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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Hey, Uncle Sam, It's Portland's Transportation Wish List!

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Wed, Sep 8, 2010 at 4:59 PM

Suits and hardhats.
  • Denis C. Theriault
  • Suits and hardhats.

Talk about finding the sweet spot for a tightly scripted press conference on federal transportation funding: just east of the newly (mostly) reopened Broadway Bridge, the streetcar tracks on one side, industry, the Fremont Bridge, and the light-rail on Interstate on the other.

That was the backdrop this afternoon for Mayor Sam Adams and four Democratic members of Congress, including Oregon's very own Peter DeFazio, Kurt Schrader, and David Wu, plus Jim Oberstar, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

They were there as part of a national push (funded by the painters union) to call attention the wonkily titled Surface Transportation Authorization Act. Every six years, Congress is asked to update and amend the nation's transit priorities and all the local projects that stand to receive federal cash.

Like I said, the event itself was fairly scripted and filled with buzz phrases about jobs, not unlike a campaign rally. But afterward, Adams' office sent out a list of which projects Portland wants the government to help pay for—and Adams reiterated that he'll be in Washington D.C. to help make the case. DeFazio, a Transportation subcommittee chair, used to be Adams' boss, and that fact has some politicos hopeful Portland will receive some consideration.

To see Portland's wish list, keep reading.

Portland's seven chosen projects, courtesy the mayor's office.

• SW Capitol Highway - $10 million to improve SW Capitol Highway between SW Multnomah Boulevard and SW Taylors Ferry Road, connecting two Portland neighborhood and business nodes, West Portland Town Center and Multnomah Village, to 99-West, I-5 and the Portland Community College Sylvania Campus. Supported by the community for more than a decade, the project includes construction of improvements to an existing 2-lane roadway to make it a multimodal corridor with bike lanes, sidewalks, vehicular travel lanes, improved intersections and innovative stormwater treatment elements. The project will create 168 new jobs during project construction.


• 102nd Street Boulevard Improvements/Gateway Phase II - $3 million to implement Phase II of a project targeted at improving NE 102nd Avenue - the main commercial corridor through the Gateway District of East Portland. The Gateway District is a designated Regional Center with a focus on increasing employment and residential growth. Phase I was completed in the fall of 2008. This project serves as Phase II (102nd Avenue from NE Glisan to SE Washington Street) and will widen the existing sidewalks, add additional streetlights and street trees, include additional pedestrian crossings, provide for treatment of stormwater runoff and create or maintain 64 jobs during construction.


• Portland to Lake Oswego Streetcar - The City joins its regional partners in seeking $163 million for the Portland to Lake Oswego streetcar line. The project will extend the existing Portland streetcar line from SW Lowell Street in the South Waterfront district to Lake Oswego. It is anticipated that the project will create an estimated 3,400 jobs and serve more than 10,000 passengers per day.


• Portland Bicycle Boulevard Project- $25 million for over 100 city-wide miles of bike boulevards. Federal funds will fund corridor improvements through traffic signaling, intersection control and traffic-calming devices designed to limit conflicts between automobiles and bikes. The development of this network type will dramatically boost bicycle use beyond the City's nationally leading levels. The benefits to the City in increasing bicycle use are dramatic: economic (green dividends, tourism and expanding a significant existing bicycle industry), environmental, and transportation congestion relief.


• Portland Streetcar Planning and Alternatives Analysis - $5 million for streetcar planning and alternatives analysis. The City has completed its citywide Streetcar System Plan and must now begin the planning and alternatives analysis for future streetcar lines. This funding would allow the City to move towards an Alternatives Analysis of several of the recommended corridors.


• Division Street Reconstruction/Brooklyn Creek Basin - $3.6 million, roughly one-third of which would construct green-street projects in targeted combined sewer catchment areas to control stormwater runoff from more than eight acres of public streets between Mt. Tabor and the Willamette River. The green street improvements are part of a larger comprehensive set of local green infrastructure improvements referred to as the "Mt. Tabor to the River" project. The remaining funds will reconstruct and repair Division Street between SE 6th and SE 39th Avenues in order to improve pedestrian and bicycle accessibility. The project will create 126 jobs during the construction phase.


• Union Station - $24 million for the next phase of improvements to rehabilitate Union Station. The significance of Union Station, as a multi-modal transportation center in downtown Portland, has greatly increased due to the emergence of a streetcar system in Portland, the Portland Mall Light Rail Project, and the changes to the inter-city passenger bus services over the last 20 years. This request is part of an overall effort to consolidate multi-modal transportation functions along with the existing Amtrak functions into the historic Union Station building.

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