Archive | RTP Update


At last Thursday’s JPACT meeting, ODOT and TriMet presented their thinking about projects for the RTP update (PDF, 559K).

ODOT expects about $710M to be available for highway modernization projects (in the period from 2011 through 2035) and sorted out their priorities for those funds. They also presented ‘Ilustrative’ and ‘Refinement’ project lists for what they might do with funds beyond that.

It’s worth noting that only the first phase of the Sunrise corridor fits within the expected funds, and the only contribution to the Columbia River Crossing is for engineering. That would suggest that ODOT expects the CRC construction to be funded from something other than the usual flow of funds (perhaps a combination of tolls and special appropriations?).

TriMet was not so restrained. They put together a long wish list, far beyond what the anticipated $1.1B in transit funds is likely to pay for. I’m sure some of our readers will be interested to note that the wish list includes potential Commuter Rail and Bus Rapid Transit projects.

A Slower RTP

JPACT has voted to slow down the process for the Regional Transportation Plan update. Instead of being adopted at the end of 2007, the planning will go through June 2008.

In general this is good news, allowing more time for scenario development and modeling (we were at real risk of being forced to pick from very rough scenarios to meet the timeline). It will however create some hoops to jump through, as the Federally-mandated version of the plan will still need to be adopted on schedule to avoid losing eligibility for transportation funds.

Two Tracks to the RTP

Metro’s Regional Transportation Plan update process has moved into the project solicitation process.

Interestingly, unlike past cycles, Metro is asking for submissions under two different ‘tracks’.

The first track is the traditional regional mobility focus.

The second track has a community-building focus. I found this encouraging (more of a focus on access, rather than mobility). But the actual screening criteria for this (at least in the current draft) are still very mobility focused. You can find the criteria on the last 3 pages of last week’s JPACT packet (1MB).

My favorite is under economic development. Here’s the criterion to get the highest score:

Improve reliability on the regional freight network AND provides access from labor markets
and trade areas to the central city, regional centers, industrial areas, and/or intermodal facilities

Notice the ‘AND’. You could have the greatest project in the world to deliver employees to knowledge economy jobs, and you wouldn’t score because your project didn’t do anything for trucks.


Much Ado About the RTP

I must say, the update of the Regional Transportation Plan is turning into quite the little contretemps. A few weeks back the Federal Highway Administration made it clear they thought Metro was departing planet earth.

Now apparently, it’s ODOT’s turn. As reported in the Tribune (scroll to the lower part of the piece) ODOT distributed a letter (PDF, 87K) at JPACT last week reminding Metro that only ODOT gets to set standards for state highways and that the progression of congestion in the Metro area is a problem:

Businesses outside and inside the Portland-Metro region cannot move their freight through, around or out of the region in an efficient manner with a significant adverse impact on the Oregon economy.


Further deterioration of the State System is not acceptable.

Stuart Foster (chair of the Oregon Transportation Commission) seems to be quite excited.

The interesting thing is that I don’t see the RTP as an endorsement of congestion. It is rather a description of a strategy for connectivity that is less focused on freeways, in part because freeways are subject to the ‘triple convergence’ phenomenon of induced demand. Metro is looking for a better way.

Change is hard. But that doesn’t make it wrong.

Interestingly, change may apparently be harder for transportation officials than land use officials. The Metro Policy Advisory Committee (primarily focused on land use) voted to ‘endorse’ the RTP policy chapter, while JPACT (focused exclusively on transportation) used the weaker language of ‘accepting’ it. We’ll have to see which version the Metro Council uses in their resolution…