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Agendas and Minutes

Transportation Commission (View All)

Regular Meeting

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street



Attendees: Tom Burnham, Eric Heesacker (Chair), Steve Ryan, Julia Sommer, Colin Swales

Absent:      Brent Thompson, Matt Warshawsky, David Young

Ex Officio Members:  Larry Blake, David Chapman, Brandon Goldman, David Wolske

Staff Present:  Mike Faught, Jim Olson, Nancy Slocum


I.                CALL TO ORDER: 6:04 PM by Chair Eric Heesacker.



Minutes of July 15, 2010 were approved as corrected.


III.            PUBLIC FORUM:

Nat Broom, TDM Planner for RVTD, reminded the Commission of the International Walk + Bike School day on Wednesday, October 6, 2010 and the first ever Southern Oregon Walk + Bike Summit to be held October 15, 2010 at the Rogue Valley Country Club. The Summit will include lunch and transportation- related sessions. Kat Smith will follow up with an email. At the next Commission meeting Smith will update the Commission on the Safe Routes to School grant funding. Lastly, Broom told the Commission that Route 24 to RVMC had new extended hours running from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM.



Sommer recommended that the Election of the Vice Chair be tabled until more Commission members were present. Commission agreed. Heesacker added “Commission Emails from Ryan and Swales” to the agenda.


V.              ACTION ITEMS:

  1. Transportation System Plan (TSP) Update

Faught referred to a recent phone conference with Planning Commissioner Chair Pam Marsh as well as Heesacker. It was decided that the Chairs for each Commission would rotate (beginning with Marsh) at the joint meetings. The upcoming joint meeting (August 24th) would include an overview of the TSP including Task 7 deliverables and timelines. Faught encouraged all Commissioners to attend.


Sommer asked about the transportation-related Comprehensive Plan Goal: Commercial Freight and Passenger Section. She noted the mention of air, water and pipeline movement of goods. Faught said this was standard language but that air, via the airport, was a very important mode of transportation as evidenced by David Wolske’s (liaison to the Airport Commission) presence at our meetings.


Swales noted the mention of Alta Planning and Design and OTAK as additional consultants. Faught said they were Kittelson & Associate’s subconsultants and more information would be given at the joint meeting. Swales asked who would reply to citizen comments submitted via the website and wondered about the lack of Survey Monkey. Kittelson would respond to email comments and the survey was delayed until October so that more citizens would be back from vacations.


  1. Interchange Area Management Plan (IAMP)

Faught reported that the work on the Exit 14 Bridge had begun. As a rule the IAMP would be finished before construction began; however, ODOT extended the deadline to September 30th so the City could submit its response to ODOT’s proposal to eventually extend a median on Ashland Street from Exit 14 to Tolman Creek Road. The draft IAMP proposed to extend the median from the southbound ramp terminals to Tolman Creek Road when either the average daily traffic exceeds 28,000 vpd or the annual accident rate in the area exceeds the statewide average rate for similar roadways. Staff agreed with the proposal to erect a median from Exit 14 to Washington Street (currently being constructed as part of the bridge project); however, the proposed extended median would limit access to Washington Street and the Croman site. Faught asked Kittelson to review the technical aspects of the proposal as an extended median would impact Ashland’s transportation system long term.


Swales suggested researching a road diet and the use of roundabouts. John McDonald, ODOT TGM Project Manager, noted that roundabouts worked when all four legs of an intersection had a similar amount of use; Washington Street travelers would have a difficult time merging with the steady traffic on Ashland Street.


Safety was the main reason for the median. McDonald said that currently this section of Ashland Street was considered the worse in the state. He added that the trigger figure of 28,000 vpd doubled the existing volume and, with Ashland’s low growth policies, therefore may not happen for 20+ years or ever. Swales noted a decrease in volume in the last six years and recently learned that two lanes could in theory accommodate 20,000 vpd.


Faught added that DKS Associates, consultants who wrote the Croman Site traffic impact analysis, noted that if Washington Street was signalized, no improvements would be necessary for Tolman Creek Road. Staff would like to avoid a major expansion of the Ashland / Tolman Creek intersection.  McDonald said any request for a signal at Washington would not be approved. The location of the Tolman Creek signal currently does not meet ODOT standards. A signal at Washington Street would result in three signals within a ¼ mile.


Sommer asked if Kittelson’s review would come to the Commission before the City Council. Faught said yes, if time permits. ODOT would have to extend their deadline to October 5th to allow for both Commission and Council approval. She asked if affected business owners signed off on the current median extension to Washington Street. McDonald said that although some owners did not like it, they accepted it. He added that when the IAMP was ultimately adopted by the Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC), the City’s planned improvements must then be consistent with the plan. Mike Baker, ODOT planner, said that the IAMP could be amended in the future as conditions change.


