Even with an expanding network of light rail and bike routes, the Portland area's transportation system will generate about 50 percent more carbon emissions in the next 25 years, defeating state and city goals to reduce the gases linked to climate change.With all we know about greenhouse gases, with all of Portland's "green" practices, the best they can do is a 50% increase!
The vote the next day confirmed that there is not yet the will to act on what is known.(Coverage of the vote in the Oregonian. In many ways the Portland Mercury has been the best source of incisive coverage and you can read the Merc's coverage here.) Chris Smith weighs in with a realistic assessment of the consequences on Portland Transport:
at this morning's Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation meeting, the committee rejected an amendment from Mayor Adams to review the project list for climate impacts, while adopting a weaker amendment by Councilor Rex Burkholder.
The weaker language postpones any real impact by climate analysis on actual investments until the 2014 Regional Transportation Plan update.
METRO is the Metropolitan Planning Organization for the Portland metro area. Salem's MPO, the Salem-Keizer Area Transportation Study, will be going through the same 2010-13 planning effort here shortly. And the prospects for Salem to exceed Portland here are slim-to-none. METRO has more staff, more sophisticated tools, more money. The Salem area is also more conservative and traditional. Planning for drive-alone trips prevails.
So if transportation planning is in a holding pattern until 2014, what can we do? If we can't see ways realistically to change the strategic goals and governing values instantiated in project lists, what recourse do advocates for rational transportation policy have? Are we condemned to continue to fight for the table scraps?
Last week was a Salem-area public hearing on the draft 2010-2013 STIP. What's a STIP, you ask?
The Statewide Transportation Improvement Program, known as the STIP, is Oregon's four year transportation capital improvement program. It is the document that identifies the funding for, and scheduling of, transportation projects and programs. It includes projects on the federal, state, city, and county transportation systems, multimodal projects (highway, passenger rail, freight, public transit, bicycle and pedestrian), and projects in the National Parks, National Forests, and Indian tribal lands.The STIP is complicated enough it has its own users guide. The document itself is quite large - hundreds of pages. The directly relevant projects in Marion and Polk county are few, as most of the projects are associated with highways outside of urban centers.
Still there are a few that might be worth comment.
The only non-ARRA (non-stimulus funds) bike project is improving the bikeways along Chemawa to Keizer Rapids Park. The Park is a gem, and getting to it will be much easier. This is an unambiguously good project!
A set of projects is the patchwork of funding for Cherriots Rideshare. Roxanne Rolls who runs the program said
The amount allocated is the entire budget for the Rideshare program. It does vary from year to year but it has been around $225,000 (total) each year which must cover all of the Rideshare program activities, salaries, benefits, marketing and outreach.That's crazy! They work to promote and facilitate essentially all transportation options other than the drive-alone-trip. And that's all we give them.
Finally, in no small part because Wallace Road is also State Highway 221, there's a large project to significantly enlarge the intersection of Wallace and Glen Creek. This will insert two sets of dual-turn lanes, lengthen the crossing for bikes and peds, and generally make it much more difficult to reach the Union Street Railroad Bridge. It will make an already difficult crossing even more of a barrier.
Peter Alotta is the Statewide STIP Coordinator. You can email him here: Peter.A.ALOTTA@odot.state.or.us. Let him know that the Glen Creek project threatens connections to the Union St. RR Bridge, that Rideshare deserves more money, and that the Chemawa project is a good one.