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East County road projects get initial approval

Two East Multnomah County roads have initial approval to get federal dollars to fund much-needed improvements for bicyclists, pedestrians and motorists.

Projects on Arata Road in Wood Village and on Sandy Boulevard between 230th Avenue and 238th Drive in Fairview were among 11 Portland-area bicycle and pedestrian projects unanimously approved Thursday, Dec. 8, by Metro Regional Government's Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation for a $27 million package.

Metro expects to disperse the money - which comes from the federal government's regional flexible funds program - for transportation projects in the city of Portland and in Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties in 2014 and 2015.

From that amount, Multnomah County expects to get $1.6 million for active transportation projects that add or improve bicycling, walking and access to public transportation; and $659,000 for freight and green economy projects.

The regional flexible funds will cover the majority of each project's cost. Additional funds could come from other sources such as grants.

Both East County projects received strong support during the public comment period, according to Metro.

If approved, the Arata Road project will receive almost $1.7 million to add sidewalks, bike lanes, lighting and landscaping along Arata Road's south side. It will also enhance a 500-foot-long path that connects Arata with Halsey Street. The total project cost is almost $1.9 million.

Supporters of the Arata Road project hope it will improve safety for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists. Arata Road lacks adequate sidewalks, lighting and bike lanes despite being surrounded by houses, mobile home parks and the Fairview Oaks-Woods housing project.

The Sandy Boulevard project could receive $659,000 to widen the road and add an extra turn lane and sidewalks. Supporters hope the project will make it easier to get to industrial properties in the area, such as Townsend Business Park. The total project cost is about $735,000.

In addition, the city of Portland applied for $3.4 million for an East Portland transportation project, which includes plans to add missing sidewalks segments to Southeast Division Street between 100th and 148th avenues, as well as bike lanes and signals around 122nd Avenue.

The Metro Council is scheduled to vote on the transportation package at its Thursday, Dec. 15, meeting. The council cannot amend the package, although it could send it back to JPACT for further discussion if the council has concerns, said Metro Councilor Shirley Craddick.

The regional flexible funds program for 2014-15 also includes $47 million for region-wide programs, including $26 million for light-rail construction, $6 million for transit-oriented development and $3 million for high-tech road system improvements.