January 28, 2016
411 West 8th Street, Medford, Oregon
- Medford Viaduct Planning & Environmental Study
January 28, 2016
411 West 8th Street, Medford, Oregon
The Medford City Council Study Session was called to order at 12:00 p.m. in the Medford Room of the Medford City Hall on the above date with the following members and staff present:
Mayor Gary Wheeler; Councilmembers Clay Bearnson, Daniel Bunn, Tim Jackle, Eli Matthews, Kevin Stine, Michael Zarosinski
City Manager Pro Tem Bill Hoke; City Attorney Lori Cooper; City Recorder Karen Spoont
Councilmembers Chris Corcoran and Dick Gordon were absent.
Guests: Lisa Cornutt, Anna Henson, Gary Leaming, and Michael Baker of ODOT; Stacy Thomas of JLA Public Involvement; Marc Butorac of Kittelson & Associates, Al Densmore of John Watt & Associates
Medford Viaduct Planning & Environmental Study
Lisa Cornutt, Lead Planner of ODOT, stated that they will be sharing information on the status of the viaduct. She introduced Marc Butorac of Kittelson & Associates, Stacy Thomas of JLA Public Involvement, and Michael Baker, Gary Leaming and Anna Henson of ODOT.
Senior Principal Engineer Marc Butorac, Kittelson & Associates, presented a PowerPoint presentation and stated the presentation builds on itself. Todayís objectives are to 1) understand the existing and future viaduct performance and needs and 2) present key findings. Initial stakeholder interviews were conducted and Senior Project Manager Stacy Thomas, of JLA Public Involvement, discussed those interviews and noted an initial fact sheet is available on the projectís website. Some items discussed were seismic vulnerability, emergency access, safety upgrades, environmental concerns, and better north/south routes.
Mr. Butorac stated that information was sent to Council regarding five areas: Travel Time Reliability, Travel Forecasting, Origin-Destination Analysis, Safety Analysis, and Bridge Costs and Options. He noted seismic issues with the viaduct and explained it will be unusable after an earthquake. The Phase Two retrofit will improve the existing viaduct structure to meet current seismic standards and consider potential widening of the existing structure. Public Works Director Cory Crebbin questioned the strength of the viaduct during an earthquake; Mr. Butorac noted Phase Two will meet the needs as it will allow the viaduct to move slightly with the earthquake. ODOT estimated the cost for a retrofit is $40 to $80 million, a rebuild at $410 to $500 million and a reroute would be $1 billion plus.
The key findings found no capacity issues within the next 25 years and no demonstrated operational safety issues. However, there were seismic structural deficiencies under a Cascadia Subduction Zone event; several substandard design features, and maintenance and incident management working area deficiencies. The proposed next steps are to develop a summary technical memo of early anchoring activities and develop a transportation problem statement brochure and video.
Councilmember Stine questioned whether a list of state projects and their priority existed; Ms. Cornutt noted this is a high priority and they have been asked to look at our viaduct as well as all the bridges in Oregon, although there is no funding for this. Mr. Butorac noted this process will help determine the amount of funding needed for this project. Councilmember Bearnson questioned where the tunnel idea fell into the cost; Mr. Butorac noted that tunnels can be unpredictable and it could cost anywhere from $400 million to $1 billion to build and it may not even be possible to create a tunnel below Bear Creek.
Mr. Crebbin questioned the speed limit and the lack of shoulder on the viaduct. Mr. Butorac explained that as the road narrows, people generally slow down. Councilmember Bunn questioned what they needed from Council. Mr. Butorac responded that he wondered if they were on the right track and wanted to answer any questions. Mayor Wheeler asked how we would reroute traffic if we have an emergency. Mr. Butorac stated that ODOT has incident plans and alternate routes for traffic. He also noted that alternative routes needed to be addressed by local areas in addition to ODOTís work with the freeway.
Funding for Transit Districts
City Manager Pro Tem Bill Hoke introduced Deputy Public Works Director/City Engineer Alex Georgevitch. Mr. Georgevitch reported on Metropolitan Planning Organizationís mission to provide stable funding for the 41 transit districts throughout Oregon, which includes the Rogue Valley Transit District (RVTD). The group is looking for support at the policy committee level and hopefully from Council as well. RVTD currently receives 50% of the Surface Transportation Program dollars provided to the MPO, which is nearly $1 million dollars a year. If stable funding becomes available, that funding can be utilized by other jurisdictions. Mr. Georgevitch explained that a hearing is scheduled and requested a letter of support from Council.
Senior Account Executive Al Densmore, John Watt & Associates, reported a situation that occurred with the Salem Kaiser Transit District. The Salem Chamber engaged his firm to create and propose a concept to obtain federal funding. A bill has been presented to the legislature, which is co-sponsored by 19 of the 41 transit districts. The proposed bill basically creates a fund from which local areas can request funding to improve transit in their area. He requested a letter support from Council.
Mayor Wheeler noted that the hearing is scheduled for Wednesday and questioned if we should contact our lobbyist Cindy Robert regarding backing.
Mr. Densmore also requested letters of support from individual Councilmembers. Mr. Crebbin clarified this bill does not create the funding; it only creates the possibility of funding. Mr. Densmore agreed. Mayor Wheeler requested the name and address where letters should be sent.
Mayor Wheeler noted Senator Bates is interested in the viaduct study and requested ODOT forward the PowerPoint presentation to him.
The meeting adjourned at 12:55 p.m.
Karen M. Spoonts, MMC