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A closer look at what TIGER grant will fund in Aloha

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on October 22nd, 2010 at 11:43 am

Intersection of Farmington Road
and Kinnaman in Aloha.

Portland might be 0-2 in getting a major bike project funded through the Obama Administration's TIGER grant program, but there's reason to be excited on a regional level. Like I mentioned yesterday, the Aloha-Reedville area in Washington County won a $2 million grant to help them embark on a comprehensive "livable community" planning effort.

TIGER grant press conference-7
Washington County Commission Chair Tom Brian
at the press conference yesterday.
(Photo © J. Maus)

At a press conference announcing the grant yesterday, Washington County Commission Chair Tom Brian said the planning grant will help "create a sense of place." Brian also told the crowd that, unlike the surrounding cities of Beaverton and Hillsboro, the Aloha-Reedville area is "more declining than ascending" in terms of economics and household income transportation and food choices, school test scores, and so on. The grant is needed because Aloha-Reedville is unincorporated, which means there are constraints on how much resources Washington County can direct to the area.

Here's a summary of the project (taken from a five-page summary you can download here):

"The Aloha Reedville project will examine how existing conditions, community aspirations and emerging urban service and planning opportunities provide prospects for fulfilling regional sustainability objectives.

The project will also develop strategies for housing, redevelopment, corridors and town centers, and transportation for the Aloha-Reedville area that promote livability and sustainability, with a focus on affordable housing and addressing inequities in access to local opportunities and resources."

Let's take a closer look at the bicycling and transportation parts of the project.

One of the Obama Administration's key aspects of supporting livability is to provide transportation choices. The project summary states that the plan will develop streetscape improvements "that will create opportunities for safer and more enjoyable bike and pedestrian travel..."

Aloha-Reedville (note Sunset Highway in upper right)

More specifically, the plan will create a list of "top tier bicycle and pedestrian improvements... based on usefulness for connecting neighborhoods with local destinations (including bus stops & MAX stations)". Reaching communities that have been historically marginalized in terms of civic participation is a major goal of this project. As such, the stated objectives include an investigation of "culturally-sensitive design elements that encourage comfortable walking and bicycling among traditionally underrepresented groups."

This will be a very interesting project to watch unfold because it touches on several questions that always come up in local transportation planning conversations. How do you create a useful bike network in a suburban area? How do you reach people in lower-income communities? Will they embrace bicycling once facilities exist? How can bikeways be effectively integrated with transit and housing?

To learn more about the project, download a five-page summary here (PDF).

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Comments
  • Skid October 22, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    This is about 2 blocks from where I live. The biggest problem in this area is that there are so many places where sidewalk and/or bike lanes just end. Kinnaman has Kinnaman Elementary and Aloha High School on it and at the intersection of Farmington and Kinnaman is Mountain View Middle School. There aren't that many street lights either. Because the traffic is often light and it is a connector between 185th and Farmington people often speed on it. A traffic light at 180th and Kinnaman would take care of this and facilitate safer left turns onto 180th from both directions. Not just for me but for all my neighbors. Despite it being "more declining than ascending" it is a good place to live, as long as the rents stay low. I wouldn't want this neighborhood to gentrify, it would probably lose some of its diversity.

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  • BikeAloha October 22, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    I hope this ends up being great for Aloha. Given the funding, this will only cover planning and not much in the way of implementation. What is most needed are sidewalks where there currently are ditches, and more streetlights. Adding sidewalks will require adding bike lanes, which is a plus. 198th needs sidewalks all the way from Baseline to Farmington. Where there are strange intersections, serious changes are needed: where Kinnamen meets 198th and where 198th becomes 197th. I bike across Aloha for work and use my mountain bike since it's basically off-roading until I hit 185th!

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  • Josh October 22, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    I live in the heart of this area. I agree sidewalks are badly needed. Also safer crossings at the major streets is needed(like Farmington, 170th, TVHWY, etc.). This area would be a good location for bike boulevards.

    I have a daughter that attends Aloha Huber Park school. It makes me sad to see so many empty bike racks there. On a good day I see 5-10 bikes for a school that has over 1000 students.

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  • Peter W October 22, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    It'll be interesting to see what happens. Unless WashCo planners are ready to seriously change their transportation priorities I don't have much hope.

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  • q`Tzal October 22, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    Oddly the lack of sidewalks calms traffic on SW Alexander from 185th out to about 198th at least.

    SW Alexander paralells TV Hwy and some are enticed to use it as a high speed bypass for backups on TV. The proximity of SW Alexander to TV Hwy is the down fall for drivers: it's just darned unpleasent walking down TV Hwy. SW Alexander gets taken over by pedestrians for large portions of the day and autos have no option but to obey the 25MPH speed limit on this potential bike blvd.

    I'm afraid that with side walks there will be no pressure not to drive like it is the Autoban.

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  • Jim Labbe October 22, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    Thanks for covering this. It is great to read about and give some attention to what is happening to make bike and pedestrian improvements in the metropolitan region outside of Portland.

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  • wsbob October 22, 2010 at 11:54 pm

    I just gave the project details a 'once over', tonight, and carefully read everyone's comments here.

