BTA urges against state Flexible Funds for TriMet light rail project

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“We strongly urge that the state look to other sources for funding this vital project.”
— BTA’s Rob Sadowsky in a letter to the Oregon Transportation Commission

Last week we shared the news that TriMet is making a major funding request for ODOT’s $21 million pot of Federal Flexible Funds. The request is for a 10 year commitment of about $2 million per year to help fund the final portion of their $1.49 billion Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Line (TriMet would then bond against the funds to raise a total of $15 million for the project).

Yesterday, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) sent a letter to the Gail Achterman, Chair of the Oregon Transportation Commission (the OTC is a Governor-appointed body that advises ODOT policy and makes the final decision about who gets this money). In their letter, the BTA wrote, “We strongly urge that the state look to other sources for funding this vital project.”

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ODOT charts course for a non-highway future

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Oregon Bike Summit-20.jpg

Gail Achterman at the 2008
Oregon Bike Summit.
(Photo © J. Maus)

The Oregon Transportation Commission is like the Jedi Council when it comes to setting statewide transportation policy. Its members are appointed by the governor and they have tremendous influence over funding, setting direction and priorities, and a host of other decisions that have a direct impact on our state’s transportation system.

With Oregon on an exciting biking trajectory, it occurred to me that all our momentum could be stifled if ODOT (whom the OTC sets policy direction for) is not ready to handle it.

In other words, imagine a funnel with all the projects, programs and great ideas for biking at the top, and a very small hole on the bottom. The hole is ODOT.

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ODOT/OTC release stimulus funds application, process details

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“The OTC also recognizes the need to balance highway needs with other modal needs.”
— From a statement released by ODOT today

The Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC), acting on behalf of the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), has announced the application process and more details on how they’ll allocate their remainder of federal stimulus funds.

The OTC approved 31 projects totaling $122 million as part of their first phase of funding decisions. In Phase II, the OTC will have about $110 million to assign to transportation projects throughout the state.

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Who’s deciding where our state’s stimulus money goes?

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OTC Commissioners:

  • Gail Achterman
  • Michael Nelson
  • Janice Wilson
  • Alan Brown
  • David Lohman

See photos/bios below

Now that it’s crunch-time for the Oregon Department of Transportation and their Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC) to decide on how to spend the infrastructure chunk of our federal stimulus money, I thought you might want to know a little more about them.

Before I started doing this site full-time, I had no idea what the OTC was. It wasn’t until I started meeting the region’s powerful movers-and-shakers in the transportation world that I began to realize how much influence this commission had. People would mention the OTC to me in hushed tones, as if it were some sort of impenetrable cabal that wielded massive power and influence.

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Group responds to ODOT/OTC stimulus decision: “What went wrong?”

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“What went wrong?… The Transportation Commission got heavy pressure from pro-highway legislators, road builders, and Washington County and other local governments looking for road-building money.”
— excerpt from a statement set to go out to supporters of Transportation for Oregon’s Future

Transportation for Oregon’s Future — a “network of organizations and businesses supporting transportation choices for the 21st Century” — is not happy with the decisions made by ODOT’s Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC) on how to spend Oregon’s initial, $122 million chunk of federal stimulus funds.

As we reported this morning, the OTC decided last week to fund just one bike/ped project (valued at $2.5 million) out of 30 total projects and they did not fund a single transit project.

Bob Stacey is the executive director of 1000 Friends of Oregon and he’s working on the Transportation for Oregon’s Future effort. He is disappointed in the OTC’s decision and he’s already planning a course of action. He gave me a sneak peek at the email he plans to send out to supporters (1,300 of them wrote to Governor Kulongoski about this issue in just a few days).

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Oregon chooses just one bike/ped project with stimulus funds

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Riders will no longer be in
the dark on the I-205 bike path.
(Photo © J. Maus)

On Friday, the Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC, a body appointed by Governor Kulongoski) made their final decisions on how to spend $122,592,742 in federal stimulus funds. And, if you remember our report from last week, it seems like their “cautious willingness” to consider non-highway projects turned out to be more cautious than willingness.

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Metro urges state to re-think its federal stimulus project list

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Oregon Bike Summit-20.jpg

Chair of the Oregon Transportation
Commission, Gail Achterman, is in
the driver’s seat on how our state
spends its federal stimulus money.
(Photos © J. Maus)

The Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC) is meeting this morning in Salem to discuss which infrastructure projects will get built with money from America’s recently passed economic stimulus plan.

The OTC is a five member panel that is housed within the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and appointed by the Governor. They meet once a month and their job is to establish statewide transportation policies and manage the transportation network.

As the OTC solidifies their final, $350 million project list, some agencies are encouraging them to take a deep breath and re-think their priorities.

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