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Transportation

The Alliance is committed improving the region's transportation infrastructure, advocating for strong transportation policies and projects and focusing on the implementation of regional and statewide freight-mobility strategies.
 

Recent Transportation policy updates:


Alliance successfully negotiates new fee structure for business transportation user fee; raises concerns with a proposed residential income tax

The Alliance has been participating on the city’s transportation user fee business work group to refine the proposal, successfully advocating for a new fee structure that is significantly lower than what would have originally been imposed on business. Under the new iteration, the amount businesses will pay is significantly reduced, ranging from $2.50 to $120 per month. (A final proposal has not yet been sent to City Council). In addition, the Alliance is advocating for prioritizing revenues to reduce the $91 million backlog in paving projects, a defined project list, a six-year sunset clause, and a dedicated transportation fund to ensure that the revenue raised will be used for its original and intended purpose and not used to fund other priorities outside of the original scope. 

There is, however, consideration for a progressive income tax on the residential side, with high income earners potentially paying up to $200/month (other proposals include caps of $20/month or $100/month).  An income tax based approach for the residential portion also means state and federal retirement income, such as PERS, will not be taxed.  The Alliance continues to raise concerns about such a proposal as the transportation system has always been paid for through user fees, such as the residential fee originally proposed by Mayor Charlie Hales and Commissioner Steve Novick. The Alliance continues to engage with the city in direct negotiations and will advocate for our identified priorities. Read the Alliance’s communications with Portland City Council regarding the transportation user fee. (October 2014)

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Alliance advocates for less impact on businesses in transportation user fee proposal

The Alliance has been involved in discussions regarding a revamped city of Portland transportation fee proposal. The Alliance is advocating for limiting the impact of a new fee on businesses, and is also asking for a sunset clause, a focus on deferred street paving and prioritized project lists. Significant progress has been made over the last few months, including a new mechanism for the nonresidential fee that substantially reduces the monthly impact on businesses. The nonresidential fee structure has changed to a per entity fee based on the type and size of business. Under the most recent proposals, the monthly impact for businesses has gone from potentially thousands to a range of $2.50 to $120. As additional details continue to be negotiated, the Alliance will urge for assessments for both businesses and residents, as well as additional accountability mechanisms. (September 2014)

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Alliance plays key role in city’s revamp of a proposed transportation user fee

Earlier this summer, the Alliance played a key role in encouraging city council to slow down on a proposal to create a new fee to raise $53 million to fund street maintenance and safety work. After delaying any street fee vote until November, the city created a business work group and a low-income/institutional work group to refine the proposal. The Alliance is participating on the non-residential work group and is advocating for prioritized project lists, a sunset clause, a lesser amount to be raised, and other accountability mechanisms.

The city is exploring changes to the proposed transportation user fee to take into account the issues the Alliance and others are raising. In addition, a new mechanism is being explored that would significantly reduce the monthly impact of any new proposed fee for businesses. (August 2014)

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Alliance plays key role in city’s decision to postpone transportation user fee vote

The Alliance has played a key role in encouraging City Council to slow down on a proposal to create a new fee to fund street maintenance and safety work. After originally proposing to vote on the new fee in early June, just weeks after the details were made public, Mayor Charlie Hales and Commissioner Steve Novick announced that they would postpone final action on the new $50 million fee program until November to get more public input. The Alliance is also encouraging City Council to slow down with the proposed city charter amendment so that it can be considered as part of an overall package. The Alliance believes this significant and complex new fee deserves more of a conversation, and it is premature to constrain the use of funds that have yet to be created as proposed in the charter amendment. The Alliance has been consistent in its support of the goal of well-maintained and safe streets and has offered to work cooperatively with the city and other stakeholders to determine the need, how and by what amount additional revenue is raised, and the detail of how the funds will be spent. Read the letter.

