Metro President Candidates on Bikes, Peds and Freight

The fifth and final installment of our series on responses to our candidate questionnaire. Please remember the ground rules on comments for this series

There are some special rules for comments on these posts. As a 501(c)(3), Portland Transport cannot and does not endorse candidates. So please no comments of the form “you should vote for _______ because he said…”. Feel free to comment on the policies, their implications and your feelings about them, but refrain from turning that into encouraging votes in a particular direction.

6. Bicycles and Pedestrians:

Do you support the “Portland Bicycle Plan for 2030” that will be before City Council in February?

[Burkholder] Yes. I sat on the Steering Committee and helped develop the vision. I would like to see a commitment to increase funding to speed implementation.

[Stacey] Yes. More than tripling the mode share of bicycling in the City at an estimated cost of $30 million a year would be one of the most cost-effective expansions of accessibility and mobility in our region’s history.

Would you support a comparable level of bicycle access in other parts of the region?

[Burkholder] Yes. As a founding member of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance and Metro’s Blue Ribbon Committee on Trails (now the Executive Council for Active Transportation), I have led the effort to make bicycling and walking integral to safe and sustainable communities. Bicycles are smart investments as they are cheap to accommodate, affordable and easy to operate, increase health and are easy on the environment. They also require very little space to store, a good thing as we lose much of our best land for development to car parking.

[Stacey] Yes. Success in Portland will be critically important in making the case that such investment will work elsewhere as well.

How would you propose to fund “The Intertwine”, Metro’s recommended regional trail system?

[Burkholder] Just like any other part of the transportation system, building the trail and on-road Active Transportation component of the Intertwine will require multiple funding sources: Metro’s regional funds, local, state and federal. I am Council Project Lead on the Active Transportation (as well as lead on Conservation Education). Under my leadership, the region applied for $100 Million in TIGER stimulus funds for four projects around the region. Rep. Earl Blumenauer has introduced the Active Transportation Act of 2010 modeled on Metro’s work.

[Stacey] The trails component of the Intertwine (a multi-government, public-private partnership for an integrated system of trails, parks and natural areas) should be funded with a combination of Metro and local park and natural areas bond resources and transportation funds (federal flexible funds and–for the portion of the trail network located within road rights of way–at least one percent of road capital expenditures in the region).

Development has occurred in many parts of the region (including some Portland neighborhoods) under standards that did not require sidewalks to be constructed at the time of development. Current policy holding property owners responsible for funding sidewalk construction has seriously hindered filling gaps in the sidewalk system. How would you propose to accelerate bringing streets without sidewalks within the UGB up to urban standards?

[Burkholder] Sidewalks are transportation facilities. Lack of them puts more people in cars and has real, negative impacts on our transportation system. They should be funded just as other parts of the system. They must also be required to be built as part of all development as part of a complete street. However, retrofitting areas with sidewalks is very challenging. I support focusing on mainstreets and centers, especially accessing business districts and transit lines; ideally each community would develop a fund to infill sidewalks in all areas. Also funding partnerships with regional stormwater agencies can help provide innovative funding partnerships.

[Stacey] Priority for publicly funded sidewalk construction should be given to completion of the pedestrian network in town centers and along main streets and other 2040 corridors, plus connections to schools and other community facilities not located on main streets or in centers. Pedestrians in every neighborhood should have safe, universally accessible routes to schools and to transit and the other amenities and services in main streets and centers, although this may not mean publicly-funded sidewalk improvements on all local neighborhood streets.

Pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure have historically received the smaller piece of the infrastructure pie relative to roads and transit. Given regional goals for more active transportation in what specific ways would you prioritize investment in these modes?

[Burkholder] Funding must be increased for walking and biking facilities. They are the lowest cost, highest return way for us to spend our transportation dollars. The vision that is laid out by Metro’s Blue Ribbon Committee makes a very strong case for significantly elevated funding for active transportation. I have been actively seeking find ways to move the delivery of these projects forward, including leading the $100 million metro region TIGER grant application and seeking ways to package federal flexible dollars to go directly towards these projects.

[Stacey] As I have noted in answers above, our region will have an opportunity to reprioritize transportation investment in light of the responsibility to plan for dramatically reduced transportation greenhouse gas emissions over the next five years. I believe the scenario plans for emission reduction will show a need for more walking and biking opportunities in addition to more transit service and reduced investment in highway expansion. Aligning our transportation investments with our policy commitments will be necessary. It will no longer be acceptable to adopt progressive transportation policies and simultaneously approve transportation projects that will lead us to violate those policies.

7. Freight:

Metro’s role in planning for the movement of goods and services is primarily focused on trucks and how they fit into the street/road system. Should Metro undertake a stronger role in rail and marine freight planning? If so how would you accomplish this?

[Burkholder] Projections show that trucks will continue to carry about 80% of freight and almost all local freight movement. The greatest impact on local communities will therefore be truck movement, but these investments must be made strategically, focusing on the key freight and intermodal corridors. Currently trucks just sit in traffic with other vehicles. I support creating targeted and innovative sets of solutions to effectively move freight without adding freeway miles. I also have successfully advocated for rail investments in the region, especially in the congested “Portland Triangle” through Oregon’s Connect Oregon program.

Marine and rail are national or multi-state issues. My efforts to change federal transportation policy include calls to create a national rail policy (both passenger and freight) which the new administration has responded favorably to.

[Stacey] Metro should focus on (land-side) surface transportation and rely on the Port of Portland to provide planning leadership for air and marine transportation. Metro should be able to rely on the Oregon Department of Transportation for rail freight and intercity passenger planning. However, in the past ODOT has lacked the resources to pursue comprehensive strategies for improving intercity rail service, either in partnership with the railroads or independently. My initial approach will be to advocate for a comprehensive state rail transportation strategy led by ODOT and supported by the Obama administration’s strong interest in improved passenger rail service (which, to be cost-effective and well-designed, must take into account existing and future demand for rail freight). Ideally, Metro and the region’s local governments will be able to serve as active participants in such a state-led effort. Failing that, Metro should seek to form a consortium of local governments in the Willamette Valley to explore opportunities for improving freight service and passenger rail service.

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