Sommer asked if the median would be landscaped. McDonald said the median was too narrow. Burnham asked if the City could oppose the expansion of the median to Tolman Creek Road. Faught said the City Council could direct the Commission to directly lobby the OTC; however, the need to lobby would be dependent upon whether Kittelson agreed with Staff’s opposition to the median expansion. He added that thus far ODOT had been agreeable to work with.


  1. Two Year Project List Feasibility Discussion

Olson, per the Commission’s request, prioritized the results of the forced vote process and recommended decreasing the number of goals. He reviewed each goal.


1.      Audible Signals - Budget money had been found for downtown signals. Burnham heard complaints about the loud noises they make. Corinne Vieville, was researching different sound options.

2.      Adding Bike Path Elements to Highway 66 Overpass - Olson thought this goal could be planned and designed, but not constructed in the two year timeframe. Sommers said currently many people walk and bike to the YMCA against traffic. Burnham thought the challenge was to cross the railroad tracks. Ryan reminded Commissioners that there was a pedestrian refuge across from the tire station for a planned crosswalk. Olson noted that crosswalk would have to be installed with beacons and other features to make pedestrians visible at the overpass.

3.      Pros and Cons of Relocating Bike Racks - Staff and the Subcommittee finished an inventory of existing and recommended bike racks. Only one on-street option was considered safe that is in front of the library on Siskiyou. Olson suggested changing the goal to “Increasing Bike Parking in Downtown Core.” Swales noted that Arts Commission had ideas for artistic bike racks. Faught agreed and would ask the Arts Commission for suggestions.

4.      Research Signal Detector Retrofits to Accommodate Bike Detection - Olson reported that high density, concentrated loops were expensive and would need to be phased in. He suggested purchasing one as an experiment.

5.      Faith Avenue / Ashland Street Intersection Improvements - All agreed this was an important goal.

6.      Make Will Dodge Way More Multi-Modal - This goal was in process and includes meeting with business owners, replacing broken curb sections, crosswalk along First Street, ADA ramp on First Street, paving overlay, pavement markings and signage. Swales thought that with the sale of the parking lot, Will Dodge way could be beautified as a courtyard. Olson reported this project was initiated by the Police Department. Their goal was to reduce crime and increase safety. Faught added that colored slurry seal could be considered at a latter date. Project cost is $75,000 using city crews. Some stamped concrete would be used at the yogurt shop.

7.      Evaluate Delivery Vehicle Patterns in the Downtown Core - Olson suggested the Commission take the lead on this goal by contracting owners and suppliers for feedback. Swales wondered if the truck idling ordinance was being enforced.



Burnham moved to accept staff’s recommendation. Ryan seconded the motion.



Sommer suggested combining 5 and 2 and reworking 3. Ryan thought the Faith / Ashland intersection project too big for a two year goal. Sommer doubted Commissioners would take the lead on Goal 7.


Ryan withdrew second. Burnham withdrew motion.



Sommer moved to adopt three goals: 1) Connect Bike Path to Highway 66 Overpass (including feasibility of crossing railroad tracks; 2) Faith Av /Ashland St Intersection Improvements; and 3) Increasing Bike Parking in the Downtown Core (including reviewing design options with the Art Commission). Burnham seconded the motion and it passed unanimously.


  1. Status of Sub-Committee Recommendations of 8/5/10

Olson presented the staff report apologizing for any hurt feelings over the wording of his memo. He reminded the Commission of their role and the veto / call up power of the Public Works Director. The Director then asked the full Commission to reconsider the Subcommittee’s recommendation to remove the parking restriction on Bridge Street. Olson reported that Faught vetoed the recommendation to change the parking on Hargadine and tabled a final decision until the appropriate time within the TSP update. Faught accepted the First Street parking changes as specified in the Subcommittee minutes as well as the no change decision on Granite Street parking.


Olson received more than the usual public response for parking changes on Bridge Street which supports 570 vpd on the weekend and 940 vpd on weekdays. He noted that skinny street standards are only effective with adequate queuing space. He reviewed the Subcommittee’s decision: “remove the west side parking prohibition (8:00 AM to 4:30 PM except Sundays and holidays) from June 15 to September 15 and create one or more two hour spaces near the south end of the block adjacent to any commercial properties.” Faught asked for reconsideration because the action would set a precedent, cause extra work for the eight person street crew and had Fire Department opposition both presently as well as back in 1990. Olson reminded the Commission that no one would be available to enforce the recommended two hour parking.


