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Fern Valley Interchange
Meeting Minutes Aug 4th, 04
 
Meeting Date: Wednesday, August 4, 2004
 
Purpose: Fern Valley Interchange Project Citizen Advisory Committee Meeting
 
Distribution: CAC Members, Solution Team Members
 
From: John Morrison, RVCOG
 
Prepared by: Pat Foley, RVCOG
 
Date Prepared: August 18, 2004
 
CAC Attendees: Dack Doggett, Pauly Hinesly, Wendie Nichols, Harry Page, Mark Gibson, Joan Haukom, Dan Sauro, David Lowry, Lee Carrau (for David Lewin)
 
CAC Absent: Bill Rombach, David Lewin, George Cota, Bob Korfhage
 
Project Team Attendees:
Jerry Marmon, ODOT Environmental Project Manager
Debbie Timms, ODOT Project Manager
Brian Sheadel, ODOT Senior Designer
Peter Schuytema, ODOT Engineer
Gary Leaming, ODOT Public Involvement
Nancy Reynolds, URS Corp. Project Manager
Pat Foley, RVCOG
 
Other Attendees: Jim Wear, Terry Helfrich, David Deller, Dick Croly, Gary Hall, Bob Nelson, Ralph and Betty Hammond, Sam Fung, Sam Camp
 
1. Call to order
 
Pat Foley, RVCOG Facilitator
 
Request for approval of June 8, 2004 CAC Minutes: Pat referenced suggested changes to Goal 1, first and second objectives (change the word provides to allows because of repetition). The minutes were approved with suggested changes.
 
2. Summary of Project Development Team Meeting
 
Debbie Timms, ODOT Project Manager
 
Debbie Timms gave a brief update on the Project Development Team (PDT) meeting held on July 8, 2004. First, the PDT discussed the evaluation criteria to be used in reviewing proposed alternatives as outlined under NEPA guidelines. Secondly, they started evaluating the alternative concepts using the Purpose and Need criteria. The CAC will be evaluating proposed alternative concepts tonight using the Goals and Objectives criteria.
 
3. Evaluation Criteria
 
Jerry Marmon, ODOT Environmental Project Manager
 
Jerry’s presentation explained the evaluation criteria process. The main points are:
1) how the criteria fits into the NEPA process, 2) how to develop criteria, and
3) How to review the criteria.
 
The NEPA process starts with the Purpose and Need which is the technical basis for the project. Groups are formed that provide technical (PDT) and community input (CAC). The Collaborative Environmental Transportation Agreement on Streamlining (CETAS) is following this project. The project team has to report to them at certain points in the process and get their concurrence. The first concurrence point was the Purpose and Need. The 30 day period for concurrence an need has passed and we are assuming concurrence.
 
The second point of concurrence required by CETAS is on the range of alternatives and evaluation criteria. This project is at the stage where the PDT and the CAC have developed suggested conceptual alternatives. At this time here are up to twenty different alternatives.
 
The two evaluation criteria being discussed tonight include the "Purpose and Need" and "Goals and Objectives". (Worksheets have been sent to the CAC for their review)
Purpose and Need is mandatory criteria that have to be met in order to forward an alternative. It works as a filter. We are starting out with up to twenty concepts. The Purpose and Need criteria, because it is mandatory, has no subjectivity to it. It is either yes we can use that or no we can’t. The Purpose and Need is a tool to begin to evaluate the different alternatives. It is not the ultimate decision maker.
 
After the Purpose and Need criteria process, the Goals and Objectives criteria are used. The Goals and Objectives are not mandatory but are areas that we try to meet within the subject criteria. This is a filtering process that helps us to get to the selection of two or three concepts that receive in depth study.
 
In order to do this a tool is needed to refine the alternatives. There are several different methodologies for developing the Goals and Objective criteria. The method being reviewed tonight is tailored after CETAS. CETAS would like to see criteria by Objective and Continuum of Measure. 1. ‘Objective’ is the big picture. What are we trying to do? 2. The "Criteria" takes the objectives and turns them into questions.
 
As shown on the worksheet each evaluation criteria will be scored on how well it meets the objective. The criteria are ranked 1, 3 or 5: with 1 low, 3 medium and 5 high.
 
