City’s new tax district would help pay for bike projects

Posted by on March 10th, 2011 at 11:53 am

Detail of map showing projects that would
be funded by new tax district.
PDF of larger map

Next month, the City of Portland Bureau of Transportation hopes to bring a plan to City Council that would create a new “Transportation System Development Charge (TSDC) Overlay District.” TSDCs are taxes levied on real estate developers that are calculated based on new traffic their properties are expected to generate. The funds are then used on infrastructure projects that increase traffic capacity.

PBOT says the need for a new tax overlay district arose because they’re still $5 million short on the $30 million commitment they made to help pay for TriMet’s $1.5 billion Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail project.

At a meeting of the City’s Bicycle Advisory Committee on Tuesday, PBOT staffer Shoshanah Oppenheim presented a list of five projects — in addition to the light rail project — that the City would fund with the estimated $13.5 million the new taxes would generate. The list includes two bike-centric projects.

Here is the list of the projects and the estimated amounts they’d get from the new taxes:

  • Clinton to the River Multi-Use Path — $600,000
  • Broadway Cycle Track and Streetscape Improvements* — $674,107
  • SW 4th Avenue Streetscape — $1,301,088
  • SE Water Avenue Relocation — $1,565,478
  • “Close the Loop” (take Eastside Streetcar Loop over new transit bridge) — $5,425,243
  • Portland Milwaukie Light Rail — $5,000,000

This was the first I’d heard of any improvements being made to the Broadway cycle track. At the meeting, Oppenheim said “there’s a desire to build a raised, separated bikeway project.” Curious, I asked PBOT for more details about what the $600,000 worth of “improvements” might entail.

PBOT spokesperson Dan Anderson says details about what the $600,000 raised through the TSDC plan would pay for are yet to be determined, but he confirmed it would be used to fund, “permanent improvements to the Broadway Cycle Track from SW Clay to SW Jackson.” He added that, “Any future improvements will depend on the results of the city traffic engineer’s evaluation, which is expected in several months.”

Oppenheim asked the Bike Advisory Committee for a letter in support of the project list. Despite two members from Southwest Portland who were concerned that none of the projects improved connections from southwest into downtown, the BAC voted to draft a letter supporting the list.

PBOT plans to bring the TSDC Overlay District plan to City Council for adoption on April 6th. Learn more here.

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BURR
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BURR

cycling in Portland is going to get substantially worse for the next 5 to 10 years while everything is torn up to build this stuff

cyclist
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cyclist

1) The whole Clinton to the River project covers about .6 miles (from SE Clinton & SE 12th to SE Caruthers & SE Water)

2) The Broadway cycle track is .3 miles

3) SW 4th Ave Streetscape is not a bike project, I doubt it involves any road construction, it’s likely focused on sidewalk amenities (benches, art, trees, lighting), nothing gets torn up.

4) SE Water Ave relocation will result in construction on about .3 miles of road, fortunately there’s a more-than-viable alternative (the waterfront behind OMSI) that most people already take anyway.

5) Construction around OMSI will likely close either Water Ave or the Esplanade (but not both simultaneously), worst case scenario is they’d run you on some sort of half mile detour to get to the Esplanade, but I suspect the SE Water Ave relocation construction is meant to make it feasible for bike and truck traffic to coexist (i.e. widening of the existing road to allow for big bike lanes on both sides). Even at worst you’re talking about a detour, not an impassible barrier.

So all told you’re talking about 1.5 miles of construction that affect bikes. how exactly do you expect this tiny amount of construction to mess up Portland substantially for the next 5 to 10 years?

BURR
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BURR

you’re ignoring all the streetcar construction….

JR
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JR

Umm.. that’s happening regardless of the TSDC district projects and for good reason – the City would like more people to take transit and bike rather than drive. The streetcar is part of an overall agenda that improves accessibility and reduces reliance on cars. I’m NOT sorry you have a little bit of inconvenience while that occurs. Settle down and enjoy your ride rather than racing through the streets daily. OR join the ranks of perturbed drivers who don’t care about long term goals and are more concerned with their immediate commute rants.

Steve B
Guest

I bet we could bring the Broadway cycletrack all the way to the waterfront for $600k, minus signalization.

spare_wheel
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spare_wheel

I came close to being crushed by a truck when exiting the cycle track earlier this week. It was a classic right hook compounded by the complete lack of visibility due to the row of parked cars. I am never going to use the cycle track again.

Steve B
Guest

Yikes! Sorry to hear that, spare_wheel. Where exactly was this? I’m not familiar with any right-turns in that area, was it a truck making a right onto the campus? Please make sure you report your experience: 503-823-SAFE

J_R
Guest
J_R

There are a couple key issues with regard to SDCs. They must be to “increase capacity” and cannot be to correct “existing deficiencies.” The SDCs are charges against new development, so the fees have to be to build system capacity that accommodates new traffic. For a couple of the projects cited above, those are going to be tough conditions to meet. Don’t get too excited about them being built soon.

are
Guest

while the BAC voted to endorse this “system charge district overlay,” two members of the BAC are planning to submit a dissenting statement, expressing disappointment that 405 is being treated as a boundary, and nothing is planned to improve connectivity to the light rail from the southwest

bikeyvol
Guest
bikeyvol

while on the topic of improvements – any chance that ODOT will address SW Barbur’s safety deficiencies in the near future? Doubtful given it would only affect a handful of people and widening those bridges to accomodate true bike lanes would be incredibly expensive. IMHO – I think it’s a more than worthwhile investment!

Steve B
Guest

We absolutely need investment on SW Barbur, and we can’t wait 10-20 years for light rail. Kiel Johnson has an update for us here: http://www.activerightofway.org/p/friends-of-barbur-a-way-forward