Landmark decision gives bike projects regional funding priority

Posted by on March 14th, 2008 at 3:07 pm

“What this does is elevate bikes and peds as important and meaningful modes.”
–ODOT Government Liaison Shelli Romero

The wheels of change continue to spin toward a more balanced transportation system in our region.

Yesterday, Metro’s Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation (JPACT), for the first time ever, voted unanimously to put bicycle and pedestrian projects at the front of the line to receive funding through a major federal funding allocation process.

The vote came at a meeting of JPACT at Metro headquarters, where committee members began the process of deciding how to allocate the nearly $60 million in federal funding that is awarded to our region every two years as part of the Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program (MTIP).

Our day on Capitol Hill-19.jpg

“There is a real sea change in the thinking about transportation at Metro. Bicycling is now a part of virtually every element.”
–Former JPACT member and now BTA Government Relations Director, Karl Rohde

At the outset of the MTIP process, JPACT members collectively decide which projects, or types of projects, should be positioned for funding “off the top” — meaning certain projects will receive a guaranteed amount of MTIP money and they won’t have to compete for funding with other projects.

The competition for MTIP funding is fierce. Bike projects usually go head-to-head with much more expensive and “regionally significant” highway projects, so given priority status before the slugfest even begins is considered to be a very big deal. All other projects go into a pot and then are ranked by JPACT on a number of criteria before receiving funds.

ODOT Government Liaison Shelli Romero says typically the projects given “off the top” status are things like transit projects and specific Metro programs but this recent vote shows that, ODOT and other regional decision makers have, “Recognized that bike and ped projects have significant regional benefit.” “In my mind,” says Romero, “what this does is elevate bikes and peds as important and meaningful modes.”

ODOT Region 1 Manager Jason Tell,
seen here at a Safe Routes to
School event in Southeast Portland,
was instrumental in the decision.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Romero says the idea to prioritize bike and ped projects was first floated by ODOT Region 1 Manager Jason Tell a few weeks ago. When the motion came up for vote yesterday it was seconded Washington County Commissioner Roy Rogers (imagine that folks, an ODOT guy and a Washington County guy supporting bike and ped projects!).

Karl Rohde of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) is a former member of JPACT and he broke the news on the BTA blog. He called the decision a “milestone” and noted that, “there is a real sea change in the thinking about transportation at Metro. Bicycling is now a part of virtually every element.”

Rohde gives much of the credit for this change to ODOT’s Jason Tell. Tell seems to be just one of many bright spots at ODOT recently. I had a chance to sit and chat with him for a few minutes at a recent Safe Routes to School event and I came away very encouraged about what his leadership could mean for ODOT’s recognition of bikes in the transportation mix.

Now, JPACT members will re-convene and begin to decide just how much of the MTIP funds to allocate to bike and ped projects.

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Jessica RobertsScott MizéebahuehLenny AndersonJayS. Recent comment authors
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nuovorecord
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nuovorecord

Jason is a good guy. This is great news.

Take that, Mary Peters!!!

andrew
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andrew

Any chance that the NE 7th Ave bike/ped bridge (over 84) will finally get funded now?

How about the Sullivan\’s Gulch trail?

tonyt
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tonyt

This is HUGE news folks.

Thanks Jonathan for keeping this all in the spotlight.

n8m
Guest
n8m

wow, very exciting. will be even more exciting to see how this money manifests itself on the streets..

David Feldman
Guest
David Feldman

Metro needs to advertise this and emphasize bike/ped projects as deeply patriotic; \”Metro to emphasize anti-terror-funding modes.\” or \”Metro develops anti-Islamofascist transportation funding plan.\”

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Is it time to revisit bike lanes on St John\’s Bridge?

And how about a new project proposal for next year? [A bike and ped bridge connecting Sauvie Island to West Vancouver (French Man\’s Bar/ Lower River Road) or Kelley Point Park?]

This mulitmodal bridge would allow bikes and peds access to the island without having to mix with truck traffic on Hwy 30 and it would provide the island residents a secondary emergency access to larger communities (EMT access).

Patrickz
Guest
Patrickz

One more note of thanks for the updates, Jonathan. Especially because these are good news.

KTesh
Guest
KTesh

Great News!

I can\’t wait to see what gets done with the $$.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

60 million spread over two years across various transportation improvement projects. It will be interesting to see what will be able to be done with the money apportioned to bike/pedestrian projects. Definitely a move in the right direction for everybody.

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

Bridges cost alot of money, we could get alot of Bike Boulevards & signage for the cost of one bridge.

David Feldman
Guest
David Feldman

What about enhancing the budget for street cleaning? Less glass and gravel=better cycling environment.

Robert Ping
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Robert Ping

I agree with Todd B. We need to revisit the St. John\’s bridge, now that ODOT\’s perspective has (hopefully) changed. It is just a matter of time before a truck mirror takes out a cyclist or pedestrian on the sidewalk, and hope we can get a \’fix\’ before something tragic like that happens.

Donna
Guest
Donna

David Feldman – I think that\’s an excellent angle and one we don\’t use enough in this region. Sometimes the best way to handle black-and-white thinkers is through the judicious use of black-and-white ideas.

