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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 7, 2011 9:05 AM. The previous post in this blog was More on those latte loans. The next post in this blog is Why not "occupy" Wyden?. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Monday, November 7, 2011

A great Portland tradition: the sidewalk double-cross

The City of Portland transportation bureau has wildly overspent its budget, and so now it's time to announce some painful cuts. Guess what's the first project to go. Yep -- installing sidewalks on the outskirts of town. These communities have been promised pavement for years, but gosh, suddenly there's just no money for it.

Not like there is for streetcars. Not like there is for elevated bicycle tracks. And bike sharing.

It's the gas tax's fault. Not enough gas tax coming in. Yeah, that's the ticket. It's the gas tax.

But if the folks living on upaved roads beg loudly enough, they can get bike "sharrows" painted onto the dirt and gravel.

Comments (19)

Re: "Not enough gas tax coming in."

All those Priuses in Irvington, perhaps?

Let's review.
We the public are supposed to pay for and use trains and bikes to get around, but the sidewalks are paid for with gas tas money.
So...no walking if you live on the outskirts of the city?
I sense a disconnect.

I told Charlie Hales my plan: When out-of-towners visit and see the unpaved streets with no sidewalks we just tell them it's part of the Oregon Trail. They'll love it. We're keeping them because they're part of our cultural heritage. They have to respect that.

Great interview, Bill. The best part is when Skateboard Charlie says this:

But let’s say we’ve got 60 miles [of paving] to do. Let’s do three miles a year. Let’s commit to that. Let’s do three miles a year until we’re done.

In 2008, Portland had a paving backlog of 1,250 MILES!. It's only gotten bigger since then. Under Charlie's plan, it will be 400-500 YEARS until we're done.

[BTW, when Charlie left office, the backlog was just under 1,100 miles. Wasn't transportation his bureau? ... Oh yeah, it was, because he promoted Ellis McCoy.]

C'mon, nothing's changed if you live outside downtown (I-405 to the Willamette and maybe out to MLK) you get nothing. It's been that way forever.

"The bureau wants to strip $7 million from its books immediately because of an unexpected revenue shortfall."

Unexpected shortfall? If they would have gotten their heads out of their spokes and took a look around at the local economy, there is no way in Hell you come up with a $7 million shortfall.

Any indication that wishful thinking has replaced logical analysis.

Maybe if the Council would drive out once a week to literally take a pee on East Portland, voters would start to get the picture.

Not like there is for streetcars. Not like there is for elevated bicycle tracks. And bike sharing.

And not like those little green "bicycles go to the head of the line" boxes they ubiquitously painted on the road at intersections all over town.

The core problem is failure to set priorities and stick to them. Basic transportation services, like sidewalks and good pavement, need to come before special projects and new facilities. That said, gas tax money can only be used inside highway and road rights of way. It cannot be used for things like light rail or multi-use paths outside rights of way. Since streetcars are using the right of way, it is unclear how much gas tax revenue goes to them.

Why bother spending time and money on providing the humdrum basic municipal services when they can blow money on cool new toys and then force us to approve bond measures by holding basic services hostage?

Wasn't it just last year that they blew their budget on all kinds of goofy projects then basically threatened to let our homes burn down if we didn't approve a measure to purchase new firetrucks? Then, just to add insult to injury, it turned out that they didn't have enough money in the budget to staff all the new rigs.

The current city council members have some really screwed up priorities and it seems like it's always people outside the "core" of the city that get shortchanged. I really wish they'd spend less time "imagineering" a green, dystopian future and get back to the basics.

As Mayor Creepy Lame Ducks out of office look for the last minutes shuffles that help him find a job. No more need to be reelected, just have a nice place to land. A soft mattress stuffed with money surrounded by young boys.

Re: "But if the folks living on upaved roads beg loudly enough, they can get bike 'sharrows' painted onto the dirt and gravel."

That's a very cynical suggestion. PBOT rewards its employees for new ideas. Clearly, unpaved roads are an opportunity, not a residential shortcoming. PBOT can make this obvious by offering maps of unpaved streets for the dirt bike community. This might also relieve some pressure for illegal bike trails in Forest Park.

I've heard Southeast Clinton between 26 and 39 (a major bicycle route) is going to get the unfriendly concreted bioditches (i.e swales) next summer plus other traffic calming. As one who walks, bikes and car drives this route; I'd gladly see the monies for this unnecessary project be transferred to putting in sidewalks in other parts of town.

This town is out of balance when it comes to city finance and the progressive social agenda. Way too much of the latter, and not enough of meat and potatoe private sector economics. Without a vibrant private sector, the monies for the progressive agenda are not sustainable as the City Auditor has tried to point out to the city mayor and council (even the crony capitalist CEO of "street car" Greenbrier company notes the city's imbalances in yesterday's Sunday Oregonian editorial section. One of his quotes rings loudly: "the road to hell is paved with good intentions").

When you elect idiots, you get idiotic results.

Big question is about the next election. Is anyone running for Mayor who is better than Sam? As far as I can tell, everyone currently running for Mayor is a "progressive" moron who will continue more of the same.

Portland leadership reminds me of Lt Col Nicholson in Pierre Boulle's book "The Bridge over the River Kwai", who becomes so obsessed with building a bridge he completely loses track of who it's being built for and what it cost to do so and dies tyring to stop Allied commandos from destroying it.

Good example Mr. Grump. Sam, Vera, Randy, etc. are exactly that way. They are so excited about "building the future" that they don't bother to pay attention to the present situation.

I can't imagine any reason to spend $1B on another train to nowhere when the existing trains don't generate enough revenue to pay the bills. Not to mention, that $1B could be used for real improvements that would improve the city. By improvements, I mean things that actually help people every day rather than stuff that the kiddies in City Hall think are cool.

Maybe if the Council would drive out once a week to literally take a pee on East Portland, voters would start to get the picture.

Well said Snards

If you think the sidewalk situation is bad in east Portland, there are dirt roads out past 122nd Ave. that are so bad I don't want to even drive them in my SUV with four wheel drive activated. And worst of all, those schmucks at City Hall have no plans to do anything about them!

I believe there are some folks in East Portland suburbs who would have been better off if never annexed into the city. Their tax money would have benefited their community.

Instead, way too much infill, has anyone here ever taken a tour of this area?
The city apparently likes it because they get more tax revenue and because they can use this area to push the density into. It is being constantly mischaracterized too, there are still nice homes in the area, despite the problems brought about by city interference.

As far as sidewalks, I know people who live there who say they do not want them, as they are the ones who would have to pay thousands of dollars they don't have now to have a sidewalk in front of their home.
Another side to the issue then, who pays and how much and there might be some who blog here who know, I have heard it could be about $10,000 and more depending on footage.
My point being, the sidewalks may be "wanted" but as I understand it the burden of paying is on the homeowner.

More taxes and costs then and in this case, it would be the people bearing this cost during this economic uncertainty.

I believe sidewalk projects are done by a lid?
Roads and repair, fixing potholes a different matter as far as I know.
As I recall, didn't Adams propose to put a "halo lid" in the SW for these kind of projects?

When someone like Hales pushes for sidewalks, I can only wonder about his motivation, as I see where some people would be forced out of their homes who could not afford to pay thus pushing more people out of the city, or would decide to sell their home most likely for less at this time therefore benefiting developers, etc.


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