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Open house next week shows off five grants that promise street fixes

Posted by on August 8th, 2013 at 4:03 pm

cool bike rack in downtown Portland oregon

Downtown is one of several neighborhoods that
could benefit from these grants.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

A fleet of major projects to improve bike and foot travel in downtown Portland, East Portland, SE Foster Road, SW Barbur Boulevard and Southwest Portland’s neighborhoods will be competing for dollars and attention with freight projects each other at an open house next week.

The five projects are among many jostling for $95 million from Metro’s regional flexible fund allocation, one of the few channels of federal support for bike and walking transportation.

“Your feedback can help decide which projects get recommended to receive funding,” Metro says on its website. The open house is 6-8 pm on Aug. 15, one week from tonight, in the Portland Building at 1120 SW 5th Ave (PDF).

Here are the bike-related projects up for feedback, in person or by email to

East Portland: $8.3 million for numerous changes including $3 million for sidewalk and crossing improvements on Southeast Powell Boulevard, $1.5 million for missing sidewalks, crossings and walking connections identified by East Portland in Motion and the TriMet Pedestrian Network Analaysis, $1.5 million for six miles’ worth of the 100s and 150s neighborhood greenways, and $2 million for crossings, stops and shelters that’ll “greatly enhance service, safety and operations for public transportation users.” Full details in this PDF.

Downtown: A $6 million upgrade to downtown biking and walking that city staff describe as “one of the most significant investments in active transportation this region has experienced in several years.” We’ve previously covered this proposal in February and May. It doesn’t yet identify which streets would see these improvements, but it’s part of a plan to prime downtown for major residential development by making streets safer and more traffic-efficient.

This project would also include “preliminary development of a new greenway trail south of the Marquam Bridge, providing access to the new transit bridge serving the South Waterfront.” Full details in this PDF.

Southeast Foster Road: $2 million to help turn the stretches of this road between Southeast 63rd and 77th avenues and between 80th and Interstate 205 into “regional main streets” by making the street “a safe, pleasant, attractive and comfortable place to walk” and adding “dedicated bicycle facilities on Foster.” Full details in this PDF.

Riding Portland's urban highways-25

One grant would better connect bike
lanes on Barbur Boulevard.

Southwest Barbur Boulevard: $1.8 million to connect gaps in the sidewalks and bike lanes between Southwest 19th Avenue and 26th Way/Barbur Court, including major upgrades to the crossings at Southwest 22nd Avenue and the Southwest Barbur Court connections to 26th Way. Full details in this PDF.

Southwest in Motion: $272,000 to create a five-year strategy for transportation improvements to all of Southwest Portland south of Sunset Highway and outside the South Waterfront. This would be modeled on the city’s recent East Portland in Motion project. Full details in this PDF.

Taken together, these five proposals represent $18.3 million of the $122 million requested by various Multnomah County governments. Metro has $95 million to spend.

Projects will be selected for funding by JPACT and the Metro Council in October, based in part on comments received at next week’s open house and/or sent to Active Transportation Division Manager Dan Bower at

Correction: An earlier version of this post said the proposals listed above were competing with freight projects. This actually happened earlier in the process, when the Metro council decided how much money should be available for freight-related work and how much for active transportation. With the exception of the East Portland grant, each of the above projects are now competing with each other. Thanks to reader Roger Averbeck for pointing this out; it’s not mentioned in documentation from Metro or the city.

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  • Todd Boulanger August 8, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    The article’s photo reminds me that this bike rack and the other rack in the Pearl (the car dashboard with steering wheel) though they look great and were built well…have to be among the least functional bike racks Portland has and are among my top ten in the nation.)

    [Now I could be wrongly assuming this streetscape furniture have a bike parking function versus just the pure enjoyment of them as public art. (As its been 10+ years since I was told they were bike racks.)]

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  • Mark August 8, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    Wow, all five of these projects are sorely needed. The projects in East Portland and SW Portland have the potential to be catalysts in areas where bicycle facilities are lacking. However, if I had to pick just one, I’m sorry to say it would be downtown. A strong central city benefits nearly everyone by connecting people with employment centers and concentrating dense residential development where services are available. While Portland is rightly regarded as the best large American city for cycling, due in large part to its greenway network, downtown has not kept up.

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    • dwainedibbly August 8, 2013 at 5:43 pm

      I agree. These all look like fantastic projects, but downtown really needs work.

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      • gutterbunnybikes August 8, 2013 at 8:01 pm

        No I would disagree. Most of us outside of “the core” don’t really head down there to begin with except for special events. Downtown for me is a rec ride.

        More numbers throughout the city will equate to more voices asking for more improvements and more influence on the decisions of the Departments in charge of future funding and projects. That and we’ll never get even close to the 20%+ number of trips with a focus on the inner core. Most the people of this city don’t live there, and many don’t work there. It does look good for the tourists, but you have to ask yourself, is Portland just a cycling facade, or do we really want to be the cycling center of North America?

        And other than Broadway and Naito Parkway, how much more do we really (realistically) need for downtown. Not that I don’t like the infrastructure downtown, I do. But I feel pretty comfortable on most the streets downtown as they are now (and I ride a 40 year old, 50 lbs 3 speed). Of course, I’ve been riding down there for 20 years, well before any of the improvements.

