Minutes of the Regular Monthly Meeting
On Wednesday, July 16, the Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC) and Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) staff held a briefing session and reviewed the OTC agenda at 8 a.m., and the regular monthly meeting began at 9:30 a.m. Notice of these meetings had been made by press release to local and Statewide circulation media throughout the state. Those attending included:
Chair Stuart Foster welcomed Mike Nelson, from Baker City, as a new member of the Oregon Transportation Commission.
Bruce Warner greeted Stuart Foster as the new Chair of the Oregon Transportation Commission. Director’s Report highlights included:
Great media coverage at each stop, including the Associated Press, who traveled with the group. The Governor’s message was well received, clearly laying out how important the package is to Oregon. The Director also acknowledged the work of Patrick Cooney and ODOT’s Communications staff who did a marvelous job on the tour itinerary.
Commission member reports included the following information:
Commissioner Russell noted he had nothing significant to report this month.
Commissioner Achterman reported the final meeting of the Industrial Lands Task Force will be July 18. At that time, its report will move to the Governor. Commissioner Achterman thanked ODOT staff for their tremendous support through the process. There are still some important recommendations on transportation system planning to support the industrial lands development that the committee needs to make sure are written correctly, but the effort has been a good one.
Commissioner Papé interacted with two of the three ACTs (Area Commissions on Transportation). The Lane County MPC (Metropolitan Policy Committee) meeting had a final report from a public involvement group on the public involvement process. They found there are a lot of opportunities for the public involvement; however, because of the time and the way they are asked to be involved, it does not allow the type of involvement that is the most productive to move projects forward. The recommendations were encouraging and take a positive step in the direction the Commission would like to see them take. Commissioner Papé was asked if the Lane County MPC was addressing the issues related to the MPC becoming recognized as an ACT. His response was that the Oregon Transportation Commission still desired a full ACT in Lane County, but this was a significant step forward.
Commissioner Papé attended the Central Oregon ACT meeting. It was well attended, with good thoughts and ideas coming forward. They are struggling a bit with the Redmond Couplet, trying to figure out the issues they need to deal with in the community. Everything seems to be moving ahead nicely at this time.
July 15 was a busy day with Governor Kulongoski stopping at the Interstate 5/Beltline project site in Eugene to discuss the transportation funding package and dinner with Speaker of the House Karen Minnis.
Commissioner Mike Nelson commented that he appreciated being appointed to the Oregon Transportation Commission. He has met with ODOT staff who have briefed him on a multitude of different issues. He also met with Dave Cox, Division Administrator for the Federal Highway Administration. He plans to work extremely hard in his new position.
Chair Foster reported attending a STIP Stakeholder Committee meeting and reported that draft guidelines for selecting STIP (Statewide Transportation Improvement Program) projects will be sent out for stakeholder review. Comments will be due back by August 15. The committee will meet in September to review the recommendations and a proposed set of prioritization standards and categories, which are expected to be available to the Commission by October. Although the committee’s last meeting will probably be this fall, a similar type of committee may be needed to review policy issues after some time has passed to see how well what was produced works.
Ron Carmichael, Division Engineer for Western Federal Lands Highway Division, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), presented ODOT with a 2003 FHWA Environmental Excellence in Scenic Byways Award. The Excellence Award was one of eleven awards announced by FHWA Administrator Mary Peters on April 22, 2003. Overall, the awards are intended to recognize and showcase transportation projects and partnerships that exemplify the balancing of good environmental stewardship, safety and mobility. (Copy of awards brochure and background material in General Files, Salem.)
The winner of the 2003 Federal Highway Environmental Award for Excellence in Scenic Byways was the Oregon Forest Highway Enhancement Program. The Enhancement Program is administered as part of the overall Forest Highway Program in Oregon. The Forest Highway Program in Oregon is administered through a partnership consisting of the Oregon Department of Transportation, USDA Forest Service, the Western Federal Lands Highway Division of FHWA, and the Oregon Association of Counties.
