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Rose Lane Project an effort to ‘redistribute’ right-of-way from auto to transit users

A redistribution of roadway wealth from auto users to transit users happened last week on SW Main.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

One of the most influential transportation policies Portland has seen in many years has been conceived without general public scrutiny. While the Bureau of Transportation has leaked out a few transit-only lanes in the past few months, a larger and more coordinated effort known as the “Rose Lane Project” (which we first covered back in June) has been percolating in the office of Commissioner Chloe Eudaly and a select group of stakeholders.

The veil around this effort will be pulled back this week when Eudaly shares a report about the Rose Lane Project at City Council at a meeting on Thursday (11/7) evening in southeast Portland.

According to Commissioner Eudaly’s Director of Policy Jamey Duhamel, the report will, “share the ways in which our office is developing authentic relationships with community partners in an effort to redistribute our right of way with a priority around racial equity, climate justice, and direct community benefits.” The stated goal of the project is to “increase transit ridership mode split goals and decrease use of single-occupancy vehicles that contribute significantly to carbon emissions.”

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“The Rose Lane Project works with an internal advisory group that includes organizations
with a deep equity lens.”

“Redistribution” of right of way is an interesting term that I don’t recall being used in Portland transportation circles. That nomenclature is more frequently used in economic policy discussions about the redistribution of income and wealth.

What’s also different about this effort, compared to what we’re used to seeing with other transportation policy initiatives, is that it’s been developed entirely out of the public eye — save for a large, invite-only group of advocacy and community organizations. In city council filings made ahead of this week’s meeting, Duhamel said the Rose Lane Project, “works with an internal advisory group that includes organizations with a deep equity lens.”

Duhamel and her team have been working on this plan for nearly a year now. They say since the impacts of the project will be so significant (due to, “increased transit service, new road patterns, changes to street congestion”), they’ve met with the advisory group twice so far and will continue meeting with them until January or February. Member of the advisory group include: The Street Trust, OPAL, Urban League, Oregon Walks, Community Cycling Center, PAALF, Unite Oregon, APANO, Safe Routes Partnership, Better Business PDX, Rosewood Initiative, Portland State, Portland Bus Lane Project, and Verde. So far there have been no public open houses or surveys, and there’s not even a website for the project. It’s expected that a more traditional, public process will get underway later this winter in advance of a possible adoption of the plan by city council in mid-February.

Last week PBOT installed its first-ever red transit-only lanes on SW Main (between 1st and 2nd) and on SE Grand (at Burnside and Couch).

This week’s meeting (strategically for the Rose Lane Project perhaps?) takes place at Portland Community College Southeast Campus (Community Hall, 82nd and Division) at 6:00 pm.

UPDATE and CORRECTION, 2:45 pm on 11/4: This post originally misstated how often Eudaly’s team had met with the advisory group. I’ve also added the member organizations of that group after being contacted by Eudaly’s Communications Specialist Margaux Weeke. Weeke also shared today that, “In no way do we intend to move forward with Rose Lanes without giving the public ample opportunity to provide feedback. We wanted to ensure that we have project maps available for review and clear communication around the impact of these changes to avoid any unnecessary confusion.”

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