        If you really want to increase cycling road share we need to make a dent in those errand runs of 1 to 2 miles from someones house to the grocery store. Further improvements to the core won’t accomplish this. However, better access to Foster and SW Barber will.

        We also need to stray away from the hipster/tri athlete image and go for the families.

        Foster and Barber are the two that the city really needs. Increase the numbers over a greater area of the city will have better results all the way around. I don’t see why we need to further pamper the inner core riders experience, when so much of the rest of the city is in desperate need for better access and facilities.

        Especially when you consider mid east side and SW have some of the greatest increases in bicycling ridership per dollar spent (next to nothing in many areas).

        Heck a large part of Downtown area (Pearl) the cycling rates are decreasing as they become more pedestrian.

        Foster gets my vote
        1) It will add the greatest numbers of cultural and economic diversity to the cycling table than any of the other plans.

        2) It will fill a huge gap in SE cycling infrastructure, with this project and the delayed 50’s bike highway, and the currently in progress Division project will open up facilities to roughly 15-20% of the cities population in about a year.

        3) It will help attach some of the improvements that have been made in outer Portland to the inner paths, that currently pretty much dead ends at 82nd/205.

        It’s gotta be Foster or Barber, anything else won’t be effective.

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        • CPAC August 9, 2013 at 9:29 am

          I disagree. Downtown is still the number 1 destination for people to work, and with bike-share coming, we want it to be as positive experience for everybody as possible. Maybe some people who drive downtown for work see the new bike lanes (or other infrastructure) and decide to do their lunchtime errands on one of those new bike share bikes. Maybe the next time they come downtown for an event they ride bike share from dinner to the concert. Maybe they like these experiences so much they decide to try riding to work, or riding for errands from home….

          I agree with you that downtown is not all that bad for those of us already willing to ride, but if we’re going to convert more people–especially those who are concerned–welcoming infrastructure and bike share is an excellent way to do it.

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          • Indy August 9, 2013 at 11:41 am

            Downtown is a complete breeze to bike compared to any other part of NW/SW Portland, period. The traffic slows, there are dedicated bike lanes, there are bikes in numbers, there’s plenty of bike parking and amenities.

            We’re talking tens of miles in NW/SW Portland are downright deadly with cars going 45 MPH+ right next to commuters.

            Focus on getting people to their jobs first.

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          • gutterbunnybikes August 9, 2013 at 8:53 pm

            I’m actually quite surprised that you don’t think the other projects wouldn’t benefit downtown too. The East side project and the Foster project will allow many more people access to direct and safer routes to downtown. Same as the Barber project. These three projects would help close of many of the existing gaps and make access to downtown to many more people than just a few people in condos on the Waterfront.

            Also increasing the infrastructure in SE and SW would make cycling more of an option for families and kids. Families and kids are pretty much lacking in the inner core of the city. Kids that grow up cycling will continue to cycle and without trying to sound too cheesy…they are the future of cycling.

            And there is a greater economic, social, and cultural diversity in the middle and outer rings of the city than there is in the inner core. Again these are people we need in bicycle seats to continue growing as a cycling city. You want to see more funding get the lower and middle class people behind the handle bars. We’ve got enough rich white guys biking.

            And do you really think there are more people employed Downtown than the rest of the city? That’s a pretty bold statement. Considering the Industrial areas and Terminals of N/NE and inner SE, and the 205 corridor, Airport and Airport way. Now consider all the commercial districts. Now add all the businesses in SW that isn’t downtown. Downtown might have more office workers and paper pushers per acre than the rest of the city…but it isn’t even close to having more employment than the rest of the city. You gotta remember there are a whole lot of us that built that building your cubicle is in, and we don’t tend to live in the inner core.

            Don’t think that I don’t support improvements everywhere. But it’s just a really bad idea to fund a project that only applies to a small percentage of the population in a fairly small area that already has adequate bicycle access at the expense of three or four projects that can make a world of difference to almost half of the cities physical geography. I’d hope to see NE/N get the next round after this round in SE/SW before Downtown gets any more major improvements.

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  • Roger August 8, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    The active transportation projects are not competing with the freight projects for the flex funds, the AT projects are competing with each other.

    Within the City of Portland, there is $10.23 million available for AT projects from this grant source. Not enough $$ to fund all the Portland AT projects. City Council will have a difficult decision to make.

    The downtown project would use half the funds. Alternatively, City Council could fund all the projects except the downtown project and have $$ left over; or some other combination…

    I hope public input makes a difference.

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  • Roger August 8, 2013 at 6:21 pm

    To add a few details, before you do the math:

    The 8 million for East Portland comes from a
    separate pot; and the St Johns Truck Strategy is a 2 million dollar AT projectdespite the project name..

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  • Erinne August 9, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    I think this sentence is missing something: “”Your feedback can help decide which projects get recommended to receive funding,” Metro says on its website, which is 6-8 pm on Aug. 15, one week from tonight, in the Portland Building at 1120 SW 5th Ave (PDF).” I’m assuming it should include something about an open house or something similar?

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  • Erinne August 9, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    Southwest in Motion sounds like it would be just another plan. Does the city not have enough plans for biking, etc, already? Good lord, if we finished just one plan we’ve made, just think of the amazing progress we would have made! In other words, down with plans, up with action.

    Other than shooting that down, I don’t know how to decide among so many worthy projects.

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