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Agenda & Minutes

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Transportation Commission (View All)

Transportation Commission Meeting

Minutes
Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Call to order 12:37pm
 
10.  Roll Call
        
Commissioners Present:
 
Al Densmore, Chair
Dennie Conrad, Vice Chair
Mickey Harvey
Peggy Penland
Jared Pulver
Suzanne Schroeder
Paige West
 
Commissioners Absent:
 
Kim Parducci
 
Staff Present:
 
Cory Crebbin, Public Works Director
Karl MacNair, Public Works Transportation Manager
Debra Royal, Public Works Recording Secretary

 Guests and Presenters Present:
 
Katie Brown, ODOT
Thomas Guevera, ODOT
Peter Schuytema, ODOT
Harry Weiss, Urban Renewal Executive Director
Jay Harland, CSA Planning, Ltd. 
 
20.  Citizen Communications

Transportation Commission is only accepting written comments and not verbal comments, with the exception of land use applicants, who will be  given the opportunity to attend the meeting electronically. Public comments will be accepted via first class mail or email until 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday May 27, 2020. Please email comments or testimony pertaining to agenda items to karl.macnair@cityofmedford.org and include your name, address and phone number. All comments pertaining to the Transportation Commission agenda received by 8:00 am will be provided to the Transportation Commission at the meeting.
 
An email was forwarded to the Commissioners from Bob Shand, a Liberty Park Resident, in support of creating a 20 MPH speed limit in the Liberty Park Neighborhood (Item 40.3).
 
30.  Approval of Minutes from February 26, 2020
 
There being no additions or corrections, the minutes of the February 26, 2020 meeting were approved as submitted.
 
40.  Action Items
 
         40.1       Vilas IAMP Recommendation (ODOT)
 
Karl MacNair reviewed why ODOT is presenting and that the Commission is being asked for a recommendation to Council.
 
Katie Brown of ODOT presented the OR-62 Vilas Expressway Study and ODOT’s recommendation. ODOT seeks the Commission recommend that Council approve Scenario 1 from the Expressway study.
The study is comprised of two scenarios at Vilas Road. Scenario 1: without an interchange and Scenario 2: with an interchange. The goal of the Expressway is to move traffic from Crater Lake Highway onto the Expressway, and the study found that this goal is better achieved under Scenario 1.
 
Ms. Brown’s presentation included a PowerPoint that reviewed the history of the project, the performance measures ODOT used in the study (analysis of economic impacts to motorists, surrounding businesses, and the community, travel time delays, population growth, cost-benefit analysis, etc.), and the advantages and disadvantages of both scenarios. 
 
Ms. Brown reviewed costs. ODOT estimated that the Expressway without the Vilas interchange will save the local community $45 million. If the interchange is constructed, that amount decreases to $25 million. If the interchange is built, there will be infrastructure upgrades that will need to be made prior to interchange construction, the cost of which will be the responsibility of the local jurisdiction. All things considered, not constructing the interchange is the most cost effective scenario.
 
Chairman Al Densmore asked for unanimous consent to table the matter as he questioned the purpose of undertaking this decision at the present time. Mr. Thomas Guevara of ODOT explained that they are only seeking a recommendation from the City of Medford and Jackson County and that they were having no further meetings. Chair Densmore asked if TRADCO was involved in the discussions. Mr. Guevera said TRADCO was not part of the decision-making process, but that ODOT will be meeting with TRADCO for informational purposes in the future.
 
Commissioners and ODOT staff discussed the current environment (Covid-19) and how that might impact the economy and decisions being made and the degree of confidence that should be assigned to current decisions given the fluidity of the situation. Of specific concern are the supporting projects to support the construction of the interchange.
 
Mr. Guevara offered that the matter concerns traffic volume, so regardless of the economy, the time frame associated with the analysis might change slightly, but the eventual traffic volumes will not change. Adding the interchange benefits Central Point and Eagle Point, but it really does not benefit the City of Medford.
Commissioner Suzanne Schroeder inquired about the impact the decision will have on the Rogue Valley as a whole with regard to the use of public transportation. Mr. Guevara offered that ODOT is not suggesting another interchange is not needed, but rather that Vilas Road is not the best choice.
 
Mr. MacNair reiterated what ODOT is asking of the Commission – to endorse ODOT’s conclusion that an Expressway interchange at Vilas Road is not recommended. Or, if the Commission disagrees with ODOT’s conclusion and would like to see a Vilas Road interchange, they should recommend that the City identify the funding for interchange supporting projects, which includes revisiting the project list in the TSP.
 
