Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on June 10th, 2011 at 1:50 pm
“By extending the community process to be more inclusive, by listening with respect to all voices, and by striving for a project that meets the multiple objectives we’ve identified, I believe we can arrive at a preferred project alternative that is well-supported and technically feasible.”
— Ellen Vanderslice, PBOT
The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) issued a letter to stakeholders yesterday to explain why they’ve decided to extend the timeline on their North Williams Traffic Safety Operations Project.
We shared a report from the most recent Stakeholder Advisory Committee meeting when the announcement was first made. During that meeting it was clear that — even though a recent open house showed a strong endorsement for how to proceed with the project — PBOT is still facing stiff objections from some members of the SAC and the general public.
The letter (below) is signed by PBOT project manager Ellen Vanderslice.
Dear stakeholders and friends of the North Williams Traffic Safety Operations Project:
I’m writing to let you know that the project team is extending our community process for the North Williams project. We are broadening our outreach and doing more listening to ensure that we achieve the first objective for the project: to conduct an open planning process through which all voices can be heard by the City.
Starting before the project kicked off, our team has worked to try to build relationships and trust with diverse stakeholders, including affected residents, businesses, churches and users of the roadway. Partly due to this early work, and partly to respect the time volunteered by those who agreed to serve on the committee, we set an optimistic schedule of Stakeholder Advisory Committee meetings. And let me say how very grateful I am for the time and interest you have all demonstrated in our work together to date.
As hard as you all and the project team have worked for the past five months, we haven’t reached a conclusion – yet. There are both technical and community issues to be resolved. We are not yet ready to move to the next step of project development. By extending the community process to be more inclusive, by listening with respect to all voices, and by striving for a project that meets the multiple objectives we’ve identified, I believe we can arrive at a preferred project alternative that is well-supported and technically feasible.
I am asking you, as you’re able, to stick with the community process over the next couple of months. The project team expects to develop a number of ways for you and others to interact with this project this summer. If you are interested and willing to be involved, let me know!
In other Williams project news, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance has also made a statement. Staffer Susan Peithman, who’s a member of the SAC, wrote a blog post applauding PBOT’s decision and offered hope that the work done in this process might transcend this one project…
“We encourage PBOT to take a reasonable amount of time to talk with leaders of the African American communities of the N. Williams corridor about the real and perceived impacts of these transportation safety improvements…
The BTA is looking at one specific question that emerged from the discussion. How can we transition the bicycle from a symbol of gentrification to a vehicle for positive change for all members of a community?
It is not enough to provide access to people unless they’re part of the process. Delays are challenging and frustrating. The pace of bureaucracy can be maddening when the solution seems obvious and the implementation is relatively simple. But this is a situation when taking the time is critical. PBOT needs to get this project right.”
Read past coverage of this project here.