U.S. House-approved ‘INVEST in America Act’ includes $18 million for Portland road projects

Posted by on July 12th, 2021 at 2:09 pm

U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer on 82nd Avenue, Friday July 9th, 2021.
(Photo: City of Portland)

U.S. Congressman and former Portland city commissioner Earl Blumenauer took a walk on Southeast 82nd Avenue on Friday to highlight a $5 million federal investment into the beleaguered road. The visit came a week after Blumenauer and his colleagues in the House of Representatives voted 221 to 201 to pass the INVEST in America Act, a bill that would inject $715 billion into transportation infrastructure nationwide.

The $5 million earmarked for 82nd comes amid unprecedented momentum for the state highway (OR 213) to finally be transferred into local hands after years of advocacy from safe streets activists and elected officials who are fed up with the State of Oregon’s management style. After years of pushing for the transfer, two more deaths on the street back in April pushed the issue to the front-burner. State lawmakers then teamed up with the City of Portland and Oregon Department of Transportation to hammer out a “historic” agreement that would allow the transfer to take place — but only if all the parties cough up the requisite funds — totalling nearly $200 million — to bring the road up to a state of good repair.

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Rep. Blumenauer visited 82nd to alongside leaders from PBOT, ODOT, and local nonprofit groups that have been pushing for the transfer as an issue of social justice and fairness to the many people who live and work along the corridor. “Blumenauer has long advocated for this transfer, along with championing national efforts to bring ‘orphan highways’ into local control,” read a statement from Blumenauer’s office about the event.

In addition to the $5 million for 82nd, the INVEST in America Act includes $5 million for PBOT’s Rose Lane project on 122nd Avenue, $4 million for “safety and smart technology” to be spent on Broadway as part of PBOT’s Central City in Motion plan, $4 million for TriMet to spend on “zero emission bus infrastructure”, and $4 million for “safety improvements” on Tualatin-Valley Highway (another ODOT orphan highway that kills, injures, and scares many people). The bill includes a total of $79.3 million for projects in Oregon.

The INVEST in America Act also included Blumenauer’s bill to help cities plan and implement Vision Zero traffic safety strategies. It passed along party lines as debates over infrastructure spending continue on Capitol Hill.

Read the full text of the bill here (PDF).

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

Gee, now how will the Senate vote?

Terri I.
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Terri I.

Well of course the pork coming our way is nice but the feds have been printing so much money recently it is concerning. Not sure if this is a debt we should pass on to our children. I’m
opposed.

Barb
Guest
Barb

Leaving 82nd as-is is not a cost-free option.

Todd Boulanger
Guest

Yes that is one way to look at it…I am sure the oil / motor vehicle interests will find ways to use it.
And regarding future generations…perhaps this long overdue investment in walking and cycling might keep those kids healthy and alive in order to become productive tax payers. 😉

Ellis
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Ellis

Todd,
Not so sure if it will make it a healthier place for our kids. A large percentage (344 of the 715 Billion dollars) is being used for roads and car oriented bridges. It may make it worse.

RoyJo
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RoyJo

More schools needed in Portland.

Mike Quigley
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Mike Quigley

Debt? As long as millionaires are becoming billionaires, and the stock market stays hyped, nothing else matters.

Todd Boulanger
Guest

And a nice little “no cost” item included: “Ensures speed limits take safety into account by using the data available to states and localities. Eliminates the 85% design speed requirement under the Manual on Uniform Traffic Devices.”

J_R
Guest
J_R

There is no design speed requirement in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. The MUTCD is for signals, signing, pavement markings, temporary traffic control and a few other things.
Design speed is found in Highway Design Manuals (Oregon and other states).
The use of the 85th percentile speed is found in Oregon laws and standards.

soren
Guest
soren

MUTCD Section 2B.11:

“When a speed limit is to be posted, it should be the 85th-percentile speed of free-flowing traffic, rounded up to the nearest 10 km/h (5 mph) increment.”

J_R
Guest
J_R

Design speed and speed limit are different.

Todd Boulanger
Guest

Did anyone see any earmarks or line items for bike transit / public bike share?

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

The bill is only 1,510 pages long, unindexed of course, so it should be easy to find. The Buy American provision might be a bit worrying for Chinese-made bike share vehicles.

Electric bike definitions are on pages 409-411.

Pages 154-155: $5 mil for 82nd, $5 mil for Rose Lanes on 122nd, $4 mil for downtown Broadway, $4 mil for Trimet zero-emission buses, $4 mil for TV Highway, $1.5 mil for a bike bridge in Eugene, $4 mil for 181st in Gresham, $4 mil for a downtown loop in Beaverton.

Tons of money for highway improvements in California, because, like you know, California is like totally exempt from climate change. Lots for Seattle but nothing at all for Clark County/Vancouver. No earmarks for ND or SD since they’ll just vote against it anyway.

In fact nearly all the earmarks are in Democratic districts, so this legislation was clearly designed to be defeated in the Senate on a 52 to 48 vote with the usual Democrats from Arizona and WV voting against it – a pointless exercise in partisan futility, a waste of our time as US taxpayers and voters.

Roberta
Guest
Roberta

Tons of money for highway improvements in California. So basically they can all drive up here to Portlandia, ride one of our rental bike shares and then drive home.

Why should we be cheering? ODOT is mismanaging most of the arterials. It’s not just 82nd. Though I’m sure our new Representative from Opal is pleased as punch.

The only thing I would pass it for is the changes to the highway design manual. The rest of the pork barrel can get cut out. We want systemic changes to the system not 50 different states coming up with 50 different ways of building a highway to climate catastrophe. Seems like another of the same Bridges and Highways spending bill that got us into this mess. So the one freeway project we didn’t want the Rose Quarter is still going to get built with regressive tolls.

There’s nothing about our transport network budgeting that I trust. Blumenauer needs to go back to transport school

I’m a pass the peace pipe on this one. No thanks.

MayIridetoday
Guest
MayIridetoday

Roberta,
Tolls seem fair to me. Users should pay.
Regressive taxes are actually a GOOD thing. Used extensively in Scandinavia
https://www.vox.com/2014/10/8/6946565/progressive-taxes-are-not-the-solution-to-inequality

soren
Guest
soren

This is pure fantasy.

A very low income family in Sweden typically pays nothing in income tax and a low-income family typically pays 7-10% (after deductions). Compare this with the USA where the brutal FICA flat tax alone is ~8% and low income people typically pay higher effective income taxes than upper class people.

The reason the Randian libertarians at VOX characterize Scandinavian taxes as “regressive” is because they are upset that the Swedish income tax system maxes out at a upper middle-class income levels. (And, of course, VOX contributors are either upper middle class or rich.)

Pablo I.
Guest
Pablo I.

The largest share is going to roads.

Bicycling Al
Guest
Bicycling Al

Is the procedural filibuster still in place? Yes? Then anything the House passes is as much news as some poll saying that Americans want this and that but they’re not going to get it anyway.

By the way, when did Joe Manchin become the Senate’s Majority Leader?

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Was it when West Virginia became the most important state in the US?

Pablo I.
Guest
Pablo I.

David, Maybe we need more centrists like Manchin. Then he alone wouldn’t hold all the power. Compromise is better than extremism.

Brandon
Guest

Except that this is a spending bill, which can be passed using reconciliation, which requires only 50 votes, plus a VP tie breaker… just like the Biden Covid stimulus, trump tax cuts, etc. As long as West Virginia gets a few million I can’t imagine Manchin voting ‘no’ on this.