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A look at bikes in Portland’s federal legislative agenda

Posted by on February 5th, 2009 at 2:58 pm

“The development of this type of network will dramatically boost bicycle use beyond the City’s nationally-leading levels. The benefits to the City of bicycle use are dramatic.”
– an excerpt from the city’s request for federal funding bike boulevards

The City of Portland’s Office of Government Relations recently released their 2009 Federal Legislative Priorities.

The 25-page document (download PDF here), prepared for the mayor and City Council by the Director of the Office of Government Relations Dan Bates, outlines the city’s requests for funding of a number of projects and programs including transportation infrastructure.

Bikes are mentioned in the document several times. Here’s a quick rundown:

The City of Portland seeks $1.7 million to “reconfigure the intersection at SW Vermont/Capitol Highway at 30th Avenue, creating a conventional four-way intersection with improved safety and access for pedestrians and bicycles.” The project would include new sidewalks and bike lanes and “modernized” signals that would “facilitate movement by all road users.”

The city also wants $10 million to improve SW Capitol Highway between SW Multnomah Boulevard and SW Taylors Ferry Road:

The project includes construction of improvements to an existing 2-lane roadway to make it a multimodal corridor with bike lanes, sidewalks, vehicular travel lanes, improved intersections and stormwater treatment.

“Multimodal corridor.” I like the sound of that.

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Also on the city’s request list is $3.6 million for the Brooklyn Creek Basin/Mt. Tabor to the River/Division Street project. This project would construct “green street” treatments (focused on capturing stormwater) on more than 8 acres of public streets between Mt. Tabor and the Willamette River. The bike-centric part of this project would be the reconstruction of SE Division between 6th and 39th that would “improve bicycle accessibility.”

And here’s the big one that Mayor Adams and his staff have been touting as a sign of their commitment to biking: The City seeks $25 million for over 100 miles (citywide) of bike boulevards. It’s interesting to hear how they explain the bike boulevards to Uncle Sam:

“Federal funds will fund corridor improvements through traffic signaling, intersection control and traffic-calming devices designed to limit conflicts between automobiles and bikes. The development of this type of network will dramatically boost bicycle use beyond the City’s nationally-leading levels. The benefits to the City of bicycle use are dramatic: economic (green dividend, tourism and a significant bicycle industry), environmental, and congestion relief.”

In addition to these requests of funds for specific projects, the city also lists three things under the heading of “Regional Projects that the City Supports” that they hope to see funding in the upcoming re-authorization of the Transportation Bill (SAFETEA-LU). Two of those projects — the Sellwood Bridge and the Columbia River Crossing — I was not surprised to see. But the third was a bit unexpected.

The city decided to put it’s lobbying support behind the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy‘s campaign to renew their Non-motorized Transportation Pilot Program. In 2005, that pilot program awarded 5 cities with $25 million each to build bike facilities. In 2009, Portland hopes to get $50 million of what is hoped to be a $2 billion pie this time around. As we’ve reported previously, we are already frontrunners.

Portland also has a major ace up its sleeve lobbying for the pilot program money: Metro. As part of their Blue Ribbon Committee for Trails, they have developed a $75 million regional trails request (I’ll have more on that and other exciting bike news from Metro soon).

There is a lot of funding news going on right now between the economic stimulus packages at the city, state, and national level as well as the upcoming Transportation Bill re-authorization. Hang on, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

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  • Mark Allyn February 5, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    Thank you, Jonathan, for covering this.

    Very well done!

    Mark

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