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Fern Valley Interchange
DDT Minutes Apr 8th, 04
 

Meeting Date: Thursday, April 8, 2004
 
Purpose: Fern Valley Interchange Project Project Development Team (PDT) Meeting
 
Distribution: PDT Members

 
Prepared by: Sheila North, URS
 
ODOT Attendees:
  • Debbie Timms (Project Leader)
  • Greg Holthoff (Environmental PM)
  • Susan Landis (Right of Way)
  • Jerry Marmon (Region Environmental Coordinator)
  • Bill Bennett (Bridge Design)
  • Dan Dorrell (Traffic)
  • John Vial (Maintenance/Operations)
  • Brian Sheadel (Roadway)
  • Gary Leaming (Project Information)
  • Irene Toews (Traffic and Planning Analysis Unit)
 
Non-ODOT Attendees:
  • Denis Murray (City of Phoenix)
  • Dale Petrasek (Jackson County Roads)
  • Scott Chancey (RVTD)
  • John Morrison (RVCOG)
  • Dan Moore (RVCOG)
  • Nancy Reynolds (URS)
  • Sheila North (URS)
 
Action Items:
  • URS to conduct some fieldwork this spring (including a wetland determination and/or flowering plant survey).
  • Denis to send Debbie existing conceptual alternatives from the City of Phoenix for PDT distribution prior to next month’s meeting.
  • TPAU to bring existing conceptual alternatives from Phase I of the project to next month’s meeting.
  • TPAU to develop initial alternative concepts based on existing ODOT and MPO models (both old and draft new), and to potentially schedule a brainstorming session with ODOT in Salem this month on conceptual alternative development (for discussion at May’s PDT meeting).
  • Brian to plot various existing conceptual alternatives (see above) onto large aerial for PDT use at the next meeting.
  • Greg and URS to finalize Purpose & Need statement for use by TPAU and the PDT next month (as well as for upcoming CETAS concurrence).
  • PDT to develop list of constraints (e.g., Bear Creek Greenway, Coleman Creek Estates Mobile Home Park) as alternative concepts are developed.
  • John Morrison to add Goals & Objectives prioritization and conceptual alternative discussion to May CAC agenda, and a debriefing on the prior month’s PDT discussions (to be a standing agenda item for each month).
  • John Morrison to call each CAC member to speak one-on-one with them about current issues or concerns prior to next month’s meeting.
  • Debbie to invite Terry Harbor (ODOT Planning) to speak at next month’s CAC and PDT meetings for this project concerning MPO issues, and planning and trip-cap status.
  • Debbie to look into potential OTIA modernization funding for the project.
  • Sheila to add land use issues surrounding the interchange’s NE quadrant to the agenda for the May meeting.
  • Debbie to look into amending the existing MPO model to include a "what-if" scenario for trip-cap ordinances, including a discussion with Terry Harbor.
 
Meeting Notes:
 
Baseline Summary
  • Sheila provided the PDT with a summary presentation of Baseline Report findings as well as hard copies of the Baseline Summary distributed to the CAC.
  • Greg informed the group that some natural resource work (primarily a wetland determination) will need to be completed this spring based on findings from the environmental reports and seasonal time windows for this type of work.
 
