That is the question our Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation (JPACT) will answer on November 8th. We hope you will join the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) in our campaign to prioritize spending the money on Active Transportation and Complete Streets projects.
Over the last couple of years we’ve had a robust discussion about how to spend our Regional Flexible Funds, a precious federal program that allows us to invest in transportation and trail projects in and outside of the road right-of-way. This is important because Oregon’s primary transportation funding comes from the Highway Trust Fund which is constitutionally limited to expenditures in the road right-of-way.
The current round of Regional Flexible Funds (from 2015 – 2018) available in the Portland region is over $146 million dollars. Much of the money, $48 million, is already dedicated to repaying High Capacity Transit Bonds. That leaves us with approximately $98 million dollars to spend on infrastructure such as bike lanes, trails, sidewalks, transit station improvements, and new highway/road projects as well as Metro administered programs like transportation planning, Transit Oriented Development, and Regional Transportation Options.
Transportation policy and funding are complicated.
We want to keep it simple. This is the money we are using to bring bike sharing to Portland. This is the money we are using to build the Red Electric Trail. This money is a critical source of funding for active transportation priorities.
This is also the money that the Port of Portland (with ODOT’s help) wants to spend a significant portion of on new highway/road projects around the region. The good news is, Portland Mayor Sam Adams is standing up for bikes and standing with us in this campaign.
It is unacceptable to the BTA to consider overturning our current policy commitment to spending 75% of the total funds on active transportation and complete streets projects and 25% on freight projects. As a community we had a debate over two years ago, set a policy direction, and committed a significant amount of this money to highway/road projects. If you look at the previous advocacy position of freight interests, you will see that in years past we spent only 1.8% of Regional Flexible Funds on freight.
The Port still wants more than the recently increased 25% of this money for highway/road projects. Now is the time to say no.
We must act now to preserve 75% of Regional Flexible Funds for active transportation and complete streets projects. It is clear from the previous advocacy position of Portland’s Bicycle Advisory Committee how vitally important this money is for our shared interests.
Please send an email to Metro staffers Kelsey Newell and Josh Naramore at Kelsey.Newell@oregonmetro.gov and Joshua.Naramore@oregonmetro.gov. Let them know that as a concerned citizen you prefer Regional Flexible Fund Option 1 to spend 75% on active transportation and 25% on freight. Ask that your comments be distributed to members of JPACT for consideration. Tell them why biking, walking, and transit are important to you.
For more details on this policy debate and the options under consideration, feel free to review the official JPACT packet.