Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Letter asking for independent study of divergent diamonds












Jerry Wolcott

Project Leader

Oregon Department of Transportation


Dear Mr. Wolcott:


At our May SGNA meeting, the majority of the agenda was a presentation by Walter Bartel with David Evans and Associates.  You are probably already aware that Mr. Bartel is the engineer and designer of the proposed divergent diamond at Kuebler Blvd. and Interstate 5.


I must admit that I and several others were skeptical of this proposal.  However, Mr. Bartel spent almost 90 minutes explaining its design and its assured advantages.  He patiently answered all our questions, of which there were many, and by the end of our meeting a good majority of us had turned from being dismissive of this idea to being much more accepting. 


His explanation made sense to us as to how the design was more practical for the topography of that location, and how it would be efficient for all traffic, including trucks going to and from the industrial area.  Also, we learned that for two years this proposal had been worked on and adjusted by Mr. Bartel and had been approved through various stages as a viable option by ODOT.  This was contrary to the belief many held that this new design had been a last-minute proposal.


We believe the divergent diamond approach has some advantages in terms of traffic flow and could reduce the expense significantly while also reducing the construction time for such a major intersection.  However, we also believe in the old adage that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.


Therefore, SGNA feels that it would be prudent and wise for the Oregon Department of Transportation, in concert with David Evans and Associates, to arrange an independent and unbiased study of this design by a neutral professional.  As stated above, the design has met requirements and expectations by the State of Oregon, but so far the traffic models have been prepared by either ODOT or David Evans and Associates.  An independent study would be reassuring to the citizens of Salem and the trucking industry both of which are expanding and will continue to grow to the east of that interchange and in South Salem.


We also feel, as stated before in previous communications, that it would be more efficient that the work on the widening of the south side of Kuebler be in concurrence with the construction of the interchange no matter which design is ultimately chosen. 


We look forward to hearing from you as to the possibilities of such a review dealing with this project.


Thank you,


Patrick O'Dell

SGNA Transportation Chair



cc:     Peter Fernandez, City of Salem

          Ralph Lambert, City of Salem

          Walter Bartel, David Evans and Associates



Wednesday, June 5, 2013

SGNA Neighborhood Development & Transportation Joint Meeting

SGNA Neighborhood Development & Transportation Joint Meeting

Members Present: Chairs Pat O'Dell and Steve Withers, Randy Barna, Sarah Schra, Becky O'Dell, Pamela Withers, Kristin Roisen, John Stensland, Mike Guyer. Guest Phil Strom.

Topic #1: Moving Summit View Dr. - the current alignment is in the middle of a slope and the road would necessitate putting in a 12' retaining wall on both sides. The option is to move it to a flatter area with property being sold between adjoining land owners to off-set the property loss between the two. The group agreed that moving Summit View would be in the best interest of the neighbors, would limit water run off, and limit safety issues.

Topic #2: I-5/Kuebler Interchange - members were intrigued by the presentation and it changed a lot of minds. The divergent diamonds are worth further study. We think that an independent study/modeling would be a good idea. The action here will be to follow up with Jerry Wolcott of ODOT and to send a letter in support of additional consideration

Topic #3: Third bridge - we have reviewed and support the construction of a third bridge. Pat will put together a letter for approval by the whole board.