Yesterday while taking a look at the new striping and other changes the City has made to NE 102nd (story to come), I decided to take a ride on the newly updated Halsey-Weidler couplet through the Gateway district. I reported on the project back in June and wanted to give it a check-up.
Southeast Foster Road fans are rejoicing today as their beloved retail strip now has dedicated bike lanes. But that’s not the only east Portland commercial area to get new bike access this month. The Portland Bureau of Transportation says they’re about 99% finished with the much-anticipated Halsey-Weidler Streetscape project.
If all goes according to plan one part of Portland will leapfrog to an exciting new level of bike-friendliness in the next three years. Or should we say, it’ll jump?
Portland has just been named one of 10 cities nationwide (out of 80 that applied) to be part of “The Big Jump,” a program managed by the nonprofit advocacy group People for Bikes that aims to double or triple the amount of riding in one geographic area by 2019. In Portland’s case the focus will be on the Gateway district.
Dubbed the “Gateway to Opportunity” project (more on that name later), the bureau of transportation will zero-in on the area bordered by I-84, East Burnside, I-205 and NE 132nd Avenue with the goal of making it much more bikeable than it is today. With this nudge from People for Bikes, PBOT will look to advance and complete 13 different projects by 2019. The projects include protected bike lanes on the NE Halsey-Weidler couplet in the heart of Gateway, three major neighborhood greenway projects, a bikeway overpass of I-205 to connect to the Sullivan’s Gulch trail, and much more. In total, the Gateway to Opportunity project will encompass an estimated $21.35 million in infrastructure spending and create about 39 miles of new bikeways.
As one of the selected cities, Portland will receive the equivalent of $200,000 in technical support from People For Bikes each year for three years, as well as an additional $50,000 in matching funds or financial commitments from local organizations.
What started as a vision of a few tactical urbanists is now officially ensconced in City of Portland policy.
A few minutes ago Portland City Council unanimously agreed to to pass the fall supplemental budget package that included $350,000 for a seasonal version of the Better Naito project. The budget also includes $1 million for upgrades to outer Northeast Halsey Street — funding that will trigger a $1 million match in funds from the Bureau of Transportation to complete the project.
As we reported earlier this week, these two projects emerged from a list of six requests made by the Bureau of Transportation in an attempt to get a piece of a $4 million piece of the General Fund that was up for grabs.
And then there were two.
Winners and losers are coming into focus in the mad dash for cash that is known as the Fall Budget Monitoring Process (BuMP). Two of the five Bureau of Transportation projects we’ve been tracking are now poised for funding.
$8 million from the city’s General Fund is up for grabs this go-round with about $4 million of that total set-aside for major maintenance and infrastructure projects. The process began with each city bureau submitting their funding requests. Then the City Budget Office offered their opinions to City Council. The final step before the budget is voted on at Council next week was to see what the Mayor wanted to do.
As we alluded to in a post this morning, we can now confirm that — out of the six PBOT projects in the discretionary category (as in, not part of the major maintenance and infrastructure list) — Mayor Hales has formally requested $350,000 for the Seasonal Naito project and $1 million for new sidewalks and other “safety improvements” on Northeast Halsey Street between 112th and 162nd Avenues (the Gresham border).
The Cully neighborhood would get a new biking and walking “parkway” and big roads that run through two major commercial districts in east Portland near I-205 could be updated and vastly improved for people on bikes and foot if the City of Portland is able to convince Metro to give them the cash to do it.
The City Budget Office (CBO) just threw a bunch of cold water on some hot active transportation projects.
Last month we were happy to share that the transportation bureau had requested city funding for five projects that would upgrade our streets and make them safer for everyone to use. The request was made as part of the fall budget monitoring process or “BUMP”. This is where the city takes the growth in tax revenue that went beyond projections and re-invests it back into worthy projects. Competition for the funds are fierce and all city bureaus compete for a limited pot of money (estimated to be about $8 million total this go-round2).
The Bureau of Transportation trotted out five projects that were especially exciting for transportation reform advocates: a seasonal reconfiguration of Naito Parkway (aka “Better Naito”); the Outer Halsey Streetscape Safety project and a Vision Zero educational effort; a new path connection for the Springwater, and a major redesign of inner Hawthorne Boulevard.
Unfortunately the CBO isn’t recommending funding for any of them.
Portland’s vast east side has huge potential for biking, and many millions of dollars in biking improvements are poised to drop on its streets.
It’s also gearing up for what could be a regional-destination bike recreation park in the form of Gateway Green.
But the little cadre of folks who’ve scored those victories are looking for new blood to set the area’s next goals. The East Portland Action Plan bike committee invited me to join them on a tour Tuesday night of some of the most promising biking projects about to happen on the east side.
It looks as if the commercial district just east of Gateway Transit Center will have parking-protected bike lanes and bus stops by this time next year.
No other business district in the city has fully protected bike lanes; the closest is on Northeast Multnomah Street in the Lloyd District, but buses, bikes and cars there must still merge into “mixing zones” at intersections.
If Gateway is ever going to get going, it’ll take tricks like this.
City planners have high hopes for this area on the inner edge of East Portland — literally. It’s zoned for downtown-style skyscrapers but (despite being fed by three MAX lines) currently devotes its real estate to gas stations, fast food joints and parking lots.