Cyclists cross the Union Street Railroad Bridge on Thursday, July 30. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

Salem City Councilor Virginia Stapleton wants Salem to imagine having a dedicated bicycle and pedestrian lane on Union Street that people could use to travel from west Salem or downtown to the farmer’s market without having to dodge cars.

On Monday, she’ll ask city staff to provide a report to the Salem City Council on closing Union Street from the pedestrian bridge in Riverfront Park to Winter Street and Winter Street from Union to Market Street on Saturdays from May through October.

The proposed closure is meant to provide residents, primarily in west Salem and downtown, a means to safely travel to the Saturday Market, located at 865 Marion St. N.E.  

Stapleton said she hopes the street closure would create a sense of community after more than a year of isolation because of the pandemic.  

“We are so sorely missing that because of Covid,” she said.  "I hope by opening up these streets the hope is that people will come together in a safe way.”

She said it would give the town an opportunity to see the street as intended:  a family friendly bikeway.

The city is spending millions in Urban Renewal Agency and federal money to add new signals, bike lanes and curb improvements. But those changes will take years.

Stapleton said there is one issue with the closure that would take some problem solving. Lee Apartments are located along the path and its parking lot is on Union Street. Stapleton said there has been discussion about closing just one side of the road.

She said street closures aren’t unprecedented. The Winter Maple Greenway, another designated bikeway, has been closed several times before, Stapleton said.

And she believes she will have the council’s support for her idea.

“Investing in the livability of Salem is important for council. That means investing in neighborhoods,” she said.

How to participate: The council meets Monday at 6 p.m. and the meeting is broadcast live on YouTube or CCTV channel 21. Submit comments on agenda items by 5 p.m. the day of the meeting at [email protected]. Public comment and testimony may also be provided during the meeting via Zoom. Please pre-register between 8:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. on the day of the meeting at the following link:

Contact reporter Saphara Harrell at 503-549-6250, [email protected]

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