BURR
Guest
BURR

Widen the eastbound bike lanes on Hawthorne from SE Grand to SE 12th. Add a climbing lane for bikes on SE Hawthorne from SE 12th to SE 30th.

Sharrows on SE/NE 28th from Stark to Broadway.

N-S bike lanes / sharrows on SE 11th and 12th from Powell to Sandy.

Scott Mizée
Guest

Todd Boulanger said:

And how about a new project proposal for next year? [A bike and ped bridge connecting Sauvie Island to West Vancouver (French Man\’s Bar/ Lower River Road) or Kelley Point Park?]

I like your idea Todd. That sounds fantastic.

Perhaps a something a group like npGREENWAY could take on some day. It would be a large undertaking, but worth it, I think.

Scott Mizée
Guest

With the talk about bridges, keep in mind that npGREENWAY has proposed a cantilevered bicycle/pedestrian facility on the Railroad bridge across the Willamette very similar to the Steel Bridge downtown. This can be seen on our map shown here:
http://www.npgreenway.org/npgreenwayroutevison1007.pdf

Ian Clemons
Guest
Ian Clemons

As a card-carrying Big Government Liberal, but more importantly, a biker and long-term citizen of this city, I LOVE METRO. We\’ve got good people there doing really good work. I think we can attribute a lot of the vaunted elembents of \”libability\” in the area to the forward thinking work that Metro does.

-Ian Clemons

Scott Mizée
Guest

[…From BikePortland.org:
Landmark decision gives bike projects regional funding priority

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Editor) on March 14th, 2008 at 3:07 pm

“What this does is elevate bikes and peds as important and meaningful modes.”
–ODOT Government Liaison Shelli Romero…]

http://npgreenway.blogspot.com/2008/03/landmark-decision-gives-bike-projects.html

Refunk
Guest
Refunk

Hey, Todd B. & Scott M. @ #15, 16.

NPG\’s proposal for a path added to the BNSF rail bridge over the Willamette is interesting. Where would the riders deposited on the west side end up? The ever-beautiful St. Johns bridge just ain\’t too bike friendly (never had a problem on it, tho), nor would being shunted onto US30 be all that comfortable from the rail bridge.

The NPGreenway idea, however, seems much more practical (read: economical) than Todd\’s absolutely romantic suggestion of a connection between Sauvie Island and Frenchman\’s Bar. Sauvie Island to Kelly Pt. Park may present almost as much challenge as getting to Frenchman\’s Bar or Lower River Rd. A stand-alone bike/ped bridge over the Columbia at that point on the river would be a spectacular engineering & funding achievement. A little time spent watching huge ocean-going freighter traffic standing out in the river below the Port of Vancouver (which traffic does not travel upriver as far as the Interstate Bridge) would be instructive as to why.

But Todd, what about something like NPG\’s cantilevered path approach applied to the existing BNSF rail bridge just below the Interstate Bridge? Would that be obviated by whatever happens with the Columbia Crossing project? How \’bout a new ped/bike ferry, crossing Morgan Channel to the Vancouver side from Sauvie, or at the Willow Upper Range Channel (closer to Frenchman\’s Bar?)?

Yeah, I too would love to see a dedicated MUP soaring high over the Columbia. Maybe a different kind of high,however, is involved in this idea; funny, having once met Todd, I didn\’t picture him as the type to own a hookah… but his visionary zeal is sorely needed here, and I\’m glad Vancouver has him.

Elliot
Guest
Elliot

Thank you, Jason Tell and Karl Rohde!

local yokel
Guest
local yokel

Not just npGreenway, but the Sullivans Gulch trail along the rail line off I84. Southwest trails. Trails to lake oz.. name em and build em.

Sharing the road only goes so far. Lets put the pressure on to build separate and not equal to the indignities heaped on us trying to share roads with petro-traffick.

Separate facilies would go far to encourage the less confident to use the trail instead of the Chevy Trailblazer..

JayS.
Guest
JayS.

How about a good north south connection closer to MLK Grand businesses. Or some west side improvements?

Lenny Anderson
Guest

MTIP funds represent about 4% of regional transportation funds. Giving bike/ped projects priority will not mean there will be that much more money. The last several TMIP rounds have seen a good chuck of MTIP funds go for bike/ped projects.

Scott Mizée
Guest

Lenny and other transportation types,

Is there a summary somewhere online where I can see where my MTIP dollars are going?

Thanks in advance.

Lenny Anderson
Guest

Metro website/planning might do it.
MTIP is every two years. The current round is for 2011-12 dollars, I think.

bahueh
Guest
bahueh

Todd…a bridge from Sauvie\’s to West Vancouver?
do you propose all of the water freightliners go somewhere else? Columbia is heavily used by large freight ships in that section..
that bridge would have to be some 20+ stories tall for bridge to go under them…
I wouldn\’t hold your breath…

Scott Mizée
Guest

Hey! What\’s wrong with dreaming a little bahueh?

Jessica Roberts
Guest
Jessica Roberts

Reminder: if you like this decision, please write Jason Tell to thank him. Believe me, agency directors get plenty of complaint notes but never a thank-you; if he sees that bicyclists are both paying attention and supportive, it will make an impact.

Email address: jason.a.tell@odot.state.or.us