Here’s what the State of Oregon is doing with that tax you pay on the purchase of new bicycles: The Oregon Department of Transportation has just launched a new program that could provide an estimated $14 million to multi-use path projects statewide.
The Oregon Community Paths program is the evolution of the active transportation portion of the state’s Connect Oregon (Lottery-backed) program. When the legislature passed a transportation funding bill in 2017 (HB 2017) they shifted the 7% of Connect Oregon that went to bicycling and walking projects into a separate program named the Multimodal Active Transportation Fund. That fund now also includes revenue from the bicycle excise tax that went into effect in fall 2017 and the federal Transportation Alternatives program.
According to ODOT Tourism and Scenic Byway Program Manager Sandra Hikari the Community Path Fund will start awarding grants in 2021. The $14 million estimate is for a three-year grant cycle ending in 2024. Asked for examples of projects that will compete well for the funds, she pointed to the Bear Creek Greenway in southern Oregon and the Tualatin River Greenway in Washington County.
ODOT limits the type of projects that can be paid for with these funds. According to the program website, the grants can pay for:
-Development, construction, reconstruction, major resurfacing, or other capital improvements of multiuse paths, bicycle paths and footpaths.
-Planning, design and engineering expenses, including consultant services, associated with developing eligible infrastructure projects.
– Federal regulations also limit who may apply for TA funds. Those who can include: A local government, including city, town, township, village, borough, parish, tribal government or county agencies. Transit agencies, any federal, tribal, state or local agency responsible for Natural Resources or public land administration (e.g. park, forest, fish/game/wildlife agencies, Department of Interior, U.S. Forest Service). A non-profit organization entity responsible for administration of local transportation safety programs. Management of TA projects must be a certified agency. While ODOT is ineligible to apply for TA funds, non-certified agencies may partner with ODOT to manage the project.
Rules and selection criteria for the program are still being worked out with the Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee who are set to discuss the issue at their next meeting on February 11th and 12th in Astoria.
Learn more on ODOT’s website.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and email@example.com
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