Imagine if Portland could ask for a carfree lane on 82nd Ave. Then imagine if ODOT actually listened.
Unlike our Oregon Department of Transportation whose seems to be carrying out a policy to rid their highways of everything but people in cars, the Washington Department of Transportation announced yesterday that it’s getting on the open streets train.
Imagine that. A state DOT voluntarily banning automobile users from lanes and even complete roadways all in the name of safety and health. [Read more…]
Former biking space on Historic Highway. (Photo: Forum user amadeusb4)
We’re still trying to learn more about why the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) installed three sections of guardrails in the paved shoulder of the Historic Columbia River Highway south of Interstate 84 last week. These guardrails narrow valuable space used by many bicycle riders and their dangerous placement increases odds of stressful passes and collisions.
The fact that ODOT did this without any public notice and on one of the most important and valuable cycling routes in the state is unconscionable and just the latest example of the agency’s negligent stewardship of our transportation system. We’ve reached out to ODOT leadership for further comment and clarification but haven’t heard back.
Since our story posted on Monday, we’ve read dozens of comments expressing grave concerns and outrage. Now homeowners who live along the road where the guardrails were installed are defending the project, saying the guardrails are necessary to thwart illegal campers and to make the road safer for drivers.[Read more…]
Prep for a future Columbia River crossing project will be among the office’s priorities.
The Oregon Department of Transportation is bulking up to handle a future where the Portland region is an epicenter of highway megaprojects.
In an email (below) sent yesterday afternoon to all employees, ODOT Deputy Director Paul Mather announced the formation of the new Office of Urban Mobility & Mega Projects to be based in Portland. A search process for a manager of this office is just getting underway.
The move comes in response to House Bill 2017, the $5.3 billion transportation package passed by the Oregon Legislature in 2017. That bill laid out funding for several projects in the Portland region (ODOT Region 1) and it defined “mega transportation projects” as those that, “cost at least $360 million to complete, that attract a high level of public attention or political interest because of substantial direct and indirect impacts on the community or environment or that require a high level of attention to manage the project successfully.” (The bill also established the Joint Interim Task Force On Mega Transportation Projects.)
Among the projects ODOT will focus on in this new office are expansions to I-5 and I-205, and an effort to re-kindle the Columbia River Crossing. [Read more…]
The OTC’s search committee — led by Vice Chair Bob Van Brocklin, a lawyer with Stoel Rives LLP — has published a draft version of the job description and will accept public comment on it until this Thursday, May 9th. Below are a few salient excerpts from the description:
The OTC seeks a new chief executive that will manage ODOT through significant change… [Read more…]
LeeAnne Fergason is the new Safe Routes to School program manager for the Oregon Department of Transportation.
ODOT announced the hire in a statement today, saying Fergason will join the agency in mid-December.
Reached today via email, Fergason told us she’s excited for her new role but, “Deeply saddened to say goodbye to The Street Trust.” “The Street Trust’s staff (old and new), partners (so many amazing partners), and supporters (our members and friends),” she continued, “have helped me so much, and I’m eternally grateful for all the smart, passionate, and kind people that have taken the time to teach me.”
Fergason is the longest tenured employee at The Street Trust. According to her official bio she began work there as a bike safety education instructor in 2007. Fergason became The Street Trust’s main advocate for Safe Routes to School (a program they implement with a combination of state, federal, and regional funding) and spearheaded their “For Every Kid” campaign. She moved into the deputy director role back in July when The Street Trust’s former deputy director Stephanie Noll left the organization.
There’s a lot of Safe Routes work to do at ODOT these days. The former manager of the program, Julie Yip, recently retired, and the statewide transportation package includes $125 million over the next 10 years for a new Safe Routes to School grant program. As ODOT announced today, one of Fergason’s first tasks will be to staff a new Rules Advisory Committee that will create the policy framework for how these new funds will be allocated. [Read more…]
ODOT’s current Safe Routes to School and Bike/Ped Safety Coordinator Julie Yip is retiring and the agency is looking for someone to replace her. In the job description, ODOT says the new hire will oversee the existing safety programs for bicycling and walking and will also, “develop and implement transportation safety programs and projects.”
This is one of those “guru” positions that — with the right person — could have a significant impact on biking and walking locally and statewide. While the scope of this job is crucially important (especially with an alarming rise in traffic deaths in recent years) and relatively broad, unfortunately the pay isn’t quite what we’d hope for. Just $41,000 to $60,000 a year probably isn’t enough to snag someone with a lot of experience and swagger to make big things happen. Also note that under “special qualifications” ODOT says, “Driving is an essential function of this position. A valid driver license and an acceptable driving record are required for this position.”
Here’s the list of “duties and responsibilities”:[Read more…]
Their latest effort will rely on friendly competition. Drive Healthy is the name of an initiative announced today that will pit individuals and organizations against each other to see who can be the safest driver. Similar to the Bike Commute Challenge, people will sign up online and have their results tracked via the Livesaver app and results will be posted on a public leaderboard. Once downloaded, the app runs in the background and automatically locks your phone when you drive (see screenshot at right). The fewer times you unlock the phone, the more points you get. The only functions available while driving are “Emergency Call” and “Passenger Unlock”.
Here’s more from ODOT and the DriveHealthy.org website:[Read more…]