Ruckus Warehouse Sale

Sullivan’s Gulch misses out on funding opp: Here’s what made the cut

Posted by on January 9th, 2012 at 3:08 pm

Detail of proposed
improvements to SW Barbur Blvd.

ODOT has whittled down a list of 89 “non-highway transportation projects” vying for $21 million in federal flexible funds, to just 35. Three City of Portland projects have made it onto the second round; but unfortunately, a project that could have built the first segment of the Sullivan’s Gulch Corridor did not make the cut.

With cities around the state clamoring for federal funds as their local budgets shrink, the competition is fierce. ODOT received requests totaling $89 million for the $21 million in available funds, which the state has set aside specifically for “non-highway” projects.

In the last go ’round of this funding process, the City of Portland nabbed about $3 million, enough to fund two significant projects.

While we crossed our fingers for money to get the Sullivan’s Gulch Corridor started, there are several other promising projects from our region that are still on the list.

The City of Portland is requesting $637,083 for their East Portland Access to Transit Project (about $75,000 short of the total project cost). In addition to bus stop improvements, the project would design and construct a new Bike & Ride facility at the Gateway Transit Center. The Bike & Ride would have secure (key-card entry) parking for 80-90 bicycles and would also come with improved connections to the I-205 multi-use path.

The SW Barbur demonstration project has a lot of momentum, not just because it missed out on a recent funding opportunity (which peeved activists and put the pressure on politicians), but because it is highly supported by ODOT themselves.

Detail of Barbur Blvd from 1999 Streetscape Plan document

The $1.2 million project (almost all of which this grant would pay for) focuses mainly on making it easier to cross Barbur between SW 19th and 26th Avenues — improvements which were identified in the 1999 Barbur Streescape Plan. If funding, the City would install new sidewalks, curb extensions, median islands, and crosswalks. While focused on walking safety, anything that tames the notoriously dangerous auto traffic on SW Barbur is good for bicycling.

The other City of Portland project that made the cut is a $481,000 marketing plan to encourage residents of downtown and the central eastside to get out of their cars and utilize the forthcoming Eastside Streetcar. The new streetcar line is slated to open in September 2012 and PBOT says that if the 32,000 nearby residents hop on board it could equal 20 to 25 million fewer vehicle miles traveled annually along with a host of reductions in air polluting chemicals and green house gas emissions.

Two other projects in our region that are still under consideration by ODOT are the Intertwine Regional Trail Signage Project (Metro) and the Arata Road Pedestrian and Bicycle Enhancement Project (Multnomah County).

The Oregon Transportation Commission will consider the projects at their meeting next month and they’ll announce their final selections in March. Learn more about ODOT’s Flexible Fund project on their website.

There’s still reason to be excited about the Sullivan’s Gulch project. To get the latest scoop and get involved with planning, check out the project open house this Wednesday at 6:00 pm.

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  • Neighbor Gregg January 9, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    Wait. The streetcar was free. Now it is not.

    We are asking for $481,000 to market to residents to use the streetcar?

    Why don’t we just make the buses and streetcars and MAX free downtown? That would be a great marketing ploy to get people to use transit, and it should cost a lot less than $481,000.

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    • J_R January 9, 2012 at 8:34 pm

      I agree. We shouldn’t be spending this money to promote the streetcar. The eastside streetcar won’t even be in operation until September 2012 at the earliest. To me, it seems a complete waste to begin to encourage its use before it’s even operational. Maybe next year.

      In the mean time, let’s spend the money on keeping fareless square downtown or building some infrastructure, like bike lanes or signalized crossings at key locations.

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    • Chris I January 10, 2012 at 6:55 am

      Hey, we need to keep those marketing professionals employed. The private sector isn’t doing it…

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  • John Lascurettes January 9, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    Sullivan’s Gulch cut: aw nuts!

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  • Mindful Cyclist January 9, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    Not the news I wanted to hear about the Sullivans Gulch MUP the same day I found out I was not going to get transferred to the other work location that was going to be closer to home!

