Roundup of LaHood’s visit to Portland

SW Moody project groundbreaking-6

LaHood (R) listens as Congressman Earl Blumenauer
discusses the SW Moody project. Mayor Adams
is in the background.
(Photo © J. Maus)

The US Department of Transportation Secretary is on a whirlwind trip through Portland to show his support for road safety, bicycling, and streetcars. LaHood is joined by several high-level DOT staffers and Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff. I was hoping to meet up with him for a bike ride this morning, but LaHood is apparently suffering from a cold and the ride has been canceled.

Yesterday, LaHood visited the manufacturing headquarters of United Streetcar along with Congressman Peter DeFazio and Earl Blumenauer. As he did in his 2009 visit, LaHood had nothing but good things to say about Portland’s commitment to streetcars and the bonus points we get for making the streetcars right here in Oregon. Writing on his blog this morning, LaHood shared shared his love for Portland:

“Out-innovating and out-building the rest of the world provides a clear path toward winning the future. And it’s exciting for me to see that vision already coming to life in Portland, Oregon.

By adding innovative transit opportunities, Portland has become a model livable community, a city where public transportation brings housing closer to jobs, schools, and essential services. And perhaps nothing symbolizes Portland’s livability better than the modern streetcars operating on its streets and the streetcars being built right in Portland at United Streetcar.”

Later in the day, LaHood, DeFazio and Blumenauer joined Portland Mayor Sam Adams and a host of other local transportation leaders at an informal reception in Northwest Portland. The event focused on road safety and distracted driving and was hosted by the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA), the local non-profit credited with getting LaHood here in the first place.

Here’s a snip from a recap of the event by the Portland Mercury:

“Distracted driving is an epidemic!” said LaHood, waving his cell phone in one hand and noting that 5,000 people die on the roads annually because drivers are texting or yapping while driving. “We’re right at the point with distracted driving that we were with drunk driving thirty years ago.”

The Mercury also reported that Mayor Adams stated his support for the “Vision Zero” concept. The BTA has stated that this is a central focus for them and they’ve partnered with volunteers and PSU students on a Vision Zero pilot project in North Portland.

The Portland Business Journal also covered the event and reported on one exchange about the challenges ahead for infrastructure funding:

“In 2011, we’re talking about taking $100 billion out of the budget, then getting the deficit reduced in 2012,” he said in response to a question as to whether Congress would soon free up money for a federal bicycle program. “Do you know how hard it is to find $100 billion? It’s not easy.”

After last night’s event, BTA advocacy manager Gerik Kranksy shared via Twitter that he was inspired by hearing from national leaders about Portland’s successes, but also “terrified” by the pressure to do even more:

“Had a good time listening to transpo leaders. Both motivated & terrified by the fact that Portland does it better than anywhere else in US… Motivated because all eyes are on us and terrified because I know how much more we need to do.”

Later this morning, LaHood will attend a press conference for the SW Moody project in the South Waterfront with a host of Oregon leaders including Reps Blumenauer, DeFazio, David Wu and Kurt Schrader along with U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, Oregon Transportation Commission Chair Gail Achterman and OHSU President Joe Robertson.

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11 years ago

“& terrified by the fact that Portland does it better than anywhere else in US”

i want to see less self-congratulation (and terror) and more passion (and anger).

11 years ago

Exactly! Step 1-stop wasting time on Twitter.

Dan Kaufman
11 years ago

Did someone remind LaHood, DeFazio, Blumenauer, Adams et al – that the CRCCorridor is a massive step backwards?

Great, twitter away! All the attention on PDX alt trans is great but we need to remind the politicos that a lot of this started when Portland traded in the Mt. Hood freeway for the Max.

Lately, it seems the argument on the CRCCorridor has been re-framed to how ugly should the bridge be. We must demand a smarter solution.

Hart Noecker
11 years ago

If finding $100 million for bikes is hard, let’s hope finding $10 billion for a nightmare freeway is impossible.

11 years ago

Any mention that money spent on the streetcar (and aerial tram) is money not being spent earthquake-proofing our bridges?

Chris I
Chris I
11 years ago


Were you aware that the $100 million streetcar has helped spur over $3 billion in dense development in Portland, which encourages cycling? And what was the Tram? $50 million?

If you want money to retrofit bridges, the $4 billion CRC project might be a good place to start.

11 years ago

portland biking is like totally safe, just look at the studies, we are already perfect, right mayor adams?