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$25 million for bike boulevards: Highlights from Portland's federal lobbying agenda

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on January 25th, 2011 at 1:49 pm

High Crash Corridors campaign launch-3
One of their priorities is a $1.3 million
request to make SE Foster Road safer
for all modes.
(Photos © J. Maus)

Today, Portland Mayor Sam Adams published the City's list of federal legislative priorities. Among them are several transportation projects that include bike-related infrastructure.

[As an aside, we are pleased to note that Nils Tillstrom, a former staffer for U.S. Congressman David Wu, is now working for the City of Portland as federal legislative assistant. Tillstrom was our main contact on bicycle issues and met with Oregonians on Capitol Hill during the National Bike Summit.]

Here are some of the projects that City lobbyists will be pushing for in Washington D.C. this year...

In order to make "safety enhancements" on SE Foster Road between SE 50th and 84th Avenues, the City is asking for $1.3 million. SE Foster is already a designated "High Crash Corridor" the money would pay for elements of the project that would include "improved pedestrian and bicycle crossing safety and access" and "improved connections to transit."

The City wants $500,000 from the feds to reconstruct the NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd and Columbia Blvd Intersection intersection. The project is mostly focused on improving freight movement but it will also include "bicycle and pedestrian facilities."

SE Spokane and SE 13th-2
$25 million for 100 more miles of
bike boulevards.

Portland is also asking for project-specific funding requests (a.k.a. earmarks) for two projects of note. They want $10 million to improve SW Capitol Highway between Multnomah and Taylors Ferry Road. This project would include some major bikeways.

Mayor Adams and City Council have also put in a request for $25 million to pay for the "Portland Bicycle Boulevard Project." The funds would pay for over 100 miles of bike-friendly streets throughout the city. With this request, the City includes the following statement:

"The development of this network type will dramatically boost bicycle use beyond the City’s nationally- leading levels. The benefits to the City in increasing bicycle use are dramatic: economic (green dividends, tourism and expanding a significant existing bicycle industry), environmental, and transportation congestion relief."

One other thing of note transportation-wise in this list of federal priorities — the City notes that it supports $1.25 Billion in funding for the Columbia River Crossing project (including $850 million from a transit specific pot known as New Starts).

While you consider what the City of Portland has put in their federal legislative wish list, also keep in mind that there is serious talk about a new way of doing business on Capitol Hill. Depending on how the budget and the politics shape up (I hope you plan to watch the State of the Union address tonight), earmarks and discretionary spending might not even be on the table.

Learn more about what Portland will be lobbying the 112th Congress for by downloading their full agenda via PDF here.

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Comments
  • Velowocky January 25, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    Any additional information on the proposal to improve riding along SW Capitol?
    Hope this gets funded, I ride it often and it definitely has room for improvement.

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  • was carless January 25, 2011 at 4:20 pm
  • Velowocky January 25, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    Thanks for the links. Looks promising. I rode by there today and it looks like they have hacked back some of the roadside hedges and trees so hopefully it is a prelude for the main project.

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  • Michweek January 25, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    "The development of this network type will dramatically boost bicycle use beyond the City’s nationally- leading levels. The benefits to the City in increasing bicycle use are dramatic: economic (green dividends, tourism and expanding a significant existing bicycle industry), environmental, and transportation congestion relief."

    They forgot increased savings due to less ware and tare on the roadways. That's a great benefit of more people riding bikes in the communities!!

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    • middle of the road guy January 25, 2011 at 8:13 pm

      That's a hard thing to quantify accurately as there are many factors that go into the lifespan of a road. A few bad ice storms, induced demand from other developments and/or efficiency projects, the quality of the construction techniques and materials, etc.

      As the economy recovers, I believe you will see greater VMT into the city as people will be commuting to them.

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  • Gregg Woodlawn January 25, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    I'm curious about this:
    "The City wants $500,000 from the feds to reconstruct the NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd and Columbia Blvd Intersection intersection. The project is mostly focused on improving freight movement but it will also include "bicycle and pedestrian facilities."