Discussion on the evaluation criteria for Goals and Objectives:
 
Dave Lowry stated that he feels one of the critical issues in this project is to enable Phoenix to develop their commercial businesses. He pointed out that there are 37 items (criteria) to be scored. Under the guidelines presented they all have equal weight to one another. The whole list has a lot of desirable things but he doesn’t feel the list reflects the critical issue of development of commercial businesses. As an example, Goal 1 "Ensure the project is compatible with the long-term land use plans" has four criteria, which could have a total weighted score of 20. Goal 3 "Provide safe facilities that encourage alternative modes of transportation" has eight criteria, which could have a total weighted score of 40. He feels that is completely wrong. He said that when the group was developing the Goals and Objectives they did not know the Goals and Objectives would be weighed against one another. The process is skewed toward the goal with the most criteria. If he knew about the evaluation process and how the scores were weighed during the development and approval of the Goals and Objectives he would not have approved the Goals and Objectives as they are now. Dave would like to refine the evaluation process so the CAC can come together and decide on how to weigh or score the criteria that will accurately reflect what is important to the City.
 
Jerry explained this evaluation criteria is by no means the end product. The CAC can change, modify, add or delete items in the evaluation criteria. If the group feels there is a flaw in the protocol, then the group can either decide that each goal gets a certain amount of criteria, do a percentage formula or go to a plus minus system. In the end there would be a number assigned to each alternative. This is a tool for evaluating alternatives. Other than the scores, there are other considerations, i.e. a goal exception. All will be looked at.
 
Dave did not think this would work because he does not think each goal is of equal importance.
 
Jerry Marmon was asked if CETAS would accept criteria without numbers. Jerry said that CETAS sees about half and half. Half of the projects have used a more quantitative method and some go with measurements.
 
Discussion on different methods of evaluating the Goals and Objectives
 
Jerry asked the group their opinion on the scoring of the evaluation criteria.
 
Pauly Hinesley: I don’t like numbers. Why not circle what you like about criteria and write down the reason why. As it is now, for example, it looks like the interest is on the goal that has eight criteria rather than the goal having four criteria.
 
Mark Gibson: The most important thing is to determine how the final decision is to be made. I never realized there was going to be a numbered score when we developed the Goals and Objectives. I envisioned it as a discussion process. Too much discussion may cause a deadlock. I don’t understand how a decision can be made based on numbers.
 
Dan Sauro: Speaking for himself, "We need commercial growth to be of primary importance for this city in order to have a tax base that can enable us to have the fine things for its citizens." Perhaps we should use the tier system. Put all business items together. There are other things in other goals that pertain to businesses, access for example. There are four different items in the evaluation criteria for Goal 3, bikes, sidewalks, pedestrian and crossings. Keep bikes and pedestrians separate. I am a bicyclist and use the Greenway, but should we place that much importance on bicyclists rather than on the commercial businesses, which are going to be the lifeline of this city.
 
Lee Carrau: He explained operations analysis. In order for this to be done, you have to develop trade offs and a trade off criteria. You have to give criteria weight. Weighing is important otherwise you wind up being sent to decide on a horse and come up with a cow. Operation analysis is very specific, cut and dry and paradigms are developed.
Joan Haukom: Joan does not think things are in opposition of one another at all. If something was scored very high in terms of bicycle lanes or sidewalks, that doesn’t mean that is more important than growth or commercial development. Personally she feels very strongly about the quality of life for residents in the community and that that is just as important as business interests. If you are going the make check marks, or use plus or minus, that doesn’t answer the question. She has no suggestion on how to settle the issue.
 
Dack Doggett: If we are going to the number system we would have to establish each evaluation criteria against eight or four each to make it fair. Do the percentage system but ultimately I go with the fact that we analyze it and get away from the number system.
 
Harry Page: He agrees with Dack’s comments.
 
Dave Lowry: He actually likes number system. The problem is in a lot of endeavors, the difficulty number systems have is to construct them in a way that the outcome truly reflects what you want to achieve. That generally makes for a complex system. That complexity is going to take us more time to work through than we have. His preference would be to just leave this as it is, but when evaluating an alternative, use the outcome as a guideline minus the numbers. The problem with numbers is once you add the numbers up everybody feels good that they have come with an accurate answer. When, in fact, you haven’t. What is even worse is when those numbers get passed on to somebody else that hasn’t been privy to our conversations. He is against using any kind of numeric scoring in this particular instance.
 
Wendie Nichols: When I went over this at home, I thought the criteria were simply for that specific goal. We have eight goals. We have this much criteria in each goal level. I don’t see where the numbers or check marks are going to make that much difference. How the rest of the group decides is fine with me. I just want to see the goals met through the criteria.
 
Terry Helfrich (member of the public): It seems that the design itself and regulatory groups in Oregon basically mandate a lot of the items under the goals. We haven’t seen the design. I would like to see the design and assume that all of these items are going to fit.
 
