Support BikePortland - Journalism that Matters

Novick, Treat will trumpet transportation needs on van tour tomorrow

Posted by on August 18th, 2014 at 10:53 am

Street fee press conference-1

Novick to hit the streets.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick and PBOT Director Leah Treat want to hear from you about neighborhood transportation needs. They also wants to draw attention to existing problems they’d like to fix with your money.

Novick and Treat are in the middle of a major effort to pass a “street fee” that would raise new money for street repairs and updates. At tomorrow’s “Transportation Needs Tour” they’re inviting the news media to join them in a for a stop at three locations that’ll highlight where new revenue would be spent.

Keeping to the City’s strategy of not mentioning the “b” word (bikes); a statement released this morning about the tour specifically addresses “streets that lack sidewalks” and “commercial corridors in need of preventative maintenance.” In addition to the three stops, the City will also unveil the Portland Transportation Needs Guidebook, “an online compilation of the maintenance and safety needs identified by the Portland Bureau of Transportation and prioritized by community input over the years.”

On his own website, Novick explained more about the impetus for the tour:

“I spend a lot of time hearing about and talking about and trying to do something about the gaps in our pedestrian network; I decided it would be nice to see some of the work that the Bureau of Transportation has been able to do with the limited resources it has. While out looking at a couple of locations, some neighbors stopped me to say what a difference the safety improvement have made in the community.”

Advertisement

While he has barely mentioned bicycling or bike-related projects during his tenure as PBOT commissioner, Novick has repeatedly talked up walking projects. During press conferences and other events related to the street fee, he often recalls his experience of helping families cross a dangerous section of NE Prescott following the installation of 11 blocks of new sidewalks. Novick has also lobbied (unsuccessfully) for crossing beacons out of the City’s General Fund budget and he wrote a guest column in The Oregonian back in January titled, Portland needs more money for pedestrian safety.

The political context of this event could have something to do with the big debate over how to allocate new revenue from the proposed street fee. Novick, PBOT Director Leah Treat and Mayor Charlie Hales are hearing loud and clear from an advisory committee of business interests that most of the new revenue should be spent on paving and maintenance — not on “safety” projects.

On the recent episode of the KBOO Bike Show, Director Treat said she’s “frankly concerned about how the money is going to get split up.”

“There’s a real divide among advisory groups about how this money is spent… the business group wants all the money to be spent on maintenance and paving. They don’t necessarily believe there’s a constituency that’s concerned about safety and alternative transportation on our roads. We need our friends, activists, and concerned citizens to surround this issue. They need to be vocal.”

While Treat and Novick have made it clear they want more funding for safety projects, they’re up against not just fear-inducing business owners, but a mayor who made “getting back to basics” and “100 miles of paving” major campaign promises that he has worked hard to deliver on since taking office in January 2013.

Exactly how any new revenue is split — the ratio between maintenance and safety investments — is shaping as a key sticking point in street fee talks.

On tomorrow’s tour, Novick and Treat will be joined by neighborhood activists, PBOT staff, and members of the local media who will pile into a van and make the following stops:

  • Departing Portland City Hall, SW Fifth Ave. entrance at 9:30 a.m.
  • 10 a.m. Tour begins at SE 130th Ave. and Salmon Street, at a crosswalk near David Douglas High School ball fields
  • 10:45 a.m. Tour begins at SE Hawthorne Blvd. and 36th Ave., north side of the intersection.
  • 11:45 a.m. Tour begins at SW Capitol Highway and Garden Home, at the bus stop on the east side of Capitol Highway.
  • Expected return to City Hall at 1 p.m.

While I think doing the tour by bike would be a much more effective way to learn about our city’s transportation needs, I went ahead and requested a spot in the van. If I get in, stay tuned for more coverage of the event both here on the Front Page and via Twitter.

NOTE: Thanks for sharing and reading our comments. To ensure this is a welcoming and productive space, all comments are manually approved by staff. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for meanness, discrimination or harassment. Comments with expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia will be deleted and authors will be banned.

25
Leave a Reply

avatar
9 Comment threads
16 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
12 Comment authors
TOMq`TzalJ_Rdavemessdan Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
9watts
Guest
9watts

I am really uncomfortable splitting this field up into asphalt + safety, as if this was even close to adequately capturing the situation we’re facing in funding our transportation infrastructure. Besides, even if the damned Street Fee somehow gets past all the objections, the amount so raised is going to be paltry compared to what everyone agrees is the size of the hole we’re already in. Let’s get this right and create something that will work for the short and medium term. Gas tax indexed to 3x inflation would be my start.