Conceptual Alternatives/Traffic
  • This discussion item was focused on how potential conceptual alternatives would be developed. General background information on alternatives that have been considered was determined to be a good place to start the process.
  • Debbie informed the group that 15 alternatives were previously considered by ODOT when Phase I was done. These were quickly narrowed down, however, when only $2.45 million in funding became available.
  • Denis also noted that the City has some conceptual alternatives available. He will review his files and coordinate with Debbie distribute these for group consideration.
  • Dan Moore asked if the current interchange is meeting highway mobility standards. Debbie/Nancy said yes, but only for 5 years or so (thus, is short-term only). Also, Luman Road and Bear Creek Lane must remain open for transportation uses. (ODOT has already done some protective buying to preserve this).
  • Debbie noted that the South Stage Crossing (as suggested by the CAC) should be analyzed, as this is currently a primary concern with the public. Greg reminded the PDT that a potential South Stage crossing was a big issue on the South Medford project as well, but traffic analysis warranted it to be undesirable. Dan
  • Dorrell also noted that a crossing at South Stage would likely require an EFU Goal Exception. Debbie said that the City of Phoenix had looked into possibly preserving this corridor for access to an existing city park.
  • Dale Petrasek asked whether the City has over-crossings planned for the south end of town. Denis responded that this could potentially occur at 4th Street & Oak.
  • Greg noted that ODOT should also look at a possible Luman Road connection in their future analysis for this project.
  • John Vial/Brian said that the current I-5 overcrossing is on the Cracked Bridge List, but not until Phase 11; thus, it is in the distant future, and funding is not yet available. Greg asked if this then needs to be part of the Purpose & Need, but it was determined that it was probably too far in the future for this project.
  • Zoning issues should be addressed before the alternative consideration/selection process, while Traffic System Management/Transportation Demand Management should be addressed just after this process. (Greg/Nancy)
  • Brian Shaedel will plot various conceptual alternatives (which are already existing) onto large aerial for PDT use and discussion at the May meeting.
  • PDT will list a set of project limitations and constraints (including a focus on issues surrounding the nearby Coleman Creek Estates) at a future meeting. The intent is not to begin the alternative development process based on constraints, which could preclude brainstorming opportunities.) John Vial recommended that TPAU develop various alternatives freely in-house (aka without environmental constraints) and let the PDT flush out ideas based on these constraints at their next meeting.
  • Debbie said that she would like to see an analysis done with a traffic signal at OR 99/Bolz Road, as well as at Rays or Cheryl. Denis agreed, and noted that there is likely more flexibility for this on the east side (vs. west side).
  • Greg reminded the group that each conceptual alternative will ultimately need to pass the Purpose & Need test. He also noted that the project will likely be a 4- to 5-lane facility (with adequate capacity), and that the PDT will very soon need to turn the existing Purpose & Need text into statements for TPAU to work with in their modeling.
  • TPAU will review previous studies and concepts (both the City’s & ODOT’s), and may schedule a brainstorming session with Salem ODOT staff to provide material to the PDT for consideration at the May meeting. Greg noted that it will be important to determine if Peter already incorporated these concepts into his Phase I study/ alternative consideration.
  • Denis asked if TPAU can test the ideas from the current (draft) MPO model. ODOT responded that this is tentatively possible for consideration of future land uses.
  • Dan Moore/Irene said that ODOT can use the old traffic model (before the new model is available--expected in June 2004), but that this will not tell us anything about future land uses in the area.
  • Irene noted that the heaviest movement in the area is across Fern Valley Road, and up and down North Phoenix Road. However, there are many more questions than answers at this point.
  • Greg noted that TPAU’s product will not be shipped out early (emailed) to PDT prior to the May meeting, but that hard copies will be available at the meeting. A revised draft of the Goals & Objectives from the CAC meeting (the night before) will also be available at the next PDT meeting.
  • Greg and Nancy will work on finalizing the existing Purpose & Need statement before the May meeting; they will consider Brian Shaedel’s previous email on this.
  • John Morrison will add a conceptual alternative discussion to the May CAC meeting agenda.
  • Greg pulled out 3 main concepts from the Phase I Traffic Study for group discussion: a) Improving Lumen Road, b) moving North Phoenix Road to behind Peterbuilt, and c) closure of Pear Tree Lane, d) signals at ramp terminals
  • Irene noted that the CAC is asking for a flexible design to accommodate much more capacity at this interchange. Some staff on the PDT noted that this may be very expensive to do.
  • Some ideas that might be considered:
  • Changing the angle of the interchange so it is no longer skewed.
  • Need to address safety/queuing issues. (Phase 1 was primarily a safety project.)
  • Need to meet mobility standards.
  • Require that Luman Road be open for transportation use.
  • Realign Fern Valley Road to reduce conflicts.
  • Evaluate connection of Bolz/Cheryl.
  • Consider single-point urban interchange. Skew angle is currently too steep for a single-point urban interchange.
 
Goals & Objectives
  • Nancy provided a debriefing on this working discussion from last night’s CAC meeting.
  • John Morrison described the process that had taken place, including dividing CAC comments into separate subjects for compartmentalization purposes.
  • Greg noted that the list from last night’s meeting is currently quite extensive; however, the CAC will prioritize this list at their next meeting.
  • Greg also reminded the PDT that CETAS will need to concur on these goals (along with the Purpose and Need, and Evaluation Criteria) at upcoming CETAS meetings.
  • Greg reminded the PDT that their role is to provide feedback on CAC suggestions (for example, those that are not transportation-related). The CAC would then discuss the PDT suggestions at their next meeting prior to finalization of the Goals & Objectives.
  • John Vial asked if the public issues surrounding Phase I are currently an impediment to the CAC for progress on this Phase (2a). It was decided that if this is the case, ODOT and the City should consider a separate forum for addressing these issues with TPAU, Region, and City staff (outside of the CAC). Denis commented that, at a minimum, ODOT should at least develop a response as to why the Phase I issues cannot be solved at this time. Nancy felt that the primary concern voiced by the CAC and the public last night was economic development, not Phase I issues. Debbie suggested that John Morrison call each CAC member to speak with them one-on-one about current issues they are facing; the group agreed this was a good idea.
  • It was asked whether the project is listed on Rogue Valley MPO’s current Region Transportation Plan, and if funding types are currently an issue for this project. It was concluded that the project is on the Long-Range RTP. Debbie responded that it is a $36 million project, but there is only $14 million in the current RTP description. There is also some STIP money, but no OTIA-3 funds just yet. A $20 million earmark has been requested, but only $3 million of this expected from the current administration. The project is listed in the City’s TSP and the RVCOG MPO. Greg noted that an amendment to the current RTP will likely be required to outline the phasing of this project, and that funds will be limited because FHWA will not sign a FONSI unless both phases are in the Short-Range (Tier 1) RTP—and ODOT is still waiting on this model.
  • OTIA funds may also be available indirectly through modernization, although there were some concerns about using this process. Debbie will to look into this possibility.
 