Mr. Carmichael recognized the following individuals for their contributions and presented a plaque to each agency:
Director Bruce Warner
Ed Fischer, State Traffic Engineer (represented by Steve Lindland, Prelim. Design Manager)
Pat Moran, Scenic Byways Program Coordinator
Pat Fisher, Transportation Enhancement Program Manager
Jeannette Kloos, Portland Area Scenic Coordinator
USDA, Forest Service
Richard Sowa, Director of Engineering, Portland
Becky Hutchins, Transportation Planner, Portland
Oregon Association of Counties
Bill Penhollow, Director
FHWA, Western Federal Lands Highway Division
Dave Sell, Forest Highway Enhancement Coordinator
Bob Lale, Planning and Programming Engineer
George Fekaris, Oregon Project Delivery Team Leader
David Cox, FHWA Division Administrator, provided information on the 2002 Biennial Awards for Excellence in Highway Design. Mr. Cox advised that design excellence traits are: a completed project that looks like it belongs and, it fits the site, it blends in with the topography, complements the natural landscape, while still providing for safety and mobility of the traveling public. Of nine award categories, ODOT won awards in three. (Copy of awards brochure and background material in General Files, Salem.)
Category 3A – Major Highway Structures Over $10 Million. Crooked River Gorge Bridge (Rex T. Barber Veterans Memorial Bridge) – US Highway 97, Terrebonne. This new bridge continues Oregon’s longstanding tradition of building bridges that complement the surrounding landscape. Award plaques were presented to ODOT’s Region 4 staff; David Goodyear Engineering Services (Designer); and Kiewit Pacific (Contractor).
Category 5 – Historic Preservation. Rocky Creek (Ben Jones) Bridge, Otter Crest Vicinity. This bridge was saved from severe saltwater corrosion by restoration instead of replacement, thus preserving its historic appearance. Award plaques were presented to ODOT’s Region 2 staff and ODOT’s Bridge Preservation Team (Designer). Don Lowe and Paul Meyers (from Region 2) and Eric Bond (Bridge Section) accepted the plaques.
Category 8 – Intermodal Transportation Facilities. Salem Railroad Station Restoration and Site Improvement, Salem. The railroad station was revitalized as a multi-modal transportation hub for the mid-Willamette Valley after three decades of neglect as private railroads abandoned passenger rail service. Award plaques were presented to ODOT’s Region 2 staff and Rail Division. Erik Havig (from Region 2) and Claudia Howells and Bob Krebs (from the Rail Division) accepted the awards.
Commission members acknowledged the obvious ability and skill of staff as ODOT continues to receive these important and meaningful awards. The Commission also pointed out that if a significant investment in bridges is made over the next five to ten years as a result of HB 2041, the department needs to give special attention to the highest design standards. At the annual workshop in October, the Commission suggested talking about what ODOT is going to do and what methods are going to be used to make sure that new investments show innovative and excellence in design.
Internal Audit Services Chief Drummond Kahn and Senior Internal Auditor Pam Stroebel updated the Commission on the five most recent internal audit reports. Brief summaries were given on each of the following reports: (Copy of background material in General Files, Salem.)
The first three reports were low risk with no immediate management action needed. The fourth report (regarding access management follow-up) essentially showed ODOT’s controls to assess and collect access permit fees may not be in place. A large number of cases were found in which ODOT was not collecting fees, inconsistency in decisions over fee waivers, and need for improvement in keeping records of the fees collected, along with some other issues. The fifth report (regarding vehicle title fraud and consumers’ ownership interests in vehicles) found that while Oregon laws and requirements appear adequate to protect consumers, current practices may not fully use this legal capability. DMV management agreed with the recommendations, and work is underway to strengthen vehicle title fraud prevention.
The Commission expressed its expectation regarding access management controls (the fourth audit report) that the Internal Audit recommendations are to be promptly implemented and a follow-up report made to the Commission. Mr. Kahn concurred and agreed to send copies of future audit reports to all members of the Commission, as requested by Commissioner Russell.
Bob Bryant requested Commission authorization for an estimated 3.5 to 4-acre protective right-of-way property purchase in Bend. Mr. Bryant explained the proposed acquisition would be for a potential future project at the US 97/Cooley Road intersection. Purchasing the property at this time will ensure the property would not be developed in a manner that would preclude ODOT’s ability to construct future improvements to US 97. The property will be appraised and an offer to purchase will be made to the owner based on the appraisal. The estimated purchase price is in the range of $1,500,000 to $1,750,000 and funding would come from Region 4’s Financial Plan. (Copy of background material in General Files, Salem.)
Commissioner Papé motioned for approval. The motion passed unanimously.
Craig Greenleaf provided the Commission with a brief overview of the amendments to Policy 1B, Land Use and Transportation, of the 1999 Oregon Highway Plan. Mr. Greenleaf’s presentation included background on the proposed language changes and advised changes would result in a less vigorous planning process than what is in place now and would also differentiate parts of the system that have higher freight movement on them. (Copy of background material in General Files, Salem.)