Peter Schuytema (ODOT Engineer): Peter has worked on several transportation projects with evaluation criteria. He has worked with groups that have used numbers and some with high, medium and low rankings. When you have numbers 1, 3 and 5 somebody always wants to do a 2, 4 or 2 ½. The more numbers you get into the worse it gets. A lot of times high, medium and low are used. The totals have been stripped off because the group focused on the totals. If you use the number system, I would suggest that you average them together. Then you rank all the goals out. The actual weighting of the goals is a simple practice. You let the group decide what are their top three goals. The goals need to be ranked against each other. If you rank the goals then the group can decide on whether the top goal has a certain weight. He thinks weighing the goals is a good process. This needs to be done before you start the evaluation process.
 
Next steps in the evaluation process
 
In order to respond to the comments made tonight the following will be done.
  1. A chart will be developed for each CAC member in which they will be able to, on an individual basis, prioritize the goals in the order of importance.
  2. The evaluation criteria worksheet will be redone without numbers. Comments, additions or deletions, if needed, can be written on these worksheets.
 
The above will be sent to the CAC members with a stamped self-addressed envelope for return to the Rogue Valley Council of Governments. The responses will be recorded and sent to the CAC members for their review before the next meeting.
 
For your information
 
Debbie Timms announced there is a strong possibility that the Fern Valley Interchange will receive the additional Federal dollars requested.

4. Alternative Workshop Review and Discussion
 
Brian Sheadel, ODOT
 
Brian had taken the four map overlays that were developed by the CAC and interested parties at the June 8th CAC meeting and produced conceptual alternative maps for discussion.
 
Map 1 and Map 1a
 
Overlays developed by CAC participants stationed at Table 1 and Table 3:
 
Table 1’s overlay shows a Single Point Urban Diamond interchange slightly to the north of the present Fern Valley interchange. Participants at Table 3 developed map 1a. Brian produced this map with two conceptual alternatives to show the similarities between the two. The main differences were the connections on the east side of the interchange. Using alternating colors showed the different eastside connections.
 
Map 2
Produced by CAC participants stationed at Table 2 shows a Single Point Urban Diamond interchange at the same location as the present interchange with a different alignment and different off interchange connections.
 
Map 3
Produced by CAC participants stationed at Table 3 shows a Partial Clover Leaf interchange.
 
Map 4
Produced by interested citizens stationed at Table 4 shows new interchanges at South Stage Road to the north and a southern interchange between Talent and Phoenix. The present interchange at Fern Valley Road would remain.
 
Discussion on maps
 
Concern was voiced on the connectivity to the interchange on the west side. Connections from Fern Valley Road showed three different terminuses. One went through Ray’s Food Place, which the participants did not show, on their maps. Brian explained that this terminus was not shown on the overlays he had so he depicted different possible ending points on each map.
 
The Partial Clover Leaf interchange depicted on Map 3 was an alternative that the group discussed but eliminated. Their final conceptual alternative was a Single Point Urban Diamond interchange. They would like their map reproduced and separated from
 
Map 1 (1a). The connections are very different.
 
Map 4 depicted one of the alternatives, which were discussed; two new interchanges and use of the present FV interchange. The other alternative was not shown; a new interchange to the south of the present interchange which would connect directly to Fourth Street.
 
Input from participants has been noted. New alternative concept maps will be reproduced where necessary to reflect comments made tonight.
 
5. Public Comment
 
Pat Foley, RVCOG
 
David Deller explained his alternative concept on shown on map 4, which includes two new interchanges plus retaining the Fern Valley interchange. He pointed out that Roseburg has interchanges with less spacing between than we are being required to have.
 
Gary Hall wanted to remind the group that we are working on the Phoenix interchange and not the Southeast Medford interchange. When studying these maps be careful that overall we are helping Phoenix and preserving Phoenix’s tax base. If we bypass Phoenix we may as well pull in our horns and become a part of Medford. As far as the comments on three interchanges, lets not forget Phoenix. Sometimes people want to live here and not realize how we are going to pay taxes. We have to keep commerce coming off of Fern Valley Road. We are not building this interchange for southeast Medford. We are building it for Phoenix.
 
Mrs. Hammond stated that all but one map shown tonight comes right through her residential area, Breckenridge Road. I don’t think the people living in that area are going to be very happy with that. We don’t have any problem getting to the town of Phoenix. I don’t see the reason why we need a main artery on Breckenridge Road when we have South Phoenix Road right behind us.
 
6. Summary/Next Steps
 
Nancy Reynolds, URS
 
A letter will be sent to the CAC with a prioritization chart and an evaluation criteria minus the numerical rankings. The CAC members will return the above-mentioned information to the RVCOG. This information will be discussed at the next CAC meeting.
 
The next meeting will be on Wednesday, September 1, 2004.