Members of an influential Metro committee spent this week in Washington D.C. in hopes of bringing back federal funding for a host of major projects. The annual trip includes one day of meetings with members of Congress and a visit to U.S. Department of Transportation headquarters.
The 16-member Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation includes county commissioners, mayors and agency directors from across the region. Among those who attended this year’s trip was Portland Bureau of Transportation Commissioner Mingus Mapps and PBOT Interim Director Tara Wasiak.
On Tuesday, the group met with nine members of Oregon and Washington’s congressional delegation. The schedule included meetings with House representatives (and/or staff members of) Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, Andrea Salinas, Cliff Bentz, Lori Chavez-DeRemer, Earl Blumenauer, Suzanne Bonamici, and Val Hoyle. They also met with Senator. Ron Wyden.
On Tuesday night, TriMet hosted a dinner and reception on the rooftop of an office building two blocks from the Capitol where the special guest was Senator Jeff Merkley.
In addition to the requisite networking and rapport-building, they had more serious business to discuss. With Biden’s infrastructure law going full steam, JPACT members want to make sure our region gets as much funding as possible, “and that the funds from the legislation help all our communities prepare for the future ahead,” reads a Metro document about the trip.
In addition to being ready to discuss several high priority issues like climate change, electrification, safety and high capacity transit, the JPACT members lobbied specifically for 12 major projects they hope the Biden Administration will help pay for. Those projects include:
82nd Avenue Transit Project – $250-450M: Replacing TriMet’s Line 72 with Bus Rapid Transit to serve diverse communities in Portland and Clackamas County.
Broadway Corridor Streets – $22M: Constructing two new streets critical to unlocking four million square feet of mixed-use, mixed-income, urban development at the former US Postal Service site in Portland’s Central City.
Earthquake Ready Burnside Bridge – $895M: Replacing an almost century-old bridge to secure one of the most dependable emergency routes in the region and create thousands of local jobs.
I-205 Improvements Project – $550M: Adding a missing third lane, seismic upgrades to a total of nine bridges, and safety improvements to interchanges and on- and off- ramps.
I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project – $1.45B: Improving safety and congestion at Oregon’s top freeway bottleneck, while reconnecting the heart of Portland’s Black community.
Interstate Bridge Replacement Program – $6B: A modern, reslient, multimodal span across the Columbia River.
Montgomery Park Streetcar Extension – $80M: A new 1.3 mile transit connection in Portland’s vibrant and growing northwest neighborhoods.
SW 185th MAX Overcrossing – $85M: Building a grade-separated light rail crossing over busy SW 185th Avenue to improve transit reliability, make crossings safer and reduce congestion.
Sunrise Corridor – $500-700M: Planning, design and construction of a community-supported multimodal transportation solution for Highways 224 and 212.
TriMet Zero-Emission Bus Transition – $2B: Advancing TriMet’s commitment to a zero-emissions fleet by purchasing buses and constructing associated bus operation facilities.
Tualatin Valley Highway Transit Project – $250-385M: Improving speed, reliability, accessibility and safety for transit riders, and in particular for communities of color and low-income communities.
Take a look at the official delegation packet here (PDF).
Then on Wednesday, JPACT members attended several meetings at the USDOT where they met with various high-level staff including Director of the Departmental Office of Civil Rights Irene Marion and the Executive Director of the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation Gabe Klein. In the afternoon they could choose between two activities: a visit to the African American Museum (with free tickets from Senator Merkley) or a bike share ride.
I’ve reached out to Commissioner Mapps to see if he’d like to share any reflections from the trip, but he might be traveling home at the moment. I’ll update this post if I hear back. In the meantime, we have a tweet he shared yesterday while standing outside the capitol with his Chief of Staff Katie Meyer and PBOT Interim Director Tara Wasiak. “Air quality here is like Portland circa Sept. 2020, due to fires in Canada. A reminder that new transportation improvements must achieve our climate goals and combat climate change.”