The 40-Mile Loop is now slightly larger thanks to a new path near the entrance to Kelley Point Park.
The City of Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) has striped a buffered bike lane on the north side of N Marine Drive for one-third of a mile between Leadbetter Road and the entrance to the park. They’ve also installed a new ADA curb ramps on both sides of the street to better connect the new path to the existing section of the 40-Mile Loop.
The updates come as part of a paving project funded through PBOT’s Heavy Vehicle Use Tax that was passed in 2016 as part of what’s more commonly known as the Fixing Our Streets program. This is one of three projects on heavy freight corridors funded through that tax this year. Others include paving on Lombard and Going (Interstate to I-5).
The Heavy Vehicle Use Tax was passed by City Council with a promise that it would raise $10 million per year for four years thanks to a 2.8% weight-mile tax. However, The Oregonian reported yesterday that after facing pressure from freight industry representatives, City Council is poised to
repeal “pare down” the tax with a new ordinance at their meeting today.
Here’s more from The O:
“Truckers generally view the city tax as cumbersome and unfair, said Jana Jarvis, president of the Oregon Trucking Associations. She said it’s right for Portland to axe the revenue goal because the city will get additional money for transportation from the state owing to an infrastructure bill passed last year.
“Our perspective has been, ‘Let this thing die its death and move on,’” Jarvis said of the city tax.”
PBOT says the tax isn’t bringing in nearly as much as they expected. In order to meet the $10 million revenue target they’d have to raise the tax rate by 60 percent for the final two years. Instead of doing that (and face the ire of freight interests), they want to maintain the existing tax rate and adjust the project list to meet the resulting lower revenue. You can read the ordinance up for debate at today’s Council hearing here.
As for the updates on Marine Drive, we’re very happy to see anything that adds to the 40-Mile Loop; but this is a very small step. Despite the new path, it remains stressful to cross Marine Drive at this location. Truck drivers commonly go around 50 mph (speed limit is 45 mph) here and this crossing is in a curve where visibility is limited. If you choose to ride in the street, the unprotected bike lane (even with the new buffer) doesn’t yield much confidence. We’ve asked PBOT if there are any additional crossing treatments still to come — like a beacon and/or crosswalk striping — but have yet to hear back. (There’s another way to access this park via the path that goes under Marine Drive, but it requires off-road trail riding through an undeveloped (and not secure) part of the park.)
Another thing that concerns me about this new path and crossing is that it’s just a few hundred feet away from the main entrance to the park. This means we must trust car and truck drivers to slow down and scan for other road users at two locations in succession instead of just one.
Large trucks have an immense impact on our road system, both in terms of wear-and-tear and safety. We need to make sure trucking companies are paying their fair share so we can create safer, longer-lasting streets that are welcoming to all users.
UPDATE, 10:11 am: The ordinance to remove the $10 million target language from the existing Heavy Vehicle Use Tax ordinance just passed council 3-1. Eudaly, Saltzman and Wheeler voted in favor. Fritz voted against it on grounds that it would break a promise made to voters who passed it. Saltzman and Wheeler said it was a good compromise. We’ll debate this again in 2020 when the Fixing Our Streets program comes up for renewal and it’s likely this truck use tax will be a big part of the conversation.
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