A committee set up to review applications for a major state funding program made their final selections yesterday and projects that will improve bicycling — including bike parking at the Goose Hollow MAX station — fared well. $42 million in state-backed Lottery funds were up for grabs in the Connect Oregon program this cycle (its fifth) — and this was the first time in the program’s history that bicycling and walking projects were eligible for the money.
Advocates from the Bicycle Transportation Alliance fought to change state law in order to have a shot at a piece of this pie. And now we’re all reaping rewards as the final recommended list includes over $8 million in projects that will improve bicycling and walking.
In total, 37 (out of 104) projects have been selected for funding. The largest award, $6 million, would go to the Port of Morrow for a cold storage rail facility and the smallest award, $16,000 would go toward an airport master plan for the Grant County Regional Airport.
On the bike-specific side of things, the big selection was the Tualatin River Greenway Gap Completion project which is slated for $1.6 million. That project will fill a 0.77 mile gap between Nyberg Lane and Martinazzi Avenue. According to the ODOT project summary, it will link 67,000 nearby residents to jobs and retail and “provide safe and convenient multimodal access across I-5, a route for which no safe connection currently exists.”
TriMet won $1.5 million for their Westside Bike & Rides: Access to Jobs project, which is a package of “last mile” access improvements at the Beaverton Creek and Goose Hollow MAX stations. Project Manager Jeff Owen says, “This project will build enhanced bike parking at Goose Hollow and Beaverton Creek, along with a new trail connection at Beaverton Creek that would facilitate connections on the north side of the light rail tracks to future trails by Tualatin Hills Parks and Recreation District and Nike.” Matching funds for the $6 million will come from Washington County.
One project that didn’t get funded was PBOT’s Portland Bike Share Phase II. That’s because the application was pulled by PBOT at the last minute, due to what they characterize as unforeseen delays in the Bike Share project.
The Connect Oregon program funding is dedicated solely to projects that are not on public highway rights of way. Other categories of projects that were in the running for the money included port/marine, aviation, rail, and transit.
As this process got underway late last year there was some consternation among active transportation insiders that even though the projects were eligible in the program, they wouldn’t be able to compete head-to-head with the entrenched political power behind rail, marine, aviation, and other “off-highway” interests. Those concerns now appear to have given way to confidence for the next round. One source said the bike/ped category was only expected to get about $2 million of the $42 million.
Besides the initial heavy lifting by BTA Advocacy Director Gerik Kransky, two key advocates on the Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (OBPAC) — Susan Peithman and (2014 Alice Award Winner) Jenna Stanke — represented biking and walking projects at the final selection committee meeting yesterday. “They did a great job of advocating and negotiating for bike ped funding among a powerful group of people,” commented an ODOT source via email this afternoon.
There’s still one last hurdle for these projects (although its likely to be smooth sailing): This recommended list now goes to the Oregon Transportation Commission where there will be a public hearing in Salem on July 17th and a final decision made in August.
See the full list of funded projects via this PDF.
— Learn more about Connect Oregon in our archives.