I have been helping a community group develop an Action Plan for mitigating and adapting to climate change for Corvallis by developing the Transportation & Land-Use section. There has already been a public forum to solicit community feedback and several emails and comments sent online, but I wanted to be sure to get suggestions from those most intimately involved in transportation advocacy. So, please have a look at the latest draft — skip ahead to p3 for Objectives & Actions. Feel free to leave comments below this post or by emailing me. Feedback received by Thursday afternoon will have the greatest chance of being considered. Thank you!
We have until October 4th to comment on the Corvallis Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s draft Transportation Improvement Plan. Comments can be sent directly to Ali Bonakdar. If approved, this document will prioritize projects that have local funding commitments, making the projects eligible for matching grant funding from state and federal agencies. The document isn’t very readable; the only section that seems to be open for comment starts on page 22.
12 “Surface Transportation Projects” are listed but only the roads in question are listed without what they are doing. While some of these projects will likely include bicycle and pedestrian improvements (sidewalks, lanes), without more description it is difficult to comment on.
The “Transit and Alternative Mode Projects” appear to just list the budget for existing transit programs without added service; I am inferring this by comparing this draft plan over the three years and with the approved plan for the last three-year period. In the last plan, the plan budgets for the purchase of a new bus in 2012 — no such purchases are budgeted for the remaining years or in the current draft plan. The budget from 2012-2015 is roughly $2.25 million per year (with inflationary increases). The budget for 2015 in the current draft (which overlaps with the last plan) is for $3 million — an increase for sure, but without explanation. Since there are no new-bus purchases budgeted, I am guessing that this could be unexpected inflation. It is possible that hours will be extended next year. The budget for the remaining years has only inflationary increases.
There are two ODOT-sponsored projects which directly affect cyclist and pedestrians: modifications to the multi-use path along HWY34 and construction of a new multi-way path in South Corvallis (page 24). The latter is a new path connecting the 3rd Street South Corvallis pedestrian bridge to Chrystal Lake Blvd by a multi-use path that will bypass the sidewalk along 3rd. I wholeheartedly support this project which is slated for 2016-2018.
The former project is mixed. As listed in this draft plan, it seems to simply replace the multi-use path on the north side of HWY34 from the lights to Peoria with a road. A backwards step in my mind! However, if you look up the project by number on the ODOT website you find out more hopeful information. While the project calls to add additional right-turn lanes for highway access, it also “extends the multi-use path on the north side of the highway from the OSU Crew Docks approach road west to the Susan Wilkins multi-use path and east from Wolcott Road to Riverside Drive”. This would be an amazing improvement making a truly safe bike route between Corvallis and Albany by way of bike path and Riverside Drive (which, although narrow, has low traffic that seems used to bicycle traffic). I will be commenting that I approve of this part of the project and disapprove of other parts and that if anything the project order should be to first improve the safety for vulnerable road users above all else
I will be commenting on this to Ali Bonakdar and will include comments that I don’t believe we should be spending resources on extending highway access. I also noticed that in the evaluation of the projects, up to 10 points is given to improving the safety of motorists and only up to 9 points for improving the safety of transit users, bicyclists and pedestrians (page 27). Many more points should be given for the latter.
Please take the time to comment on these projects.
Every now and then, I like to assess the state of inter-city mass transit for those of us living in Corvallis. First my rules:
- Only fixed-route, public transportation. That is, vanpools are out.
- Only methods that are cheaper than driving (using $0.75/mile as the true cost of driving not counting environmental and social costs). Using the Valley Retriever to get to Philomath or Albany is out.
- Only methods that take at most twice as long as driving; the time of people taking public transit should be as valuable as motorists — I will allow for slightly slower as riding the bus or train is not necessarily lost. So, getting to Albany by transferring at LBCC is out (since connection time makes it 1.5 hours).
- Use downtown transit centers as the destinations. This drops the Hut Shuttle out of connection as it would take nearly 4 hours to get to downtown Portland after connecting to the MAX.
- Biking and driving options are included for a point of comparison.
- Prices vary according to how late you buy your ticket; I assumed buying a ticket last minute, and so used the most expensive price.
In summary, there are 11 trips daily to Philomath, 6 to Salem, 6 to Portland and 4 to Eugene. If we discount Greyhound due to its extreme unreliability, the last three numbers go down by 3. If you are willing to bike to Albany to connect to Amtrak or Bolt Bus, then there are 8 additional nice trips to Salem and Portland; I don’t really think this is reasonable since I don’t think we should ask the average person to bike 12 miles to connect to public transportation. Note that 7 of the Philomath trips take the same amount of time as biking. More details are in this spreadsheet:
Connecting in Albany to get to Eugene was not at all competitive with driving and almost comparable to biking. In fact, I propose a race: biking to Eugene vs. public transportation. How embarrassing.
I hope the Leadership Council of the Oregon Passenger Rail project is listening. Over 2000 people want rail to come to Corvallis!
If you haven’t already, please sign and forward the petition to your friends, family, coworkers, church groups, martial art studios … everyone! We have around one month before the LC will be settling on the routes that will move forward for more in-depth study. Keep up the pressure!
In the lead-up to (somewhat) local opportunities to show your support for bringing rail to Corvallis (Thursday, November 7, 5-7PM in the Calapooia Center (Vineyard Mountain Room) at LBCC, see here for a campus map and here for meeting handouts), Eugene, Bend and Atlanta, GA media are picking up on the story:
- Corvallis wants stop on rail route, Bend Bulletin, November 6, 2013
- ODOT looks to bring passenger trains to Corvallis, KVAL Channel 13 Eugene, November 5, 2013
- What’s the best rail route through the Willamette Valley? Good question, KATU Portland, November 5, 2013
- Ore. rail passenger planning underway, Atlanta Journal Constitution, November 5, 2013
This isn’t just a local issue!
Lots of good news for rail fans these days. The Corvallis City Council passed a resolution that we:
We strongly urge that the Oregon Passenger Rail Project perform an Environmental Impact Statement that includes a route visiting Corvallis in their study and that a full survey of potential demand be performed in Corvallis and at Oregon State University.
This helped the media picking up the story: Continue reading
I had noticed that every day someone reaches my site by the search terms “bus from Portland to Corvallis” or similar. Roughly 3 people a day. Every day. And what post are they directed to? The somewhat ridiculous post describing a trip from Portland to Corvallis by a melange of light rail, city bus and inter-city commuter bus that involves 12 miles of biking and costs only $5.80. It is the most popular post, dwarfing the readership of any other post by a factor of 10. But public transportation is a serious issue, and I would like to help out those people that are directed to my site. Continue reading