Chapman asked if, because the prohibition ended at 4:30 PM, the Fire Department opposed any west side parking. Olson said that after hours parking was less dense so Fire Department had no issue. Sommer agreed with Staff’s reasoning.


Swales said conditions on Bridge Street had changed as recreational vehicles were now prohibited to park on the street and no fireworks were allowed. He thought other streets felt the impact of parking congestion due to their location (park, SOU, library, etc.) and that drafting a citywide policy would be the best way to avoid discrimination.


Ryan, a Subcommittee member, gave the rational for his vote. He thought his decision could be vetoed and felt safe in that knowledge. A citizen sought relief and he took his duty as a citizen advocate seriously. The removal of some parking restrictions could be a one year experiment. Similar streets had parking on both sides and he was attempting a compromise. He thought the sample size of up to 15 people was too small to say stakeholders were against the request to relax the parking restriction.


Chapman asked why Garfield had parking on both sides. Olson noted that Garfield Street was 1.5’ wider than Bridge Street.



Swales moved not to reconsider the Subcommittee’s recommendation regarding Bridge Street letting the Subcommittee’s recommendation stand.



Burnham agreed with the need for a citywide policy to use when similar requests come before the Commission.


Ryan would like to see a letter or memo confirming the Fire Department’s recommendation.


Amended motion:

Swales moved to amend the motion to include “…unless a recommendation against removing the parking prohibition from the Fire Department was received.” Ryan seconded the amended motion.



Sommer favored residential permit parking and suggested leaving the parking prohibition as is until such a program was in place.


Burnham, the Chair of the Subcommittee, heard the testimony of property owners, the recommendation from the Fire Department as stated by staff and voted no. He was also in favor of a citywide street parking policy. Heesacker recommended further amending the motion to include the development of a citywide policy.


Swales thought that the speculative issues addressed in the testimony of property owners should not be used in making decisions. Chapman suggested tabling this issue until a representative from the Fire Department could address the Committee.


Vote on Amendment:

Commission voted for the motion four votes to one. Amended motion passed.


Vote on Motion:

The motion not to reconsider the Subcommittee’s recommendation regarding Bridge Street and letting the Subcommittee’s recommendation stand unless a recommendation against removing the parking prohibition was received from the Fire Department passed three votes to two.


E.  Truck Route Designations

The Council recently directed the Commission to review AMC 11.60 Truck Routes ordinance noting that the reference to state code was outdated. Swales noted the ordinance was similar to the truck idling ordinance that came before the Traffic Safety Commission. Staff recommended tabling this agenda item for further research. Commission agreed.



A.     MPO Update (Chapman)

Report tabled.


B.     Planning Commission Update (Sommer)

Sommer reported that at the Planning Commission reviewed the portion of Task 6 (TSP update) on the topic of pedestrian nodes. The fourth site was eliminated (Bridge and Siskiyou) leaving East Main / North Mountain, Walker / Ashland Street and Tolman Creek / Ashland Street. Public workshops regarding the pedestrian nodes would be held in October and December preceded by a private stakeholders meeting. A subcommittee was chosen to work with staff to plan the workshops and ensure accurate minutes.


Burnham expressed frustration that the Transportation Commission was not involved in the selection of pedestrian nodes. Faught explained the history of how the idea developed as part of two separate Transportation Enhancement grant applications. Swales added that the Planning Commission’s emphasis was on land use on private property. These nodes would be denser in population allowing for more public transit.


C.     Additional Bicycle Parking on Main Street Update

Update tabled.


D.    Car Free Day (Ryan)

Ryan reported on the status of Car Free Day planning. He now had the help of three members of the Jackson County Pacific Greens, a non-profit political organization and asked the Commission for ideas to recognize them. Commission had no objection to recognizing them. Slocum reported that the parade permit was approved. Ryan would like the police escort to be a bicycle escort. The event will be advertised on the City website however the planning committee missed the deadline for inclusion in the City Source.


E.     Commissioner Emails - Ryan and Swales

Heesacker responded to Ryan’s letter to Mayor Stromberg dated August 18th. Ryan was offended by the staff memo to reconsider the Bridge Street parking prohibition. Heesacker thought there was a miscommunication between Staff and Commissioner Ryan.


Chapman suggested that next time Ryan contact Staff directly then come to the meeting to correct the record.


Ryan announced that he had no further issues with Staff.




VIII.       ADJOURN:  8:33 PM


Respectfully submitted,

Nancy Slocum, Accounting Clerk I


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