Reflecting on Yesterday’s JPACT Vote

It’s the first time I’ve ever seen multiple twitter streams covering a Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation (JPACT) meeting!

For those of you who haven’t been following the blow-by-blow, freight interests in the region banded together, hired a PR agency to brand their efforts, and made an attempt to shift a significant portion of discretionary transportation funds from active transportation (bike and pedestrian projects) in the name of aiding the economy.

By a narrow 7-6 vote, active transportation funding was preserved. Here’s how the votes broke down (you can read additional coverage at


  • Harrington, Metro Council
  • Burkholder, Metro Council
  • Fish, City of Portland
  • Stuart, Clark County
  • Burkman, City of Vancouver
  • McFarlane, TriMet
  • Kafouri, Multnomah County


  • Bill Wyatt, Port of Portland
  • Craig Dirksen, Mayor of Tigard
  • Jason Tell, ODOT Region 1 Director
  • Roy Rogers, Washington County Commissioner
  • Ann Lininger, Clackamas County Commissioner
  • Shirley Craddick, Gresham City Councilor


  • DeConcini, DEQ
  • Wagner, WSDOT
  • Jordan , Cities of Clackamas County
  • Collette, Metro Council (JPACT Chair)

Here are some observations on this turn of events:

  • During a down economy, making any kind of linkage to jobs is very powerful – how do we make this connection for bike and pedestrian projects?
  • Two representatives from the Washington side of the river, where this money will NOT be spent, were critical to the winning majority.
  • Shirley Craddick will be joining the Metro Council in January, replacing Rod Park (I served with Shirely on MPAC, and respect her very much, but disagree on this vote).
  • The representatives from Metro, elected regionally, continue to be more progressive on active transportation than local government officials – making me suspect that our region would not have progressed as far as we have without our unique elected regional government.
  • The non-elected governments (TriMet and the Port of Portland) split their vote – it was good to see the new TriMet General Manager, Neil McFarlane voting for active transportation.
  • If City Club’s recommendations for reform of JPACT’s membership were followed, I’m not sure how this vote would have gone – under the suggested proportional voting by population, Portland and Multnomah County would have had more sway, but the Washington State and TriMet votes would not have existed (nor would the No votes from the Port and ODOT).


16 responses to “Reflecting on Yesterday’s JPACT Vote”

  1. Pure speculation on my part, but my gut tells me that had Lynn Peterson been at the table yesterday, Clack. Co’s vote would have been a “yes.”

  2. Thanks for the insight on this, Chris. I would also note, at the risk of pointing out the obvious, that more urban counties and larger cities voted in favor and less urban counties and smaller cities voted against. If we are to create a truly regional system, I think the question we should be answering is how we are going to convince those that live in suburban settings of our broader active transportation vision.

  3. I almost added a comment like that to my post, but couldn’t quite bring myself to say Clark County was more urban than Washington County. Just not sure that’s true.

  4. Freight is an important issue for Washington County, given the amount of industry there, and relatively poor freight connections.

    That said–rather than looking at this as bikes-vs-trucks; might they have examined the projects that this money would have gone to, and made the decision on that basis? Or is it too early to determine?

  5. I think it is a mistake to see these as “ideological” votes. I suspect for many/most/all of the people at that table there are specific projects they are concerned about. They voted to put more money into the appropriate category.

    Ultimately the money gets divied up between various jurisdictions. Trying to do a mode split at the same time makes that process very difficult. When they did that, i often ended up with the big road projects taking up the lions share of the money, while alternatives got whatever is left over.

  6. I almost added a comment like that to my post, but couldn’t quite bring myself to say Clark County was more urban than Washington County. Just not sure that’s true.

    I would conjecture that although Washington County has a larger population than Clark County, the fact that Clark County has Vancouver, a city established before the automobile, the feasibility of a denser built environment is more tangible. I contend that street grids are more walkable, and thus, more bikable.

    The above is not to say that any member of JPACT voted the way they did because of this, however, I still think it is a worthwhile observation that more urban counties and larger cities voted “for,” and less urban counties and smaller cities voted “against.”

    As an aside, some interesting statistics that I would like to see are the amount of freight shipped through each county as compared to average walk scores for each municipality/county to see if there is any correlation. Perhaps we could use bike shops as a proxy for “bike scores.”

  7. That said–rather than looking at this as bikes-vs-trucks; might they have examined the projects that this money would have gone to, and made the decision on that basis? Or is it too early to determine?

    That’s an interesting point. When I served on TPAC (back in the day), although the projects got scored and ranked within their modal category before the pie got divided among modes.

    That tended to lead to a lot of horsetrading (so maybe having modal funding targets is better policy), but it also meant that things that got funded were assured of having some level of merit.

  8. Just a clarification: for the record, as chair of JPACT I am not allowed to vote except if there is a tie. I did not abstain from voting.
    In addition, I don’t think anyone voting yesterday was voting for or against either freight or active transportation. The question was whether a larger or smaller portion of our very limited flexible dollars should be targeted toward one area or the other. Everyone at the table agreed to my motion to create a single limited duration task force to identify the sorts of projects from either targeted area that would best meet our regional objectives. I think that’s a much more collaborative way to get the best projects for limited dollars.

