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Tigard, Beaverton, Milwaukie paths get nod for likely state funding

Tigard, Beaverton, Milwaukie paths get nod for likely state funding

Tigard Get Together-1

A BikePortland Get Together in Tigard in 2010. The city’s trail system consistently ranks highly for state grants.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

As we reported Wednesday, Portland’s proposed Flanders Crossing Active Transportation Bridge across Interstate 405 made the cut for probable funding from a two-year, $45 million state program.

On Friday, the state released a full list of 75 project rankings from the final review committee for the lottery-backed Connect Oregon program.

Of those, 37 fit into the top-priority $45 million worth of projects.

Among the tentative winners were three multi-use path segments in the metro area: $700,000 for the Tigard Street Trail in Tigard; $400,000 for Waterhouse Trail Segment 4 in the Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District; and $1.2 million for the Kronberg Park Multi-Use Trail in Milwaukie.

Other bike-related projects from the area didn’t appear to make the cut. Those included trail improvements from Memorial Park to Boones Ferry Park in Wilsonville; a better multimodal crossing of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad tracks at Naito Parkway in northwest Portland; an off-street section of the Red Electric Trail in southwest Portland; Phase IV of the Gresham Fairview Trail; and a Bike Hub at the Mount Hood Villages.







Various bike-related projects around the state also seemed to score funding, including paths and trail segments in Yamhill County, Redmond and Island City.

Mass transit projects fared relatively well in this round of the program, which now in its sixth two-year cycle. Four of five transit projects around the state made the tentative cut for funding, taking in 15 percent of total costs, the highest ratio to date for transit.

The other categories are aviation, marine/ports and rail.

The Oregon Transportation Commission, the gubernatorially nominated committee that oversees the Oregon Department of Transportation, will hold a public hearing on the funding list July 21 and make final decisions at its Aug. 18-19 meeting in Klamath Falls.

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org

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State will likely fund Flanders Crossing of 405, spurring thousands of bike trips in NW

State will likely fund Flanders Crossing of 405, spurring thousands of bike trips in NW

flanders bridge span

The long-proposed span would connect downtown Portland and the Pearl District with the Northwest District.
(Photos: M. Andersen/BikePortland)

A new biking-walking bridge across Interstate 405 at Northwest Flanders has probably made the cut for funding, a state official said Wednesday.

The approximately 250-foot-long, 24-foot-wide bridge would become by far the most comfortable crossing of Interstate 405, an alternative to the existing crossings at Everett, Glisan and Couch. Paired with a proposed neighborhood greenway on Flanders from the Steel Bridge west to 24th Avenue, the span is expected to carry 9,100 trips per day.

That figure, which includes both biking and walking trips, is higher than the summertime bike counts across the Hawthorne Bridge and about five times the daily bike ridership so far on Tilikum Crossing.

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A possible cross-section for the 24-foot-wide bridge.
(Image: Portland Bureau of Transportation)

We wrote yesterday that the bridge would be an important connection for Biketown riders in part of the city that is about to become one of North America’s best-served neighborhoods for public bike sharing.

Barring unforseen events, construction of the new bridge could begin in April 2018 and finish by May 2019.

Final statewide committee scored bridge highly

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The bridge would require new crossings of NW 16th and 15th avenues.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation has pledged $3 million of its revenue from development fees for the crossing. It’s been looking to the state’s lottery-funded Connect Oregon program for the remaining $2.9 million.

In March, a committee of biking-walking experts from around the state ranked Flanders Crossing third of 22 such projects statewide. But in May, a Portland-area committee scored it more poorly, leaving its fate largely up to Connect Oregon’s final review committee, which met Tuesday to create a scoring of its own.

Oregon Department of Transportation staffer Scott Turnoy, the staffer managing Connect Oregon, said Wednesday that the final review committee had scored Flanders “in the top half” of projects and that it would likely make the cut for state funding.







“I was a bit surprised and very happy,” said Aaron Deas, a lobbyist for TriMet who represented transit interests on the final review committee, in a text message Wednesday. “What was surprising about the Flanders bridge was that there were no questions, even with the big price tag. But it did rank highly.”

The Oregon Transportation Commission must still make the final funding decision at its July 21 meeting. But barring an unexpected turn of events, that board is likely to defer to the Connect Oregon committee’s list.

Turnoy said he couldn’t release the final review committee’s full ranking yet and wouldn’t know until tomorrow when it’ll be made public. Also competing for funds are a fix for the Naito Gap in inner northwest Portland and trail segments in southwest Portland, Wilsonville, Milwaukie, Gresham and Tigard.

