Last spring, we looked at some of the projects transportation agencies in the Portland metro area asked Metro to fund through their 2025-2027 Regional Flexible Funds Allocation (RFFA) cycle. Now, Metro’s Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation (JPACT) has selected 11 of these projects to recommend Metro fund, split up between various jurisdictions in the region.
Regional flexible funds – deemed “flexible” because local jurisdictions have discretion over how the money is spent, unlike with many other prescribed federal funding programs – consists of federal transportation money distributed to transportation agencies via Metro. This flexibility “allows for greater focus on local priorities and innovative solutions to transportation challenges”– a.k.a. not car-oriented highway projects.
Metro received public comment for the projects and the Metro Transportation Policy Alternatives Committee (TPAC) took several months to decide which were the right picks to receive funding. Some of the projects not approved for funding through the RFFA process will receive money through the Parks Bond measure, which Metro Council will sign off on at the end of this month.
Some policymakers outside Portland are disappointed about projects left unfunded in their areas and are using this process as an opportunity to start a larger conversation about fairness in regional investment fairness.
“Washington County is the most diverse county in the state. But we believe that a lot of the needs of our marginalized voices are being ignored. The disparity of funding that is coming out to Washington County is stark,” Hillsboro Mayor Steve Callaway said at the September 15th JPACT meeting. “It is also worth noting that there are cities in Washington County that did not even bring projects forward because they knew that they would not receive any votes that would increase their standing.”
One project in Washington County that TPAC did not initially approve funding for is the Allen Blvd Complete Streets project in Beaverton. But during last week’s JPACT meeting, policymakers opted to move some of their allocated money around to ensure they could begin work on the project.
“We can’t leave Allen Blvd unfunded. We have the most diversity in Beaverton concentrated in Allen Blvd. It’s a corridor in a community that has been historically underfunded when it comes to transportation improvement,” Washington County Commissioner Nafisa Fai said. “We’re going to fight among our small crumbs and make an amendment to move $500,000 of the Fanno Creek funding to Allen Blvd. Then we’ll make up the difference and figure out how we can get both projects up and ready in Washington County.”
Washington County received about $9 million in RFFA funds compared to the more than $33 million designated for Multnomah County/City of Portland projects. That left about $4.5 million for two projects in Clackamas County. Representatives from Washington and Clackamas Counties asked to have a discussion about regional parity in funding allocation in the next RFFA cycle, which won’t begin talks until 2024.
Since Metro plans how to spend this funding so early, we’ll have to wait until at least 2025 to see any real action on these projects. But after they sign off on them on October 13th, at least the first step will be done.
Below are the projects JPACT has approved for Metro Council to sign off on. Since not all of these received the full funding they requested, their descriptions may be subject to change.
City of Portland
The City of Portland applied for funding for nine projects and received funding for three, leaving six unfunded. The biggest are the SE 7th Ave Complete Street Project and the SW Taylors Ferry Walkway & Bikeway project, which Portland wanted about $11 and $10 million for respectively. Now the city will need to come up with a new source of funding if they want to build those projects. Portland received funding for three projects, outlined below:
148th Ave Safety and Access to Transit ($7,100,335)
NE/SE 148th Ave (Halsey – Powell). Improve existing bike lanes, add enhanced crossings and support planned new TriMet bus line. Addresses high priority PedPDX crossing needs throughout the corridor.
NE Cully Blvd / NE 57th Ave Complete Street Project ($7,643,201)
NE Cully Blvd / 57th Ave (Prescott – Klickitat) Fill sidewalk gap on west side of 57th and widen narrow sidewalk on east side of 57th from Fremont to Failing. Provide protected bike lanes from Klickitat to Prescott. Add transit islands at Mason and new crossings at Failing and Skidmore.
North Portland Greenway – Columbia Bl to Cathedral Pk ($4,860,647)
N Columbia Blvd, N Bruce Ave, N Reno Ave, and N Catlin Ave. Bike and pedestrian bridge at N Columbia Blvd at Chimney Park, paved multi-use path at Baltimore Woods, and connections to and improvements throughout N Portland greenways in St Johns area.
