Council asks for bike sharing, other transportation project funds
Fritz questions bike plan, casts lone no vote
The Portland City Council approved a plan Wednesday to seek about $14 million in transportation project funds, including a controversial $2 million to help fund a bike sharing program.
Commissioner Amanda Fritz cast the lone vote against the request package because of the money dedicated to the bike program. It is intended to attract an additional $2 million in private funds to buy bicycles that can be rented around town.
"If it's a good idea, I don't know why the private sector hasn't done it already," Fritz said. "I believe the $2 million should be spent on basic needs in our neighborhood, like sidewalks and lighting."
Mayor Sam Adams defended the bike sharing program, saying it will encourage healthy behavior, reduce congestion and encourage tourism. He also said it would create jobs in a private business that will operate it.
Other requested projects include eastside transit work and road improvements. The elected Metro Council must approve the projects for funding through the regional flexible federal funding process.
Regional flexible funds are federal transportation dollars allocated every two years to the Portland area. Metro has set a priority on projects that move freight and encourage walking, bicycling and access to transit.
The city has been allocated $2.4 million for freight projects and $6.6 million for active transportation projects. More than 50 percent of the city's nominated projects are sidewalk and safety projects in East Portland. Another 26 percent goes to a freight project North Portland's industrial area. The other 22 percent will go toward developing a bicycle rental program that includes private financing.
Before the vote, Adams said the eastside projects 'provide critical safety and infrastructure improvements for neighborhoods that desperately need them.'
The projects considered by the council included:
• East Portland active transportation to transit - Total project cost: $4.4 million ($3.2 million in federal funds plus $1.2 million in city matching funds). The work will add sidewalks, crossings and bicycle facilities with a focus on access to transit in the area south of Interstate 84, north of Southeast Foster Road and east of Interstate 205. It also will eliminate gaps in the sidewalk network on Southeast Division Street from I-205 to 145th Avenue. The money will fund more than 15 pedestrian and bicycle crossings on Division and 122nd Avenue, improve bicycle connections to the Gateway, Division and Holgate light-rail stations and create safer north-south access for bicycles in the Southeast 128th to 134th avenues.
• Foster Road safety improvements - Total project cost: $3.45 million ($1.25 million in federal funds plus $2.2 million in Portland Development Commission matching funds). This project will make pedestrian and bicycle crossings safer and increase access to transit in the Foster Road business district.
• Bike sharing program - Total project cost: $4 million ($2 million federal funds plus $2 million in private funds). The project is the first phase of a public-private partnership to launch a large-scale bike sharing program. The first phase consists of 740 bicycles and 74 bike-sharing stations around the city.
• North Time Oil Road and North Burgard Road intersection improvement - Total project cost: $2.6 million ($2.36 million in federal funds plus $270,000 in city funds). The project will correct an uncontrolled intersection at a blind corner that is heavily used by trucks in the Rivergate Industrial District. Improvements include widening Burgard Road and creating left-turn lanes from each direction onto North Time Oil Road.
Plans to develop a bicycle/pedestrian trail in the Sullivan's Gulch area were not included in the city's transportation funding package. A trail concept plan is expected by the City Council by February 2012. The project still has to work out several land-use issues, including access to an area in the Union Pacific railroad right of way.