ASHLAND TRANSPORTATION COMMISSION
September 24, 2015
CALL TO ORDER
Chair Joseph Graf called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street.
David Young, Joe Graf, Alan Bender, Danielle Amarotico, and Dominic Barth
Scott Fleury, Tami De Mille-Campos
Council Liaison Present:
Graf asked for a volunteer to represent the Transportation Commission at the Mayorís brown bag lunch on Friday, the 25th
at noon. Amarotico said she would be able to go but she would only be able to stay for 30 minutes.
Approval of Minutes: None
Louise Shawkat, 870 Cambridge
Read letter (see attached)
Jeff Sharp, 553 Fordyce
He gave kudos to council. He said he has been around to most of the commissions and the Transportation Commission is one of the few that not only allow public input at the beginning of the meetings but dialogue is also encouraged. He thinks this is a good thing that council can really learn from. He stated he supports the e-shuttle concept and he suggested there may be a good collaboration with the Ashland School district. They are doing some work with them right now and the school district is looking at switching to propane or possibly hybrid busses. And he hopes the city might consider a connector for the bike path from the road diet down to the corner of Valley View. That one piece is missing from connecting Ashland to Medford. He said he realizes it is out of the cityís jurisdiction but it would be nice if we could keep it striped and swept.
Tom Fink, 1176 N. Main
He is a recent arrival in Ashland. He moved here from the bay area (San Jose) 6 months ago. He was visiting that area last week and said it reaffirmed his decision to move up here. He spoke about how traffic is a major issue down there and most people who have retired and left the area did so because it had become unlivable. He doesnít want to see that happen to Ashland and he can see how the accommodation of the automobile is becoming a problem. He added that he worked for the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority for 40 years.
Connie Wilkerson, United Way
Connie gave a presentation updating the commission on the Bike Share for the People of Jackson County (see pages 28-50 of attachment).
Young remarked he was surprised to see these bikes when they first showed up in town. The bike share program is an element of the recently updated Transportation System Plan and there is a fair amount of community support for it. There are many other cities, especially tourist cities that have these except Ashland. While he is in favor of this program he pointed out that the last time she came to the commission she was requesting bike lockers at which point the commission gave some feedback that the city has a bunch of rusting unused bike lockers around. She then came back to the commission and proposed a bike rack. He has mixed feelings about this. He thinks it is incredible that they completely went under the radar and did something that probably would have taken them a couple of years and a lot of money to do but it was shocking in a way but on the other hand they approved a bike rack and there was never any mention of a bike share program. While he understands that she went through the planning department and this is on ODOT land he feels there would have been an advantage to her coming before the commission to discuss some joint planning efforts; such as location choice. He feels there could have been better location choices especially if theyíre trying to connect to transit. He added itís very important for SOU to be a part of this system. He applauded their vision and effort but he would like to see them look at what location works best for this model (the Plaza, SOU, near Bi Mart/Shop N Kart, Science Works etc.). Connie responded saying she hopes they werenít viewed as being deceitful. She thought they were very clear with what they were doing in all of their emails with the city. She apologized if it came across that they were not because that was never their intent. Regarding locations, they have looked for other land in Ashland but the land has to be donated to them because they donít have the money in the grant to purchase land. She also pointed out that she had informed Bill Molnar that the docks could be removed at anytime if it becomes problematic in the long range planning.
Bender wondered if Zagster has any performance measures in place for them to follow. Connie said they havenít received them just yet because shortly after installation is when the Valley got his with the wildfires which affected the bike usage.
Amarotico asked which stations are most successful so far. Connie answered all of the Medford locations have had really good usage and Ashlandís usage has been increasing.
Graf asked how much the cost would be if they didnít get the grant. Connie said the current contract with Zagster is for $92,000 (bikes, mechanic, and insurance) for 2 years. Each bike costs $1,440 per year and each station costs $4,000 per year.
Graf asked if they had contacted SOU yet. Connie said she had contacted the students that run their own bike share program but they were pretty adamant about what they were doing and felt like that met a need but she said she needs to follow that up further with Administration.
Various Ashland Transportation System Concerns
Fleury shared with the commission his plan to provide routine updates to them regarding things that staff is working on behind the scenes before theyíre actually brought to the table. Some of the things would include transportation concerns, project updates etc. He went on to share some updates with them:
The Walker Avenue sidewalk project is almost complete.
Oak Street will be closed Friday night through Monday morning while Railworks installs concrete panels at the rail crossing. Once theyíre done Kogap will come in and complete the sidewalk work. The pedestrian improvement piece should be completed by the end of October.
The city received $88,000 from ODOT to do handicap ramp improvements in the downtown corridor. Lithia Street between 3rd
and Oak and on Main Street between Oak and 3rd
there are 5 ramps on each that currently do not meet ADA standards. ODOT received money from the federal government for the project and the city entered into an Intergovernmental agreement with them to engineer and construct those ramp improvements.
Council approved the Downtown Beautification project at the plaza loop where the cedar tree is. A curb bump out was designed at that location which would extend the handicap ramp out so when a pedestrian is standing at that corner a driver can see them and they can see the driver before they cross the street to the park.
