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Governor Brown’s line-item veto could erase $2 million needed for SW Capitol Highway project

Posted by on August 9th, 2017 at 12:32 pm

The state funding would have helped connect an existing PBOT project on Capitol Highway between Huber and Taylors Ferry Road through a complicated set of intersections known as “West Portland Crossroads.”

With one swipe of her pen, Oregon Governor Kate Brown can take away the final piece of funding for a southwest Portland transportation project that’s been a dream for neighborhood advocates for over 20 years.

Graphic: PBOT

The Governor’s office announced yesterday that Brown intends to veto four line-item appropriations in House Bill 5006. One of those four is the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s Southwest Capitol Highway project. (The other three are in the souther Oregon district of House Rep. Sal Esquivel and The Oregonian is reporting they are part of political gamesmanship between he and Brown.)

The project, which would bring updates to a one-mile stretch of Capitol Highway between Multnomah Village and Taylors Ferry Road, has been identified as a top neighborhood priority since 1996. As we reported last fall, PBOT estimates the total cost to be upwards of $12 million. Once completed, the project would add a continuous sidewalk and protected bike lane on the east side of Capitol Highway and a multi-use path on the west side. It would also include updated crossings, better bus stops, and other elements. In their most recent update, PBOT said construction on the project was on track to begin in 2019.

Most of the funding is already in-hand thanks to $3.3 million from the Fix Our Streets program (the single largest allocation citywide) and another $6-7 million from system development charges (most of the cost of the project is for stormwater management upgrades). House Bill 5006 allocated $2,050,587 for the project which would have been used to supplement local funding for a segment of Capitol Highway between Taylors Ferry Road and Huber St (a complicated set of intersections known as the “West Portland Crossroads”). The bill reconciled leftover pieces of the state budget for the 2017-2019 biennium and listed millions in appropriations for a variety of programs and projects. It passed the Oregon House and Senate early last month with overwhelming support.

On July 11th, Southwest Neighborhoods Inc. volunteer advocate Marianne Fitzgerald and Multonomah Neighborhood Association Highway Subcommittee Chair Chris Lyons wrote a letter of thanks to Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Portland City Council. “We are extremely pleased that City of Portland advocated for this project in its State Legislative Agenda and that the 2017 Oregon Legislature appropriated $2,050,587 to supplement local funding in HB 5006… It is a critical safety project for our community.”


Latest proposed cross-section.

But yesterday they had to follow-up that email with this one:

“You can imagine how extremely disappointed we in the community are that Governor Brown has proposed to line item veto the SW Capitol Highway project.

This is an extremely important project for our community. It will fill a critical gap in the sidewalk and bike infrastructure between two “centers” and improve Stormwater management in an area with documented issues. If the city truly wants to enable people to access key destinations like Multnomah Village without depending on motor vehicles, we must fully fund the SW Capitol Highway project from Multnomah Village to West Portland.

I hope you will convince the Governor to fund this project and not line-item veto it from the HB 5006 package.”

Governor Brown said she plans to veto the project because it wasn’t included in the $5.3 billion transportation project passed this session. “The SW Capitol Highway project is not included in the package that was negotiated in a bipartisan and careful manner,” she wrote in an official statement. “It should receive the same vetting process as other transportation projects and be evaluated on its own merits in future legislative sessions.”

It would appear that a project that has been in neighborhood plans since 1996 and has been the focus of a refinement planning process since 2011 has had plenty of vetting. It’s also worth noting that the most expensive transportation projects passed by the legislature — widening of freeways in the Portland region — have very dubious merits.

Roger Averbeck, a veteran southwest Portland neighborhood advocate is scratching his head. “I do not understand the Governor’s logic on this, since the bill was vetted through the legislature, supported by key legislators, and passed. Someone at a very high level should ask the Governor’s office to explain why this particular project is subject to veto.”

PBOT’s Active Transportation Division Manager Margi Bradway heard about the veto last night, just minutes from stepping into the monthly meeting of the Bicycle Advisory Committee to give a presentation on PBOT’s legislative successes. When she came to the bulleted item listed as “$2 million for SW Capitol Highway” she had to deliver the news. “The governor has vetoed this,” Bradway shared. “We are still committed to the project and the city will find a solution going forward; but we were disappointed by the news.”

