Flex Fund Projects
You may recall the first round of $21M in Flexible Funds and the just-announced second round. The City intends on submitting two applications. (The proposals will go before Council on Monday, so look for more detail in the staff reports when they come out on Friday.)
Here are the project criteria for the Flex Funds program:
A. Connectivity, integration and overall benefit to the transportation systemThe first application is for design and construction of the Minto side of the trail connecting to the Minto-Riverfront Park bridge. Urban Renewal dollars will go towards the bridge, but apparently there's not enough to fund the trail side. According to Project Manager Annie Gorski
B. Environmental Sustainability
- Plans for/contributes to the development of a “seamless” multimodal transportation system.
- Plans for/connects modes or serves multiple modes.
- Completes/extends a critical system or modal link.
- Helps preserve a critical non-highway facility, service or program.
- Reduces the need for a highway expansion.
C. Community Livability and Sustainability
- Plans for/contributes to improved environmental quality (i.e. GHG Reductions).
- Reduces VMT.
- Plans for/contributes to the use of sustainable energy sources for transportation.
- Reduces exposure of the population to air pollution.
D. Mobility, Access and Health
- Plans for/contributes to the development of livable communities.
- Supports/preserves/creates long term employment.
- Plans for congestion mitigation/mitigates congestion.
- Enhances the user experience.
- Plans for/links workers to jobs.
- Plans for/expands transportation choices for all Oregonians.
- Plans for/expands or protects mobility for public transportation dependent users including minorities, senior and disabled, low income and youth.
- Plans for/extends access to goods and services.
- Contributes to a healthy, active lifestyle.
The Agency requests up to $1,000,000....The proposed Trail will be twelve feet wide with ten foot buffer, six inch thick concrete surface, and span approximately 3800 linear feet. The Trail and Bridge will be constructed to ODOT design standards, meet ADA accessibility requirements, and include environmentally sustainable design elements, where possible.Here's a map with the approximate location and extent in red.
The other application is for completion funding on the paved path between the Union Street Railroad Bridge and Glen Creek. It has run into delays and cost-overruns, and requires funding in addition to the original Stimulus amount.
As Jen Akeroyd pointed out in an email to the Vision 2020 group, the proposals play more strongly as recreation projects than as transportation projects. Still, to my mind the Minto-Riverfront Bridge and path meets many of the criteria. Most importantly, it crosses or provides alternatives to big barriers - River Road and the Slough. (Similarly, the Union Street Railroad Bridge crosses the Willamette River, a formidable barrier.)
It is difficult to share the same enthusiasm for the Glen Creek path. It eliminates no barrier, forges no new connection. Really, it's a shortcut, a very nice shortcut, it's true, but it hardly a completes a critical connection. I don't see how it is a good candidate for a Flex Funds application.
Even more disconcerting, just up the block, the City is spending $11M+ on a widening project that will significantly degrade the connection across Wallace Road for people who walk and bike and separate the neighborhood from Roths, the Library, the Transit Center and the Post Office.
This is a $11M crater right in front of a $100K application to complete a shortcut. That's a difference of 100x, two orders of magnitude! A completed path between the bridge and Glen Creek will not come close to compensating for the upstream loss in connectivity at Wallace and Glen Creek.
The City should go ahead and apply for the funds, but golly it would be nice to have strong, visionary projects that clearly meet project criteria.
Tuesday Update - here's the discussion of the three Flex Fund apps and corresponding staff reports on Monday's Council agenda.
Wayfinding and Signage
More exciting and happily non-controversial was a discussion of wayfinding and bike route signage.
The current signing standards use the ODOT sign with three directional slots.
Here's one going west-bound on Chemeketa just as you approach the Capitol Mall. Chemeketa goes under, and into the parking garage, and bicyclists should stay above ground. The signing shows the veer into the turn-around.
And here's the sign going east-bound at 14th and Chemeketa.
It has seemed to many that such a big sign wasn't always necessary and perhaps contributed to sign noise or sign fatigue along routes. And where there's not a route junction, jog, or other deviation, the directional component might be superfluous. City staff were interested in what the group thought about this.
Bill Holmstrom recalled the signage from Vancouver BC, which used modest-sized bike logo on the street name "blade." (Here's more on the BTA blog and BikePortland.)
(Images from BikePortland)
The group rallied around this pretty quickly as a low-cost and elegant solution for those places where it was only necessary to signal a bikeway, not to give additional directions. It also indicated in a low key way the multi-modal nature of a shared roadway. Combined with sharrows on the pavement, this seemed like a great approach to marking.
Additionally, at decision points, bikeway junctions or jogs, or other directional nodes, the larger sign with three slots would be appropriate.
Together this seemed like a very flexible and sensible way for wayfinding and signage.
Do you have additional thoughts or criticism?