He has received a couple of citizen requests for looking at RRFBís (rectangular rapid flashing beacons) on East Main at Wightman. Kim Parducci will be looking at that crossing for pedestrian improvements.
There have been a couple of complaints about the crosswalk at Albertsons & YMCA Way on Tolman Creek. Kim is also going to take a look at that one. He said it could end up that the crosswalk is moved to a safer location.
With the extra help from summer temp. employees our street crews managed to paint quite a few curb returns (the painted yellow around corners). They didnít get to all of them but they were able to get the boulevards and main arterials. Hopefully over the next couple of years theyíll be able to get all of the corners striped and create appropriate vision clearance at all of the intersections.
Graf asked what was happening with the parking lot at Pioneer and Lithia. Fleury said it was one of the projects that were recommended for improvement by the Downtown Beautification Committee to Council and Council approved that recommendation. Keri KenCairn, Landscape Architect has the design for the landscaping and irrigation but that has yet to be approved by Council. He thinks it is going before them on October 20th
. Graf added he feels that is something the Downtown Parking Committee should look at since that is one of the lots that is important to downtown. Fleury pointed out that she isnít proposing any circulation changes or anything like that. It is just a landscape improvement.
Barth wondered where things were at with the Grandview shared road item that was discussed at the last meeting. Fleury said he was going to provide an update later in the meeting during the Normal Avenue discussion.
Morris inquired about whether bump outs are automatic when adding a crosswalk. There was a crosswalk put in near SOU a while ago and parking was left next to it so you canít see the curb and the crosswalk. Fleury said crosswalks should have 20 feet of no parking directly adjacent to them on both sides. He added there are various requirements for meeting ADA grade. ODOTís typical standard is to do the bump out. Morris said he was curious about the midblock crossings. Fleury said a Traffic Engineer would need to look at those to see if there were sight issues to warrant a bump out.
Amarotico mentioned she was at the Livability Forum in Medford the previous day and one of the main things that the area appeared to be lacking for livability was transportation. With that, she does have a few concerns.
The route (exit 14 to 19) that is proposed includes areas that are currently served by RVTD from 5:30am to 8:00pm.
She is concerned we arenít trying to reinvent the transportation wheel. She feels like it could put our public transportation in a worse position than it is currently in.
Her second major concern is who is going to pay for the shuttle. When the bus service was free ridership was up and when that went away ridership went down. One of the things that was mentioned was to have the hotels help pay for it but she pointed out the Windsor has a shuttle. They said it is highly used for the plays (approximately 8:00-11:30 pm) but that it is only run seasonally. This tells her the private sector doesnít have a big incentive to run it year round.
If this is what the citizens of Ashland want she would like to see where we can get the money for an electric shuttle and how we can invest and enhance what is already going with RVTD, rather than starting our own transportation system.
Young thanked Amarotico for putting a lot of thought into this. He doesnít feel this is the Transportation Commissionís place to worry about fiscal and other aspects of it. In 22 years he has watched it dismissed because of concern regarding who is going to pay for it. His sense is there are enough people out there to form a well represented group of people who have the desire to do the research necessary to move this forward. He feels like weíll stop all innovation by them being the ones to voice what itís going to cost. The bike share was one idea that languished because the committee thought there was no money. He said it feels like weíll stop any and all innovation by them being the ones to voice what it is going to cost. There is a tremendous amount of citizen energy. The SOCAN group gave a great presentation at the prior commission meeting. They show a tremendous amount of energy, they are not fiscally irresponsible people, and they demonstrate an ability to work together. As far as the RVTD conflict, the reason ridership is down locally is who is going to spend the money on a bus that only comes every thirty minutes as opposed to something that is just serving Ashland? He added he spoke to Paige Townsend at RVTD and she wants them to know they are willing to work with the city at the appropriate time. As far as seasonality, he thinks that is something this group would determine. He thinks their role is really to support the formation of an ad hoc committee that is carefully selected, willing to do the work and includes as many players as possible.
Barth said he is sort of a hybrid of both points. He would like to see RVTD blend seamlessly with whatever solution Ashland comes up with. He also appreciates the RVTD experiment that did work when it was free to ride.
Bender agreed with Young and thinks this will become one of the attractive things about Ashland for tourists and residents. He agrees with establishing an ad hoc committee.
Graf essentially agrees with everything everyone said about the benefit of having a shuttle. He worries that at one end they are thinking too big and on the other hand they are thinking too small. If the city is truly going to be served they really need to think about the circuit down E Main and not just run the shuttle side by side with RVTD down route ten.