City Council is hosting a Town Hall meeting to discuss the non-residential portion of the transportation fee proposal Wednesday, June 24, at 8 a.m. at Venture Portland, 1125 SE Madison St., Suite 112. They will host a second Town Hall meeting which will address the fee more generally on Wednesday, June 25, at 6:30 p.m. at Kaiser Permanente, 3704 N Interstate Ave. Alliance members are encouraged to attend to ask questions and speak about their concerns with the proposal. (June 2014)

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City proposes street maintenance fee; Alliance urges for process to slow down

Under the leadership of Commissioner Steve Novick and Mayor Charlie Hales, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is proposing a street maintenance fee for both businesses and residents to raise revenue for transportation projects. PBOT is considering two different fee scenarios for households, and an estimated fee structure for different types of businesses and the number of trips they are estimated to generate, a standard used by the Institute of Transportation Engineers. Mayor Hales and Commissioner Novick indicated they may bring the plan to city council for a vote as early as June. The Alliance has several questions about the potential new fee, and is urging the city to slow down to allow for broader public discussion about a potential new cost to Portland residents.  The Alliance has convened a task force to look further into the issue. More information about the city's proposed street fee.
(May 2014)

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Alliance advocates for federal investment in transportation infrastructure projects

The Alliance is advocating for a proposal led by Transportation for America, a nation-wide transportation advocacy group, to raise $30 billion to restore the Federal Highway Trust fund and support other transportation programs that spur innovation and promote local control. There are variety of funding options considered in the proposal, including increasing the federal gas tax; replacing the existing per-gallon tax with a sales tax; introducing a fee on oil barrel purchases and adding a sales tax to fuel purchases. The Alliance also expressed support for Congressman Earl Blumenauer’s UPDATE Act as legislation that is consistent with this proposal. This investment is critical to improving the region’s transportation infrastructure and ensuring our long-term economic competitiveness and growth. Read the letter.


Alliance hosts Brookings Institution associate research fellow about trade and transportation infrastructure

The Alliance, Port of Portland and Women in Transportation (WTS) hosted a talk with Adie Tomer, senior research associate and associate fellow at the Brookings Institution this month. Adie presented about the impact of international trade and transportation infrastructure on economic development in metro regions. View Adie’s presentation. (April 2014)

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Alliance advocates for funding for City of Portland transportation projects

As the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) begins the 2014/15 budget development process, the Alliance is urging PBOT to support two related special appropriation requests. The first request is for $650,000 per year for two years to help fund preparation of a Draft Environment Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Southwest Corridor High Capacity Transit Project. The second is for $100,000 to be allocated to Portland Export and Freight Strategy Implementation. Both of these projects will help support transportation infrastructure, a key part of a strong and robust economy. Read the letter.
(April 2014)

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Alliance President & CEO testifies before Oregon Legislature in support of I-5 Bridge/Columbia River Crossing

Alliance President & CEO Sandra McDonough testified before the House Committee of Transportation and Economic Development at a public hearing on Wednesday, Feb. 12 advocating for the Oregon-led option of the I-5 Bridge Replacement Project/Columbia River Crossing. For more information about why the business community is in favor of building the bridge, read the testimony. (February 2014)

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I-5 Bridge/Columbia River Crossing Investment Grade Analysis released

The Oregon Department of Transportation released its Investment Grade Analysis on financing for the I-5 Bridge Replacement Project/Columbia River Crossing. The analysis provided some good news and showed that the toll revenue is more than sufficient to finance construction of the bridge. The Joint Legislative Oversight Committee held an informational hearing last week to answer remaining questions regarding tolling and traffic impacts on Interstate 205. The project is expected to go before the full Legislature for a vote in the February session. (January 2014)

Now is the time to tell voice support this project. You can send a letter at http://bit.ly/1asOiEk.

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Oregon legislative leaders list I-5 Bridge Replacement Project as top priority

Last week at the Oregon Leadership Summit, Governor John Kitzhaber and other legislative leaders including House Speaker Tina Kotek, Senate Republican Leader Ted Ferrioli and House Republican Leader Mike McLane listed the I-5 Bridge Replacement Project as one of the top priorities for the 2014 legislative session. Senate President Peter Courtney has agreed to hold a special hearing in January that would provide the outline for an Oregon-led, bi-state project and frame the changes necessary to existing law to allow the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) to move forward with an Oregon-led project. An investment grade analysis of the project’s finances is expected to be completed by State Treasurer Ted Wheeler in January.  Assuming that analysis is positive, the project will then have met all the criteria necessary for a legislative decision on whether to move forward with an Oregon-led project to secure federal funding.  The Federal Transit Administration recently confirmed that $800 million in light rail construction funds are still available for the project unless another project claims the funding before the I-5 Bridge Replacement Project moves forward. (December 2013)

