Hillsboro Mayor Jerry Willey is among 21 of 26 regional mayors calling for Metro to slow down on plans to include requirements for bike paths, pedestrian trails and sidewalks in its next regional transportation plan update.

In an Aug. 13 letter to Metro President Tom Hughes, the mayors objected to Metro mandating the “active transportation” features in future local transportation projects. “Active transportation” is the term used by planners to describe alternatives to motor vehicle transportation.

“Leave matters of implementation to local decision-makers. To the extent that assistance is required in coordinating plans between jurisdictions, Metro could serve that role,” reads an excerpt from the letter.

The potential requirements are included in the draft “regional active transportation plan” working its way through the Metro planning process. It is tentatively scheduled to be included in the next update of the regional transportation plan, which Metro uses to determine which transportation projects are built in the region.

In the letter, the mayors also objected to reducing vehicle lanes on existing roads to create room for bike paths and sidewalks, as proposed in the draft. The letter cited an April survey by DHM Research, which found that 72 percent of county residents disagreed with such so-called “road diets.”

The Metro council is scheduled to vote on part of the draft plan next month. Discussions are under way about delaying the final decision until January.

Most cities in the region, including Hillsboro, have already approved some policies to expand bike and pedestrian paths. Goals include offering residents more transportation options and including greenhouse gas emissions caused by motor vehicles. But the mayors who signed the letter want to retain control over the final design of their projects.

“Primarily, the regional mayors would prefer to see the ATP as a guiding or reference document, rather than obligatory and binding,” they explained in another excerpt.

The mayors signing the letter represent approximately 507,000 of the region’s approximately 1.5 million residents. Five mayors did not sign the letter. They include Beaverton’s Mayor Denny Doyle, Johnson City’s Kay Mordock, Portland’s Charlie Hales, Tualatin’s Lou Ogden and West Linn’s John Kovash. Together, they represent about 705,000 residents, with Portland accounting for the largest share.

Other Washington County mayors signing the letter included Forest Grove’s Pete Truax, King City’s Ron Shay, North Plains’ David Hatcher, Sherwood’s Bill Middleton and Tigard’s John Cook.

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