What do bike boulevards in Grants Pass, a new trail from Hagg Lake to McMinnville, and the North Williams project have in common? They’re just a few of the 53 projects from all over the state being considered for $8.5 million in grant funding from the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT).
This year, ODOT’s Active Transportation Section is combining two funding programs — the federal Transportation Alternatives Program (formerly Transportation Enhancements, TE) and the ODOT-run bicycling and walking program administered by the Oregon Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee — into one application process.
Now the powers-that-be at ODOT want to gauge public feedback before making their final decisions. They’ve set up an online survey which allows people to express support or opposition to the various projects based on specific geographic areas. When I put in my Portland address, seven projects came up (three from Portland and four from cities in Washington County).
The three projects from Portland include the North Williams Traffic Safety Project, a segment of the Willamette Greenway Trail (from Chimney Park (in St. Johns) to Kelley Point Park, and the SW Barbur Blvd safety project. (For more details on these projects, download the applications from ODOT’s website.)
Below are some of the criteria ODOT is using to score these projects:
Legacy – Projects of lasting value, appropriate and cost effective.
System – Important link, addition or start of a network or program.
Community – Enhances livability, contributes to economic stability or development.
Quality – Qualitative difference in the walking or bicycling experience.
Need – Serves a documented high priority, broad benefits or timely opportunity.
To give you an idea of how popular biking and walking projects are in Oregon — throughout the entire state, not just in the larger, traditionally bike-friendly cities — there were initially 155 project applications for these funds. As it stands now, 53 projects requesting about $50 million are competing for the paltry $8.5 million. That tells me our funding streams and government support for these projects are way behind the times.
Stay tuned for news of the funding awards. The Oregon Transportation Commission will announce the winners in February or March 2013 and the cash will go out the door by July.