Medford City Council Study Session
February 27, 2014
Mayor Gary Wheeler; Councilmembers Daniel Bunn, Chris Corcoran, Dick Gordon, Eli Matthews, John Michaels, Bob Strosser
City Manager Eric Swanson; Deputy City Manager Bill Hoke; Deputy City Attorney Lori Cooper; Deputy City Recorder Karen Spoonts; Public Works Director Cory Crebbin; Transportation Manager Alex Georgevitch
Councilmembers Karen Blair and Tim Jackle were absent.
Bob Smith and Chris Smith of Smith West
Transportation Priorities/Funding Policies – Cory Crebbin
Councilmember Bunn stated that discussion will be about the cycle of funding and level of service that will impact how development will occur. City Manager Swanson added that there are large projects throughout the state; the State of Oregon seems to want to try to solve the issue of the viaduct. Mr. Bunn noted that from a policy point of view we want to make sure we are ready to take on the project(s) when such a project becomes available by having the necessary steps completed to start the project.
Councilmember Corcoran noted that there was an article in the paper stating that President Obama wants to put money forward for transportation issues. Mr. Bunn noted that whatever we do affects the entire valley and we want all parties to be involved.
City representative and member of the Rogue Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) Al Densmore added to the comments; stating that there is an I-5 study that will be launched this summer and is very significant. Money has been allocated to this project to try to put this study in a position that can be looked at, go through the environmental impact statements, and the signal has been sent that this is very important. Council and the public will be asked to participate in this study. I-5 is import for two main reasons 1) national freight route 2) has capacity issues through Medford with significant traffic, much of which is local traffic. Lack of north/south corridors is a significant issue that needs to be dealt with. Transportation Manager Alex Georgevitch had set up a meeting which included many entities; the purpose of the meeting was to see if there was a consensus on the type of projects that were a priority project. Another critical project is Foothill Road.
Mr. Bunn noted that we have an idea where growth will happen and it will impact Foothill Road dramatically. Mr. Densmore stated that Jackson County will make their portion of Foothill Road their major concern after Table Rock Road has been completed.
Mr. Corcoran questioned if Foothill Road is more important than the South Stage project; Mr. Densmore thought that is related somewhat but Foothill/N. Phoenix Road needs to be done first.
Mayor Wheeler questioned the time frame; Mr. Densmore noted that there has been activity in Congress pertaining to funding for transportation and perhaps Congress can get together in September. There will be several funding opportunities coming up with the state as well.
Chris Smith of Smith West stated that funding is always up in the air pertaining to Congress but Congress will need to know where to find the dollars for these projects.
Mr. Corcoran questioned if I-5 is only a state concern; Mr. Densmore noted that the state will be involved but federal region money would be involved as well.
Mr. Densmore presented the priority projects (see attachment from Rogue Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization….priority projects are marked with a *) and questioned if council concurred that the eastside connection is our top priority.
Councilmember Michaels questioned the next section of Foothill Road going out to Eagle Point; Mr. Densmore noted that the County said this is their next priority. Public Works Director Cory Crebbin commented that this will take years to complete. Mr. Georgevitch provided the information on how Foothill Road will connect to Eagle Point.
Mr. Crebbin stated that the Oregon Infrastructure Bank wants to lend money and is giving rates at less than two percent. On the top of the list for them is our project. We would borrow out of the street funds, mostly SDC funds. Mr. Crebbin noted that this financially could interfere with other project but it does get this project moving and provide additional funding from other sources.
Mr. Densmore questioned when we would want to come up with the match; Mr. Crebbin thought we would need to lock in to get a good interest rate. Mr. Georgevitch stated that we have three years to draw the money once we determine the project.
Mr. Gordon questioned what we need to come up with as a match if we do get the three million dollars. Crebbin noted this is a $13 million project.
It was noted that Mr. Bunn will be asked to vote on our priorities next month at the MPO and we don’t want to do that unless council is comfortable with this. Council agreed that Foothill Road will be our top priority.
Mr. Gordon questioned if we are compromising other projects when establishing Foothill Road as number one and are we getting our fair share of the money. Mr. Densmore noted that Project #10 on the RVMPO list is Springbrook – Cedar Links to Pheasant which is in the budget and funded with the school sidewalk funds. The MPO would give us that money as well. Mr. Crebbin provided information on how sidewalks were funded. He continued to address other projects, such as Columbus Avenue extension. Local funds can go further if additional money is received from the MPO, or Foothill, from other entities. Mr. Densmore noted that the County has money requested for additional bike lines for the west side. Mr. Corcoran questioned if Main Street could be synced and requested adaptive timing. Mr. Densmore spoke about RVTD’s request for a Valley Feeder Pilot Project and what this means. This would help them for future service with potential customers.
Mr. Crebbin noted that with MPO, we don’t get as much of a vote for the size of our city but we have an excellent partnership with the County and the other cities and is know that Medford’s priority is their priority as well.
Bob Smith of Smith West commented on this pertaining to the TRADCO meeting which has not been answered. It is important for our voice to be heard.
Discussed also was Grants Pass and the surrounding area splitting from the MPO although Mr. Densmore thought they would come back.
Mr. Bunn questioned if council agreed for the City to partner up with the other entities to move forward with the Foothill Project. Chris Smith was encouraged with the discussion. Bob Smith suggested that council identify in writing so that others can identify what it is. At that point we should reach out for funding. Mr. Crebbin noted that a study has been done and is in writing. Mr. Densmore noted that this would help the other entities determine what portion is each entities responsibility. Mr. Swanson noted that we could work with our federal lobbyist and perhaps a forum so others will know.
Mr. Swanson commented on the TED podcast pertaining to “Walk-able Cities” internet link and how interesting this relates to health benefits, less traffic accidents, etc.
Meeting adjourned at 1:12 p.m.
Karen M. Spoonts, MMC
Deputy City Recorder