NOTE: I’ve edited this post to reflect the fact that Governor Brown hasn’t vetoed this project yet. Her office has issued an “intent to veto” but sources say it’s not over until it’s over. Stay tuned.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

31 Comments
  • John Liu
    John Liu August 9, 2017 at 12:54 pm

    Is this one of the line item vetos aimed at Rep Esquivel?

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 9, 2017 at 1:59 pm

      he’s not the rep in that district though so I’m not sure yet.

      I’m reaching out to senators Richard Devlin and Ginny Burdick since the project is the border between their two districts.

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  • rick August 9, 2017 at 1:09 pm

    So much for equity.

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    • JeffS August 9, 2017 at 2:18 pm

      Considering equity tends to mean anti white male, this is indeed equity. Think of it perhaps as micro-equity.

      Why people keep voting for this hateful little person is beyond me.

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      • uncle yansky August 9, 2017 at 2:47 pm

        LOL I’m so sorry about that white guy

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      • rick August 9, 2017 at 3:09 pm

        do you mean kate brown ?

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      • Mossby Pomegranate August 9, 2017 at 4:21 pm

        This is a dysfunctional state so Kate Brown fits in quite nicely.

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  • Mike Sanders August 9, 2017 at 1:14 pm

    Which means that an entirely new bill funding the project will have to wait until the next session in 2018…and maybe longer. Zeroing it out because wasn’t part of the bill that got passed this year sounds illogical at best. Could we be looking at another 20 year wait? One hopes not.

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    • rick August 9, 2017 at 1:53 pm

      Don’t worry. People buying certain bicycles in Oregon this fall will finally have “some skin in the game.”

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  • rick August 9, 2017 at 1:15 pm

    Am I supposed to wait until sunrise to walk through nearby Woods Park in order to safely get from SW Garden Home Road to SW Barbur Blvd?

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  • rick August 9, 2017 at 1:38 pm

    Numerous adjacent roads to this section become stormwater creeks and rivers despite the many trees and shrubs. I nearly only ride this section of Capitol on the weekends.

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  • m August 9, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    Sounds like she is trying to prevent pet projects from getting through. It begs the question: Why wasn’t this project included in the $5.3 Billion transportation project?

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    • rick August 9, 2017 at 2:00 pm

      but Roger Averbeck made the statement about the project at the end of this news article that Jonathan just made.

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      • m August 9, 2017 at 3:23 pm

        Why was this item presented to a Ways and Means’ subcommittee on Capital Construction instead of before the Transportation Committee like the $5.3 Billion transportation bill? Is that proper vetting for a transportation project in Portland?

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 9, 2017 at 2:34 pm

      “pet projects”

      This is anything but a pet project. And FWIW Senator Ginny Burdick (it borders her district) said they didn’t want the project to get lost in the size of HB 2017 and felt it might get left behind if it was in the larger transpo pkg.

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      • m August 9, 2017 at 3:00 pm

        By “pet project” I mean an item that gets jammed into another otherwise unrelated bill. I support the project – just curious as to what happened here as part of the sausage making process. Burdick’s reasoning sounds lame at best. She didn’t want it to “get lost” in a bill? Please. Bills have specific provisions for spending all the time. Sounds like she needs an explanation for her constituents.

        Brown vetoes very few bills/items. Something was going on here that isn’t being reported.

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    • wsbob August 9, 2017 at 9:32 pm

      m…”…It begs the question: Why wasn’t this project included in the $5.3 Billion transportation project? …” , I think yours, likely is among the kind of questions the governor was asking herself when presented with this bill. I’d ask also, ‘At what point in work on the bill were the projects under threat of veto, attached to HB 5006, and why that point? This seems to me to be what gov Brown is relating to in her statement about the bill, in which, she’s not disputing the merits of the projects…simply saying they should be presented before the legislature and be studied and checked out there, before the legislators sign off on them.

