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Biking wins big in Metro’s $2.1 million in ‘Regional Travel Options’ grants

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013
Harrison St Bike Garage at PSU
Portland State University won $150,000 to help build
a Central Campus Cycle Station that will be
even bigger and better than their Harrison
St Bike Garage shown here.

Metro just announced their grant awards for the Regional Travel Options program. The program, which funds, “projects to reduce the number of people driving alone, improve air quality and address community health issues,” doled out $2.1 million to 14 projects throughout the region. Portland won big with several important local (and bike-related) projects getting a slice of the pie. Check out some of the winners below…

Swan Island TMA – Grant award: $123,316
Go Swan Island! is a combination of programs tailored to Swan Island’s four largest employer sites and to Portland Community College’s new Swan Island Workforce Training Center. The project will use marketing strategies and new technologies to increase carpooling and capitalize on anticipated Swan Island business investments. These approaches will promote new travel options programs and $5 million in new bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.
(more…)

East Portland will receive $8 million for active transportation

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013
BAC Bike Ride East Portland-9
Riding in east Portland
can only get better.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Portland Bureau of Transportation (and TriMet) is set to invest $8.2 million into sidewalks, neighborhood greenways and transit-safety related projects in East Portland. The funding comes from a $34 million “Regional Economic Opportunity Fund” created by a Metro committee last year.

In case you forgot, this $34 million is the result of a debate at Metro back in October about how best to spend federal “regional flexible funds.” At the last go-round, advocates (including the Bicycle Transportation Alliance) fought hard to win a 75/25 split for active transportation projects. Advocates hoped to use that same allocation method for an additional $34 million Metro is awarding this time around. However, the Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation (JPACT) voted instead to create a new “Regional Economic Opportunity Fund” (explained further here). (more…)

$2.1 million in grants to promote ‘travel options’ available through Metro

Friday, December 21st, 2012
New I-5 Bridge-Delta Park bikeway signage-10-10
Wayfinding signage is one type of
project eligible for funding
through the grants.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Metro has announced the availability of $2.1 million in federal grants through the Regional Travel Options (RTO) program. The money is set aside for both government agencies and non-profits for small-scale projects that promote biking, walking, and taking transit.

In this past, this grant program has funded projects like TriMet’s Open Trip Planner, Sunday Streets in Wilsonville, bike shelters in Forest Grove, walking maps and wayfinding signage in Tigard, and much more.

In an announcement yesterday, Metro included a more detailed list of eligible projects:

  • Training or hiring staff or volunteers to promote transportation options to residents and employees.
  • Helping businesses promote travel options to employees and coordinating outreach activities of partner’s employer and commuter programs.
  • Supporting facilities for bicycling, walking, or running to work.
  • (more…)

A response to the pro-car perspective

Monday, November 26th, 2012

“Cars — in whatever their future form may be — are here to stay. But so are bikes, transit and walking.”
— Op-ed in The Oregonian

A strange thing happened after Metro released a major new household travel survey last month. Despite the survey showing big increases in the rate of bicycle and transit use for central city residents since the last time the survey was done in 1994, The Oregonian seemed to frame it as proof that cars are still king in our region. The O’s Commuting reporter Joseph Rose also accused Metro of trying to spin the story to further their, “smart-growth battle against the unhealthy, polluting, life-sucking automobile.”

And then, right on cue, The Oregonian Editorial Board weighed in with this headline, People like their cars, a fact that Portland planners must take into account.

To counter that framing of the issue, local transportation expert Chris Smith and real estate developer Randy Miller penned an op-ed of their own. It’s now several weeks later, but it was finally published in the opinion section of Sunday’s paper. (more…)

Metro votes against maintaining 75/25 funding split for Active Transportation

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

“… In a deep recession, people who are struggling — in addition to buses and bike paths — also need access to a job.”
— Ann Lininger, Clackamas County Commissioner

A 17-member Metro committee made up of mayors, commissioners, and transportation agency leaders around the region voted this morning to do away with a 75/25 federal funding allocation split that was hailed by active transportation advocates when it was established in 2010. At their meeting, Metro’s Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation (JPACT) voted instead to adopt a new policy direction that will have projects of all types — including massive highway expansion projects — competing against each other.

