Travis Brouwer speaking at the
Oregon Active Transportation Summit
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)
The Oregon Department of Transportation has just released their National Highway System Expansion Working Group Report (PDF). The report is an attempt to clarify the impacts and concerns surrounding a major change to how local streets are managed. As we’ve been reporting on since last fall, the new federal transportation bill, MAP-21, included a provision that added 632 miles of roads in Oregon into the National Highway System. Of those roads, 219 miles of them were previously managed by local agencies.
In the Portland area, several key arterials currently managed and operated by the City of Portland Bureau of Transportation — including Burnside, Broadway, Calle Cesar Chavez (39th) and others — were suddenly thrust into the portfolio of the Federal Highway Administration. This raised eyebrows and major concerns from active transportation advocates because of how this new federal oversight might limit the types of changes PBOT would be able to make on these roads. To put it mildly, PBOT and the FHWA have very different ideas about road design.
A former ODOT staffer shared with me back in November that the change could, “be a major disaster and set context-sensitive design and the needs of pedestrians, bicyclists and transit users way back.”[Read more…]