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I-5 Bridge Replacement Project likely delayed until February 2014 session

Legislative leaders have indicated that the I-5 Bridge Replacement Project (also referred to as the Columbia River Crossing) will likely be addressed in the February 2014 session.  Federal officials have indicated that they are still committed to the project and will hold the $800 million in federal funds for the project for as long as possible.  The Alliance is continuing to work with partners to advocate for moving the project forward. (November 2013)

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Good news for I-5 Bridge Replacement Project, phased approach gets key sign-offs

During the past month, the I-5 Bridge Replacement Project (also referred to as the Columbia River Crossing) received a number of key sign-offs to keep the phased approach moving forward. The Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration both issued letters indicating the project would not need to go through a lengthy and costly redo of its environmental impact statement.  After the State of Washington’s decision not to approve funding for the project, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber directed his transportation staff to analyze the possibility of phasing the project, moving forward with the bridge, light rail and Oregon interchanges and placing the Washington improvements in a later phase.  The federal approvals mean this phased approach can move forward.

In addition, the U.S. Coast Guard issued a permit for the project, a critical step on the federal approval process.  The permit clears the way for the project to apply for an $800 million grant for the construction of the light rail and a federal loan program to construct the bridge.

The Clark County Washington transit authority C-Tran approved a measure outlining how transit agency will address the construction, operation and maintenance of the light rail portion of the project.  The approval was necessary before the project could submit its application for federal transit construction funds.

In Oregon, I-5 Bridge project staff is working toward a set of hearings in the coming weeks in preparation for taking up the issue in Salem.  The Legislature must modify its previous approval of the project to reflect the Oregon-only approach for the project to become eligible for federal funding.  While federal officials have assured the project that it is on the top of their list for funding, other projects are also competing for those dollars and it’s important for Oregon to quickly approve state matching dollars to ensure the federal resources aren’t lost to another region. (October 2013)

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Alliance expresses concern over city’s proposed SW Barbur Blvd. “road diet” project


The Alliance expressed its concern regarding the city of Portland’s proposed “road diet” project impacting SW Barbur Blvd. The project would eliminate one auto lane on SW Barbur Blvd. to accommodate buffered bike lanes and pedestrian pathways in each direction, ultimately serving fewer commuters and impacting not just Portland but also other municipalities served by Highway 99W. The Alliance raised these concerns in a letter to Mayor Charlie Hales and Commissioner Steve Novick, urging them to work with the State Department of Transportation (ODOT) to identify and fix specific areas that present safety concerns. The Alliance will continue to track this issue and advocate for a transportation project that supports our economic development potential and the region’s overall livability. Read the letter >>

(October 2013)

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Alliance advocates for I-5 Bridge Replacement Project phased-option

The Alliance is working with the Columbia River Crossing Coalition to support the phased-option of the I-5 Bridge Replacement Project. Most recently, Washington Governor Jay Inslee endorsed the one-state project, giving the green light for Governor John Kitzhaber to do a thorough review of the plan’s feasibility. Governor Kitzhaber, House Speaker Tina Kotek and Senator Bruce Starr are working toward a special legislative session to amend the Oregon authorization to allow an Oregon-only project to move forward. Oregon Treasurer Ted Wheeler is currently assessing the viability of Oregon issuing all of the debt for the project and receiving the toll revenue. The project also reached a mitigation agreement with the last of the three up-stream river users and has submitted its final Coast Guard permit application. The Alliance will continue to work with the coalition in advocating for this critical transportation project.  Read the press release >>
Support and follow the project on Facebook >>
(September 2013)

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Washington Governor agrees to expedited review of revised Columbia River Crossing project

Washington Governor Jay Inslee issued a letter September 4 agreeing to a request by the Portland Business Alliance and the Columbia River Crossing Coalition to conduct an expedited review of the revised I-5 bridge replacement project.  The review will examine a phased project that would construct the Oregon portion of the project and the bridge and light rail improvements in the first phase and defer the Washington improvements until a later time frame.
 