Meeting Minutes #1 (Adoption)
  • Denis Murray made a motion to approve the minutes from the last meeting (Greg Holthoff 2nded) – approved by all.
  • Debbie mentioned that the CAC has asked for all PDT minutes; Greg noted that state and federal (NEPA) laws require this disclosure.
  • Gary noted that a project website is currently available, and that PDT and/or CAC meeting minutes could be posted to this site, if desired. All agreed that only approved minutes will be posted to the site; thus a time lag may occur. Greg suggested that because of this potential time lag for distribution to the CAC, a standing agenda item at each CAC meeting should be a debriefing on the prior month’s PDT discussions. John Morrison will add this to the CAC meeting agendas.
 
Open House Debriefing
  • John Morrison provided a debriefing of the 3/30 Open House. He noted that it went very well, with 33 sign-ups (plus a few more attendees who did not sign up). John also noted that each station was staffed with about 2 people from ODOT and/or URS, and that comments were fairly universal--supporting the project but noting concerns about the exact configuration, local inconveniences, and comments about previous improvements (aka the interchange is now safer, but traffic movement issues are still a problem).
  • Denis spoke with a CAC member this morning who was concerned with issues surrounding conflicting ODOT comments at the Interchange Business Zone (IBZ) workshops. For example, although ODOT Planning (Terry Harbor) states that ODOT wants the City to decide on selected development at this interchange, others at ODOT have stated that ODOT will take a firm stand on what develop occurs at the interchange. Denis recommended that ODOT and DLCD both agree to a unified position on their role at this interchange, as well as on long-term goals of the Interchange Management Plan. Also, Terry Harbor or others should address this at an upcoming CAC meeting.
  • John Vial said that if ODOT needs to wait for a local land use planning decision on the Interchange Business Zone before taking action, this will take a very long time; thus ODOT should use their process(es) to support this, but should not meld the two processes together. Debbie felt that some members of the public at the CAC last night had strong feelings on this issue, and that ODOT should bring other local folks in, as necessary, to balance out this issue for the overall success of the project. Also, it was noted that the City of Phoenix wants to keep the existing community intact (?), as well as an east/west connector across I-5.
  • Dan Moore noted that ODOT will need local confirmation on what zoning these areas will have.
  • Greg commented that NEPA requires that projects be included in acknowledged and approved plans only. Denis noted that the current comprehensive plan has language on land use/Interchange Business Zoning, but it is very vague and undefined (only about one paragraph). This is the reason that the Interchange Business Zoning Workshops are currently taking place. Also, Denis noted that the City wants a mix of retail/residential/etc. to keep or increase capacity. (Note: This is why the trip-cap ordinance is currently being considered).
  • John Vial said that it is important to have a balanced set of local views on the CAC, with no single perspective dominating the process. John Morrison stated that he does not think that this is an issue at this time, but suggested an agenda item at upcoming CAC meetings to explain/clarify the various state/local processes that are concurrently (but separately) take place.
 
Wrap-Up Items
  • Greg noted that he feels there is still uncertainty about land use issues in the NE quadrant. Irene agreed, especially as this will likely be highly impacted as a result of the project. Debbie also agreed, considering that there is still a one-side only funding possibility. Nancy suggested that ODOT add this discussion as an agenda item for the May PDT meeting. (Sheila will add this to the agenda.)
  • Denis noted that the City is still unclear as to the future at this interchange; workshops have been occurring, but they are far from a solution at this point.
  • Dan Moore said that the region can change or amend the existing model for "what if" scenarios, but cannot officially use this information in the ODOT analysis. Denis provided a brief history on ODOT’s role in this process, including that Terry Harbor is working on a trip-cap ordinance for small cities (with help from the consultant DEA), and that Phoenix would be the first city to adopt this type of ordinance. Debbie felt that Terry should be a part of this discussion.
  • Greg was troubled that there might not be enough time for TPAU analysis to occur before the next (May) meeting. Debbie will look into this and schedule it as an agenda item for the June PDT meeting.
 
Next Meeting:
 
Thursday, May 6, 2004. (10 a.m. – 2 p.m., 200 Antelope Road, Conference Room B, White City, OR)