Monday, November 12, 2012

Transportation Commission to Dedicate Achterman Room and Talk Bikes

Hopefully when representatives from the Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee address the Oregon Transportation Commission on Wednesday, ODOT-HQ will have figured out that equating bicycling with smoking isn't quite the right message to send.

Mixed Messaging for Active Transportation
Especially since the meeting agenda includes the formal dedication of the Gail Achterman Commission Room.  Achterman was a South Salem High School grad, Chair of the Commission, and advocate for active transportation.

Gail Achterman Room
The agenda offers some whiplash - though it's to be expected in politics, I suppose.

In addition to the dedication, an important item will be a presentation by members of OBPAC on active transportation.  Part, maybe even the great bulk, of the reason for this are the changes in transportation funding created by the new federal transportation bill.  ODOT Director Matt Garrett had sent out a memo describing how the law would affect walking and biking work:
  • MAP-21 cut dedicated funding levels for active transportation programs by nearly 40 percent. Regardless, ODOT is committed to funding active transportation programs.
  • We will honor all of our existing funding commitments to bicycle and pedestrian programs in the 2012-2015 STIP, which will provide about $4 million per year more of federal flexible funds than what MAP-21 provides to Oregon for bicycle and pedestrian projects through the new Transportation Alternatives Program.
  • MAP-21 abolishes the Safe Routes to School program. ODOT will keep it intact through 2015 and fund the education and outreach of the program going forward.
  • MAP-21 allows states to “opt out” of the Recreational Trails Program. Oregon will not opt out for the next three or four years. The Oregon State Parks Department will continue to administer the Recreational Trails Program until at least 2016.
  • Starting in 2016, all active transportation related programs that are infrastructure-related (including projects previously eligible for Safe Routes to School infrastructure programs) will be considered part of the Enhance Program in the 2016-19 STIP and projects will be chosen by the Area Commissions on Transportation.
At least in the current trajectory, OBPAC will no longer have a dedicated pot of funding to administer, and so I read this as part of the conversation about what its future will be.

The slides are interesting - and unsurprisingly, but still disappointingly, the Capital City is mostly on the sidelines.  What will it take for Salem to assume a leadership position on walking and biking?

OBPAC Slide to OTC - Nov 14th
Included in the consent agenda are a couple of Salem-area requests.

Old Freight Depot: University of Oregon
The most interesting one - its magnitude a bit of a surprise, actually - is for $575,200 the train baggage depot. You may recall the $100,000 donated privately (here's a note on it at City Council Tuesday). It looks like Greyhound, ODOT, and Amtrak are serious! 

Check out the intent to "tranform" the site into a "regional multimodal transportation hub" with "excellent bicycle and pedestrian access"!
But the City on board? Remember this Charlie Foxtrot?

The Charlie Foxtrot at 12th and Mill
It's great that there are going to be terrific facilities at the depot - But if it's too hard to get there, if the street grid around it is too messed up, what use are they!? Apparently as the right hand gives, the left hand takes away...or something like that.

The other consent item is a request for $876,500 in discretionary funding (earlier discussion here) for the Minto Bridge and Path.

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