Motion: The Commission support ODOT’s finding that Scenario 1 of the Study be endorsed to the Council.
 
Moved by: Commissioner Pulver      Seconded by: Commissioner Conrad 
 
Roll call: Commissioners Conrad, Densmore, Harvey, Penland, Pulver, and West voting yes.
 
Motion carried and so ordered.
 
         40.2       Expansion of Downtown Parking District Boundary Recommendation (MURA)
 
Harry Weiss, Executive Director of the Medford Urban Renewal Agency is requesting the Commission recommend to Council the adoption of MURA’s proposal to expand the Downtown Parking District to be coterminous with the boundary of the Central Business Overlay.
 
Executive Director Weiss’ presentation PowerPoint include a map of the subject area. He informed the Commission that these proposed recommendations are among a number of parking strategies MURA is exploring for better management of downtown parking. In January, the Parking Committee unanimously voted in favor or recommending the proposal to Council. He also provided an historical review to put the presentation into context and give the backdrop of why curbside parking is the most desirable.
 
Riverside Drive, 10th Street, and Main Street were featured in the presentation and how those areas play into the optimization of the use of the right-of-way and could increase available parking by 40-50 spaces along the library and RCC. He added that where surface parking lots are pursued, there needs to be a high degree of potential for future deck parking. Where future funding for building decks comes from depends on the management of the district. MURA is slated to go out of business in five to six years, therefore it is not a candidate for future debt construction.
 
Commission discussion commenced with Chair Densmore asking if the proposal would preclude the City from looking at the role of traffic planning in the central business district. We need to consider whether the automobile will maintain its primacy in a healthy downtown. The Chair mentioned that, due to Covid-19, other cities are re-examining the role of bikes and pedestrian-friendly areas. He asked if the adoption of this proposal would preclude how the City looked at those types of changes. Executive Director Weiss discussed how this proposal is the first step in that process.
 
Commissioner Paige West offered insights into how RVTD and the Housing Authority worked together so that parking was less of an issue, and offered support that there needs to be multiple travel and parking options.
 
Commissioner Mickey Harvey, a member of the Parking Committee, offered that if parking is reduced, other options need to be available. He was hesitant about the proposal at first, but in the long-run he believes we need to bite the bullet to make way for the development of downtown housing. Reducing parking restrictions will encourage contractors to build in downtown. The Parking Committee is very much in favor of the MURA proposal.
 
Commissioner Suzanne Schroeder commented that car dependence should be discouraged. She agrees with a phased in plan.
 
Motion: The Commission should approve the resolution of the expansion of the Downtown Parking District to be coterminous with the Central Business Overlay.
 
Commissioner Jared Pulver offered that, conceptually, he did not have any issues with the proposal, but he felt the Commission did not fully understand all that is at play with regard to anti-parking efforts. He believes it would be more helpful to do away with the Downtown Parking District and that this proposal was putting the cart before the horse. This may be more detrimental to the business community. We need to be careful with cutting off the legs of parking before we have adequate solutions in place.
 
Commissioner Peggy Penland added that she is not in favor of the proposal. She believes this is going to bring up ongoing issues she sees on the Traffic Committee such as home owners not able to park near their homes as spaces are being taken by businesses and shoppers. The timing is out of sequence.
 
Moved by: Commissioner Conrad      Seconded by: Commissioner Harvey 
 
Roll call: Commissioners Conrad, Densmore, Harvey, and West voting yes.
Commissioners Penland and Pulver voting no.
Commissioner Schroeder abstaining. 
 
Motion carried and so ordered.
 
         40.3       20 MPH in Liberty Park Recommendation (MURA)
 
Executive Director Weiss is requesting the Commission recommend to Council the adoption of the MURA proposal to implement a 20 MPH speed limit on residential streets in Liberty Park.
 
Executive Director Weiss discussed that in January 2020, Council approved the plan for Liberty Park and the residents’ desire to slow speeds and mitigate cut through traffic. The public education plan “20 is Plenty” has been used to advocate for slow traffic. This effort would be a base layer of other measures of traffic calming. The state legislature has given local jurisdictions the authority to reduce speed limits by 5 MPH less than what is currently statutorily mandated on residential streets that are not arterials.
 
Commissioner Penland offered that this proposal was approved by the Traffic Coordinating Committee as Liberty Park is a unique neighborhood and the 20 MPH change is a good fit for that area.
 