If it’s funded as expected by the Oregon Transportation Commission, Flanders Crossing will be Portland’s biggest payoff yet from a state law, unexpectedly won by the Bicycle Transportation Alliance in 2013, that made biking and walking projects eligible for the Connect Oregon program.

Project drew endorsements from many nearby employers

coming office space

A nearby billboard for a new real estate development.

City transportation spokesman Dylan Rivera called the apparent success of the bridge a “game-changing boost” for biking in northwest Portland, which has been rapidly adding both jobs and homes.

“Every week we read another report of a tech company moving to the downtown area saying bike lanes, food carts and public transit service are a key reason they can attract talented people.”
— Dylan Rivera, Portland Bureau of Transportation

“Every week we read another report of a tech company moving to the downtown area saying bike lanes, food carts and public transit service are a key reason they can attract talented people,” Rivera said. “We think that’s a testament to the investment Portland has made over the decades to bike access.”

To support its application to Connect Oregon, which has a mandate to invest in non-automotive projects that grow the state’s economy, the city transportation bureau gathered letters of support from nearby employers like Vestas, Gerding Edlen and Airbnb.

The city also had to overcome comments from state staffers, who observed that the city has a backlog of transportation projects funded by the state and Metro but not yet on the ground. Those comments prompted a response letter from Portland Transportation Director Leah Treat, who said the city would be able to start work promptly on Flanders Crossing.

“We’d like to thank the statewide bike-ped committee for their deep understanding of the importance of key active transportation investments in Portland that can benefit the entire state,” Rivera said Wednesday. “This is a testament to the strong business support for bicycling in Portland and the importance of bike access to grow our economy in the coming decades.”

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org

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Portland-region committee gives middling marks to NW Flanders bridge project

Portland-region committee gives middling marks to NW Flanders bridge project

flanders bridge span

The span at Flanders and I-405.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

The prospects for rapid state funding of a biking-walking bridge across Interstate 405 dimmed somewhat Monday as a regional advisory committee appointed by the Oregon Department of Transportion ranked it as only the eighth off-street transportation priority for the Portland region.

Top marks went to a 19-acre, $2.6 million parking lot that would help the Ford Motor Co. export more cars to China — though only if Ford agrees to increase its exports via the Port of Portland, which it hasn’t.

As we reported last month, a $5.9 million Flanders Crossing bridge could carry 9,100 biking-walking trips a day, making it (for example) 21 times more cost-efficient per user within a few years than the defunct Columbia River Crossing freeway-rail project would have been by 2035. The City of Portland is hoping $2.9 million could come from the State of Oregon; fees from recent real estate developments would cover the rest.

The Flanders Crossing would sit between the Northwest District, wich has been adding thousands of new homes, and the Pearl District, which has been adding thousands of new jobs.

The regional committee to award grants in the state’s lottery-funded Connect Oregon program identified two local biking-walking projects as higher priorities than Flanders: $700,000 to complete the Tigard Street Trail and $400,000 to complete the Waterhouse Trail in Tualatin.

matrix

The Connect Oregon ranking matrix from the regional committee. Click here for the full PDF.

Also beating out Flanders Crossing on the regional ranking were $1.4 million to enlarge the Hood River airfield for firefighting and other tasks; $8.3 million for new tracks that would speed up freight and passenger rail trains through North Portland; $1.8 million for a new transit center at Clackamas Community College; and $390,000 for a new transit center in downtown Mollolla.

You can read the project descriptions and analysis on ODOT’s website.

Flanders beat out various other bike/ped projects including trails in Milwaukie, Wilsonville, Gresham, the Naito Gap in inner Northwest Portland, the Red Electric Trail in Southwest Portland and a “bike station” for the Mount Hood Villages. Of the eight projects ranked lowest by the ODOT-appointed committee, six were biking-walking projects.





‘Backlog’ of city projects lower bridge project’s score

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The bridge would activate the long-promised Flanders Street neighborhood greenway and it would provide a much safer crossing of I-405 than Glisan, Everett or Couch.

The middling score for the Flanders Bridge doesn’t mean the bridge plan is back on ice after a decade of delays — it could still be funded by the next step in the Connect Oregon process, coming in June.

A statewide committee of biking and walking experts ranked it their third priority statewide, after the Homestead Canal Trail in Redmond and the Tigard Street Trail. It’s now up to a final review committee that meets June 14-15 to reconcile the high ranking from the modal committee with the middling one from the regional committee.

ODOT staff said the City of Portland “has a backlog of incomplete projects for other ODOT and Metro funding.”

It’d be hard for any other project in the state to measure up to the Flanders Crossing for number of direct users. The Mollalla transit center, for example, would be expected to create 4,704 new transit-rider trips per year. A new Flanders Crossing bridge combined with a planned neighborhood greenway would be expected to carry almost twice that many trips on the average day.

