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Meet the people on the City’s most powerful transportation committee

by on September 30th, 2016 at 9:02 am

11 of the 17 members of the PBOT Bureau and Budget Advisory Committee are new this year.(Photos: PBOT)

11 of the 17 members of the PBOT Bureau and Budget Advisory Committee are new this year. Their perspectives will inform how the city spends $300 million in transportation funds and what kind of bureau PBOT becomes.
(Photos: PBOT)

Portland city government is not lacking in advisory committees. It’s the butt of frequent jokes among local insiders that once an issue gets controversial or politically difficult, the response is to just form a committee while things calm down.

Joking aside, not all committees are created equally. Their influence on policy and projects varies greatly and some have more teeth than others. Some have teeth that belong to smart and engaged citizens and agency staffers who know where to find the levers of power — and more importantly — are not afraid to pull them.
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PBOT requests $350,000 for ‘Seasonal Naito’ (aka Better Naito)

by on September 21st, 2016 at 2:17 pm

Naito Parkway traffic observations -11.jpg
Naito during the Better Naito pilot project in July.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

“Better Naito” just became “Seasonal Naito”. That’s the new name the City of Portland’s transportation bureau has given the project in a budget request document that was first reported on by The Oregonian today. (more…)

Would-be fuel exporters offer annual payment that might fund transportation projects

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on April 15th, 2015 at 9:22 am

Going bike boulevard at MLK Jr. Blvd-7
Brought to you by… Pembina?
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Though it’s not likely to appease many Portlanders fighting to block the deal, there’s a chance that the construction of a propane export terminal in Portland could result in money for local biking improvements.

The opportunity arises as part of an offer from Pembina, the Calgary-based extraction company that needs city approval to run its pipeline through an environmental preservation zone on the way to the Port. Pembina has agreed that if its facility is built, it will among other things pay $6.2 million annually into a new “Portland Carbon Fund.”

According to the city, “the fund will be used for projects that reduce energy consumption, generate renewable energy and sequester carbon.”

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City Budget Office denies Parks’ request for Gateway Green and off-road cycling plan funds

by on March 19th, 2015 at 9:13 am

BAC Bike Ride East Portland-19
Riders in Gateway Green, a future bike park.
(Photo J Maus/BikePortland)

Portlanders itching for more places to ride bikes in the dirt will now have to work extra hard, thanks to a report from the City Budget Office (PDF) that recommends zero funding for two Portland Parks & Recreation projects we’ve been following very closely: Gateway Green and the Off-Road Cycling Master Plan.

Does this mean those two projects won’t be funded? No. The report is just one factor Mayor Hales and City Council will use to decide where money should be spent. But the CBO recommendation does underscore the difficult politics around these two projects and it means anyone who wants to see them become reality will have to make sure their voices are heard in the coming weeks and months.

We reached out the Budget Office, Commissioner Fritz’s office, and supporters of these projects to learn more about what this all means…
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Special report: How Portland stopped building neighborhood greenways

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on February 28th, 2014 at 10:45 am

A family ride from NoPo to Sellwood-18
Portland’s construction of low-traffic, low-stress neighborhood streets for biking, walking and recreation has slowed to a crawl. What happened?
(Photos by J.Maus and M.Andersen/BikePortland)

If Portland has contributed any innovations of its own to the craft of designing great streets, it’s this two-word idea: neighborhood greenways.

A remix of ideas from Utrecht and Vancouver BC, these low-cost retrofits of low-traffic side streets — adding speed humps, sharrow markings, traffic diverters and signalized crossings of big arterials — have taken the national bike world by storm since Portland’s Greg Raisman and Mark Lear developed the concept in 2008 or so. In 2010, a citywide network of greenways became the first priority to emerge from Portland’s landmark 25-year bike plan.

The concept went viral.

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Tonight’s ‘Transportation Town Hall’ is big chance to share your priorities

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on February 20th, 2014 at 9:19 am

Transportation Safety Summit-8
A PBOT staffer takes down a suggestion at a PBOT Transportation Safety Summit in 2010.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

A two-hour “town hall” this evening at SE 34th and Salmon will be the Portland public’s first chance to turn out in support of their priorities in the next decade of Portland transportation budgets.

What Mayor Charlie Hales, Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick and Transportation Director Leah Treat hear tonight and at two more planned town halls this month will undoubtedly shape the way they think about the looming political battle over both the city’s transportation spending and transportation revenue.

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What projects should a street fee pay for? City announces town halls (updated)

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on January 27th, 2014 at 12:47 pm

Commissioner Steve Novick leads a City Hall
conversation about transportation budgets.
(Photo: City of Portland.)

The City of Portland is getting ready to write its most important transportation wish list in years.

A trio of town halls next month — one east of Interstate 205, one in outer Southwest Portland and one in middle Southeast — will help determine which projects the city will publicly commit to when it proposes a new revenue plan to the public.

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City assembles ‘sales team’ for street fee plan (updated)

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on January 15th, 2014 at 3:30 pm

Three members of PBOT’s standing Budget
Advisory Committee Tuesday.
(Photo by M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Portland voters could decide as soon as November whether to approve a per-household and per-business fee that budget committee member David Hampsten said would raise about $25 million a year for street upgrades.

Alternatively, the proposal to pay for transportation infrastructure might simply be approved by the city council after extensive public outreach, a citizen committee member said Tuesday.

With that in mind, Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick and Mayor Charlie Hales have created a new committee of stakeholders expected to vet the plan and, over the coming months, help persuade the city of its merits.

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Mayor Hales shares his thoughts on paving and the PBOT budget

by on February 21st, 2013 at 9:15 am

Mayor Hales
Mayor Hales at a City Council
PBOT budget work session yesterday.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

At an event last night I was able to grab Mayor Charlies Hales for a few minutes to ask him for his thoughts on the major PBOT budget move that was unveiled yesterday.

At a City Council budget work session, Hales’ interim director of PBOT, Toby Widmer, unveiled a plan that would take $7.15 from existing budget items and put it all toward street paving and maintenance. Among the places Widmer “realigned resources” for more paving is a $1.2 million sidewalk project already funded and slated for construction this summer in East Portland on SE 136th between SE Powell and Holgate (about 0.52 miles). Another Widmer realignment victim is PBOT’s ADA curb ramp program which is being asked to give up $500,000. According to PBOT sources, that chunk equals about 30% of the entire program (which has annual budget of $1.7 million).

Asked about the proposal last night, Hales distanced himself from it. “It’s a bureau budget. It’s just a starting point.” (more…)

Proposal looks to “realign” $7.15 million in PBOT budget for paving, maintenance

by on February 20th, 2013 at 1:51 pm

Toby Widmer
PBOT Interim Director Toby Widmer
at a City Council budget work session today.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

With the ink on the paving audit barely dry, Mayor Charlie Hales’ interim director of the Portland Bureau of Transportation Toby Widmer, made a sweeping budget proposal during a City Council budget work session at City Hall today. They call it the PBOT Resource Realignment.

Widmer announced a $7.15 million proposal that would “realign” funds in the existing budget in order to do more paving and maintenance. The proposal includes:

  • $4.5 million is savings from debt service on Sellwood Bridge bonds (this money was originally slated for the City’s general fund, Hales is attempting to keep it all for PBOT);
  • $1.2 million from a sidewalk project slated for SE 136th Ave;
  • $950,000 from the Downtown Marketing Initiative program;
  • $500,000 from the City’s ADA curb ramp program.

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