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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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