As many advocates and insiders reading this already know, before a project can get funded it must be on a list. The more powerful the list, the more important it is that your project gets on it. These lists are were the money goes first and inclusion of a project on them is often the only justification needed to get it built.
Tomorrow at City Council the Portland Bureau of Transportation will ask Mayor Ted Wheeler and the four other commissioners to approve a list of 105 “Vision Zero projects” PBOT says are critical to, “systematically address the safety needs” on our most dangerous streets (see the full ordinance and list here). The total estimated cost of all the projects could be close to $750 million. About one-quarter of the projects on the list are already funded. PBOT has also requested that 17 of the 105 projects (estimated to cost upwards of $74 million) get added to Portland’s Transportation System Plan — which would give them the highest priority possible.
This important move to prioritize infrastructure projects that back up PBOT’s Vision Zero effort began two years ago when City Council adopted a resolution that read in part, “No loss of life is acceptable on our city streets.”
The projects range from high-tech traffic signals that make crossing big streets easier to bikeway projects that separate bicycle users from auto users. And they touch nearly every part of the city from downtown to the city limits. All the projects on the list share at least one thing in common: They are on Portland’s “High Crash Network” — 30 streets and intersections that have the highest number of crashes in Portland. PBOT staff, working with the Vision Zero Task Force, used crash data to designate a separate high crash network for driving, biking, and walking. Most of the projects on this Vision Zero list touch on all three. A project earns further prioritization when a street or intersection is in a “community of concern” — a designation based on an index of 10 equity-related factors including access to transit and income.
Here are a few highlights from the list:
- Hawthorne Multimodal Safety Project (Estimated $2-5 million, unfunded): Safety project to reduce sideswipe auto crashes and left turning auto crashes from 12th to 50th. Include safety improvements to reduce bike crashes and pedestrian crashes. (Note: Just last night there was a major injury crash involving three motor vehicle operators on Hawthorne at 22nd.)
- Outer Killingsworth Multimodal Safety (Estimated $2-5 million, unfunded): Safety project to reduce rear end crashes and pedestrian crashes from Cully to Columbia (east leg). Upgrades to pedestrian crossings, including transit amenities, and bike facilities.
- Inner Powell Blvd Corridor Improvements (Estimated $5 – $10 million, unfunded): Retrofit existing street with multimodal safety improvements from Ross Island Bridge to Interstate 205 including enhanced pedestrian and bicycle crossings, pedestrian and bike activated signals, median islands with trees, redesign of selected intersections and stormwater management facilities.
- SW 4th Ave Streetscape Improvements (Estimated $5 – $10 million, unfunded): Improves the street environment on SW 4th Avenue adjacent to Portland State University from Columbia St. to Lincoln St. by adding bicycle facilities, curb bulb-outs, signalized pedestrian crossings, green street features, and marked crosswalks.
- SW Broadway Bikeway and Streetscape Improvements (Estimated $500,000 – $2 million, unfunded): Enhances the existing protected bikeway and sidewalks on SW Broadway adjacent to Portland State University from Clay to Jackson. Includes the construction of a raised bikeway, sidewalk amenities, green street features, ADA improvements, pedestrian islands, and curb bulb-outs.
- Capitol Hwy Corridor Improvements (Estimated $2-5 million, partially funded): Improve SW Capitol Highway from SW Multnomah Boulevard to SW Taylors Ferry Road to include a continuous sidewalk(s), safe crossings and bicycle access along the corridor.
- Marine Drive Trail Gaps (funded): Close gaps in Marine Dr Trail from 112th to 122nd.
PBOT and City Council have already directed funding toward Vision Zero: The local gas tax increase passed last May will add $16 million a year into PBOT coffers; Council gave $300,000 from the general fund to make safety upgrades on SE Division (after PBOT declared it an “emergency”); and the current city budget includes $1.465 million in ongoing funding.
This strong combination of real money, infrastructure projects, legislative lobbying, and public outreach is what led us to decare in March that Vision Zero is the City of Portland’s top transportation priority.
Once this project list is passed, it will be up to advocates — on the street and at the City of Portland — to get them built as soon as possible.