Archive | January, 2009

Regional Priorities

On Thursday, JPACT will review regional priorities for the next transportation reauthorization, the once-every-six-years setting of Federal transportation policy.

I’ve extracted the draft policy document (PDF, 362K) from the meeting packet.

While I’m sure our approach will be much more progressive that most other regions, there is still room for improvement. Here are a few gripes:

  • “Metropolitan Mobility” means roads – the section on Metropolitan Mobility loftily starts out talking about a multi-modal transportation system, but all the projects listed in the section are road projects. Transit goes into a separate section and if freight rail appears in the document, I didn’t see it.
  • A special call-out for “Mega-projects” looks like a way to put Columbia River Crossing funding in its own bucket that won’t impact other allocations.
  • One of the great cop-out lines on climate change:

    Provide a clear integration with federal climate change policy. Individual projects cannot be held accountable for meeting regional greenhouse gas reduction targets. However, the overall regional system can be held accountable and the federal transportation programs should ensure this accountability (much like the current air quality conformity requirement). [Emphasis mine]

    If we allow mega-projects that negatively impact climate change in significant ways (ala the CRC), it’s going to be very difficult to produce an overall transportation system that reduces greenhouse gases significantly. We need look no further than the RTP process, where the scenario modeling is showing how difficult it is to keep VMT from growning.

Now to be sure, there’s a LOT of good stuff in this policy including lots of worthy transit investments. I’m particularly pleased by the emphasis on doing the Sunrise corridor as a parkway (it probably helps that the chief proponent of the parkway approach is now Clackamas County Chair).

But we have room for improvement.

What Next?

The region has been gradually building out our high capacity transit (HCT) system based on a plan that is now about a quarter century old, and much of that vision has been fulfilled. So what happens now?

Metro and TriMet have undertaken a new High Capacity Transit system plan effort, and I’ve been involved peripherally on one of the advisory panels. I wanted to highlight a couple of interesting documents that are now available on Metro’s web site:

  • Preliminary Screening Memo (PDF, 13M) – The first report on a wide range of quantitative factors that will go into corridor selection. If provides interesting insights on a variety of levels.
  • “World Class” Consultant’s Presentation (PDF, 3.7M) – one of the more interesting discussions in the advisory panel, this PowerPoint looks at what makes HCT successful across the world. My big take-away was the importance of integration with land use. Here in our region, LRT has generally been built where right-of-way could be acquired most inexpensively (both in dollars and political costs). We then try to develop land uses along the line at station areas.

    The lesson from other cities seems to be that HCT is most successful when it serves existing land uses – and this often requires converting auto right-of-way to dedicated transit lanes (i.e., less light the Blue line and more like Interstate).

Food for thought… (and thanks to project staff for putting these documents online).

Coming Up on the KBOO Bike Show: On-Air Bike Party

Dear Friends in Cycling,

Wow! What a banner year for cycling! The KBOO Bike Show is inviting you to come celebrate LIVE on the air with us at our New Year’s Open House.

Blind Pilot, a Portland-based rock band that tours by bike, will perform live in the studios. We’re inviting people on the air to share their favorite moments of 2008 and hopes for 2009.

What got you excited?
Was it going platinum?
Bike shop growth?
Sunday Parkways?
A reduction in accidents?
Laughing as the gas prices rose?
Seeing more people on bikes?
Having more fun on your bike?

KBOO Studios, 20 SE 8th (8th and E. Burnside) Wednesday, January 7th 9-10am

Come down for the party. Grabbing the mic to share your thoughts is OPTIONAL. You may also call in at 503-232-8187 during the show.

We’ll have coffee and pastries.

Come see where the magic that is the KBOO Bike show has been happening every month since 2001!

9-10AM, Wednesday, January 7th
KBOO FM 90.7
Streamed live at
Podcast here later that day