Friday, August 5, 2022

City Council, August 8th - Crowley and Royvonne Avenues

Council meets on Monday, and I don't think I have anything much to note here. Mostly agenda items are just information reports. So, bullets with a few comments and links.

There is also a final order affirming the Planning Commission's approvals of a new development for single detached housing on 46 lots south of Hilfiker Park and the Meyer Farm site. The application was for a kind of early stage approval, "Subdivision Tentative Plan, and Urban Growth Area Preliminary Declaration." Consequently, critique of the plan along some lines the City regards as premature, and they do not need to respond substantively to those parts.

Reaction to proposed RM2 zoning, Spring 2021

Back in the first iteration and proposal for Our Salem, it was in a band of parcels, including the Meyer Farm property, for RM2 apartment zoning. This generated a lot of criticism, and perhaps because this project was already in process, that zoning was abandoned.

As our housing crisis continues, not planning for more housing here, in an area not far from frequent transit and from both Winco and Trader Joe's, may be looked back on as a real missed opportunity.

Critics also highlighted traffic.

Looking east uphill on Royvonne from Commercial

The crosswalk and refuge hampers easy left turns

The City agreed Royvonne was substandard. Here's an extended passage from the Facts and Findings [comments in brackets and links added]:

The applicant did not apply for a phased subdivision approval under SRC 205.015; therefore, future division impacts are not required to be completely evaluated and mitigated through this approval....

The subject property is one of the few large parcels that has yet to develop within the developed portions of the City of Salem. The site is surrounded by either fully developed properties, or by a large vacant parcel. Access to this site is quite limited. There are only two public streets that provide connectivity. To the south Denali Street SE is a newly constructed residential street that connects to Boone Road SE. To the west, a short stub street, Springer Avenue SE, connects to Textrum Street SE....

The northern connection to Commercial Street is via Royvonne Avenue SE [and Textrum Street]. The intersection with Royvonne Avenue does not have restricted turn movements, but in 2019, the City Council approved the installation of a pedestrian island and crossing with Rapid Flashing Beacons [because a person driving killed a child very near there], making the left turn movements more difficult.

Royvonne Avenues is a substandard local street. It lacks a continuous pedestrian connection between Textrum Street and Commercial Street. It also has a significant grade of 15% and sight distance is restricted at the crest of the hill. There are warning signs and striping that alert drivers of the limited visibility over the crest of the hill.

Additionally, the TIA evaluated traffic signal warrants at the intersection of Commercial Street and Royvonne Avenue. The analysis showed the intersection did not meet the traffic signal warrant. Public Works would not support a traffic signal at this location because of the proximity to the existing signal at Keglers Lane SE that is located approximately 650 feet to the north. Traffic signals need to be spaced approximately ¼-mile (1320 feet) apart in order to be able to time them properly and achieve vehicle progression along the corridor.

Eventually as development continues to occur on the vacant properties to the north, a public street connection will be made to Crowley Avenue SE which is about 500 feet to the north, and eventually to the Hilfiker Lane Extension that will connect to both Battle Creek Road SE and to Commercial Street SE.

As the project matures, and there are additional approvals necessary, as well as potential new conditions of approval from the City, we may return to this. For the moment, Commercial Street and its posted speed of 40mph here seem like a vastly greater and more lethal problem than any substandard conditions of Royvonne Avenue and prospects for an incremental increase in traffic on it.


Anonymous said...

The NA did not support the subdivision approval because of traffic concerns, which seem both serious and insurmountable. The evaluation of the effects on the Royvonne/Commercial intersection may have been insufficient.

Another concern noted by the NA is that residents of this development will most likely take the long and twisty route through a fully developed neighborhood to get to eastbound Kuebler or I-5. The NA already gets complaints about the increasing traffic.

The expectation that the use of Crowley Avenue will be easily realized and effective seems like wishful thinking. Obtaining and paying for right of way and the problem of turning left onto Commercial are significant challenges.

Also, if the opportunity to drive through the Trader Joe lot to get to the Hilfiker signal in order to turn safely onto southbound Commercial is seen as a viable (though perhaps illegal) alternative, then we must surely have fallen into a traffic design world of chaos.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

This exemplifies the problem with the "congestion" frame. By focusing on the count rather than speed of cars, we miss their lethality.

In any case, the City claims that traffic mitigation will be more thoroughly considered, and potential conditions of approval imposed, in the next round of approvals, and that it was premature to consider it here in this round. It may be that more provision for a left-hand/south-bound turn onto Commercial will need to be considered then.

Anonymous said...

There is no telling when the next round of approvals will be made and I have yet to hear any realistic plan for mitigation. The city is playing with the lives of innocent people.

The city has been and will continue to be negligent in their handling of traffic safety threats in the immediate vicinity of this intersection.

Unless a VIP is killed or seriously injured, the serious and immediate threats will continue.

Donnie Davis said...

If traffic is the concern then this really should have been apartments with little to no parking for cars and increased parking for bikes. It is within the walk shed of cherriots and there is not enough housing without dedicated parking in Salem already.