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  • q`Tzal January 9, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    Projects that have advanced to Round 2 of the Flexible Funds Program in Region 1 (Portland metro area):

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  • Spiffy January 9, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    I think Barbur is a more worthy cause so I don’t mind waiting a little longer for Sullivan’s…

    the existence of the current Barbur scares the hell out of me…

    the lack of Sullivan’s is just annoying…

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  • GlowBoy January 9, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    This isn’t the same pool of funds that was used to fund bikesharing, was it? Either way, losing funding for the Sullivan’s Gulch trail is really too bad.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 9, 2012 at 8:52 pm

      Hey GlowBoy,

      Good question. This stuff is really confusing. But no, this isn’t the same funding pot as the bike share project… Although the source of them is the same — the federal government. The bike share project where “flexible” – meaning discretionary and not targeted toward a specific project by the feds – funds doled out by Metro. These are the same type of funds but this pot is doled out by ODOT.

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  • Andrew Seger January 9, 2012 at 6:51 pm

    I can’t feel too heartbroken about the lack of funding for this stretch of Sullivan’s Gulch. 70th to 82nd would really just bring the backlash onto the Sullivan’s Gulch corridor without actually expanding capacity or making it easier to bike around Portland. Much better to build something demonstrably useful right off the bat like a connection to Gateway. This stretch of the corridor is sort of akin to building High Speed Rail from SF to LA and building the first portion from Bakersfield to Fresno.

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    • Chris I January 10, 2012 at 8:28 am

      That’s a really good analogy. I think we should wait until an agreement can be reached with Union Pacific for the rest of the trail; and it makes sense to start closer to downtown, as it will see more use.

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    • Spencer Boomhower January 10, 2012 at 12:36 pm

      @Andrew Seger:

      Well I think the idea behind it was that you’ve got to start somewhere, and this stretch was low-hanging fruit. I can see the logic behind it. I’ve always found it hard to start projects, but once started they take on a certain amount of momentum that helps plow through the more difficult parts. Like with a difficult crossword puzzle. 🙂 You start where you can, and work from there.

      Out of my own curiosity (and also because I’m on the Sullivan’s Gulch Trail Project Advisory Committee), I’m curious what you expect to be the nature of the backlash that would be directed at the trail if built on that stretch? Of course all bike projects seem to get some backlash, but do you think this stretch in particular would face some special resistance? It seemed like in this location it might be a nice addition to what currently looks to be a strip of grass with a cement wall with a freeway on the other side.

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      • Chris I January 10, 2012 at 1:16 pm

        Maybe they would use the “expensive trail to nowhere” angle? Not sure, really. They can’t be upset about “bikes taking away space for cars”, but they can complain about the cost.

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      • Andrew Seger January 10, 2012 at 1:57 pm

        My concern is that the Sullivan’s Gulch trail will be the single most expensive bike project ever undertaken by the city. While pedestrians will benefit as well it seems pretty clear to me that this is primarily about moving people on bikes quickly through areas that lack connections. You’d know better than I would about the cost but the number thats been batted around here is $50-60 million for the total project. That’s way more than anything else we’ve done and I can just picture KGW sitting on 82nd showing fresh paved trail with no one on it while they go on about the staggering cost of a trail to nowhere.

        Having said that I’m super excited about the project and totally understand the rational behind getting it started. In this case I’m not sure it’s worth it to start with this small section that wont get a whole ton of use on its own.

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        • GlowBoy January 10, 2012 at 4:17 pm

          That’s a bigger number than I’d seen. More expensive even than the numbers I’ve seen for the Red Electric project in SW Portland, which frankly is far more critically needed than Sullivan’s Gulch is.

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          • Andrew Seger January 10, 2012 at 8:29 pm

            I don’t have any firm numbers, but even the 2030 bike plan estimated $27 million, which would put the SG Corridor on par with the eastbank esplanade (~30million). From what I understand the $50-60 million is the ballpark higher end with the bridge over 7th. Hopefully it ends up much closer to $27 million. Either way this is by far the most expensive bike project attempted so far.

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            • Allan January 16, 2012 at 4:50 pm

              With this trail being so expensive, I wonder if it might make sense to build out the NP Greenway first. The highway +MAX+freight rail next to the trail will not exactly enhance the experience. Its not going to be as quiet as the Springwater Corridor.

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  • Paul Johnson January 17, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    In any other city, this would have been built as a no-brainer.

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