The plan to upgrade TriMet’s Line 72 bus on the busy 82nd Avenue corridor just got another injection of resources. Today, members of the Oregon Congressional delegation announced a $630,000 grant for the 82nd Avenue transit project.
The grant comes from the Federal Transit Administration’s Areas of Persistent Poverty Program that supports President Biden’s efforts to, “mobilize American ingenuity to build modern infrastructure… by supporting increased transit access for environmental justice (EJ) populations…” The funding won’t build anything, since it’s only eligible for use in the planning process, but project development (aka making something more shovel-ready) is a key step toward getting real improvements on the ground.
The grant continues momentum around the transformation of 82nd Avenue from an orphan highway managed by the State of Oregon, to more of a main street that’s now in the hands of the City of Portland. To date, $185 million has been committed to the seven-mile stretch of 82nd from Lombard down to Clackamas Town Center.
What the ultimate bus line will look like is being hashed out right now. At the minimum we’ll see something similar to the new FX line on Division; but there’s hope of something even better. As I reported from an 82nd Avenue project workshop late last month, TriMet planners are taking feedback and sketching out ideas for what might be possible.
Given the vast, bipartisan political support for this project (unlike a freeway expansion or a bike-related project, it has zero detractors, no opposition, and people are falling over themselves to say nice things about it), we could see something big materialize if everything falls into place.
In a statement today, Congressman Earl Blumenauer said, “This is just the beginning. The case for investment is ripe.” And even Congresswoman Lori Chavez-DeRember, a Republican, said, “Families living here rely on the bus system to travel to work, school, and other destinations at a low cost. I’m glad the FTA has awarded this grant.”
The award comes just a week after U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg got a first-hand tour of 82nd Avenue. According to a recap of that visit by the Portland Mercury, Buttigieg said, “I’m very impressed…We see the opportunities around active transportation and recognize the complex trade-offs that are involved.”
I’ve asked TriMet for the grant application to learn all the details, but according to the FTA website, the money will be used to:
“… design infrastructure enhancements for high capacity transit service on the 82nd Avenue Corridor between Clackamas Town Center and NE Killingsworth Street. This project will look to improve safety, access, mobility, and equity and remove barriers to opportunity by identifying bus rapid transit improvements and analyzing the use of zero- emission buses.”
Now is the time to engage on this project. The Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO) and Metro are hosting another workshop tonight (Thursday, July 20th) from 5:00 to 7:00 pm at APANO headquarters (8188 SE Division Street).