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Budget update: Safety upgrades to outer Halsey and ‘Seasonal Naito’ poised for funding


NE Halsey in east Portland
Buffered bike lanes, safer crossings, and lower speed limits could be coming soon to Northeast Halsey.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

And then there were two.

Winners and losers are coming into focus in the mad dash for cash that is known as the Fall Budget Monitoring Process (BuMP). Two of the five Bureau of Transportation projects we’ve been tracking are now poised for funding.

$8 million from the city’s General Fund is up for grabs this go-round with about $4 million of that total set-aside for major maintenance and infrastructure projects. The process began with each city bureau submitting their funding requests. Then the City Budget Office offered their opinions to City Council. The final step before the budget is voted on at Council next week was to see what the Mayor wanted to do.

As we alluded to in a post this morning, we can now confirm that — out of the six PBOT projects in the discretionary category (as in, not part of the major maintenance and infrastructure list) — Mayor Hales has formally requested $350,000 for the Seasonal Naito project and $1 million for new sidewalks and other “safety improvements” on Northeast Halsey Street between 112th and 162nd Avenues (the Gresham border).

The projects that won’t be funded (see list below) include: a path connection between Milwaukie and Sellwood via the new Trolley Trail on SE 17th and the Springwater Corridor; a Vision Zero education and outreach campaign; and major changes to inner Southeast Hawthorne (including a new signal on the west end of the Hawthorne Bridge).

List of PBOT projects and the mayor’s funding requests.
(Graphic: City Auditor’s Office)

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To refresh your memory, PBOT is focused on Halsey because of its “high number” of crashes. Outer Halsey is also a top priority identified by the city’s East Portland in Motion initiative. The City wants to fill sidewalk gaps, narrow the existing vehicle lanes, add buffered bike lanes, improve and add existing crossings, and reduce the posted speed limit from 45 mph to 35 mph. “This project would support the agency’s Vision Zero goals, in addition to priorities identified in East Portland in Motion,” reads a PBOT description of the project, “by providing infrastructure improvements that are proven to reduce crashes.”

We already know why Mayor Hales is pushing for changes to Naito Parkway; but why Halsey (besides the aforementioned reasons)? By balancing out his request for Naito with a request east of I-205, he’s addressing well-known concerns about the geographic equity of transportation investment.

That tension between transportation investments in the central city and east Portland came up during a brief discussion among the mayor and commissioners at a Fall BuMP work session yesterday.

Commissioner Nick Fish started it off. “In the conversations I’ve had and in the emails I’ve received,” he said, “There’s this tension between wanting to do a seasonal Better Naito and also wanting to address vision zero challenges where equity has a sharper lens in east Portland. Does this proposal [$350,000 for Naito and $1 million for Halsey] get it about right?”

“I think it does,” replied Novick.

It’s important to note that Hales is only requesting half ($1 million) the funds needed for the Outer Halsey project. He’s then asking PBOT to fund the rest with money from their system development charges account. Based on what we heard at the budget work session yesterday, Novick has agreed to this. (Note: The other $900,000 that’s not being funded was for Vision Zero outreach and education along the corridor.)

These funding requests already have two votes (Novick and Hales) and only need one more to pass. (Update: Commissioner Fish supports it!). Council is scheduled to vote on the budget at their weekly meeting this coming Wednesday, October 26th at 9:45 am. In the meantime, please let Mayor Hales and the commissioners know how you feel about these projects.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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