“Given the current situation, an Oregon-managed bi-state project merits further investigation and I’ve directed WSDOT to do a thorough review of its feasibility,” Gov. Inslee said in the letter.  “Everyone can agree that the problem has not gone away,” Inslee added, noting that, after 16 years of planning, engineering and public involvement, “it’s critical that we find a path to move forward and replace this bridge.” Read the letter >>
 
The letter comes on the heels of an announcement this week that the project had reached a mitigation agreement with the last of the three up river businesses that would be impacted by the bridge. The agreement with Thompson Metal Fab allowed the project to submit its application to the US Coast Guard for a permit to construct the project.

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Business leaders, community groups urge for phased approach to build I-5 bridge  


In coordination with the Columbia River Crossing Coalition (CRCC), the Alliance is urging both Governors Kitzhaber and Inslee to support a phased approach to the I-5 Bride Replacement Project. After Washington failed to commit their proposed $450 million share of the project, Governor Kitzhaber directed the Oregon Department of Transportation to examine what interchanges and other road improvements would still make sense to do.  This effort showed that improvements to the Oregon side of the bridge did not make financial sense without the crossing and a phased approach has since been discussed.  The coalition supports these efforts to explore all options to take advantage of the more than 10 years of work and investment of $175 million taxpayer dollars and build the bridge.

The coalition is advocating for this phased approach to complete the project, which includes replacing the bridge, connecting light rail, and improving Hayden Island and Marine Drive interchanges in Oregon. Washington roadway interchange improvements will be phased in when Washington funding becomes available. With an estimated cost of $2.75 billion, this phased option proposes allocating federal funds for light rail, bridge tolls for the replacement bridge and landings and improvements to Washington’s SR 14, and Oregon’s state funds would improve Oregon’s interchanges. This phased approach also fixes the bridge, takes advantage of work to date, responds to limited funds and does not require new taxes.

As the top transportation priority for the Alliance, this project is huge economic driver for the region as it will significantly improve freight movement along the I-5 corridor. Read the letter >>

Please take a moment to thank the Governors Kitzhaber and Inslee for their continued leadership and express your support for this critical project. To say up to date on the project, follow CRCC on Twitter and Facebook.

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Oregon Legislative Wrap-up


The Oregon Legislature adjourned its 2013 session on Monday, July 8. Throughout the six-month session, the Alliance played an active role in Salem, including delivering testimony, generating grassroots communications and drafting legislation. The Alliance, with our partners, was involved in lobbying and/or tracking the following legislation.

I-5 Replacement Bridge Project
The Alliance’s top transportation priority, the I-5 Bridge Replacement Project (HB 2800A), secured $450 million in-state bonding for the Oregon share of the project costs.  The funding was conditioned on approval of Washington State and federal funding approvals. Unfortunately, the state of Washington did not approve its share of the funding so this project is not moving forward. The Oregon funding expires in September unless Washington’s share of the funding can be found.

Connect Oregon
SB 260 authorized $42 million in Connect Oregon funds to continue investing in critical freight and intermodal infrastructure and was amended to include bicycle and pedestrian projects. 

Tri-Met Governance
HB 3316 would have converted TriMet’s board from one appointed by the governor to a directly elected body. The Alliance opposed the measure which was converted to a requirement for the Secretary of State to do a performance audit of the agency. (July 2013)

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I-5 Bridge Discussions Continue in Washington


This week, supporters of the Columbia River Crossing/I-5 bridge replacement project are descending on Olympia to urge the Legislature to commit to its financial share of the project. The Washington Legislature is meeting in special session to address budget and transportation issues, including the I-5 Bridge Replacement Project. It now appears that the current special session may expire before the transportation issue is resolved. Governor Jay Inslee has given tentative indication that he will call a special session to address transportation issues. The Senate Republicans, who control the Senate due to two Democrats joining their caucus, are reluctant to move a package or allow the I-5 project to be included. Meanwhile, two of the three large upstream users who would be impacted by the proposed bridge height have reach mitigation agreements.  The Alliance is working with partners in Washington state to secure the state’s funding commitment. (June 2013)

