Another look at Portland’s list of federal priority transportation projects

Policymakers Ride-10

Portland wants $25 million for 100
miles of new bike boulevards.
(Photos © J. Maus)

After a press conference in Portland last week, the City of Portland and Mayor Adams put out a statement that included a list of “priority projects” they’d like to see funded in the upcoming rewrite of the transportation bill. I sort of glossed over the list in my story about that press conference, so I wanted to focus your attention on it again.

Below is the list of projects (full project descriptions here) followed by some clarifying comments about them by Mayor Adams’ Transportation Policy Director Catherine Ciarlo.

Capitol Highway plans.

SW Capitol Highway – $10 million to improve SW Capitol Highway between SW Multnomah Boulevard and SW Taylors Ferry Road. Project website (PBOT).

102nd Street Boulevard Improvements/Gateway Phase II – $3 million to implement Phase II of a project targeted at improving NE 102nd Avenue – the main commercial corridor through the Gateway District of East Portland. Project website (PBOT).

Portland to Lake Oswego Streetcar – $163 million for the Portland to Lake Oswego streetcar line. The project will extend the existing Portland streetcar line from SW Lowell Street in the South Waterfront district to Lake Oswego. Project website (Metro).

Portland Bicycle Boulevard Project – $25 million for over 100 city-wide miles of bike boulevards. PBOT’s bike boulevard website.

Portland Streetcar Planning and Alternatives Analysis – $5 million for streetcar planning and alternatives analysis.

Division Street Reconstruction/Brooklyn Creek Basin – $3.6 million, roughly one-third of which would construct green-street projects in targeted combined sewer catchment areas to control stormwater runoff from more than eight acres of public streets between Mt. Tabor and the Willamette River.

Union Station – $24 million for the next phase of improvements to rehabilitate Union Station.

I asked Catherine Ciarlo in the Mayor’s Office how this list came together. She first wanted to make it clear that getting federal dollars is imperative because there’s very little local transportation money and “it’s declining all the time.” The only way Portland can do large projects, she said, is to leverage large amounts of federal funding.

“It’s a mix of looking at needs we have as a city, lining up the projects that will be the most competitive in the pots of money we submit them to, and looking at the strategic possibility of factors that those will get funded.”
— Catherine Ciarlo, Mayor Adams’ Office

As for these specific projects, Ciarlo said, “They represent is a cross-section of the bigger projects the City of Portland is working to move forward… They have been weighed in on and vetted by all of City Council.” Key to what makes it onto the list, added Ciarlo, is an effort to be as strategic as possible. It’s a combination of matching projects to particular funding programs, to the particular interests of our congressional delegation, and other subjective factors. “It’s a mix of looking at needs we have as a city, lining up the projects that will be the most competitive in the pots of money we submit them to, and looking at the strategic possibility of factors that those will get funded.”

Ciarlo says streetcar projects are a good example:

“Portland is known nationally for our streetcar successes [as this recent USA Today article attests] and it’s strategically to our advantage to put something forward to Congress that says we’re building on that system.”

The bike boulevard funding request jumps out as the most bike-centric project of them all. Ciarlo says Mayor Adams specifically scheduled a trip to Beach School while Congressmen Jim Oberstar (D-MN) and Peter DeFazio (D-OR) were in town last week to highlight the City’s work on them. “We wanted the Mayor to spend time with the Congressmen, remind them about our bike boulevard request, show them what they look like, and how bike boulevards connect to our Safe Routes to Schools program.”

The Obama Administration recently spurred momentum on a reauthorization of the federal transportation bill by announcing a $50 billion infrastructure spending plan. It will be interesting to see how/if this list evolves as the transportation bill becomes more of a reality.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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Chris Smith
Chris Smith
13 years ago

I’d love to see a major cycletrack project on that list!

13 years ago

I look forward to seeing the 102nd project completed.

13 years ago

The 102nd Ave project is essential for providing safe, direct connections on the outer eastside. This must move forward.

13 years ago

The Lake Oswego street car is a rare example of a line/extension which will not have big negative impacts on cycling. I think most of it will run off the actual roadway, yes?

matt picio
13 years ago

+1 on the 102nd Avenue project. There are so few N-S routes east of I-205, and nearly ALL of them are on busy arterials. There’s not a lot the city can do to forge low-traffic connections out there, so the projects that add dedicated facilities on the arterials are all the more important. 102nd has a lot of destinations on it (mostly grocery / shopping) that local residents need access to – including that minority of residents out there who travel by bike.

13 years ago

Jonathan, what ever happened to the proposed Bike Boulevard on SE Bush? I thought that was supposed to be built this summer, but there is no sign of construction at all. I don’t think the SE 101st/100th boulevard has seen any activity either. The City’s bike boulevard web page hasn’t been updated in ages. Are these projects stalled due to finances? How about an update article?