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Special report: How Portland stopped building neighborhood greenways

Friday, February 28th, 2014
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.

(more...)

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

Thursday, February 20th, 2014
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.

(more...)

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

Monday, January 27th, 2014
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.

(more...)

City assembles 'sales team' for street fee plan (updated)

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014
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.

(more...)

Mayor Hales shares his thoughts on paving and the PBOT budget

Thursday, February 21st, 2013
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

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013
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.

(more...)

Editorial: Activism for safer streets underscores larger transportation debate

Friday, February 8th, 2013

"Demands for new biking, walking, transit, and other system improvements are common, but do you ever see activists clamoring for paving and street maintenance?"

Twice this week citizens of Portland have taken action to raise awareness about unsafe streets.

Benjamin Kerensa emailed us a video (watch it below) he put together of the crosswalk at NE 79th and Glisan. Kerensa witnessed a fatal collision last week involving a woman who was walking across that intersection in the sidewalk when she was hit by someone driving a car. The video, which shows numerous people failing to yield to people crossing the street, was featured on The Oregonian's Hard Drive blog on Wednesday.

In his description of the video on YouTube, Kerensa pressured City Hall to improve the crosswalk:
(more...)

PBOT's effort to cut budget could hit street lights, streetcar

Thursday, January 17th, 2013
Outgoing PBOT Director Tom Miller led a meeting
of his budget advisory committee on Tuesday.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

When members of the Portland Bureau of Transportation's Budget Advisory Committee settled into their fourth and final meeting on Tuesday, they got some grim news. On top of the $4.5 million in ongoing cuts the bureau was initially told they needed to make, PBOT Director Tom Miller announced they needed to identify an another 10% — or $784,000 — in cuts. The way I understand it, Mayor Charlie Hales has asked for each bureau to come up with this 10% cut so that he can ultimately decide what stays and what goes.

The tricky thing for PBOT is that after years budget shrinkage, they have very little fat left to cut. Committee member and east Portland advocate Dave Hampsten put it this way: "We've gotten to the point where every cut is a core function."
(more...)

$700,000 expected in PBOT budget now gone

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

"We're basically back where we started."
— Tom Miller, PBOT Director, in an email to his budget advisory committee

Remember the $700,000 that was added back to the Portland Bureau of Transportation's budget last month? Now it's pretty much all gone.

Last Friday, outgoing PBOT Director Tom Miller emailed the PBOT Budget Advisory Committee to announce that new, lower projections for parking garage revenue means only about $100,000 of that $700,000 is now coming back to the budget. "We're basically back where we started," read Miller's email. (more...)

BTA-led coalition seeks to restore active transportation cuts in City budget

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012
BTA's Gerik Kransky (L) and freight
advocate Corky Collier after the PBOT Budget BAC
meeting yesterday.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

In the face of severe cuts to active transportation in the PBOT budget that came to light last month, a coalition led by the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) presented a proposal yesterday to restore nearly half of them.

With dwindling revenue forecasts, PBOT has had cut their budget for several years now. This year's gap was estimated to be $4.4 million. Of that, PBOT proposed $1.5 million in cuts to active transportation — $1 million from projects and $500,000 to programs and staffing. The cuts would impact programs like Sunday Parkways, Safe Routes to School, neighborhood greenway projects, and more. (more...)

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