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Cities get a jump on state climate change requirements

by: PHOTO BY: VERN UYETAKE - Anyone who commutes along Highway 43 in West Linn knows how congested the road gets. Metro is campaigning to reduce the number of vehicles on the road.Many communities in the region have already started projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as required by the state. They range from building transit systems in Portland to encouraging alternative transportation options in Hillsboro and studying increased density in Forest Grove and Hillsboro.

These and other projects were discussed last week in a series of stories published in many Pamplin Media Group newspapers. The articles explained the Climate Smart Communities project being undertaken by Metro, the elected regional government, at the direction of the Legislature.

Metro is conducting an online Opt In survey to gauge public response to possible new policies to reduce driving even more. The policies under discussion include encouraging more mixed-use developments and increasing the cost of driving and parking.

To register and take the survey, visit climatesmartsurvey.com.

Your personal information will not be sold or shared with other governments or private businesses without your permission. To learn more about the Metro surveys, visting optinpanel.org.

The Metro Council will consider the results of the survey when finalizing its proposal for the 2015 Legislature. In the meantime, here are some of the projects from around the region discussed in last week’s stories:

Beaverton

A manifestation of the city’s comprehensive 2011 Civic Plan, the Beaverton Creekside District is a multifaceted redevelopment project encompassing 49 acres along busy Canyon Road. With funding through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the city and others, planners are working on a master plan to concentrate on redeveloping vacant lots in the area, improving safety, transportation and pedestrian/bicycling amenities.

Initial plans to route midtown bicycle traffic from Canyon Road to new “bikeways” on Broadway Street and Millikan Way — as well as improvements to Canyon Road to improve its safety, walkability and attractiveness to new development — will begin to take shape in the upcoming fiscal year.

Forest Grove

Among other things, the city is developing a new transit system with help from Ride Connection that will encourage public transportation within the city. Planning commissioners and city councilors also will soon consider updates to the city’s comprehensive plan that would encourage more walking than driving, while also helping attract new businesses. One idea would increase the density of the downtown core, perhaps more than quadrupling it from 20 residential units per acre to 90.

Planners are thinking about adding two more commercial centers to the city. To encourage more mixed-use development there, the allowable square footage of buildings would be increased, perhaps up to 30,000 square feet. That’s about the size of the New Seasons store at Orenco Station in Hillsboro.

Hillsboro

Sustainability and transportation alternatives are key features of the Hillsboro Intermodal Transit Facility, a joint project of the city, Tuality Healthcare and Pacific University at 775 S.E. Baseline Road. A sustainably designed building along the westside MAX line, it houses 794 parking spaces on five floors, 13 state-of-the-art electric vehicle charging stations, and the region’s first bicycle commuter station, Bike Park Hillsboro. The building also includes ground-floor retail space and is home to Portland Community College’s Hillsboro Education Center. It has won a number of awards for design and sustainability.

Lake Oswego

The city has a number of initiatives to encourage alternative forms of transportation. They include the second 100 Mile Challenge that kicked off March 25. It aims to reduce local car use, especially for trips within two miles of home. Participants who leave their cars behind and instead walk, cycle or ride the bus can log their miles and, if they count more than 100 miles’ worth of car-free trips, qualify for prizes. All car-free trips to, from and within the city count.

During last year’s event, which ran from July to December, 214 people logged more than 60,000 miles without cars, resulting in an estimated reduction in carbon dioxide emissions of just under 40,000 pounds and in 2,000 gallons of gasoline.

Portland

The biggest city in the region is well known for its alternative transportation policies and projects. They include the Portland Streetcar loop that is nearing completion around the urban core. Work is under way to connect it to TriMet’s new Portland-to-Milwaukie MAX line near the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry on the east side of the Willamette River and in the South Waterfront neighborhood on the west side.

The City Council also approved the Portland Plan last year that calls for the creation of neighborhood centers throughout town where residents can walk to work and shopping within 20 minutes. The plan also calls for them to be connected with streets that are designed to encourage walking and biking.

West Linn

The City Council initiated a study for redevelopment along Highway 43 and Willamette Falls Drive in early 2012. It showed strong support for compact commercial and mixed-use centers that would be conveniently accessible by bicyclists, pedestrians and motorists. This year, the city plans to redevelop the area on the west end of the Arch Bridge that connects to Oregon City. It includes the West Linn Police Department building that will be vacated when the replacement, funded by a 2011 bond measure, is completed.

West Linn’s trail system master plan also proposes major expansion of off-street bike and pedestrian trails. And the city also hopes to begin an update to its transportation systems plan by the end of the year that will include the bicycle and pedestrian system recommendations from the master trails plan.

Additional background on the project is available at Metro’s website at: oregonmetro.gov/climatescenarios.




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