NE 162nd Avenue Complete Street plan – City of Gresham ($7,575,882)
The project will construct continuous and ADA-compliant sidewalks, curbs, curb ramps, and buffered bicycle lanes from NE Glisan Street to NE Halsey Street. Improvements at the NE 162nd Avenue and NE Holladay Street intersection will include construction of sidewalks, ADA-compliant curb ramps, signal backer plates and more protection for bicyclists at the intersection. To support access to transit, the project will construct a Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacon crossing at NE Holladay Street to access the bus stops adjacent to the new affordable housing constructed on the Albertina Kerr campus.
Beaverton Creek Trail – Tualatin Hills Parks & Rec ($2,055,647)
The project will include final engineering, permitting and construction of a 1.5‐mile, 12-foot wide regional trail segment which will provide a critical and direct connection to transit, employment, commercial centers, and existing THPRD facilities.
Council Creek Trail – Washington County ($5,511,000)
The proposed project would design and implement 20 street and driveway crossings along the Council Creek Regional Trail corridor between Adams Avenue in Hillsboro and Douglas Street in Forest Grove. These crossings would facilitate safe, convenient, and comfortable connections for people walking, biking or rolling between the centers of Forest Grove, Cornelius and Hillsboro. The project includes enhanced crossings at 13 arterial and collector roadways, and minor investments at 7 additional local street and driveway crossings, including associated traffic calming elements.
Fanno Creek Trail – City of Tigard ($1,106,705
The proposed project would provide critical site analysis to prepare for funding, easement acquisition, design, and construction of the most technically challenging trail gap between SW Bonita Road to SW Durham Road. The trail alignment moves users south from SW Bonita Road, along the east bank of Fanno Creek, through the Bonita Natural Area, and connects to existing bike lane and sidewalk on SW Durham Road. The trail will be 12 feet wide with shoulders (as shown in the cross section). Bridges and boardwalks will be 14 feet wide.
I-205 Multi-Use Path – Clackamas County ($1,094,858)
The I-205 Multiuse Path (205 MUP) provides a near continuous off-street facility from Vancouver, Washington to Gladstone with the exception of a one-mile gap between Hwy. 212 and Hwy. 224 in Clackamas County. This project will develop a community-backed design solution for a preferred route within the one-mile gap in order to facilitate non-vehicle transportation and improve safety and accessibility.
NE Sandy Boulevard Complete Street: Gresham City Limits to NE 230th Avenue – Multnomah County ($6,500,000)
The purpose of this project is to transform NE Sandy Boulevard from Gresham City Limits to NE 230th Avenue into a complete street. This designated active transportation and freight corridor will be improved to increase the safety, comfort, and connectivity for multimodal users by filling in critical network gaps and implementing proven safety countermeasures to reduce fatal and serious injury crashes. The project is aligned with the regional investment priorities, including safety, equity, climate, and congestion relief.
The proposed design maintains two (2) through lanes, adds a center turn lane/turn lane at strategic locations, and fills the pedestrian and bicycle and facility gap(s) along NE Sandy Boulevard between Gresham City Limits and 230th Avenue. In most locations, sidewalks will be buffered with a landscape strip and bicycle facilities will be buffered to provide additional separation.
Willamette Falls Drive Multimodal Project – City of West Linn ($3,497,580)
This regionally significant multimodal and safety improvements project will greatly enhance bike, pedestrian, and transit mobility along Willamette Falls Drive between 16th St. and Ostman Rd. The proposed project will result in the continuation of uninterrupted, grade-separated protected bicycle paths and sidewalks with a consistent two lane vehicle cross section. The project is focused on multimodal safety and largely fills a gap in this regional bike corridor that parallels I-205. In addition to safety improvements, the project will improve equitable access to dedicated bike and pedestrian facilities providing a direct connection to the City’s Historic Main Street business center.
Allen Blvd Complete Street Plan – City of Beaverton ($500,000)
The Allen Boulevard Complete Street Plan project will undertake a planning process to identify transportation investments with community input and engagement in alignment with the City’s adopted Context Sensitive Design policy. The project will develop a plan to create a multimodal corridor that prioritizes mobility and access for people with a range of needs and physical abilities. Design alternatives will consider wider sidewalks with street trees, pedestrian crossing treatments, protected bike lanes, improved transit stops, and street lighting. The project will also consider new traffic signals, signal timing changes and transit signal priority to help keep buses on schedule. The roadway’s existing constrained right of way will prompt the project to explore right of way acquisition, as well as narrowing travel lanes and a three-lane cross-section.