  9. Great idea:

    1. Get rid of trucks (and those evil cars)
    2. Put all out money into walking and biking.

    Result: Lower standard of living and reduced mobility for all

    Yep, that’s the Portland/Metro way.

    PS to Carlotta: Why are bikes and peds being considered for ANY transportation funds when our roads are congested and full of holes? Do you really want to send us back to the middle ages?


  10. Strange, JK, I see nothing in the above reports or comments that indicates that JPACT, or anyone in government for that matter, is trying to do what you assert. Seems to me the freight people appearing before JPACT would be hollering quite loudly if we were suddenly getting rid of trucks.

    Nor are we putting “all money” into walking and biking. Not even a simple majority of money. Not even close.

    Can we have some criticism which is based in reality?

  11. On the multiple Twitter streams: in retrospect, I don’t think Portland Afoot should have been there — at least it shouldn’t have been live-blogging. There are too few reporters in this town for three of us to throw ourselves at one event.

    On Clark County vs. Washington County, I think the relevant factor is the commissioner in question. Stuart lives in Vancouver’s Uptown Village, which has Hawthorne-level Walkscores. The other two commissioners live in the boonies, and they’d certainly have voted with Rogers and Dirksen.

  12. Of course my point is to question putting any more money into bikes/peds since we already spend buckets of road money on Ped-Bike-Transit. Here is list compiled by one blogger.

    $2,148,000 11421 Morrison Bridge Ped-Bike Access
    $2,223,000 12468 SE 190th Bike, Ped & Transit Improvements
    $1,155,000 13261 Union Station Facility Improvements
    $3,529,000 13489 Garvee Bond Debt Service Highway, LRT, Commuter Rail & Bus Purchase
    $1,533,000 13490 Bus Stop Development (Frequent Bus Program) Increase Access to Transit
    $4,458,000 13500 Bus Purchase
    $862,000 13506 NE Prescott Add Bike Lanes & Sidewalks
    $4,803,000 13510 Garvee Bond Debt Highways Funds for LRT,Commuter Rail & Bus Purchase
    $8,359,000 13718 I-205 Mall LRT Unit 1 LightRailTransit (LRT)
    $11,702,000 I-205 Mall LRT Unit 2
    $5,573,000 I-205 Mall LRT Unit 3
    $11,310,000 14060 Columbia Corridor Rail Intermodal Connector
    $12,259,000 14065 SW Gibbs St Ped Bridge over I-5, Part of SoWa
    $5,573,000 14066 Regional Trails Program
    $3,472,000 14272 92nd Ave SE Powell Sidewalk & Bike Lane, Curb/Drainage, Landscaping, Lighting
    $1,310,000 14273 Waud Bluff Trail: N Basin Ave Willamette Blvd.
    $1,378,000 14407 Springwater Trail
    $1,075,000 14409 Marine Dr Bike/Trail
    $346,000 144111 Springwater Trailhead
    $992,000 14413 Cleveland Station-Ruby Jct Max Trail-Path
    $2,006,000 14441 2008 Metro Regional Travel Options Program
    $2,006,000 14442 2009 Metro Regional Travel Options Program
    $557,000 14443 2008 Travel Smart Program Educate Citizens About Alt. Modes of Trans
    $8,169,000 14482 Regional Rail Debt for LRT Commuter Rail & Bus Purchases
    $8,515,000 14483 Regional Rail Debt for LRT Commuter Rail & Bus Purchases
    $1,039,000 14567 Metro RTO Program-Encourage Modes to Drive Alone
    $984,000 14568 Metro RTO
    $1,875,000 14569 Portland Streetcar Analysis for Extension of System
    $1,875,000 14570 Portland Streetcar Analysis for Extension of System
    $827,000 14572 Trolley Trail SE Arista-Multi-Use Path
    $930,000 14573 Debt Service Costs Interstate Max Beaverton Commuter
    $4,532,000 14574 Debt Service Costs Interstate Mx-I-205 LRT, Wilsonville Beaverton Commuter Rail/Bus Purch
    $2,196,000 14575 Regional Rail Debt Service Interstate Max, I-205 LRT Wilsonville Beaverton Commuter Rail/Bus
    $1,850,000 14576 See Above
    $276,000 15494 Metro Van Pool
    Thanks to Jerry’s posing at:
    Information is originally from:

    Here is another $130 Million for rail/bus on the ODOT list for Portland Region:
    14475 Bus & Rail Preventive Maintenance 2008 — $53,726,000
    14476 Bus & Rail Preventive Maintenance 2009 — $57,645,000
    14479 Rail Preventive Maintenance — $10,844,000
    14480 Rail Preventive Maintenance — $11,511,000
    New Grand Total: Over $250 million NOT FOR roads!

    PDF version of the above:


  13. Thanks for the figures JK. That’s a good place to start debating relative funding levels. However, none of that gets close to the false hyperbole of “getting rid” of “trucks and evil cars” or putting “all” money into walking and biking.

  14. That’s a meaningless list, JK, unless you compare it to road funding. For one example, gosh, $4,200,000,000 projected for the CRC – over 16 times your total of $250 million. (I know not all of that is road funding, but the impetus for the project is roads). And the vast majority of your list is transit, not biking and walking, which you bash.

    As more than 25% of people cannot drive, and those who are active (such as regularly biking and walking) save us an average of $1000 per person per year in health costs, there are some reasons to fund a variety of projects.

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