FHWA on RTP

Update: A few minutes later…

But wait, now the meme is on to BikePortland.org.

Update: 1/30/07

I don’t know if this is cool or silly, but here’s a case-in-point for the self-referentiality of the blogosphere and the mainstream media. I ran this post yesterday, and was told by Metro staff that it generated a media call from the Oregonian. Today, Jim Mayer runs this story in the O. Then, Gordon Price in Vancouver, B.C., picks up on Jim’s story via the Sightline Institute’s TidePool news service for his blog, Price Tags.

If the spiral keeps going, maybe we can get this story to CNN!

Original Post: 1/29/07

I commented recently that the re-written policy introduction to the Regional Transportation Plan was a strong indicator for really taking a different approach to the role of transportation in acheiving the 2040 vision for our region.

This was confirmed when I had a chance to read the Federal Highway Administration’s comments (PDF, 14K) on the policy draft.

It is difficult to find the transportation focus in this opening chapter of the Regional Transportation Plan. The current focus is about attaining land use goals…

Here, here! Now, if we just started all our land use plans by talking about transportation goals, we might finally acheive integrated planning.

15 Comments

15 Responses to FHWA on RTP

  1. Paul Edgar
    January 29, 2007 at 9:41 am Link

    The FHWA comments to the Draft, Regional Transportation Vision of the RTP are truly a hard hitting. To me it is a statement that the FED’s look at the “Social Engineering” approach and methods of measurement as out of sync with what they they see as should be happening in our region.

    This tells me that if our region still wants to feed from the FED troth we had better start addressing the concerns addressed in this statement.

  2. Adron B Hall
    January 29, 2007 at 10:00 am Link

    This tells me that if our region still wants to feed from the FED troth we had better start addressing the concerns addressed in this statement.

    That is the closest thing I’ve seen someone call what subsidizations are since I’ve been on this blog.

    But really, by dictionary defintion, receiving and asking for subsidies is nothing more than zealous and forthright theivery and begging. Kinda like those transients and bums.

    It’s fun at a Mardi Gras parade hollaring for beads, but it’s bad when life is lived that way from forced necessity.

    I digress though, if there isn’t a free-market to create intelligent choices in city and urban layouts, then I’d rather have someone setting up some type of outlines instead of going full double horns tilt toward auto dependant anti-transit oriented sprawl.

    :) I’m trying to end my comments on a more positive note these days.

  3. Adron B Hall
    January 29, 2007 at 10:07 am Link

    I read the FHAs comments. Funny how because of the Civil War Oregon can’t make its own decisions on how to setup transit. Because in all seriousnes the Feds have the power because THEY theive the majority of the cash for these big cash projects, then “redistribute the wealth” back to various places.

    It’d be nice if Oregon COULD make its own decisions, just like Louisiana, California, ORegon, Washington, and Illinois. All states that have had to significantly alter their plans because of Guv’ment types in Washington DC.

    At least we get to beg for our money back so we can beg for our pet projects. :( MAkes me kinda angry. Oregon should just collect the bloody taxes and the feds should never see the blasted dollars. It’s so horrifically not efficient.

    It’s a nice sunny day out today though to ride the Streetcar. :) Which is good to know that it’s 100% local funding so far.

  4. Ross Williams
    January 29, 2007 at 11:42 am Link

    Sort of sounds like “Mr. Tired” wrote it. Transportation serves people and communities, not the other way around. And the argumentative tone “people vote every day” makes it apparent this is an ideological response. You could just as easily say that people “vote” for congestion every day when they choose to create it. These aren’t “votes”, these are choices that change depending on the available alternatives.

  5. Adron B Hall
    January 30, 2007 at 1:03 am Link

    apparent this is an ideological response...

    …to an apparantly idealogical approach to transportation planning.

  6. Slick
    January 30, 2007 at 7:15 am Link

    Are those real comments? Was there anything else that came with it… like letterhead or something that says “I’m an official FHWA document”?

    If it is real, was some context for what led to such politically charged comments where one bureaucrat tries to usurp a process that hundreds of tax payers participated with?

  7. Chris Smith
    January 30, 2007 at 7:26 am Link

    They’re real. There was an FHWA rep in the room at TPAC when the comment packet was handed out that included these comments.

    I think “usurp” is probably an over-characterization. Lots of agencies and a few individuals (including yours truly) submitted comments. It all goes into the hopper for consideration by JPACT and the Metro Council.

  8. Paul Edgar
    January 30, 2007 at 9:38 am Link

    Point-5 of this FHWA comments document is very pertinent in our discussion on the I-5 corridor and the advisability of replacing the Interstate Bridges.

    Why this particular point has such importance is because of the time/the number of hours of a day, where “Peak Period Rush Hour” gets larger and larger in what is referred to in this document as “Peak Spreading”.

    At the last CRC Task Force meeting a presentation talked about this exact point and how this problem can block and effectively eliminate “Freight Mobility” in the I-5 corridor. They reviewed the impacts in dollars and cents and what they showed is cost our region cannot afford to have.

    Now the cold facts are that “Peak Spreading” calculated from 2005-CRC/David Evans vehicle count numbers reflect approximately 7-hours of I-5 corridor peak period rush hours. This should be 9 to 10-hours in the 2010 to 2015 time frame in the I-5 corridor. If we have a new wide CRC replacement Interstate Bridge that induces more traffic into the I-5 corridor with its 2 and 3-lanes the problems will be much worse.

