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Bike/walk projects dominate requests for state lottery-backed funding program

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013
Legislator bike ride at the Oregon Bike Summit-30
The Union Street Bridge in Salem — open only for walking and biking — is the type of project that is eligible for ConnectOregon funds.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Cities across Oregon are clamoring for more money to build infrastructure that makes it easier for people to walk and bike.

Back in July, thanks to a concerted lobbying effort the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA), the state of Oregon made biking and walking projects eligible for $42 million in funding through the ConnectOregon program for the first time ever.

Sources say this never would have happened without the BTA’s extensive and focused lobbying on the bill and they call it the biggest victory for BTA in Salem in at least 5 years.

ConnectOregon began in 2005 and it relies on lottery-backed bonds to invest in “multimodal transportation projects” around the state. It’s a rare state transportation program that offers dedicated funding for “non-highway” infrastructure. Prior to this year, only air, rail, marine/ports, and transit infrastructure were eligible.

Yesterday, ODOT announced they received 108 applications for this year’s round of ConnectOregon funding. Of the $129.4 million total requested funds, $47.5 million are categorized as “Bicycle/Pedestrian” — more than any of the other four eligible modes and more than the requests for Aviation, Marine, and Transit projects combined.
(more…)

Do bikes get a free ride? Advocates’ infographic shows why not (updated)

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013
Click for full version.

One car damages the road about as much as 9,600 bicycles. If bike riders had to pay a fee for their wear and tear on roads, they’d be writing checks for a few cents per year.

In other words: When people ride bikes, they save everyone money.

Those are the facts the Portland-based Bicycle Transportation Alliance is spreading with the new infographic below. The BTA says it’s designed to “start a conversation” about the ways we pay for our road system, despite a funding regime that Communications Director Will Vanlue calls “kind of a mess and hard to understand.”

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Bike access projects for Cully, Foster, Broadway make first cut for ODOT grants

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013
Wheeler Ave traffic and meeting-2
A PBOT project to improve safety for bicycling
on Broadway between N. Wheeler and Ross
is in the running for state funding.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Oregon Department of Transportation has released an updated list of projects to be funded and constructed through their 2015-18 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). For ODOT Region 1 (which includes Clackamas, Hood River, Multnomah and parts of Washington County) the program splits $127 million between a “Fix-It” pot and an “Enhance” pot to the tune of $60.5 million and $66.4 million respectively. “Fix-It” projects “maintain or preserve the existing system” (primarily new signals, bridge repairs, and paving), while the “Enhance” projects “expand or improve the transportation system.”

The list released by ODOT today for public feedback is a 150% list — meaning they will further narrow down the list based on your comments.

For context, this is the first time ODOT has ever doled out these funds in this manner. Prior to last summer (when ODOT announced the changes), the STIP program had 22 different individual programs. All these dedicated funding pots have been simplified down to just these two. (more…)

PBOT applies for $36 million in state transportation grants

Thursday, November 29th, 2012
Williams traffic-1
City wants $1.5 million for N. Williams Ave.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The City of Portland Bureau of Transportation has applied for over $36 million in state transportation grants. The grants are administered by the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) through their 2015-2018 State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). PBOT’s list (PDF) includes 16 projects, many of which are crucial for improving bicycle access throughout the Portland metro region.

See highlights from the list below, followed by my comments and more analysis of the STIP process:

ODOT Director affirms commitment to active transportation in MAP-21

Monday, November 5th, 2012

“MAP-21 cut dedicated funding… Regardless, ODOT is committed to funding active transportation programs.”
— Matt Garrett, Director of ODOT

Oregon biking and walking advocates received good news on Friday when ODOT Director Matt Garrett announced his agency is committed to key biking and walking programs that lost dedicated funding in the recently passed federal transportation bill (MAP-21).

As we detailed back in June, MAP-21 completely changed (and/or eliminated) the way many programs were funded. These changes have caused anxiety among advocates who worry that the new rules will make it difficult for biking, walking, and transit-centric projects to compete with more traditional highway projects.