Key Commission comments focused on concern about how long it has taken to get proposed designations and the need for a concise, well-written document that is easy to understand.
Public comments were received from the following individuals:
Art Schlack, Association of Oregon Counties, commented this issue is of great interest to cities and counties throughout Oregon. They are interested in taking a very in-depth look at the draft amendment and will work with ODOT staff to come up with a process and a document that all can support. Mr. Schlack urged the Commission to refer the draft document to the Local Officials Advisory Committee for its review and comment.
Mark Whitlow, Perkins-Coie, Attorneys at Law, provided comments on behalf of the Retail Task Force indicating the task force was still around and willing to help. Mr. Whitlow stated that until the designations are complete, and the mapping is done, the system really hasn’t been put together, so it can’t be said it’s broken, it just hasn’t had a chance to be used yet. It is a mapping exercise and that is an opportunity for a lot of work, or something that is now being talked about for a fast-track process, which the task force suggests. If that’s where the Commission is heading in the motion, then the task force would very much support that. In fact, that’s consistent with the Retail Task Force’s comments to the Commission. The Commission needs to put a timeframe on it. (Copy of an e-mail message sent to some Commission members in General Files, Salem.)
Commissioner Achterman motioned to:
The motion passed unanimously.
Pat Fisher, Transportation Enhancement Program Manager, requested Commission approval to allocate $1,545,000 in Transportation Enhancement Discretionary funds for a pedestrian/bicycle undercrossing near Camp Rilea on US 101 and approval to add the project to the 2004 – 2007 STIP (Statewide Transportation Improvement Program). (Copy of background material in General Files, Salem.)
The undercrossing (tunnel) is needed for a multi-use path known as the Fort-to-the-Sea Trail, which the National Parks Service is planning to build from Fort Clatsop National Monument to Sunset Beach, a distance of approximately four miles. The path would follow the route Lewis and Clark took to the beach to get salt during their stay. The proposed tunnel would allow people to use the trail without having to cross five lanes of full-speed highway traffic on US 101. The trail project itself is designated an Oregon Solutions Project by Governor Kulongoski and has participation and strong support of the Governor’s Community Solutions Office and Northwest Community Solutions Team.
The Commission shared a concern about the application material, indicating support for the conclusion of this project being selected, but not the process.
Representative Betsy Johnson appeared before the Commission as the overall statewide chairman of the Lewis and Clark Commemoration for Oregon. Representative Johnson offered her support for this expenditure of Transportation Enhancement Discretionary Funds. She also conveyed the commitment, on behalf of Fort Clatsop Supervisor Chip Jenkins, to continue to work aggressively to find other partners to make this project work, hunting for federal money and particularly Parks involvement. Representative Johnson pointed out how important this project is for that part of Oregon that houses Fort Clatsop, which will bear the lion’s share of the visitors coming to Oregon for this important historic commemoration. Representative Johnson acknowledged the work the Department has done in making the train a reality, all the way from Director Warner to Claudia Howells, noting nothing but first class cooperation from ODOT. In closing, Representative Johnson added they are taking multi-modal objectives to new heights by looking at other transportation opportunities, as such, river travel, enhanced air service and accommodations for bicyclists and horseback riders.
Commission members applauded Representative Johnson’s efforts, leadership and vision on this noteworthy project.
Commissioner Achterman stated it was her pleasure to move for approval of $1,545,000 in Transportation Enhancement Discretionary funds for this facility, subject only to supporting background material review by Pat Fisher, Transportation Enhancement Program Manager, and Commissioner Russell, Transportation Enhancement Program Committee Chair, to make sure that it meets the same rigorous standards all other projects are held to.
The motion passed unanimously.
Craig Greenleaf and Technical Services Manager Cathy Nelson presented information on interchange area management planning. (Copies of presentation and background material are in General Files, Salem.)
Ms. Nelson briefed the Commission on specific details around design features that go into interchange development, indicating the enormous implications they have for both the functional capacity of the interchange and how well they work. Ms. Nelson stated the design is based on purpose and function, so the function of the interchange needs to be defined prior to starting the design. The design does not dictate land use decisions, it needs to be the other way around. Ability to balance long-distance travel as well as connectivity between communities at the interchange is a key point of the overall design.
Mr. Greenleaf shared information on interchange history, conflicts and issues, management tools, methods of protecting interchange functions, ongoing work and associated next steps. Mr. Greenleaf encouraged discussion and direction from the Commission on how ODOT should proceed in the area of interchange management planning.