    I sat on the board of this project- representing my neighborhood. I had consistently pointed out that making the intersection wider might make it easier for the longest of trucks (that come through a few times a year at 3:30am) to make right turns easier, but will make it more difficult for pedestrians- and doesn't help cyclists one bit.
    What specifically are the "bicycle and pedestrian facilities?"

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  • jim January 25, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    I thought we were suposed to not do earmarks anymore. Even Obama said he would veto any bills with earmarks

    "Portland is also asking for project-specific funding requests (a.k.a. earmarks) for two projects of note. "

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    • Jackattak January 26, 2011 at 9:30 am

      I don't understand why we don't just abolish the lobby all together. Sure it's nice to have for instances such as these, but 99% of the time the "special interest" groups are corporatist butmunchers pushing some capitalist agenda. I think El Prez was close to saying it [that we need to abolish the lobby] last night but held back.

      ABOLISH THE LOBBY!!!

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      • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 26, 2011 at 9:32 am

        I agree! I think we need to focus on policies that makes sense instead of listening to lobbyists and requests like this.

        I think all lobbying should be done directly toward improving policy... not asking for money for specific projects.

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  • JonM January 25, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    The city is asking residents in other states to fork over more than $10 million for local road projects? Sheesh! No wonder the fed goby is bankrupt...and here we are applauding this kind of nonsense.

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    • Schrauf January 26, 2011 at 6:25 am

      Well, that is how it is done with federal funding. And we in Portland pay plenty for local roads and projects in other states. It is simply the standard way of funding projects that supposedly achieve a common goal or common good that the country, in general, supposedly seeks.

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    • Lynne January 26, 2011 at 12:17 pm

      Oregon has been a contributor state - we get back less money from the fed govt than we contribute in taxes. So, yeah, I have no problem with Oregon doing some asking.

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  • q`Tzal January 26, 2011 at 9:08 am

    This is a wish list, an over optimistic wish list.

    As Peak Oil becomes an accepted reality for even the conservative anti-green we will see overall automotive traffic go down drastically.

    With the drop in private vehicle miles comes a commensurate drop in gas tax revenue.

    While not the majority of the funding, gas tax revenue does provide a large portion of overall road funding. With a decrease in non-commercial VMT the tax will need to be raised; this will be difficult in a time when continually increasing gasoline prices are pricing the auto dependent out of their suburban houses and 60 minute commutes.

    As road funding drops off to oblivion the only interest with power to insure that roads are maintained are industry and commerce.

    When we find ourselves in a mandatory gas & diesel rationing situation private individuals will very quickly be herded on to public transportation while roads are saved for the more important citizens: the corporate citizen.

    As the Economic Crisis Forces Local Governments to Let Asphalt Roads Return to Gravel the paved and maintained facilities will be come the domain of big business even if the roads are not privatized.

    You can expect cyclists to be removed for safety and efficiency of commerce.

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    • CaptainKarma January 26, 2011 at 6:51 pm

      While I don't disagree with that general sentiment and scenario, I don't think cars are actually going to go away any time soon. Cars are crack cocaine. They will be electric, charged by good ol' coal (gasp) or good ol "nuculer" energy, something our new boss (same as the old boss) seems to support, no problemo.

      sigh.

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  • craig January 26, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    Jonathan, is this correct? $850 seems to small to mention...

    "$850 from a transit specific pot known as New Starts"

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  • Andrew January 26, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    This is all great, but a quick comment on your sidenote:

    Nils rocks! It's great to have him back in Portland and working for the City. He's a longtime rider and, I believe, a former racer, and he knows his stuff. Welcome home, Nils!

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  • dude January 28, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    Whats the difference between a bikeway and a bike boulevard and a bike path and a greenway and a bike route and a bike lane and a cycle track and a cycleway. I keep hearing all these different terms. It is really confusing to try and understand what it is that your talking about

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