At issue is how best to dole out an additional $38 million ($37.78 to be exact) that is unspoken for out of a $147 million pot of federal grant funds administered through the federal Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program (MTIP) for the years 2016-18. (Note: Of this $147 million, JPACT has already decided to allocate: $48 million to transit bond payments, $26 million to Metro planning and regional programs, $26 million to “Active Transportation and Complete Streets” projects and $8.7 million to “Green Economy and Freight” projects). (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…)

Get a seat at the transpo table: Consider joining Metro’s TPAC

Thursday, September 27th, 2012
JPACT meeting-2
A chance to be where a lot of
important stuff happens.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Metro’s Transportation Policy Alternatives Committee, or “TPAC” as it’s known around here, is looking for four new community representatives. If you want to influence local and regional transportation projects, this is a great opportunity.

TPAC’s main role is to advise the Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation (JPACT), the panel of local elected bigwigs and agency execs that controls the federal transportation pursestrings in the Portland area. There are 21 people on TPAC, 15 of them are transportation professionals appointed by cities, counties, and agencies, and there are six at-large community members.

Metro says they’re looking for four new community reps who have some expertise in the following areas: (more…)

Westside Trail controversy quiets down ahead of open houses

Friday, August 31st, 2012

Metro is gearing up for a series of open houses to let the public weigh in on their Westside Trail project. The project spurred controversy earlier this summer when residents of the Oak Hills area of unincorporated Washington County objected to plans to have the shared-use path run through property adjacent to their homes. The path segment in question is just one-third of a mile and runs north of Highway 26 between NW Bethany Blvd and NW 143rd Ave.

The Oak Hills residents have come to think of the land adjacent to their homes as their own private property, but the land is actually owned by the federal government (it’s a powerline corridor for the Bonneville Power Administration). According to The Oregonian, residents have even posted “Private Property” signs in the area. Now, with Metro pushing forward with the project, members of the Oak Hills Homeowners Association are not pleased that what has long been a de facto private playground is now slated to become a public place for bicycling and walking. (more…)

Metro approves $6 million for 1/2 mile of new lane on I-84 freeway

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012
Proposed new lane on I-84 in east Portland.

In a rare bit of love for freeways, on Thursday July 19th, Metro (Portland’s metropolitan planning organization) approved funding for a project that will add capacity to an interstate located within Portland city limits. The $6 million project will extend an auxiliary lane on eastbound Interstate 84 one half mile between the Halsey St. and northbound Interstate 205 exits. Metro says the project is being “fast-tracked by ODOT after it found cost savings around the state.”

It’s interesting to note how Metro councilors — who pride themselves on supporting investments that improve bicycle and transit access — talk about why they supported this project. I’m also covering this because I think it’s important for people to understand how much we spend to alleviate congestion and just what results are expected for this $6 million investment. (more…)

Metro report: Road carnage costs region more than congestion

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012
Arterials kill.

Using ODOT traffic crash data and their own data on transportation infrastructure Metro’s State of Safety report has found that roadway collisions cost our region $958 million a year — that’s significantly more than congestion.

The report also lays bare one of the nagging issues for local transportation planners and a central theme of the Mayor Sam Adams administration: Portland’s large, multi-lane arterials are unsafe. In what report authors refer to as one of the “most conclusive relationships” in the study, they found that a disproportionate amount of the serious crashes in our region occur on arterial roads.

Streets like Tualatin Valley Highway, 82nd Ave, SE Powell, McLoughlin Blvd (in Clackamas County) have much higher rates of fatalities and serious injuries than neighborhood streets or even freeways. (more…)

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