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I-5 Bridge Replacement Project update


The Alliance has been working closely with the Columbia River Crossing Coalition to lobby for support of the project at the Washington Legislature. While the Washington House was prepared to move forward with on a transportation funding package, the Republican-controlled Senate refused to allow funding for the light rail portion of the project, effectively killing the funding package. The Legislature adjourned without resolving the issue, but the issue is part of the current special session, which could extend into June according to recent news reports. The Alliance will remain active in lobbying for funding for this important transportation project. (May 2013)

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Alliances #1 transportation priority makes headway


In a huge victory for backers of regional freight mobility, including the Portland Business Alliance, Governor John Kitzhaber, the Oregon House and Senate approved a commitment of $450 million of Oregon transportation funds to the I-5 Bridge Replacement project, also known as the Columbia River Crossing. Additionally, the Washington House Democrats have introduced a package of transportation funding measures that includes Washington's share of the project funding. Washington House Republicans, however, did not allocate funding for any new projects in their proposed budget.

Please take a moment to thank House Speaker Tina Kotek and Senator Bruce Starr for the leadership roles they played in passing this important transportation bill. (March 2013)

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The Alliance voices support for Interstate-5 bridge replacement project in Salem


On Monday, February 18, the Oregon Legislature's Joint Interstate-5 Bridge Replacement Project Committee approved House Bill 2800, which lays the foundation for the state's share of funding for the bridge. Alliance President and CEO Sandra McDonough testified in favor of the project shortly before the committee vote. Read the testimony >>

Earlier in the month, Alliance Transportation Committee Chair, David Knowles of CH2M Hill and Alliance staff also testified in Vancouver, Washington in support of project. Read the testimony >>

Additionally, the Alliance and Columbia River Crossing Coalition partners wrote a letter to Governor Jay Inslee asking that Washington State demonstrate its commitment to fund its share of the project cost. This week, Transportation Committee Chair Judy Clibborn and members of the committee released the Connecting Washington transportation package, which would fund nearly $10 billion in transportation projects across the state, including the I-5 bridge replacement project. This is a huge milestone for the project as it indicates there is significant momentum. A hearing on the Connecting Washington package is expected early next week in the House Transportation Committee. Read the letter >>
Read the release announcing the Connecting Washington funding package >>

The Alliance urges members to thank members of the Oregon Legislature's Joint I-5 Bridge Replacement Project Committee for their support of the project as soon as possible and contact their individual legislative representatives to voice support of the project. Contact the joint committee >>
(February 2013)

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Columbia River Crossing economic analysis released, shows cost-savings for freight and commuters


As part of the U.S. Coast Guard bridge permitting process, the Columbia River Crossing project conducted an Economic Benefits Analysis, which was released in November of 2012. The analysis found significant benefit in building the project; here are some highlights:
  • The highway and transit improvements will save travelers about 6.8 million hours per year in reduced auto and truck delays.
  • By 2030, the estimated traveler savings will exceed $435 million per year.
  • Freight-intensive industries will see reduced costs of moving goods to market.
  • Reductions in congestion will provide businesses in Oregon access to larger markets for their goods and services as well as a larger labor market from which to draw skilled workers, making it more likely they can find the best people to meet their workforce needs.
  • The project will eliminate the risk of catastrophic loss of the existing bridges in an earthquake, which would cause economic hardship due to the inoperability of the West Coast's main trade corridor.
  • The value of benefits of the current bridge proposal is $7-9 billion, depending on assumptions, much higher than the construction costs of about $3 billion.
Read the full report here >>
(November 2012)

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Alliance provides recommendations for Portland Bike Share locations


In partnership with the Alliance's Central City Committee, Clean & Safe, BOMA and the Downtown Retail Council, the Alliance's Transportation Committee created guiding principles for Portland Bike Share station locations in the central city. The guiding principles state that stations should be placed in areas that do not block right-of-way, private property owners should be offered incentives for locating stations on their property, and that stations should not be placed on freight streets, in loading zones, or in areas that reduce on-street parking. The Alliance will continue to work with the city and the contractor on station locations, using these guiding principles. View the Portland Bike Share guiding principles >>
(November 2012)