    The only way to make this work is to only place tolls and TDM methods on the I-5 corridor and that will mean that a significant amount of traffic will re-route to I-205 and that will just bring it to a stop.

  9. Anthony
    January 30, 2007 at 1:24 pm Link

    Wow, some logic!!

    People want/choose/need to drive, build roads. A bus, light rail, streetcar, bike lane, or tram does NOT help these people.

    Glad to know I am not the only one who thinks this way.

  10. Adron
    January 30, 2007 at 3:37 pm Link

    It’s funny, all these solutions. Build a road, add lanes, build a light rail line, build a streetcar.

    They all do NOTHING for a real solution without some type of concrete pricing association by users. When will that be put into effect?

    Are we really so scared to pay for what we use?

  11. Erik Halstead
    January 30, 2007 at 3:58 pm Link

    When 75-80% of the metro area’s transportation occurs with private automobiles vs. transit, what is the effectiveness of putting more dollars in transit; given that Portland has a higher transit-user percentage than other comparable cities?

    The fact is that given Metro’s current land use “policy”, that it will create a further shift for residents to be further away from their workplaces and for business, which will inheriently create more demand for transportation. The concept of a “walkable” life for which one can simply walk to attain most of their needs does not exist except for the very few that can afford downtown Portland housing or can attain subsidized housing. There is no middle-class housing in downtown; and in the ‘burbs business and residential areas are segregated, often by significant distances.

    TriMet’s lack of a blanket transit system; focusing rather on corridors that link downtown, and a select few light rail lines, underscores that. Look at the rural roads in southwestern Washington County – Roy Rogers Road and Highway 219, in particular. There is obiviously a demand for north-south Washington County transportation, but TriMet sees no need for this. Are we going to legislate where people live and work?

    People do vote with their feet and their wheels. Motor vehicle use is not free as many claim that it is; there are a variety of taxes incurred on the motorist. While city and county roads are largely not maintained by gas taxes, even mass transit dependent persons depend on those roads, and therefore the property tax funding of those roads are quite legitimate.

    In a urban planner’s mind, we’d have nothing but Streetcar (which is an oxymoron, because there’d be no streets) and trains; and somehow everything would be built within 500 feet of a train station. Portland would need a LOT of train stations to support that.

  12. george
    January 30, 2007 at 4:31 pm Link

    i own a house 2 miles from the center of town. i walk to work. my wife takes the MAX. we don’t own a car and our household income is below median for portland.

    i like how people above comment that i simply don’t exist.

    and yet, not only do i exist, but my housing and transportation choices have made me richer then i have ever been in my life.

  13. Ian
    January 30, 2007 at 5:12 pm Link

    You are so right george. I live less then a mile from downtown, and ride my bike to work every day. My wife does the same. I do own a car, but only drive it to get to the beach or mountains.
    What blows my mind is that people have moved here for the “portland lifestyle”, then they complain that it doesn’t work.

  14. nate
    January 31, 2007 at 1:40 am Link

    Erik,

    Can you please explain how Metro’s planning policy (ie 2040) will make it more difficult for people to live near where they work and play? It seems to me, and even your comments seem to suggest this, that the policy *is* working. Hence, a denser, more ped-friendly mixed-use environment in the central city, where the policies have been, so far, most pronounced.

    Moreover, the suburbs, so far, are lagging in the execution of Metro’s plan. And you seem to agree according to your comments. This is only logical due to the severe poor-planning handicap suburbs possess inherently.

    In addition, I think you are likely incorrect in your assumption that the central city has no room for middle class residents. In fact, its an assinine assumption that holds no basis in actuality.

    *****

    Adron-

    I agree completely with your comments regarding federal transportation funding!

    States on the West Coast send far more money to Washington then they receive back…. And they only get some of that transportation money back when they “get in line”.

    Whereas some other states, with notably different demographics and dominant-idealogy, tend to take in much more than they give. This redistribution it seems, at least on first glance, tends to subsidize the transportation of auto-dependent regions…. while ripping off regions with Mass Transit options (ie urban cities).

  15. Erik Halstead
    January 31, 2007 at 8:40 pm Link

    In addition, I think you are likely incorrect in your assumption that the central city has no room for middle class residents. In fact, its an assinine assumption that holds no basis in actuality.

    Show me where the housing is for the middle-class in the central city.

    There’s room for sure, but no one is building, and the City of Portland is providing subsidies to housing units that are beyond the reach of the middle class.

    One need only look at real estate ads and apartment ads to see that in the central city, housing is expensive. However the jobs downtown don’t necessarily increase into higher wages; there are low-wage jobs downtown just as there are in the ‘burbs. How do those residents get to/from work? Certainly they don’t live downtown, because they can’t afford it (unless they live in one of the low income, subsidized housing units, that is income restricted.)

    In the end, those who are lucky enough to afford central city housing reap the benefits and the tax cuts (which has a direct relationship towards less funding of other necessities); meanwhile those who must work downtown to support all of us are forced to travel further in order to obtain housing at a cost they can afford – resulting in more spawl, more congestion, and more pollution.

    When SoWa and the Pearl are “middle income” housing neighborhoods, I’ll agree with you. When condos in those developments are going for $300K and up, that is not middle-income housing.

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