ODOT’s staff analysis of the Flanders Crossing project has a lot of good things to say about it: “high quality design,” lots of local matching funds, and the facts that it creates a “critical active transportation connection” and “resolves safety issues on Glisan and Everett” by giving people biking and walking a way to get across 405 that doesn’t essentially cross a freeway onramp.

But ODOT’s staff notes also name some marks against Flanders: first, that it would sit on ODOT land and the state hasn’t yet signed off on related issues; and second, that the city “has a backlog of incomplete projects for other ODOT and Metro funding.”

Another issue is that the city’s application does not claim that a Flanders bridge would create any jobs. That stands in contrast to, for example, the Port of Portland’s application for a parking lot that could be used as a staging ground. Using its internal economic model, the Port estimated that having extra space to store cars bound for Asia would let Ford increase its auto exports, retaining 105 jobs and creating 90 new ones. But in their analysis, ODOT staff mentioned the lack of a commitment from Ford to actually scale up its exports through Portland even if the public helps underwrite the lot.

“The Nov. 16 letter from the terminal operator only states that the company is in active negotiations with Ford to increase exports through the facility,” ODOT staff writes. “Ford has other west coast options.”

Sebastian Degens, director of marine business development for the Port, said in an interview Tuesday that even if Ford doesn’t boost local jobs by signing a new, larger contract in 2017, the new parking lot could be used by other auto manufacturers.

“The auto business is booming,” Degens said.

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org

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How Portland wants to finally close the notorious Naito Gap

How Portland wants to finally close the notorious Naito Gap

naitocrossingmap

The project would build a new crossing of Naito, add bike lanes, realign the greenway path, and add railroad crossing safety features.
(Graphic: PBOT)

The “Naito gap” is one of the most glaring gaps in Portland’s vaunted bikeway network. Ever since Portland decided to take down a suspended overpass in 2003 (due to, ironically, safety concerns), the 120 feet across Naito Parkway between Waterfront Park and NW 1st Avenue has prevented people from walking and biking between Old Town/Chinatown and the Steel Bridge.

“Since the shortest path from the Steel Bridge path to Old Town Chinatown is to cross Naito at Flanders or Glisan, many pedestrians and bicyclists make an unsafe and illegal crossing at this location every day.”
— From PBOT grant application

Now the bureau of transportation has a solid plan — and more than half the funding — to finally close the gap. The plan includes a new crossing of Naito for biking and walking traffic, new bike lanes on Naito between NW Davis Street and north of the Steel Bridge, a re-alignment of the existing Willamette Greenway path, and safety improvements to the Union Pacific Railroad crossing.

Last month PBOT applied for a state grant that would fund this $1.1 million project. They’ve already committed $630,000 and all they need is $500,000 from ODOT’s Connect Oregon grant program to cover the rest.

It all sounds good, but we’ve been here before. To say this project is overdue is a huge understatement.

Not only did the City of Portland remove an existing bridge that used to be suspended over Naito in this location back in 2003, they’ve missed several opportunities to address the problem ever since.

In 2007 PBOT completed a $10 million repaving of Naito but that project inexplicably failed to address this gap. A fix has been promised no less than four times since then: In 2007, 2009, 2011, and again in 2013.

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A new crossing here is sorely needed. This view is looking northeast toward the Steel Bridge overcrossing.
(Photo: Google Streetview)

Back in 2010 we highlighted five languishing projects and this is the only one on that list that still hasn’t gotten done.

This grant might be PBOT’s best chance ever to rectify the situation.

Here’s how they describe the problem in the state grant application (emphasis mine):

“In 2003 a suspended pedestrian undercrossing of the Steel Bridge ramp was removed at the request of Portland Police Bureau due to public safety concerns. Ever since, there has been a gap of 1100 feet between legal crossings in this segment of Naito Parkway. Since the shortest path from the Steel Bridge path to Old Town Chinatown is to cross Naito at Flanders or Glisan, many pedestrians and bicyclists make an unsafe and illegal crossing at this location every day.

Bike lane gap on Naito Parkway between Davis Street and just north of railroad crossing. Due to constrained roadway geometry and the sharp angle of the railroad crossing, the bike lanes on Naito Parkway disappear just north of the railroad crossing and are not provided again until Davis Street several blocks to the south. This forces bicyclists to move into travel lanes or ride on sidewalks to maintain a direct path, neither of which are safe or comfortable options.”

The need for this project is even greater now that PBOT has installed bike lanes on NW 3rd.

The strange wrinkle in this project is that PBOT has to coordinate these bike/walk improvements with Union Pacific. The railroad company has signed off on the project and, if it’s funded, they’ll be on the hook to install some signficant changes to their crossing. (Technically, the Connect Oregon grant would pay for the railroad improvements and PBOT would pay for the bike/walk improvements.)