As for the long term, let’s not even go there.

Adam H.
Guest
Adam H.

People riding bikes don’t deserve safety, apparently.

gumby
Guest
gumby

I noticed the headline says Tuesday night, but the tour is actually on Tuesday morning.

9watts
Guest
9watts

gumby:
“As fuel efficiency increases, gas tax revenue goes down for the same amount of vehicle use. A weight-mile tax stabilizes that revenue stream.”

= An indexed gas tax does this easier and better.

Besides, we’ve seen a doubling of *new* vehicle fuel economy in the US (1975-2005), with no drop in per capita fuel consumption, but plenty of erosion of gas tax revenue due to inflation. You just have to look to Germany or Italy or Norway, where fleet fuel economy is much better than ours here in the US. They have had no trouble raising in excess of what they need to build and maintain world class transportation infrastructure.

J_R
Guest
J_R

The actual fuel economy of the vehicle fleet has changed very little in the past thirty years. There have been “improvements” in the fuel economy listed on the sticker on new cars, but the composition of the fleet has changed – more SUVs and light trucks. Also, many people opt for the performance version of economy cars.

At this point, the supposed increase in efficiency of new vehicles takes years to bring up the average of the fleet. Besides, the age of the vehicle fleet is increasing.

In contrast to the claims of increased fuel efficiency we have the very, very real decline in purchasing power of the dollars collected by transportation agencies. Every component of the transportation system is costing more – labor for the workers, electricity for the traffic signals, aluminum for the signs, asphalt (made from petroleum), concrete, steel. Every year, there’s a real loss of purchasing power. Since 1993 (the last time the federal gas tax was increased), the Corps of Engineers’ highway, street and bridge cost index has increased by 70 percent.

In addition, look at what’s being demanded for improvements to the transportation system. Wheelchair ramps, fish friendly culverts and bridges, countdown pedestrian signals, bioswales for treating runoff, etc. There’s more being required with every transportation project and a loss of purchasing power.

The claimed increase in vehicle efficiency is not a significant factor. It’s a strawman. Even if we changed to a vehicle-mile based system, we’d be doing nothing about the loss of purchasing power. Only indexing our collections to construction inflation fixes that.

TOM
Guest
TOM

>>Tour begins at SE 130th Ave. and Salmon Street, at a crosswalk near David Douglas High School ball fields

I ride through that intersection a couple of times a week , ball fields ? closer to the swimming pool , and most likely at that location to show off the repaving that wasn’t needed.

And then they just paved the middle of the 130th from Stark to Division stretch and left the ends alone. Seemed like a bad stunt to me.

John R
Guest
John R

Novick has been a huge disappointment. Treat? Mystery. They have not shown anything to suggest that they will turn this around.

Terry D
Guest
Terry D

“There’s a real divide among advisory groups about how this money is spent… the business group wants all the money to be spent on maintenance and paving. They don’t necessarily believe there’s a constituency that’s concerned about safety and alternative transportation on our roads. We need our friends, activists, and concerned citizens to surround this issue. They need to be vocal.”

I am always vocal, to both politicians and businesses. I have a significant list now of restaurants, and other retail establishments I do not spend my money in because they have come out publicly and organized against bike related projects.

One good way to voice support is to go to your neighborhood association and work on drafting a letter for the Comprehensive plan for your neighborhood. The transportation tab (where you can personally comment) in the Map Ap lists many of them (but not all by a long shot).

http://www.portlandmaps.com/bps/cpmapp2/#q1

In North Tabor’s first letter, all the “big projects” we listed are there. The city takes letters from groups seriously and the more neighborhoods that take an official stand in favor of safety and bike projects, the more they will listen. When the TSP comes out in the fall, community response and support will be vital.

TOM
Guest
TOM

IF you read the O’s recap , the tour was almost exclusively about sidewalks and included Novicks neighborhood.

http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2014/08/portland_street_fee_commission_6.html

Very little discussion of the “crumbling roads” armageddon. The focus keeps changing in the “Ram another TAX (err FEE) down our throats” campaign.