Motion: To approve the Resolution to amend Section 601 (C) (24) of the City Center Revitalization Plan pertaining to the implementation of a 20 MPH speed limit in the Liberty Park area.
 
Moved by: Commissioner Pulver       Seconded by: Commissioner Penland  
 
Roll call: Commissioners Conrad, Densmore, Harvey, Penland, Pulver, Schroeder, and West voting yes.
 
Motion carried and so ordered.
 
50.   Discussion Items
 
         50.1       Central Ave Lane Reconfiguration (MURA)
 
Executive Director Weiss introduced a proposal to reduce the number of lanes on Riverside Drive and Central Avenue to create a street type more appropriate for the downtown area. Specifically, the reduction would be from three to two lanes beginning at Court and Edwards Streets to Jackson Street. This will be accomplished by restriping only. No curbs will be moved.
 
Executive Director Weiss described his purpose at the meeting is to seek feedback and guidance from the Commission as to their opinions of the plan and how its development should proceed. No action on the Commission’s part is requested at this time.

Commissioner Penland, Traffic Coordinating Committee Chair, offered that the proposal had been rejected by the TCC, and that the members were very concerned about the buffered bike lanes, opening doors into traffic, freight truck traffic, and the safety of children and adults helping children out of parked cars. TCC agreed it’s an area of concern, but roads are for cars and we can share with bikes. Commissioner Harvey agrees.
 
Commissioner Schroeder responded that the Bike Committee had approved the proposal. They were especially in favor of the buffered bike lanes and how it protects bikes from traffic and from opening parked car doors.
 
Karl MacNair, Public Works Transportation Manager, discussed that staff does not recommend parking buffered bike lanes because it pushes the travel lanes to the left of the crown and puts one travel lane up against the curb. Staff believes parking on one side and a bike lane on the other side is a better layout.
 
Commissioner West offered that RTVD has two bus stops along this stretch of roadway. She is supportive of the concept, but the plan is still in draft form so it is difficult to endorse it at this time.
 
Commissioner Schroeder asked if the City is having a lot of opening doors/bike accidents as there are many streets that are configured that way. Commissioner Penland responded that this plan is a narrowing of the normal width of lanes so the opening doors is more of an issue.
 
Executive Director Weiss reiterated the guidance and feedback he heard from the Commission: look at left side parking only for safety, transit stops, a buffered bike lane is problematic due to outward door swings, pedestrian safety, and consider the crown issue.
 
         50.2       Foothill and South Stage TF Applications – Council Action Report
 
At the last meeting, the Commission approved the Transportation Facility Applications for the Foot Hill and South Stage projects. Commission recommended the three foot buffer between the bike lane and sidewalk be removed on South Stage. Council approved both those applications but did not follow the Commission’s recommendation on the removal of the three foot buffer.
 
60.  Planning and Public Works Department Update
 
Mr. MacNair offered there is nothing urgent.
 
Chair Densmore – Sidebar comments:
 
Chair Densmore has been troubled that the Commission has not been able to meet for the past few months. He would like to see what data is available as to what types of changes Public Works Engineering is seeing in terms of public behavior and then have a discussion about what we may need to look at differently due Covid-19 situation. He believes there is a lot of earth moving under our feet and plans for in the future need to be underway. What should the Commission be looking at differently so its advice to Council is accurate? Chair Densmore has heard some cities are looking at turning low traffic streets into all bike and pedestrian. Flexibility needs to be built into the systems. He believes that it will take a long time to come out of the current situation. It is the Commission’s task to anticipate trends and advise the Council on what they need to consider.
 
Mr. MacNair agreed to have an agenda item on the next meeting. He then discussed the new actions staff has taken due to the current situation. Signal timing adjustments at several coordinated corridors due to dips in the traffic volume (Barnett). At Highway 62 from Delta Waters north, removed the adaptive coordination, and in downtown lights are running in nighttime mode. No physical changes have been made to any streets.
 
Chairman Densmore offered that possibly the TSP might need to be reviewed. He would like to know if there are certain projects that have become lower or higher priority due to recent events. He would like to be briefed on what Public Works is doing. He’d like a memo between meetings as to what staff is doing, seeing, and how the department is adapting.
 
70.   Comments from Commissioners and Other Committees
 
None.
 
80.   Agenda Build
 
None.
 
90.   Next Meeting – June 24, 2020
 
100.   Adjournment 2:20 pm
         
Respectfully submitted,

Debra Royal
Public Works, Engineering
 

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