U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will be in Portland today. The Daily Journal of Commerce and reliable sources say that LaHood will join regional transportation officials near the Aerial Tram tomorrow morning.
LaHood is expected to show his support for Portland’s burgeoning streetcar network (not that it needs it, streetcar is getting money from everywhere right now) and to get a first-hand look at a prototype of a locally manufactured streetcar (by Clackamas-based Oregon Ironworks).
Back in April, LaHood said on C-SPAN that Portland is a “model” for streetcar development.
LaHood is fresh off a photo-op in Denver where he helped break ground on a stimulus-funded road resurfacing and bike path improvement project. The $32 million project includes $5 million to reconstruct a bike path that runs alongside a highway. LaHood told a Denver TV station that, “making it easier for people to bike helps the environment.”
LaHood’s visit bodes very well for local streetcar backers and it also shows that he’s not shy about his support for transit and non-highway modes. Back in May, LaHood was ridiculed by Newsweek columnist George Will for his support of Portland’s streetcar and bike infrastructure efforts.
We’ll be there to check out the scene tomorrow. LaHood’s visit is specifically about streetcars, but if he has anything to say about bikes, we’ll definitely let you know.