Tuesday, June 3, 2014

New Commissioners Fill out OTC; New Safety Program for 2017 - updated

BikePortland has the news on new Oregon Transportation Commission appointments. I know of at least one person from Salem who was seeking an appointment, and it's too bad they weren't selected. Another time, perhaps! Still, it's significant there are more women and the first African-American now.

Not discussed at BikePortland, Buried in the materials from last month's meeting is an interesting note on a new approach to safety.

Cover memo for ARTS
The All Roads Transportation Safety program will start in 2017, and it's intended to have a significant component that is more data-driven and less driven by the short-term politics of protest and outrage at high-visibility crash sites.

Regional Breakdown with Bike/Ped Component
In addition to a substantial chunk for the high-vis or political "hot spots," part of it will include a budget specifically for bike/ped safety. Our region 2 looks to have about $1 million.

I'm sure we'll learn more about this as the project develops and matures, but it will be something to watch with interest.

In the meantime, in the same report BikePortland also reports the STIP's on hold:
Just last week, acting OTC Chair David Lohman announced that the commissioner has been forced to postpone the process to develop the six-year Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP), “because of the uncertainty about state and federal transportation funding.” “It makes little sense,” he wrote in a letter dated May 28th and sent to members of the state’s Area Commissions on Transportation, “to select projects six years into the future when we don’t know how much money we will have in six months.”
Update, June 4th

First page of letter on STIP delay
The agenda and information packet for the MWACT meeting this week has the two-page letter from the OTC, so here are some additional details:
With the 2015-2018 STIP nearing conclusion, ODOT normally would be starting preliminary work on development of the next STIP. But because of the uncertainty about state and federal transportation funding, the Oregon Transportation Commission has decided to hold off starting the next STIP update: It makes little sense to select projects six years into the future when we don’t know how much money we will have in six months....

Holding off on the next STIP update means that instead of starting work on a STIP covering 2017-2020, the next STIP will cover 2018-2021. Since funds are already programmed out to 2018, building a 2018-2021 STIP also provides the opportunity to allocate three years of new funding rather than two years under a 2017-2020 STIP. Providing a realistic amount of funding to be allocated in the project selection process will be beneficial to applicants and make it easier for advisory committees to arrive at recommendations. Later this year, the Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC) will meet again with the ACT chairs as a group to discuss criteria to be used for the 2018-2021 STIP, the decision-making calendar, and mutual expectations.

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