      It’s just from this story that I’m just gathering what’s happened to these project appropriations the governor believes should be vetoed. I’m not going to say these projects are ‘pork barrel’, but I’m sure there are many people in Oregon that are aware of and take a dim view of the pork barrel strategy some legislators and more familiarly, congress people, use to get things they want. Sounds like Brown is very keen to avoid projects approved in bills she signs off on, being suspected of containing ‘pork’.

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  • David August 9, 2017 at 3:32 pm

    There is a very simple way to handle this scenario that can quickly change the conversation, though it would need to go somewhat viral. Propose that the fixes to Capitol Hwy happen as much as possible but leave a small stretch unimproved (since most of the project is funded minus the $2MM in limbo) and call it the Kate Brown Safety Corridor complete with signage in both directions.

    Pretty sure that if that gained enough traction she would back down from the veto on funding for this project. Of course if she didn’t, then every crash in the Kate Brown Safety Corridor would be subject to extra attention noting that the Governor specifically cut funding to this project which would have prevented the crash.

    This project needs to happen as it’s so hard to get anywhere in SW on bike and this project would resolve one of the more egregious gaps.

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    • rick August 9, 2017 at 6:46 pm

      I like that. An adopt-a-road group could remove the roadside cigarettes and trash. It would be the “Kate Brown funding crew.”

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    • Asher Atkinson August 10, 2017 at 8:40 am

      How about changing the conversation but applauding the governor for taking a principled stance and rejecting yet another mangled and incoherent way to get appropriations through Oregon’s hapless legislature. Rather than shame her into dropping the veto threat, let’s find a constructive and creative way to address the shortfall for this needed project. Can we find ways to reduce the project cost by 15%? Can two million dollars be raised outside the political process? Seems like the gap is a petince if we’ve fought for it for 20 years. Getting this done in spite of the legislature will direct the shame where it belongs.

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      • rick August 10, 2017 at 8:52 am

        Oregon Lottery? Cancelling the $26,000,000 Oregon Convention Center car parking garage?

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  • Disco Stu August 10, 2017 at 9:42 am

    I got hit-and-run at this very spot

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    • rick August 10, 2017 at 10:25 am

      Where on Capitol Highway? at Alice street? Taylor’s Ferry? Barbur by the new Walgreen’s ?

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      • Disco Stu August 10, 2017 at 2:43 pm

        the headline picture was my exact POV before being right hooked by somebody turning on to Huber/1-5 onramp…

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    • JF August 13, 2017 at 11:22 pm

      I’m sure you aren’t the only one, and sorry to hear it! Kate Brown needs to realize that a child could be next–this area is NOT pedestrian or bike friendly at all, but there are no other alternatives.

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  • Keenan August 10, 2017 at 2:51 pm

    I left a voicemail with Kate Brown’s office, and if you can keep it respectful (unlike some of these comments), I urge you to do so as well. 503-378-4582.

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    • rick August 14, 2017 at 9:21 pm

      Thanks !

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  • Kathrin Uber August 10, 2017 at 4:30 pm

    We have lived in Multnomah our entire lives…my mother said she would be dead beforead they put sidewalks on Capital Hwy….I believe she is right…again funding is being used for something else. Multnomah was remodeled 3 times! !!!!! Find the money!!!!

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  • Tim Grabe August 10, 2017 at 10:04 pm

    I live in the Multnomah Village area and drive Capitol Hwy. often. To avoid traffic on this busy roadway, pedestrians walking alongside the road are often stumbling into shrubbery and wading through mud puddles as they struggle to walk to their bus stop or walk to the Village. Sidewalks and safety improvement would make life safer for this entire area of SW Portland. Hopefully the bill will not be vetoed.

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  • JF August 13, 2017 at 11:24 pm

    Sorry to hear it! Kate Brown and others need to understand how sorely needed these improvements are and with the curves, high population, and no shoulder at all for pedestrians or trails for bikes–how a child could be the next victim in a hit and run. I am pissed to have voted to pay for these improvements, have it pass, and then have her renege. Not okay.

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    • rick August 14, 2017 at 9:21 pm

      Angered

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