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2005-08-10
Gresham, OR. Traffic Congestion Puts Wal-Mart Plan In Jeopardy

Traffic tie-ups have tied up Wal-Mart's plans to build a supercenter in Gresham, Oregon. City officials released a report recently that warned a superstore could cause significant delays at several intersections. Such delays reduce what traffic engineers call the "level of service" at intersections. Even though Wal-Mart has pledged to cough up $2 million to improve the roadways near its store, Gresham's transportation planner has cast doubts on the plan's viability. Wal-Mart, and the appropriately-named developer, Pacland, are in a big rush to get out of this gridlock, because Wal-Mart apparently has a land deal that ends August 16th, and would probably have to be renegotiated with the landowner. So Wal-Mart has asked for two more weeks to respond to the city's traffic concerns. "At this point, there's no telling what Pacland and Wal-Mart will do," said a spokesman for the group Gresham First, which has been fighting the plan. If Wal-Mart is rejected, the retailer can appeal to the city hearings officer, then the state Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA), then the Oregon Court of Appeals and the Oregon Supreme Court. Gresham First is also working on passage of a big-box ordinance that would require large new stores to conduct an economic impact study. According to the Oregonian, the Wal-Mart supercenter would have parking for 858 cars on two levels below the store. During the peak Saturday shopping hour, it was expected to generate 1,105 car trips. So far, the city has logged 11,181 comments about the store, mostly negative, and a stop Wal-Mart petition with 6,290 names on it. Wal-Mart's traffic study was written in Lake Wobegone, where all the traffic patterns are good looking, and the level of service above average. But the city's "peer review" of the traffic plan shows some failing intersections. "That's why it's really important to not simply take information from the developer," a spokesman for Gresham First told The Oregonian. "It's really important that the city does their own independent review. That's what they did, and why they're coming up with different data."

What you can do: Gresham First, while encouraged by the city's traffic analysis, continues to aggressively oppose this over-sized, and poorly located store. For local contacts, email info@sprawl-busters.com.










 
 
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