Below was submitted to
Bicycle & Pedestrian Modal Plan, Autumn 2014 & Spring 2015 (Oregon)
Governor's Transportation Vision Plan, October 2015 (Oregon)
Oregon Active Transportation Investment Act
Creating OATIA: Completion of Unmet Oregon Sidewalk Needs
In 2003, with the passage of the third Oregon Transportation Investment Act (OTIA), the Oregon Department of Transportation was tasked with delivering a $1.3 billion program to repair or replace hundreds of aging highway bridges statewide.
ODOT used innovative methods and processes to deliver the OTIA III State Bridge Delivery Program, such as grouping — or bundling — nearby projects so local firms across the state could compete for contracts.
ODOT's philosophy for that bridge program was based on stewardship: Take care of what you have so current and future generations can prosper. The improved network of bridges (albeit only 20% of the needed bridges) spurred job growth during design and construction and helped preserve the highway infrastructure fundamental to Oregon's economy.
Oregon Active Transportation Investment Act would continue that stewardship to provide the needed infrastructure that connects people to people who need an improved system of safe environments for bicycling, walking, crossing intersections, & sustainable transportation activities.
ECONOMY At its heart, the Oregon Active Transportation Investment Act is an infrastructure maintenance and creation of public works. The size and scope will enable ODOT to create or sustain connections for local economies, tourism economies, safe access for people aged 8 to 80, transit, and reduced vulnerable user deaths through analysis, enforcement and multi-modal capacity treatments that make safety the top priority.
DIVERSITY Enhancing our connections reduces the vacancy of complete streets throughout Oregon. We see how simple transforming highway 101 communities can bring in more business by making the 'curb appeal' inviting; we see how responding to the needs of children trying to cross Hwy 97 in Redmond creates a safer environment; we see how enhancing diversity on a street that invites the slow elderly, the skate boarder, the personal mobility device user, the bicyclist ...all these differential needs requires thoughtfulness, forward thinking entrepreneurs/developers, and a new cadre of active transportation engineers and urban planners. It is no longer the post Eisenhower era of widening lanes of traffic.
MOBILITY Citizens want access from work to groceries to playgrounds to exercise to church to school to local businesses that are enveloped where safety is the priority. No longer is capacity of the road to shave off 45 seconds from a commute the priority. Work on fill in sidewalks, restructuring intersections, and readdressing high crash pedestrian zones are the priority for construction projects. We want high traffic corridors to accommodate Oregon freight as we recognize that our movement of the 140+ billion dollars of goods/materials is ultra important to all sectors of local and regional Oregon employment.
INNOVATION Evolution of the last OTIA invited a new way of doing business, with outsourced program management and the new OATIA can lead to other new approaches, both in processes and in tools in collaboration with Health, Education, and Public Transit. Information science is at the core of new collaborations including crash data, fatalities and environments, health issues, local economies, public transportation and equity. This movement produces product development such as electronic signalizations not imagined before (e.g. Hawkeye light at mid-block pedestrian street crossings or the need for timed intervals for the elderly and disabled).
STEWARDSHIP The new stewardship of Oregon is the community. Good stewardship of people and places extends well beyond our work arterials. Sidewalks knit the community together. Walk by someone several times and a nod of acknowledgment can turn into a conversation and perhaps a communal discourse. The face to face is a concrete bridge that does not happen in our present virtual world. This is taking care of the human resource.
COMMUNITY The tide has turned from living an hour to two hours in commute. We have spent several decades of moving away from public forms of transportation as vehicles allowed jobs to be tethered by highway commutes. As we have seen, even with fuel efficiency increasing and our transportation maintenance income decreasing, we have a parallel cultural ascent of individuals moving to Oregon specifically to be in a place that encourages bicycling infrastructure but also not applying for driver licenses. We see a resurgence of people returning to city cores as they do not want to shop in big box stores but can shop virtually and desire living completely in a neighborhood for their needs. These are profound changes that in turn put pressures on our transportation leadership to make our community multi-modal transportation a safe model for the nation to follow.
Thoughts about a Bond measure for Active Transportation:
Task One: Bundle the 500 miles of sidewalks which are inventoried for ODOT roadways. Create a hierarchy of priority for the bundle over ten years to accomplish this task. The choosing of the priorities could be done by a new Active Transportation Committee. Amending the ORS 184.610 to 184.666 which defines the Area Commission for Transportation would be an easier task through the legislature than redefining OBPAC. This Committee could effectively update the 1970 Oregon Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee by including all the Multi-Modal members from each ACT and include contemporary members not existent in those 70s. There is a vacuum of members from Health, Economic Development, & Tourism on OBPAC. This first task of the committee would be determine the hierarchy of needs to finish the sidewalk network needs of each ODOT region & community.
Task Two: Establish a policy direction for Active Transportation
Future of Oregon infrastructure needs: Implementing the Bike/Pled Modal Plan by creating structure and teeth for accomplishment within ODOT Recognize that gas taxes as a source for active transportation only continues this snail approach to accomplishing a sound active transportation policy. In my mind using gas taxes is not only investing in movie theaters to feature more movies but is a snake eating its own tail. By that I mean Active Transportation wants to reduce short distance automobile use, but why would we want more reliance on the very thing we wish to be reduced. Other places understand the need to move beyond gas tax support by using long term bonding measures. While the prime directive maybe sidewalks, one instantly recognizes that this encompasses all issues of dovetailing modes of traffic, safety, equity, health, transit and so many areas beyond simple highway capacity movements.
Oregon falling in line behind Virginia and California
If we do this, one must recognize we would be number three in the nation following the recent voter approvals: In 2014, Voters approved a bond for bicycle, pedestrian, and road improvements in Fairfax County, VA. Out of the $100 million bond, $84 million is dedicated to sidewalks and bicycle infrastructure. And, 2014 Measure BB in Alameda County, CA, passed 70% to 30%, increases the transportation sales tax from half a cent to a full penny on the dollar and will provide $1 billion for walking and biking over thirty years.