Morris asked to comment before the motion was made. He said he wasnít at the last meeting when the presentation was made but his view on RVTD in the past twenty five or thirty years is they like their busses the way they are. The busses donít cover a lot of town and people up on the hills have no access to the bus unless they can get down to the main streets. So if a shuttle was created it would need to cover more than just route ten. It also would have to go somewhere where RVTD could transfer them to other parts of the valley. He said there is a whole group of people that this isnít going to fit. He pointed out that the group present in the audience is older and he wonders where the younger segment of the population is. He feels that is the energy needed to drive the project. He thinks if they want to form a subcommittee there are a lot of things that need to be looked at before financing. He mentioned Dave Chapman had once said at a council meeting that the biggest problem with transportation is we always want to get people that canít pay for it to ride it and in order for it to work you have to get people that can and will pay for it. He said this is only his personal opinion and not a council opinion. He will support a subcommittee to explore this but it needs to be defined as to what theyíre trying to do (ridership, funding etc.).
Graf said those are all of the things a subcommittee would need to do and he thinks what Young has been saying is everybody sees all of these issues and just throws their hands up and walks away because they think nothing can be done. This commission is saying they donít quite want to do that but there are a lot of devils in the details that have to be worked out as a part of the plan.
Young responded saying Graf covered most of his thoughts but he disagrees with the assumptions about routes, ridership and what was said about RVTD. He believes RVTD is an important player in this envisioned planning group. He added this is about forming a group to look at everything, leaving no stone unturned.
Graf added that what he has seen done in the past is this sort of back of the envelope calculations with different assumptions and people quit because they arenít that exciting. We may need to throw all of that away and start at a new place by designing a system that really works for Ashland.
Bender shared there is a revolution going on in the U.S. with regard to public transportation. Currently they are seeing the highest ridership in public transportation since the 1950ís and a lot of it is young people.
Young/Bender m/s the Transportation Commission issue a statement of support for an Ashland shuttle and request the Mayor and City Council, in consultation with the Transportation Commission, develop a process to further explore this.
Young said he is nervous about the composition of the subcommittee. He would like to see something similar to the Siskiyou Boulevard ad hoc committee that he was on fifteen years or so ago. His hope is that the Transportation Commission oversees this committee.
Young/Bender m/s the Ashland Transportation Commission supports the further study of an Ashland shuttle and requests that the Mayor and City Council, in consultation with the Transportation Commission, appoints an ad hoc committee to this end.
Young/Barth m/s the Ashland Transportation Commission requests the Mayor and City Council, in consultation with the Transportation Commission, to form a committee to explore the viability of a shuttle in Ashland.
All in favor. Motion passes unanimously.
FOLLOW UP ITEMS
Downtown Parking and Multi-Modal Circulation Study Update
Graf and Young gave a brief update. Graf shared there will be no meeting in October and he also added the guiding principles and the proposed eighteen month timeline are up on the cityís website as well as the other committee documents.
N. Main Bus Stop locations
Fleury said the Chair had sent him an email about this issue and he spoke to Paige Townsend about it. She said to send her the bus stop id number and potential relocation spots. Both of the stops if they were pushed one to two hundred feet south would be in ideal locations which wouldnít interfere with any driveways or access points. Paige said they would go out next week and determine if the potential locations meet all of the requirements to be moved there. Fleury said this would open it up for cars to safely pass the busses when they are stopped.
Normal Ave. Neighborhood Plan Status Update
Fleury provided an update. He said the ordinances and plan are at council. As far as the shared road, the ordinance still has to go through first reading and then it has to go to second reading. Once the second reading is complete it becomes codified and the shared road can actually be enacted.
Traffic Crash Summary
MacLennan shared with the Commission he had received a copy of a letter sent to ODOT (see attached).
Further discussion was had regarding the crash summary. Amarotico stated the bike accident in August involved one of her daughterí close friends and it was her fault (riding on the sidewalk, against traffic etc.). She wondered what resources kids have for learning how to ride properly. Young said Egon is a really good resource but Amarotico pointed out that she attends Willow Wind which may have refused the Egonís program. Young said Bellview refused it but they werenít sure about whether Willow Wind did.
Oregon Impact September Newsletter
COMMISSION OPEN DISCUSSION
Young asked who is responsible for keeping sidewalks free of obstructions. Fleury said it falls under the nuisance ordinance which regulates that the abutting property owner must maintain the sidewalk. The nuisance ordinance is managed by Kevin Flynn, Code Compliance Officer with the Community Development department. Young said he would like to see a future agenda item where they make a statement to council to direct somebody to do a sweep of our sidewalks throughout the city.
Graf is concerned with how they can be sure that all of the various commission talk to one another. He said he heard about the public art piece that is going in by the fire station at the Mayorís brown bag. He added it is kind of like the bike rack thing where it would be nice if they knew about these things before they happen. He trusts that staff is looking at some of this stuff but it would be nice to have it as an informational item. Young said maybe they need to seek out a way to stay informed because sometimes there are also firewalls between the departments. Fleury responded saying the open discussion is sort of a way to stay on top of things and also by him providing routine updates to the commission as previously discussed during this meeting.
FUTURE AGENDA TOPICS
Public Outreach/Education-Oregon Impact Programs
Traffic Control Resolution Update
Traffic Crash Summary PD letter
Meeting adjourned at 8:10 pm
Tami De Mille-Campos, Permit Technician