive and offers more safety and comfort for non-auto travel. The City should also consider modernizing the concept plans for other projects so they answer less to 20th century standards, but look forward to our 21st century needs, which include treating walking, biking, and busing not as fringey amenity but as primary mobility, with cars as increasingly secondary mobility of last resort.

See previous notes on the McGilchrist corridor here.


Anonymous said...

Minor typo: "Glenwood", not "Greenwood", is a mixed-use neighborhood in western Springfield, just east of the university phase of the project. The area is currently a major focus of economic development for the city of Springfield.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Thanks. I corrected that, and also I misunderstood the phasing a little from the RG piece. The "New Franklin Boulevard" project page clearly says the grant will fund a substantial part of phase 2, by the University, also. I am sorry I got multiple details wrong. (Probably there will be more written about the project, and there may be more to say about it.)

Anonymous said...

They announced the list.

A rails to trails project between Forest grove and Hillsboro is the other grant in Oregon.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Thanks. Edit: Revised the headline and added link to the full list.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

BikePortland has a note on the Forest Grove/Hillsboro trail. They note also that ODOT had three applications in, none of which were funded.