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Metro will ask for $75-100 million to build active transportation corridors

Posted by on July 27th, 2009 at 1:58 pm

OR Bike Summit - Ride-4.jpg

Many Portlanders get “active transportation”
on the Eastbank Esplanade.
(Photo © J. Maus)

As part of their ongoing effort to identify and fund non-motorized transportation projects, Metro plans to submit a grant application for federal stimulus funding to the tune of $75 to $100 million.

In an email about the news to Metro’s Executive Council for Active Transportation, project manager Lake McTighe wrote that the application will, “detail a strategy to get much more aggressive about tapping transportation funding for trails and on-street bicycle and pedestrian facilities.”

The Executive Council for Active Transportation is a newly formed, 15-member group (chaired by Jonathan Nicholas) that is an outgrowth of Metro’s Blue Ribbon Committee for Trails. Their mission is to promote a regional transportation strategy that promotes more biking and walking.

(The Blue Ribbon Committee for Trails published a 17-page paper titled, “The case for an active transportation strategy” in November 2008 which you can download here (1.5MB PDF)).

“Whether this application is successful or not, it shows the active transportation strategy is working and our efforts are starting to pay off.”
— Lake McTighe, Metro

Metro will ask the federal government to fund their concept of making the Portland metro region a national petri dish of how substantial investments in biking and walking infrastructure can produce major deductions in vehicle miles traveled (VMT), a healthier population, better access to natural areas, and so on. In the email, McTighe noted that their investment strategy for active transportation projects should resemble how TriMet has approached their investments for light rail expansion.

Metro will submit the grant through the Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program, which was signed into law as part of President Obama’s Recovery Act. There are $1.5 billion dollars available through the TIGER program for, “capital investments in surface transportation infrastructure projects that will have a significant impact on the Nation, a metropolitan area, or a region.”

The fact that Metro is even in a position to get an application together for TIGER speaks to the great success they’ve had in organizing around the active transportation principle. Their Active Transportation Partnership is already in the process of receiving project proposals (deadline for final proposals is August 14th). McTighe says that they’ll pull three projects — one urban, one suburban and one “urban to nature” — from those submissions to include in their TIGER proposal.

For some perspective, two major trail projects that are sure to be submitted to Metro for consideration are the North Portland Greenway and the Sullivan’s Gulch trails. Both of those could be built for about $70 million total.

McTighe also points out that this is the only proposal that the Metro Council is advancing for the TIGER Grant. “Whether this application is successful or not,” she wrote, “it shows the active transportation strategy is working and our efforts are starting to pay off.”

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation web site, TIGER Grants will be announced by February 17, 2010.

Learn more about Metro’s Active Transportation Partnership here.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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(Oregan) Portland Metro will ask for $75-100 million (TIGER Grant) to build active - Truckingboards Trucking ForumMatt PicioEsta Nevando AquiGLVColdswim Recent comment authors
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Matt Picio
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“Metro will ask the federal government to fund their concept of making the Portland metro region a national petri dish…”

Love this quote – the anti-bike, anti-alternative transportation people are going to go nuts over that one, as will the VC crowd. There is a significant minority of people who don’t want to see new experiments in traffic design, and they’re not going to like this.

I think it’s great that Metro is working on this – I hope they’re successful.

Jonathan Maus (Editor)
Guest

Matt,

the “petri dish” line was mine, not Metro’s. just wanted to clarify that.

also, it’s important to realize that this isn’t just about experimental projects… i was trying to convey that the idea of big federal investment into bike/walk projects is what is so experimental.

maybe petri dish was the wrong way to put it.

Esta Nevando Aqui
Guest
Esta Nevando Aqui

This is the type of leadership we Portlanders expect from our City government and Mayor Whatshisnuts. But it’s great to see regardless. Glad Metro is stepping up.

Matt Picio
Guest

Jonathan – I understood, just pointing out that the phrase has connotations that resonate strongly with those who object to Portland being a “laboratory” for alternative transportation. I actually think that’s a good thing, because this stuff has to be tested in the real world, and there’s no better place than in the US cities which have the population and the target user base to produce real results.

When I said “love this quote” I meant that literally, not ironically. It’s the type that tends to spur discussion.

Joe Adanski
Guest
Joe Adanski

It sounds like a lot of money,but really isn’t. Metro and the City are applying for money for several projects, including my fave, the North Portland Greenway Trail. ( npgreenway.org )

Connecting natural areas with urban transportation needs makes sense as industry butts up against natural areas frequently, especially along the rivers. Yet trails are all to often at the bottom of the pecking order, even though they yield the best results for the least investment. To add one mile of lane on one freeway comes to about &60 million. Imagine what that same amount of money could do for our State.

Until we get our leadership,local,State and Federal governments to realize trails importance, we are doomed to sucking hind teat when it comes to momey for realizing the trail systems we desire.