Currently, both the Waterfront Park path traffic and vehicle traffic on Naito Parkway cross the railroad tracks just 100 feet away from each other. To improve visibility and safety (and the need for multiple horns), this project would bring the greenway path and (new) bike lanes together and put them adjacent to Naito.

Connect Oregon funds are very competitive. Even with this detailed plan already in place and 57 percent of the funding already in their pocket, PBOT might not get the funding. It would be unfortunate if that happens. But given the long history of the Naito Gap, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org


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First look at city’s plans for bike/walk bridge over I-405 at Flanders

First look at city’s plans for bike/walk bridge over I-405 at Flanders

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The new bridge in place with NW Glisan in upper left and Everett in lower right.
(PBOT)

At long last the City of Portland has a clear and solid plan for building a biking and walking bridge over I-405 at Northwest Flander St. Now all they need is $3 million from the Oregon Department of Transportation to build it.

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As we shared last month, the transportation bureau has submitted applications to Connect Oregon, a state lottery-backed funding program that aims to fund transportation projects that are not on highway right-of-way (and therefore can’t be paid for with gas tax revenues).

Currently pedestrians and bicyclists crossing I-405 must negotiate high-stress roadway overcrossings that include freeway interchange on and off ramps, high traffic volumes and speeds, and poor pedestrian and bicycle connectivity.
— from PBOT grant application

According to the grant application which we obtained through a public records request PBOT estimates the total cost of the Flanders Crossing Active Transportation Bridge to be $6 million. If they receive half of that from ODOT, they’ll pay for the other half with System Development Charges.

Along with the bridge, PBOT will finally build the Flanders Street Neighborhood Greenway which will create a low-stress bicycling route from NW 24th Avenue at the base of the West Hills all the way to the lower path of the Steel Bridge and the Willamette River (PBOT has also applied for grant funding for a new bikeway crossing of NW Naito at Flanders, we’ll share more details on that next week). The new bridge would also come with new signalized crossings on NW 16th and 14th.

I-405 has long been known as a barrier to this key east-west route because of a lack of safe crossings for people on bikes and on foot. The two nearby streets — Everett and Glisan — both lack sidewalks on one side and require people to cross freeway on and off-ramps. “These high-stress crossings are enough to dissuade large segments of the population,” the city’s application states, “from choosing to walk or bike to work or other destinations in the Central City despite such close proximity.”

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A biking and walking-only bridge over I-405 has been in the city’s plan for nearly a decade. It was mentioned in Portland’s Transportation System Plan in 2007. The Flanders Bikeway is classified in the Portland Bicyle Plan for 2030 as a Major City Bikeway.

The bridge design itself isn’t finalized, but PBOT spokesman Dylan Rivera says the leading candidate right now is a steel structure that would offer 24-feet of right-of-way.

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The current cross-section under consideration would split that space up between two six-foot sidewalks and two six-foot bike lanes. Rivera said PBOT feels 12 feet in each direction will be adequate for the expected daily capacity of the bridge. According to traffic demand models, PBOT expects over 9,000 bike and walk trips over the bridge by 2035. (By way of comparison, the Hawthorne Bridge has 10-foot wide shared bike/walkways and handles about 8,200 trips per day.)

The model projects 9,135 users in 2035. That is a figure for total users: bike and pedestrian. An educated guess would suggest 2/3 of those trips would be by bike, so roughly 6,000 bike trips in 2035. For comparison purposes, you might think of the peak summer counts on the Hawthorne at about 8,000, and the peak summer counts for the Steel and Broadway, which are currently about 4,500.

One thing that will impact usage of this bridge are the 17 large employers in the immediate area and the 21,292 people they employ.

There’s one key aspect of this new Flanders Bridge that PBOT hopes makes it even more competitive in the grant process: They’ve designed it to be an emergency lifeline route in the event of a major earthquake or other emergency. PBOT engineers say it would be designed in such a way to be, “operational following the most probabale earthquake to occur within 500 years.”

Bolstering the city’s case for this project is resounding support from advocates, nearby residents and businesses. Letters of support have been written from: PBOT’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committees, Bicyle Transportation Alliance, NW District Association, Pearl District Neighborhood Association, Old Town Chinatown Community Association, Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center, Nob Hill Business Association, Pearl District Business Association, Pacific NW College of Art, and Vestas.

If this all sounds a bit familiar, it’s because a bridge at Flanders was first proposed by PBOT back in 2006. Former Mayor Sam Adams wanted to recycle the old Sauvie Island Bridge and place it over I-405. The project had broad support, but also detractors who claimed it wasn’t equitable to invest in the central city while east Portland still lacked basic infrastructure. The idea was ultimately shelved in 2008.