Here’s an excerpt from Garrett’s statement: (more…)

BTA fights as Metro funding battle brews once again

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

“It is unacceptable to the BTA to consider overturning our current policy… The Port [of Portland]… wants this money for highway/road projects. Now is the time to say no.”
— Gerik Kransky, BTA

A funding fight is brewing at Metro over how the regional planning agency should allocate nearly $38 million in federal funds. Unlike the vast majority of transportation funds fought over by various regional interest groups, these funds are “flexible,” meaning they can be spent on nearly any type of project. With scarce dollars in play these days, the competition to snag them is intense.

The $37.78 on the table at Metro is a portion of $147 million in “regional flexible funds” they will dole out through the federal government’s Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program (MTIP) for the years of 2016 – 2018.
(more…)

ODOT takes stock of funding levels in new transportation bill

Friday, June 29th, 2012
A day in Salem-3
They’re already crunching numbers in Salem.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Congress officially passed a new, two-year transportation bill today. As I shared yesterday, it’s regarded by active transportation advocates as being downright bad. Even Portland Congressman Earl Blumenauer, who was on the conference committee that hashed out the final bill, calls its passage “strangely anti-climactic” (I spoke with Congressman Blumenauer today and will share his candid take on the bill in a separate story).

For their part, the Oregon Department of Transportation has wasted no time in parsing the numbers to see where their programs and funding levels stand with the new bill. ODOT’s role in doling out federal transportation funds has become heightened because a major theme of the new bill is that it gives more control of the pursestrings to states. For instance, a full one-half of the total amount of money in a new program dubbed “Transportation Alternatives” (about $307 million per year nationwide) will be doled out through a competitive grant program. (States can also decide to spend that chunk on other things, although given ODOT’s track record and trajectory of respect toward active transportation, it’s unlikely they would take part in that sneaky “opt-out” provision.) (more…)

State prioritizes ‘user fee for bikes’ in report to Governor on new funding ideas

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

A new report presented to Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber yesterday outlines and prioritizes 16 new “non-roadway” transportation funding mechanisms. Among the ideas selected as a priority for “additional consideration for further implementation” and possible legislative action, is a “User fee for bikes.”

The 93 page report, Oregon Non-Roadway Transportation Funding Options: Report to the Governor, (PDF) is the result of a 64-person “Non-Roadway Working Group” that was convened by Kitzhaber back in November. The group included a large list of transportation stakeholders (including Bicycle Transportation Alliance Advocacy Director Gerik Kransky), many members of the Oregon legislature, and State staffers (see full list below).

The purpose of this project (which has been on the to-do list for the state since 2008) was to, “develop recommendations for sustainable funding of non-roadway transportation, including rail, marine, aviation, transit, and on and off-road bicycle and pedestrian paths.” (more…)

Sullivan’s Gulch misses out on funding opp: Here’s what made the cut

Monday, January 9th, 2012
Detail of proposed
improvements to SW Barbur Blvd.

ODOT has whittled down a list of 89 “non-highway transportation projects” vying for $21 million in federal flexible funds, to just 35. Three City of Portland projects have made it onto the second round; but unfortunately, a project that could have built the first segment of the Sullivan’s Gulch Corridor did not make the cut.

With cities around the state clamoring for federal funds as their local budgets shrink, the competition is fierce. ODOT received requests totaling $89 million for the $21 million in available funds, which the state has set aside specifically for “non-highway” projects. (more…)

Mayor Adams requests state funding for 7 ‘non-highway’ projects

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

The Oregon Department of Transportation is set to award $21 million to “non-highway” transportation projects throughout the state as per their Flexible Funds program. Of that amount, Portland officials expect about $2.2 million to be awarded locally and today Mayor Sam Adams sent in his list of project requests.

In the last go ’round of this funding pot, ODOT awarded Portland nearly $3 million for two key biking and walking projects — the “Going to the River” project and the SE 122nd Avenue complete street project.

Here are the seven projects that Mayor Adams has requested funding for:
(more…)

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