Thursday, August 28, 2008

City Strategy At Odds With ODOT Plans

Last week there was an Oregon Transportation Committee meeting at Eagle Crest, with it's main focus on the Hwy 97 realignment. The city gave a long presentation of traffic studies and other data supporting its desire for a Cooley/97 interchange to allow further development at Juniper Ridge in the very near future.

To my surprise, the OTC has already, back in March, decided that they did not want any direct connection to Hwy 97 from Cooley Road. Their guidance document from March, 2008 states:

IV. Cooley Road - Preference is to include an overpass at Cooley Road and US 97, with no direct access to US 97.

This came as a complete and utter surprise to me. After all, we went through a several months-long process last year going over various scenarios for improving traffic flow at the Cooley/97 intersection. An idea that has been shelved, it seems.

In reality, the city's plans for Juniper Ridge are seen as a detriment to traffic flow on 97, and the OTC and ODOT have continued to press for surface solutions for Juniper Ridge and other local traffic in the area. Local roads for local traffic.

Simply put, the OTC and ODOT do not want Bend's proclivity for allowing development to exceed traffic flow capabilities, such as with the ProTerra development on the Mt. Bachelor bus parking lot, to cause their main north-south conduit east of the Cascades to fail.

I contacted the OTC to clarify this stance, and received this email from "ODOT Bob":

Bruce - I was asked to respond to your request. I've attached the slide from the presentation last week that references guidance that we received from the Transportation Commission during a presentation in February 2007. We have developed the alternatives for the US 97: North Corridor project consistent with this guidance, and we did not hear anything from the discussion last week that would cause us to change direction.

In fact, the traffic analysis accomplished as part of the project bears out the merits of the guidance at least as it pertains to the connection at Cooley Road. Any direct connection from US 97 at Cooley Road that would serve future development in Juniper Ridge causes the Parkway through Bend to fail. The traffic model shows that trips from throughout the community would use the Parkway as opposed to alternative local routes if their destination is Juniper Ridge. This additional local traffic volume would exceed the capacity.

Bob Bryant
Region Manager
ODOT Region 4

The emphasis is mine.

To my simple mind, it seems that the city is pushing ahead with plans that are at loggerheads with those who actually control the state's highways. And that is a no-win situation.

The Chair of the OTC stated that she supported funding of local arterials to take the pressure off of state highways. The idea being that state highways need free and clear flow, and local traffic is local traffic. Perhaps our city staff and council should explore this idea. Explore how to build a local traffic system that intersects with the state system on their terms. One that supports the local businesses and provides alternatives to the parkway.

One that might actually win support and funding from the state.

It might be an even better idea to try to really work with those who control highways 97 and 20, rather than continuing to push a homegrown solution against ever more fierce resistance.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Analysis of Juniper Ridge Tilt Towards Residential Uses

I've put together a table that shows how planned land uses at Juniper Ridge tilted heavily towards residential, and have pretty much stayed that way even though Allan Bruckner was quoted in the Bulletin as being happier that more land was to be used for employment purposes. The numbers denote acres:

Plan DeveloperOTAKJRPC-R
Mixed Use757575-150

Note that the R&D/Light Industrial land use of 350-400 acres in the C-R plan that was approved includes 100 acres for 10+ acre parcels. That's it. Les Schwab already has 12, with an option for 8 more. Suterra has formally requested 10 acres. Pepsi has informally requested 10 acres. At this rate large parcels will be gone in a year or two, unless the City ignores the master plan and continues to sell large plots.

This is exactly what the City seems to be doing in the case of the Suterra request. My next post will cover that-a 10 acre parcel adjacent to Les Schwab, either north or west. This overlays planned parcels of 2-4 acres. And I have questions about how the City is moving forward with this sale despite JRP's exclusive three-year option on the 50 acres surrounding the Les Schwab property. Are we setting ourselves up for another lawsuit?

To say nothing about the emergence of a possible new sales deal with JRP, which may or may not be discussed at tomorrow's City Council work session. While, at least publically--I suspect it will be discussed in Executive Session.

Just as a $3000 per trip Bend-taxpayer-funded "incentive" to help defray the $9000 per trip cost of temporarily fixing Cooley Rd was discussed in the last Executive Session, and is revealed in the letter to Suterra from Econ Dev Director John Russell. That is if ODOT can be bent over and twisted into agreeing with the City's plan to increase congestion at Cooley/97 just like they plan to do around Simpson and Columbia for Proterra's development of the Mt. Bachelor Bus Parking area, according to the BULL:
Bend roads compromise may pave way for similar agreements

A compromise agreement between the city of Bend and a developer over road improvements in southwest Bend could set an example for other areas of the city...

Proterra’s plans for a mixed-use project with condominiums, offices and retail space were shot down by a city hearings officer earlier this year because of the amount of traffic the project would add to nearby roads...

City officials agreed that at that latter two intersections, they would tolerate slightly more congestion in the near term as a result of the development’s traffic...

The compromise with Proterra — in which the city will not require full traffic improvements for new development, tolerating slightly more congestion instead — sets a new precedent...

By agreeing to the compromise, the city also believes it can pressure the Oregon Department of Transportation to do the same thing at Cooley Road and U.S. Highway 97.

ODOT has said no new construction can happen near that intersection - including at the city’s 1,500-acre Juniper Ridge development - unless the city comes up with $40 million to upgrade the intersection.

Instead, the city is trying to reach an agreement with ODOT that would allow slightly more congestion at the intersection, which is most clogged during the morning and evening rush hours.

Mayor Bruce Abernethy and Councilor Bill Friedman agreed at Monday’s meeting that the city’s move to allow more congestion on its streets would put it in a better position to convince ODOT to do the same thing.

So the Council is saying "we like screwing over our own citizens, would you please do so, too!"

Just what we Bend citizen's want--even more congestion in the name of developer subsidies. Right. I bet you agree with that, kind reader. Just a little more "temporary" congestion in front of Lowe's on 97 during rush hour.

To be continued...

Sources for plans:
OTAK 8/05

Juniper Ridge Partners (JRP) 5/2/07

Cooper-Robertson, approved by City Council 7/16/08

Friday, August 1, 2008

Junper Ridge Master Plan Only Saves 100 Acres For 10+ Acre Plots

All that talk about how Juniper Ridge is going to save Bend by being a place where larger employers can have a place for facilities covering 10 acres or more?

Yep, it's just talk. The final Juniper Ridge Master Plan, approved by the City Council on July 16, has only 100 acres set aside for large plots. That's awfully little, considering Les Schwab already has 20, Pepsi wants 10, and two more companies are stated to want 10 each.

I brought this up in public comments before the vote and Mayor Abernethy chastised me, stating the Council is very aware of the need for jobs, and that private landowners just outside Juniper Ridge will provide the necessary land.

He must know something I don't.

The old OTAK master plan that the Council deemed not good enough set aside 500 acres for large plots. Considering the paucity of such land in Bend, that makes a hell of a lot more sense. Especially considering up to 750 acres are being set aside for residential uses.

So someone tell me--where are the employers that will provide well-enough paying jobs to buy houses on that 750 acres be able to set up shop?