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Adams says Green Streets funding plan a “double-win” and won’t increase sewer rates

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“Over the past two years, actual contract costs have come in much lower than the estimates on which rates were based. These significant savings mean we can make these Green Streets investments without impacting rate payers.”
— Mayor Sam Adams

Last week, the City released the ordinance language behind Mayor Sam Adams’ plans to find $20 million to “kickstart” funding of the 2030 Bike Master Plan. According to the ordinance, the $20 million would be allocated from the capital project budget of the Bureau of Environmental Services and directed into bike boulevards via BES’s Green Streets program.

Also released last week was a memo from BES stating where the $20 million would come from. That memo grabbed a lot of headlines because it said the $20 million would come, in large part, from funds set aside to fix old, leaky sewer pipelines. As you can imagine, that idea rankled some Portlanders.

But, as Adams pointed out via Twitter yesterday, that memo was from BES, not the Mayor’s office. In response to an update I posted that linked to an article in the Tribune titled, Swap sewers for bikes?, Adams tweeted, “this is Saltzman’s bike funding $ list not mine. Mine tomorrow.”

So, just where will Adams’ promised $20 million come from? According to a statement from Adams’ office, he’ll bring a proposal to council Wednesday (3/10) that will “re-allocate a portion of the unused contingency and contract savings that have become available within the Bureau of Environmental Services as a result of the recession.”

That idea is not new. Adams mentioned it at the Council hearing on the Bike Plan back in February 11th. What is new are the specific details behind the idea.

In his statement today, Adams calls Green Streets funding a “double-win” for Portlanders because of how they treat stormwater and calm traffic (learn more about Green Streets in this video).

Here’s how Adams explains the contract savings:

“Over the past two years, actual contract costs have come in much lower than the estimates on which rates were based. These significant savings mean we can make these Green Streets investments without impacting rate payers. As a result, millions of dollars in contract savings give us the opportunity to reprogram funding for Green Streets investments.”

And here is Adams’ detailed list of funding sources that account for the $20 million for each of the next three years (through FY 2014):

Grey to Green – $3.0 million
This funding is already slated for city-wide green street projects. It would be redirected to Green Streets projects to enhance prioritized bicycle boulevards through 2014.

Recession-related contractor bid/contingency savings – $15.4 million
As analysis from the City’s Office of Management and Finance shows, BES has experienced millions of dollars of contract savings over the past two years, providing the opportunity to reprogram funding for Green Street investments.

1% for Green – $0.8 million
Water, BES and PBOT pay 1% of construction costs for projects in the public right of way which do not trigger the Stormwater Management Manual requirements. Some of this money currently funds green streets. This would redirect all of it through 2014.

Innovative Wet Weather Grant $0.8 million
This is money received as a grant from EPA to build innovative stormwater facilities. Green Streets projects are an allowable use of these grant funds.

Total – $20 million

Adams also released a matrix of BES and PBOT projects prepared by the Office of Management and Finance that detailed contract savings amounts.

This proposal will go in front of Council on Wednesday. More coverage in the Portland Tribune.