Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Zombie Project: A third auto bridge over the Willamette in Salem

Surveyor at work with a leveling instrument.This guy is in Iraq because we use 25% of the world's daily oil consumption rather than building transit systems and providing options for people that don't involve driving. A third auto bridge in Salem would be a monument to our failure to recognize the end of the carburban way of life and our willingness to let others die overseas so that we can keep right on driving multi-thousand pound vehicles for our every trip here at home. Image via Wikipedia

Road miles traveled going down? Gas prices going up? Country bankrupting itself by printing money it doesn't have to fund projects it can't afford to maintain a car-centered way of life it can't sustain? Check, check, and check again!!

Here in Salem, the group organized to push through a $600+ million bridge project was finally shamed into remembering that they were not supposed to be locked into planning a bridge as order of business one and only.

Naturally, they have only grudgingly begin to begin thinking about pondering alternatives to more autosprawl (meanwhile, busily beavering away on their dream plan, involving hundreds of millions of dollars, massive construction, etc.), while totally ignoring the spate of recent reports that suggest that our precarious climate is destabilizing faster than even the most pessimistic scientists imagined it would five years ago.

Funny, the "alternate modes" study --- (you'd think that the cheapest ways of solving the problem would be the MAIN line of attack, rather than the grudging afterthought only tossed in because they feared a challenge to the validity of their environmental impact statement) --- has been going since April, but they're just now getting around to alerting the public.

As always, there will only be two modes responses for all public concerns about this boondoggle of a project:

"It's too soon to say" and
"It's too late to stop now."
DEIS Update and Alternate Modes Study

The Salem River Crossing project team is busy working on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). Soon we will begin sending email updates describing the document's progress and how you can get involved once the draft is complete.

In the mean time, we'd like to tell you about an important study being conducted in parallel with the DEIS, called the Salem Willamette River Crossing Alternate Modes study. This study, begun in April, will identify needs and opportunities for improving transit service across the river in Salem. It will also cover related needs and opportunities for carpool/vanpool users, bicyclists, and pedestrians. This study will help assure that any improvements identified will be coordinated with the Salem River Crossing project, as needed.

The first Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) meeting for the study will be held on Monday, June 22nd from 4:00-6:00 pm at the Mid-Willamette Valley Council of Governments office (105 High St. SE, Salem). At this meeting, the Alternate Modes study team will provide an overview of the study, discuss the current system, and outline potential improvements that will be considered. This meeting is open to the public and will include a brief period for public comments.
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Another reason to love Truitt Bros.

They think about life-cycle energy use.

A pressure cookerThe pressure cooker: the secret to radically reducing the time and energy needed to cook dried beans and save all the life-cycle energy used to process canned beans. Image via Wikipedia

Salem's own Truitt Brothers, one of the last remaining canneries in a once-robust sector of Salem business, is cited in Slate in a story about whether canned or bulk dried beans consume less energy to prepare overall:
According to an analysis done at one Oregon processing facility (PDF), canning 10.5 ounces of green beans—the amount you'd find in a typical grocery store can, after draining out the water—requires roughly 1,500 British thermal units of natural gas. (That's about as much energy as it takes to drive a car one-quarter of a mile.) Since kidneys and pintos are tougher and take longer to cook—about 75 percent longer than green beans, according to Truitt Brothers, the cannery that commissioned the study—processing them would require more energy.
Not to diss Truitt Bros. but dried beans are actually hands-down winner, assuming you have access to a kitchen when you're making your meal, which lets you use a pressure cooker. This magical device makes cooking dried beans fast and easy, even if they have not soaked overnight, which also slashes the time and, thus, energy, needed to make dishes with beans.

But the article does get the big picture right: whether canned by Truitt Brothers or bought in bulk from someone like LifeSource, cutting down on meat and increasing the amount of beans you eat is a huge win for the environment and significantly reduces your energy/greenhouse gas footprint.

(For some inexplicable reason, the Sightline Institute left the Pressure Cooker off its list of Seven Sustainable Wonders, while including microchips, which we know are actually much more problematic than pressure cookers from a sustainability perspective.)
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Urban Agriculture as a career (recession-proof at that)

PS1 MoMA - Urban FarmImage by xmascarol via Flickr

Energy Bulletin links to a great piece on making a life (and a living) in urban ag. The wave of the future, you heard it hear first (after I lifted it from somewhere else, that is).
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