While the politics are likely to be easier this time around, the grant award is by no means a done deal. Competition is fierce as this project will compete against port, rail, marine, and other biking and walking projects around the state. ODOT received over $91 million in requests and they have only $45 million to hand out. The winners will be chosen by the Oregon Transportation Commission and announced in August 2016. Rivera said PBOT estimates if funding comes through the new bridge could open in 2019.

“It would be transformative for Northwest Portland,” he added.

This is one of five bikeway projects PBOT has applied for. We’ll take a closer look at the others next week.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org


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City applies for funding of Flanders bikeway bridge, 70s Bikeway, and more

City applies for funding of Flanders bikeway bridge, 70s Bikeway, and more

redelectric

The Red Electric Trail, a dream for southwest neighborhood activists, could get over $600,000 in funding if a city grant request comes through.

City Council voted 5-0 yesterday to authorize grant applications for five major bikeway projects. The $9 million in grant requests would help the Bureau of Transportation fund a host of key projects, some of which have languished on lists and in the hearts of advocates for many years.

PBOT is applying for the funding through two Oregon Department of Transportation sources: The lottery-funded Connect Oregon prgogram and the “Enhance” pot of the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). Within ODOT, these are rare pots of money that can fund projects not on the highway right-of-way (in Oregon, gas tax funds are constitutionally required to be spend on “highways”).

PBOT is requesting $6.96 million from Connect Oregon, which will dole out $42 million total statewide, and $5.5 million from STIP Enhance, a program with $30 million available statewide. Both of these programs require substantial “local match” dollars (30% and 10.3% of total project cost respectively) and PBOT has worked with Portland Parks & Recreation to use System Development Charges to come up with most of it.

Here are the projects, descriptions (from PBOT) and requested amounts (Note: These are grant request amounts, not total project cost amounts.):

    I-205 Path to Gateway Green Connector/HOP Neighborhood Greenway – Build a ped/bike undercrossing of I-205 as well as greenway and crossing improvements and provide connections to the I-205 Multi-Use Path and Gateway Green. $3,000,000

    SE 70s Neighborhood Greenway – Develop a critical neighborhood bikeway along the SE 70s corridor between NE Sacamento and SE Flavel and create an over five mile parallel facility to 82nd Ave. $2,500,000

    Flanders City Greenway – Build an active transportation bridge over I-405 and other improvements to provide a much needed east-west walking and bicycling route connecing the dense NW neighborhoods to the Waterfront and Steel bridge, while also relieving congestion on parallel arterial streets and improving vehicle access to and from the interstate freeway system. $2,500,000

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    Naito Crossing – Improve the safety of a Naito Parkway Crossing, providing a major central city connection between Flanders to the Steel Bridge and Waterfront Park. $500,000

    Red Electric Trail – This project will complete a section of the regionally significant Red Electric Trail and will provide connections to several schools, parks, libraries, community centers, and natural areas. $609,000

    [The city is also applying for $3.35 million to purchase three new streetcar vehicles from the City of Seattle.]

Four of these projects should look very familiar to many of you. The I-205 undercrossing project is the easternmost segment of the long lost Sullivan’s Gulch project. The “Flanders City Greenway” was first promised to bike advocates over a decade ago. It was resurrected by former Mayor Sam Adams when he tried to re-use the old Sauvie Island Bridge, only to have his plan fall victim to a heated mayoral race. The “Naito Crossing” is none other than the Naito Gap that we’ve reported on many times over the years. And the Red Electric Trail has been a dream of southwest neighborhood advocates for as long as I can remember.

Keep in mind these projects don’t make it onto the list unless they have a good chance at getting funded. At Council yesterday PBOT’s Mark Lear said bluntly, “We want to win.”

Council members were supportive of all the project in their unanimous vote. The only questions Lear fielded came from Commissioner Dan Saltzman who asked about the total cost of the Flanders bikeway bridge (which is estimated to be about $5-7 million). Before her yes vote, Commissioner Amanda Fritz said, “Like Commissioner Saltzman, I’m concerned about the high cost of the Flanders Street Greenway but I recognize that’s a decision that’s been made by the commissioner of transportation.”

This is the first step in what will be a year-long process. Stay tuned for more details about each project and opportunities to weigh in.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org


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Tualatin River Greenway, TriMet Bike & Rides among likely ‘Connect Oregon’ grant winners

Tualatin River Greenway, TriMet Bike & Rides among likely ‘Connect Oregon’ grant winners

A committee set up to review applications for a major state funding program made their final selections yesterday and projects that will improve bicycling — including bike parking at the Goose Hollow MAX station — fared well. $42 million in state-backed Lottery funds were up for grabs in the Connect Oregon program this cycle (its fifth) — and this was the first time in the program’s history that bicycling and walking projects were eligible for the money.