Joe Adanski
Guest
Joe Adanski

Esta #3…

Metro works on a regional basis,while Portlands interests are within the Citys’ boundaries. Both agencies work actively, both individually and jointly to acquire funding for both trail and environmental projects within Portland. To characterize the City as somehow not working towards improving trail access is not accurate. The biggest difference between the two, IMHO, is that Metros charter sets different goals than the Citys’ does. And that the City has to satisfy a much larger range of priorities and interests than Metro does.

peejay
Guest
peejay

I also love the “petri dish” line. Too often, somebody will try something half-hearted in a city that’s not ready for it, just so for years afterwards, people can say “they tried that and it failed.” Witness the “pedestrian mall” projects in the 70’s and unused bike infrastructure without proper connectivity in other cities today. It just gives ammo for the pro-car lobby. But if an experiment is tested here in Portland, we have a reasonable expectation that if it can work, it will work. I’d like to stay informed about the location and nature of the proposed projects, and opportunity for feedback during the design process.

Phil Hanson
Guest

Bike transportation naysayers will appreciate having alternative transportation infrastructure in place when the effects of peak oil fully kick in and the price of motor fuel soars to $12 a gallon and beyond.

Jonathan Maus (Editor)
Guest

RE: naysayers.

they only exist in America because we haven’t had enough leadership from major organizations like Metro to shut them up.

it’s time for active transportation advocates to lose the inferiority complex and demand the money they rightfully deserve.

Go Metro.

PSS
Guest
PSS

From a naysayer. Yep, it’s a stupid proposal that has nothing to do with how people or business move around the PDX area. Alternatively, if we keep spending money on play, everyone will have lots of time to use facilities like this, because they sure won’t be working. The city should only be spending money on projects that create jobs long term.

Esta Nevando Aqui
Guest
Esta Nevando Aqui

Joe (#6), I recognize that the facts you recite are true, but my opinion is that the City has not shown much leadership in seeking funding for active transportation projects, whereas Metro has.

Jonathan Maus (Editor)
Guest

PSS,

I hope you’re not serious.

I’ve changed the photo in the story so that people understand this isn’t just about recreational trails (which by the way usually have a strong transportation use component as well).

I would love to debate someone trying to convince me that spending $100 million on bike/ped projects in the Metro region is anything less than the best transportation idea we’ve had since taking out the Harbor Freeway and putting in Waterfront Park.

Joe Adanski
Guest
Joe Adanski

Nothing Metro builds in the Portland City limit is done without working with the City, as the end responsibility will ultimately end up with Portland. Metro and the City recognize this. Its not a question of ‘leadership’,its a recognition that Metro and Portland for the most part, work together. And Metro works with each City in the region with the same set of principles.

Coldswim
Guest
Coldswim

I’d pay for tickets to go see that debate, Jonathan.

And go NP Greenway. I appreciate the work those guys/gals have put into trying to make it a reality.

GLV
Guest
GLV

the City has not shown much leadership in seeking funding for active transportation projects, whereas Metro has.

Oh come on. Metro and ODOT control virtually all federal transportation money. The City CAN’T take the lead on stuff like this.

Esta Nevando Aqui
Guest
Esta Nevando Aqui

Leadership is more than seeking federal transportation money. Respectfully, changing transportation in this City *is* about leadership. And we have none because of our politically crippled mayor.

Matt Picio
Guest

Jonathan (#9) – That’s exactly what the problem is in Detroit. Detroit has SEMCOG (Southeast Michigan Council of Governments), which is just like Metro if Metro had no teeth. They act purely as an advisory body, and the 204 MCDs (Minor Civil Divisions) in the 7 county region they advise have largely ignored all of their recommendations. Effectively SEMCOG does nothing but catalog current conditions and document regional growth, change, and decline. Not by choice, but because there was never a mandate from the voters to give SEMCOG authority like there was in greater Portland with Metro.

Esta (#11) – Are you serious? PBOT in particular and the city in general are constantly seeking (and getting) funding for active transportation projects. Trying to pry funds out of the state or feds to pay for projects that don’t involve automobiles or transit is a difficult and thankless task. Difficult because of the entrenched interests, and thankless because 90% of the public doesn’t understand the difficulty, and because many people believe that those projects shouldn’t be funded.

I have my (minor) complaints with both agencies, but by and large they are doing a great job, and I appreciate the work that they do, and the fact that they are willing to work with me and for me to improve walking and biking in Portland, even when I’m not the most congratulatory.

Unrelated to that comment, let me say that we should all continue to remember that the staff of Metro, PBOT, and ODOT are all real human beings, with the same aggravations, concerns, and triumphs we have. And they have bad days, especially when people bitch and complain on 105 degree days when they have 2 reports due and a briefing for the mayor. When you deal with them directly, please CUT THEM SOME SLACK. Thank you.

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[…] (Oregan) Portland Metro will ask for $75-100 million (TIGER Grant) to build active Metro will submit the grant through the Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program, which was signed into law as part of President Obamas Recovery Act. There are $1.5 billion dollars available through the TIGER program for, capital investments in surface transportation infrastructure projects that will have a significant impact on the Nation, a metropolitan area, or a region. More at Bike PortlandBikePortland.org Blog Archive Metro will ask for $75-100 million to build active transportation … […]