The Commission clarified that the requirement for LCDC (Land Conservation and Development Commission) rulemaking on the Jackson School Interchange, Ontario Interchange and Rickreall Interchange projects should be removed. (formerly Consent Calendar Item #11).
Other Commission comments focused on the following issues, suggesting that they would be good annual workshop discussion topics for October:
Staff asked the Commission to consider modifying its direction that the Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC) adopt an interchange management rule before construction funds are released for three interchanges funded by the Oregon Transportation Investment Act (OTIA). (This was formerly Consent Calendar Item #11.) (Copy of background material in General Files, Salem.)
After considerable discussion, the Commission suggested that DLCD be invited to the annual workshop in October to join in the dialogue on this subject so the Commission and ODOT can be reassured there is going to be some progress. Further, if the Commission chooses to remove the rule requirement for these three interchanges, it doesn’t mean the commission is not interested in the rulemaking process.
Commissioner Achterman moved to approve the removal of the requirement to adopt an interchange management rule before construction funds are released for the new interchanges funded by OTIA.
Commissioner Achterman stated she was supportive of this motion because of the belief that a new rule, when it is adopted, will likely apply to any urban growth boundary expansion effecting these interchanges. However, it doesn’t diminish concern about whether the existing tools are sufficient or that the land use provisions don’t mitigate the Commission’s concerns about protecting interchange investment. Commissioner Achterman felt is was important to take a hard look at who has what authority to protect the values the Commission is interested in, and absolutely critical that ODOT move beyond the Land Use Program to protect Green Corridors from major metropolitan areas that define the state’s landscape.
The motion passed with a four-to-one vote. Commissioners, Foster, Achterman, Papé and Nelson voted for, and Commissioner Russell voted against the motion.
Region 2 Manager, Jeff Scheick and Erik Havig, Region 2 Planning and Development Manager, summarized the Philomath Couplet project status. (This was formerly Consent Calendar Item #13.)
Mr. Scheick stated that after substantial public concern was expressed over the original project scope, a stakeholder involvement group was formed, and the project scope modified. The Philomath City Council has formally recommended Alternative 2B, and ODOT Region 2 management supports the city’s recommendation. The proposed scope modification can successfully be delivered within the approved project allocation of $8,210,000 and no additional funds are required at this time. (See copy of background material in General Files, Salem, for further modification details.)
Commissioner Papé moved to approve the amended project scope request as presented. The motioned passed unanimously.
The Commission approved the next two meeting dates as:
The Commission considered approval of the following Consent Calendar items with the following amendments: (Copy of background material in General Files, Salem.)
Chair Foster declared a conflict of interest on Consent
Calendar Item #2, Downtown Gold Hill Paving (OTIA), Map #10B-17-23. Commissioner Randy Papé declared a conflict of interest
on Consent Calendar Item #2, Grandview Drive – Nels Andersen Place, Map #
10B-17-12. Commissioner Achterman moved to approve the Consent
Calendar as follows: Commissioner Papé complimented ODOT staff work on Consent
Calendar Item #8, regarding the Jurisdictional Transfer Agreement No. 744,
transferring a portion of the Springfield – Creswell Highway to the City of
Springfield. Staff has done a lot of work with the City of Springfield on a
project that has a great deal of visibility and emotion tied to it because
of the death of a young bicyclist on that street. Commissioner Achterman moved to approve the remaining
Consent Calendar as follows: l
Chair Foster declared a conflict of interest on Consent Calendar Item #2, Downtown Gold Hill Paving (OTIA), Map #10B-17-23.
Commissioner Randy Papé declared a conflict of interest on Consent Calendar Item #2, Grandview Drive – Nels Andersen Place, Map # 10B-17-12.
Commissioner Achterman moved to approve the Consent Calendar as follows:
Commissioner Papé complimented ODOT staff work on Consent Calendar Item #8, regarding the Jurisdictional Transfer Agreement No. 744, transferring a portion of the Springfield – Creswell Highway to the City of Springfield. Staff has done a lot of work with the City of Springfield on a project that has a great deal of visibility and emotion tied to it because of the death of a young bicyclist on that street.
Commissioner Achterman moved to approve the remaining Consent Calendar as follows:
Chair Foster announced the Commission would go into Executive Session to discuss pending litigation with legal counsel in accordance with ORS 192.660(1)(h).
Chair Foster concluded the Executive Session and adjourned the formal meeting at 1:15 p.m.
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