Advocates from the Bicycle Transportation Alliance fought to change state law in order to have a shot at a piece of this pie. And now we’re all reaping rewards as the final recommended list includes over $8 million in projects that will improve bicycling and walking.

In total, 37 (out of 104) projects have been selected for funding. The largest award, $6 million, would go to the Port of Morrow for a cold storage rail facility and the smallest award, $16,000 would go toward an airport master plan for the Grant County Regional Airport.

On the bike-specific side of things, the big selection was the Tualatin River Greenway Gap Completion project which is slated for $1.6 million. That project will fill a 0.77 mile gap between Nyberg Lane and Martinazzi Avenue. According to the ODOT project summary, it will link 67,000 nearby residents to jobs and retail and “provide safe and convenient multimodal access across I-5, a route for which no safe connection currently exists.”

TriMet won $1.5 million for their Westside Bike & Rides: Access to Jobs project, which is a package of “last mile” access improvements at the Beaverton Creek and Goose Hollow MAX stations. Project Manager Jeff Owen says, “This project will build enhanced bike parking at Goose Hollow and Beaverton Creek, along with a new trail connection at Beaverton Creek that would facilitate connections on the north side of the light rail tracks to future trails by Tualatin Hills Parks and Recreation District and Nike.” Matching funds for the $6 million will come from Washington County.

One project that didn’t get funded was PBOT’s Portland Bike Share Phase II. That’s because the application was pulled by PBOT at the last minute, due to what they characterize as unforeseen delays in the Bike Share project.

The Connect Oregon program funding is dedicated solely to projects that are not on public highway rights of way. Other categories of projects that were in the running for the money included port/marine, aviation, rail, and transit.

As this process got underway late last year there was some consternation among active transportation insiders that even though the projects were eligible in the program, they wouldn’t be able to compete head-to-head with the entrenched political power behind rail, marine, aviation, and other “off-highway” interests. Those concerns now appear to have given way to confidence for the next round. One source said the bike/ped category was only expected to get about $2 million of the $42 million.

Besides the initial heavy lifting by BTA Advocacy Director Gerik Kransky, two key advocates on the Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (OBPAC) — Susan Peithman and (2014 Alice Award Winner) Jenna Stanke — represented biking and walking projects at the final selection committee meeting yesterday. “They did a great job of advocating and negotiating for bike ped funding among a powerful group of people,” commented an ODOT source via email this afternoon.

There’s still one last hurdle for these projects (although its likely to be smooth sailing): This recommended list now goes to the Oregon Transportation Commission where there will be a public hearing in Salem on July 17th and a final decision made in August.

See the full list of funded projects via this PDF.

— Learn more about Connect Oregon in our archives.

UPDATE: Here’s the BTA’s blog post about the news.

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West-side paths may get lottery grants, but bike-share expansion looks iffy

West-side paths may get lottery grants, but bike-share expansion looks iffy

The blue dashed lane along the south bank of the Tualatin River shows a future trail connection that might be funded by $1.6 million in state lottery proceeds.
(Image: City of Tualatin)

A mixed-use path link in Tualatin is among the top contenders for a lottery-funded state grant program that includes biking and walking projects for the first time this year.

The 0.8-mile, Tualatin River Greenway gap completion project is faring well in the state’s competitive Connect Oregon program because it creates a low-stress link to jobs and retail across Interstate 5 for 67,000 nearby residents. It’d cost $3.1 million; Tualatin is hoping half will come from Connect Oregon.

Also performing well in early (and still flexible) rankings for Connect Oregon’s state lottery dollars are the proposed Tigard Street Trail, which would convert an unused rail alignment to a walking/biking path along SW Tigard Street from SW Main Street to SW Tiedeman Avenue, and a TriMet proposal to add secure bike parking and safe track crossings at the Beaverton Creek and Goose Hollow MAX stations.

Teetering on the edge of possible funding, meanwhile, is a high-profile request from the City of Portland: $2 million that would extend the city’s planned bike sharing system beyond the central city, east to 33rd Avenue and north to Killingsworth Street.

A conceptual map of the locations of future bikesharing stations. The city hopes state lottery funds will pay for 30 stations, in yellow, after federal and sponsorship dollars pay for the first 75 stations, in blue.

Last month, a statewide committee named the Tualatin path connection as their second-priority biking or walking project in the state (PDF) from a list of 36 requests. The Portland bike sharing expansion (which would presumably be contingent on Portland’s planned 2015 launch of a central-city bike share system) rated fourth among biking/walking projects statewide, and the Tigard project seventh. A statewide committee ranking transit-related projects, meanwhile, rated the west-side park-and-rides sixth of 13 requests.