    People willing to bike and walk in this area for transportation...both those living here and those that are just commuting through the area, are worth all the support from the community and land use planners that they can get. Traffic volume on major roads such as TV Highway and Farmington is extreme much of the day. Equipping them with bike lanes (Farmington, as some people well know, has had a serious, but dubious quality bike lane, for many years), makes them functional for non-motor vehicle traffic, but not great routes for travel by foot or bike. In years to come, I wonder how many people will be willing to walk or bike next to the volume of roaring motor vehicle traffic that's present on those streets.

    What's discouraging to note when looking at the map, is the absence of through streets through the neighborhoods adjacent to Farmington Rd. Those neighborhoods seem to almost universally employ the stub street or cul-de-sac layout for the purpose of discouraging motor vehicle 'cut through's'. If a through street were made to exist, designated as a pedestrian/bike boulevard, far more people would likely be prepared to walk or bike there than they would alongside a busy motor vehicle road such as Farmington.

    Embracing parts of either side of TV Highway, Shaw St and Alexander are good streets for riding off-highway. Further north and going west of 185th, Johnson St is also great riding, and could be a great pedestrian bike boulevard if planning were deliberately set now, to minimize any potential increase in use of those streets by motor vehicles. The way road planning usually has seemed to work, is that eventually streets like this one get widened, to handle a greater volume of motor vehicle traffic that, with the expansion, is enabled to travel faster, resulting in a deteriorated walking and biking environment.

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  • Brian E October 23, 2010 at 9:25 am

    I'm not sure where to post this question, so I'll put it here.

    Why does Washington County dig the ditch so close to the fog line on roads like 198th and Farmington? Can't they leave two feet of flat space before they excavate an 8 foot wide, water filled moat?

    These roads are narrow, high speed and see a lot of truck traffic. A little space to take refuge while walking would be much appreciated.

    Thanks.

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  • Skid October 23, 2010 at 10:42 am

    RE: ditches. Those are culverts for rainwater runoff, they are there to save money in lieu of underground drainage pipe. In addition to adding sidewalks and bike lanes, underground drainage would have to be designed and constructed.

    One thing you notice in the Aloha neighborhood is that any place where there has been new construction a sidewalk has been added, usually only for the length of the developed property. It must be part of the process of getting your building plans approved, making improvements for pedestrians.

    There are tons of families here, tons of kids, and we still have the same pedestrian provisions as when it was all farmland out here (long before i moved here) which is to none or very little. The thing is that because so many f the motorists out here have kids of their own out on bikes, skateboards, and walking they seem to very mindful of cyclists and pedestrians. It's why I prefer biking out here and living out here. I can walk my dog while I ride my bike, I would not dare do that in close-in Portland. Really I run into about one jerk a day as a opposed to one jerk per block. And in 8 years I have only had one negative reaction toward me riding a tallbike, it's mostly thumbs-up.

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  • Brian E October 23, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    Skid,

    I'm with you.

    I'd just like to see Wash. Co. dig the ditch a little farther from the road. Two feet maybe. They have plenty of right-of-way.

    This would allow us a little space to move off the road when a vehicle goes by.

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  • Lynne October 24, 2010 at 10:54 am
  • BikeAloha October 25, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    Lynne: is this meeting specifically going to address our ideas to the Wash Co commissioners who will allocate the Tiger Grant? I notice it's being put on by the BTA and encompasses all of Wash Co.

    wsbob: I like the idea of creating pass-through walkways between neighborhoods and cul-de-sacs that allow pedestrians and bicyclists to avoid having to use the major motorways to get around Aloha.

    I also agree that Alexander St. is prime for biking parallel to TV Hwy. This is my favorite part of my commute since it's a well-paved road mostly free of cars. The scariest part: approaching the 185th/TV intersection on 185th - the bike lane ends before the intersection so I just have to ride the line between the lanes going straight and the turn lane. Most drivers don't bother looking for bikes before moving into the turn lane but maybe they would if the bike lane was extended up to the intersection.

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  • Jim Ourada October 26, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    The funds that have been allocated aren't even for planning. They are designed to try to find out what MIGHT be possible.

    But remember, this area is unincorporated, and it is likely to remain so for a long long time. In order to have sidewalks and/or bikelanes, the local property owners have to buy into the idea. Literally. With the economy like it is, that is kind of unlikely.

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  • Harold S. November 4, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    Alexander is a good idea but what about getting across 185th? And it only runs West as far as 209th. Might Johnson be a better idea. It runs from 170th all the way to Fred Meyer. We also need a North/South route. Perhaps 198th from Kinnaman north all the way to Baseline Road.

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  • ghgirl November 10, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    This is good news for Aloha. It was interesting to read Tom Brian's comments about bringing a sense of place and a liveable community to the area -- very wise and something not supported by the road "improvement" projects championed by Mr. Brian. The graphic of the recently-built Washington County intersection of Kinnaman and Farmington, with all the car lanes and the huge distances for pedestrians to cross, and the wide curb radii show how hard it will be for anyone to re-design and re-build (and the taxpayers to afford it) such a huge barrier to any sense of place for people to walk, bike or take transit! I hope I live long enough to find out. Aloha once had a good sense of place, although it was difficult to walk outside the immediate town area. Unfortunately, the pre-planning work called out in this grant application will be working against a high-speed (45 mph) highway mentality that makes it quite impossible to create a sustainable, walkable, multi-modal system.

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  • jahmaicherry December 9, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    I am curious to see how this plays out. Unincorporated areas are constantly underrepresented.

    As for a possible idea to explore: A TV Highway bike, pedestrian corridor alongside the railway.

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