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Alliance reaches out to Congress regarding the importance of freight rail


Per a request from the Go Rail Coalition, the Alliance reached out to members of the Oregon congressional delegation reminding them of the critical role that freight rail plays in the region's economy. The Alliance specifically asks that Congress focus on transportation policies and investments that allow privately-funded freight railroads to continue to make the necessary investments for growing and modernizing their rail network. Read the letter >>
(November 2012)

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The Alliance joins business and trade associations in opposing Low Carbon Fuel Standards


In partnership with other business and trade associations, the Alliance is opposing premature implementation of state Low Carbon Fuel Standards. The Alliance recently informed the Environmental Quality Commission that adopting Low Carbon Fuel Standards before adequate supplies of low carbon fuels are available could put Oregon at an economic disadvantage relative to neighboring states and force extra costs on businesses. The letter also points out that the state of Oregon should consider the new fuel standards recently adopted by the federal government, which address the same goal of greenhouse gas reduction, rather than implementing additional regulations. Read the letter >>
(October 2012)

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PBOT proposes Burnside Couch traffic improvements


The Alliance's Transportation committee has been working on the Portland Bureau of Transportation's (PBOT) proposal for signal changes on West Burnside and areas of Old Town China Town and the Pearl District. PBOT proposed left turn signals on West Burnside, as well as new traffic signals in the Pearl and a two-way configuration on Northwest 12th Avenue. The goal of the proposed project is to improve safety and traffic flow to, from and within these neighborhoods. The Alliance's Transportation Committee has concerns regarding impacts associated with the proposed left turn signals, parking and lane reduction, and questions how the project addresses the long-standing issues identified in the Burnside Couch Couplet project. (October 2012)

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Alliance urges Portland City Council to consider coal export projects in a reasonable framework


The Alliance recently advised the city to adopt a reasonable framework of decision making for coal export projects. Council is considering a resolution that would oppose coal export projects, due to environmental concerns. The Alliance recommended for council to focus on the economic benefit of export activities and to consider projects on their individual merits and impacts, regardless of the commodity or business they serve. Read the letter >>
(September 2012)

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TriMet's student bus passes will remain funded


Mayor Adams and TriMet officials have reached an agreement to fund the student bus pass program. The recent TriMet budget proposed elimination of the program; the Alliance sent a letter to Portland City Council and TriMet urging both parties to work with the school districts to come up with a funding agreement for the budget year and to focus more attention on the much bigger challenge facing TriMet: the agency's unsustainably expensive employee benefit structure. Read the letter >>
(July 2012)

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Alliance submits comments on Oregon's Statewide Transportation Strategy


The Oregon Department of Transportation recently completed a draft Statewide Transportation Strategy, which is now open for public review. The strategy is in response to the Oregon Legislature's goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 75 percent from 1990 levels by 2050. The Alliance submitted comments to the Oregon Transportation Commission supporting the overall goals of the plan but suggesting more focus on economic development, safety and incentives. Read the letter >>
(July 2012)

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Bike Share program comes to Portland in 2013


The Alliance's Transportation Committee recently met with city of Portland staff to discuss a Bike Share program that will implement a bike-sharing system in Portland's central city by spring 2013. City staff discussed the criteria and methodology that would be used to locate the bike share kiosks with maximum system utility while balancing the impact to the right-of-way and businesses. Several Alliance committees are working with stakeholders on the right kiosk placement locations. (June 2012)

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Alliance members weigh in on proposed Cycle Track


The Alliance's Transportation Committee met with the city of Portland's Bureau of Transportation staff in April about a proposed Cycle Track on Southwest 12th Avenue between Portland State University (PSU) and West Burnside Street. Cycle Tracks are bike lanes between the curb and a line of parked cars; there is currently a Cycle Track on Broadway near PSU. The Alliance convened a meeting of property owners along 12th Avenue to examine the proposal and relayed their concerns via a memorandum. Read the memorandum >>
(May 2012)

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