A ranking of the state’s top biking/walking projects.
(Click for PDF)

A separate draft ranking released this week that rated all requests from the Portland metro area — pitting aviation, rail, truck, car, bike/walk and public transit projects against one another — rated the Tualatin path third, the Tigard path eighth, the bike-and-rides 10th and the bike share expansion 15th of 26.

A draft ranking of the Portland metro area’s top Connect Oregon projects of all modes.
(Click for PDF)

The next step is a May 9 meeting at which members of the Portland-area regional committee will finalize their rankings. After that, it’ll be on to a joint statewide committee, which will meet in Portland June 11-12 and is expected to make authoritative recommendations to the Oregon Transportation Commission.

“Quite frankly, I’m not sure on how it’s going to come out,” said Chris Cummings, an Oregon Department of Transportation staffer overseeing the program.

Under the terms of the program, each of ODOT’s five regions will get at least $4.2 million, with the remaining $21 million divided among them based on which projects show broad support on the relevant committees.

For example, if every committee member were to rate a given project fifth, it’s likely to come out in the top three after all votes are scored.

The fact that biking and walking projects are up for lottery funding at all is remarkable, and due to a significant legislative victory this spring by the Portland-based Bicycle Transportation Alliance. After other groups had given up hope of making active transportation projects eligible for Connect Oregon, the BTA stuck with the cause and convinced state legislators to make them eligible for the first time.

Susan Peithman, a former BTA staffer who now works for the Portland State University-affiliated OTREC institute and sits on all three committees that will allocate the Connect Oregon funds, said there’s still time for the public and politicians to make the case for various projects. No public testimony will be accepted at the May 9 meeting, which is set for 8 to 10 am at ODOT’s Northwest Portland regional headquarters. Citizens can email ODOT staffer Kelly Brooks with comments for the committee, however: kelly.brooks@odot.state.or.us.

“Columbia County seemed to get a significant amount of the money this round on the draft list, and there was some discussion on that,” Peithman said.

Peithman mentioned that Sen. Betsy Johnson, a centrist Columbia County Democrat who holds a key swing vote in the legislature and is seen as essential to the survival of the Connect Oregon program, personally attended two of the selection committees’ meetings.

Ranking worthy projects of different modes is a tough job, Peithman said.

“How do you very clearly evaluate a dredging of the Columbia River [compared] to a ped-bike bridge connecting a multi-use path?” she said.

‘Bike Pods’ at State Parks among projects lining up for Oregon Lottery dollars

‘Bike Pods’ at State Parks among projects lining up for Oregon Lottery dollars

Bike camping at Champoeg St. Park-58

Places like Champoeg State Park (shown above) could become even more welcoming to bike riders if funding comes through.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

As we’ve been covering since the legislature passed it back in July, a pot of $42 million in Oregon Lottery-backed funding is now available to bicycling projects for the first time ever through the Oregon Department of Transportation’s Connect Oregon program.

And, not surprisingly, when the application process opened at the end of last year, ODOT was flooded with biking and walking projects from throughout the state. Of the 108 applications sent in, 35 of them were in the “Bicycle/Pedestrian” category (the other categories are aviation, marine, rain and transit) and the dollar amount for those projects totaled more than any other mode.

Now ODOT has released more information about each project, so we decided to take a look.

Of the 108 projects on the list, 11 of them are from Multnomah County. The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) applied for two projects, Metro applied for just one, and the others were requested by the Portland of Portland and a host of railroad, marine and aviation-minded concerns.

There were no surprises from PBOT. As we reported back in October, they’ve requested a total of $3.6 million spread between a streetcar project and the second phase of their bike share project. Metro’s sole request is $2.94 million to begin construction on a piece of the North Portland Greenway Trail between St. Johns and the Rivergate Industrial District.

Beyond those local projects, a few others caught my eye: a $900,000 request from the City of Eugene to start a bike share program, a $348,000 request from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department for “Bike Pods” and “Bike Hubs”, and the City of Garibaldi’s $2 million request to build the first piece of the Salmonberry Corridor Trail.

Learn more about each of these projects in the descriptions below (provided by ODOT):

Metro – St. Johns Rivergate Access Project (Grant request: $2,294,996, total project cost: $2,868,746)
The project will complete a critical gap in the 40-Mile Loop Trail and the North Portland Willamette Greenway Trail and connect the St. Johns neighborhood and region to the Smith and Bybee Wetlands Natural Area and the Rivergate Industrial District. The project will benefit residents who work in the industrial area, children attending 14 nearby schools and regional trail users.

