Blumenauer warns regional transpo leaders about lack of vision, strategy

Blumenauer: Come together. Right now.
(Photo © J. Maus)

United States Congressman Earl Blumenauer spoke during a rare appearance at an influential Metro committee last week, doling out some tough love over the groups’ inability to come together around a regional vision for transportation investments. It was a rare showing of straight talk that speaks to a larger issue facing metro Portland’s elected officials and transportation leaders:

To achieve a new vision of transportation it will take big and bold projects that the entire region supports… But what projects fit that bill? And are regional leaders capable of agreeing to a single priority over pet projects in their own backyards?

Metro’s 17-member Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation (JPACT) is staffed by bigwigs like Portland Mayor Sam Adams, TriMet GM Neil McFarlane, and many other agency directors, Metro staffers, mayors, and commissioners from around the region. The group recently submitted five projects to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s TIGER III grant program.

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How’d Oregon do in TIGER II?

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

This morning the U.S. Department of Transportation released a full list of award announcements for their TIGER II grants. More than 70 projects — split between 42 capital construction projects and 33 planning projects — worth $600 million were funded.

Oregon received three grant awards, two for construction projects and one for planning.

Washington County nabbed $1.5 million for their “Livable Community Plan” (total cost $3.065 million) that will help the region plan for upcoming growth — and will include a biking and walking plan — in Aloha (“unincorporated urban area between Hillsboro and Beaverton”). Here’s more from the USDOT project description:

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TIGER II grant would bring biking improvements to rail corridor

This substandard bridge in SE Portland’s
Brooklyn neighborhood would be improved
with TIGER II grant funds.

A partnership between TriMet, Metro, and the cities of Portland and Milwaukie could lead to a series of significant biking and walking improvements along the yet-to-be built Portland to Milwaukie light-rail line. TriMet is the lead applicant in a $13.2 million TIGER II grant request that would include a new multi-use path, a new biking and walking-only bridge in Milwaukie, and several other components along the rail corridor.

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Lessons learned, Metro ponders TIGER II

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
Bike Back the Night-18.jpg

If Metro wants federal funds for
active transportation projects, they’ve
got to adjust their approach.
(Photo © J. Maus)

With the US Department of Transportation’s announcement of TIGER II, a $600 million extension of the stimulus funded TIGER grant program, local active transportation advocates are considering another round of applications.

Our regional Metropolitan Planning Organization, Metro, submitted four active transportation projects totaling $97 million in the first go-round of TIGER grants.

None of those projects received funding*, and since the grant announcement in February, Metro staff has been trying to learn why.

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