PBOT – Bike Share Phase 2: Jobs, Training & Transit (Grant request: $2,000,000, total project cost: $4,700,000)
Bike Share Phase 2: Jobs, Training & Transit expands the state’s largest public bike sharing system by adding 30 new stations and connecting the state’s largest employment centers, workforce training sites, and high-capacity transit lines. The project will provide healthy, equitable access to jobs, job training, commercial corridors and transit for thousands of Portland residents and commuters.

PBOT – Streetcar Safety and Jobs Access Enhancements (Grant request: $1,600,000, total project cost: $5,020,319)
This grant will close a funding gap for the procurement of one streetcar vehicle, and the installation of automatic train stop (ATS) safety equipment on each vehicle in the City’s streetcar fleet. The installation will begin as soon as funding is available to meet the fall 2015 deadline.

City of Eugene – Eugene Bike Share (Grant request: $909,066, total project cost: $1,136,333)
The City of Eugene proposes development of a public bike share system consisting of approximately 170 bicycles and 24 stations located near residential, shopping, employment, and transit centers in downtown Eugene and nearby areas including the University of Oregon (UO). This bike share system will fully integrate with a 4 station, 40 bike system being implemented on the UO campus in spring 2014.

City of Garibaldi – Salmonberry Corridor: Garibaldi to Barview (Grant request: $2,000,000, total project cost $2,500,000)
Construct 1.1 mile of pathway to address safety issue for bicycles and pedestrians between Barview and Garibaldi, completing the first section of the Salmonberry Corridor.

McKenzie River Ranger District, USFS – McKenzie River Trail Restoration (Grant request: $81,200, total project cost: $106,469)
This project includes the replacement of five major trail bridges, two major reroutes, and heavy tread maintenance work on the McKenzie River National Recreation Trail. A grant for three of the bridges has already been received from a Recreation Trails Program (RTP) Grant from the Oregon Recreation and Parks Program (ORPD). A successful grant from Connect Oregon will fund the remaining work.

Oregon Parks and Recreation Department – Bike Pods of Oregon – Grant request: $348,000, total project cost: $435,000
“Bike Pods of Oregon” encompasses a statewide roll out of 12 Bike Pods and 7 Bike Hubs. “Bike Pods” are strategically located in State Parks throughout the state to serve long distance overnight bicyclists. “Bike Hubs” provide amenities for day use cyclists and are located on public land, primarily in communities, along popular destination cycling routes.

From here, ODOT will vet these projects internally and then pass them off to regional committees for closer public review before a final decision is made by the Oregon Transportation Commission later this summer. Learn more about this current round of Connect Oregon funding on ODOT’s website.

BTA up for national ‘Bicycling Magazine People’s Choice’ advocacy award

BTA up for national ‘Bicycling Magazine People’s Choice’ advocacy award

The addition of those three words into a funding
bill are a major success story for the BTA.

The Portland-based Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) is up for a Bicycling Magazine People’s Choice Advocacy Award. The awards, promoted by the magazine in partnership with the Alliance for Biking & Walking, will be given to one of ten finalists who gets the most votes in an online poll made public yesterday.

The BTA has been recognized for their work with the Oregon legislature to pass a major change to the Oregon Department of Transportation’s (ODOT) ConnectOregon transportation funding program. For its first four years of existence, this state lottery-backed funding source, also known as the Multimodal Transportation Fund, was open to just about every “non-highway” transportation mode except bicycling and walking. That glaring omission was corrected last year when Senate Bill 260 was passed into law.

With federal transportation funding all but drying up, pots of money like the $42 million available from ConnectOregon this year are highly sought after. “Accessing the ConnectOregon pool of dollars from lottery tickets,” reads a blurb about the BTA’s efforts on Bicycling.com, “became a holy grail for Portland advocates.”

Thanks to the BTA’s efforts, that grail has been found.

Last month, a source who works at the ODOT said the ConnectOregon bill simply would not have passed without BTA’s “extensive and focused lobbying”. “They went all out, and they won in the House and the Senate. It’s the biggest victory for BTA in Salem in at least 5 years.”

While it remains to be seen just how many bike-related projects end up winning funds from ConnectOregon (final decisions won’t be made until August), documents released from ODOT last month showed that more applications were submitted for “Bicycle/Pedestrian” projects than any other category.

The BTA is going up against other advocacy efforts from some of the premier bike organizations in America including Transportation Alternatives in New York City, the Active Transportation Alliance in Chicago, Bike Delaware, and others.

Voting began yesterday and will run through February 6th. The winners will be announced at a ceremony on Monday, March 3rd in Washington D.C. at the National Bike Summit (and yes, BikePortland will be there to cover it!).

— Learn more about each nominee and make your vote here.