Talking Transportation in Tigard

Tara Sulzen
Thu, 11/08/2012 (All day)

For our final Land Use Leadership Initiative tour and policy discussion, emerging leaders and advisors traveled to Tigard to see how coordinated land use and transportation planning have been driving the city’s Community Vision effort.

This event wrapped up a year of discussions on various aspects on Oregon’s statewide planning program by focusing on how land use planning can improve transportation planning, and vice-versa.

To set the stage for a lively discussion, our group of advisors and emerging leaders first considered our own favorite transportation infrastructure projects, ranging from the Big Dig to the Staten Island Ferry to Portland’s bike network. Next, we discussed our individual wish lists of transportation projects--ideas mentioned included transforming the Metro region’s arterials into complete streets, burying I-5, or full implementation of the Outer Powell Boulevard Safety Improvements.

Adding it all up, we recognized that the pricetag for what we would like to see is far greater than the pot of money available, and Oregon has a long way to go to determine how to fund all the transportation infrastructure we need.

Armed with a long glossary of transportation acronyms for a productive and informed discussion, we launched into a briefing on the Transportation Planning Rule with Weston Award Winner and Oregon Department of Transportation planner Lidwien Rahman. Due to the diligence and work of many advocates and ODOT staff, she said, the Transportation Planning Rule employs strategies that ensure the transportation system serves land uses, while land uses do not exceed multi-modal transportation capacity.

Next we jumped into a discussion on the health of Oregon’s transportation system with Lynn Peterson, Governor Kitzhaber’s Sustainable Communities and Transportation Advisor. We discussed the need to refocus transportation spending on maintaining and improving existing infrastructure.

We then hit the streets of Tigard with Sean Farrelly, Tigard’s Redevelopment Project Manager, to see firsthand how the city is implementing its downtown Tigard Future Vision and coordinating with the regional Southwest Corridor Planning effort. Many participants had not spent time exploring Tigard before, and were impressed by the many planned improvements for pedestrian connectivity and increased housing options close to downtown. Shelia Greenlaw-Fink of Community Partners for Affordable Housing joined us to discuss the Knoll, a new senior affordable housing development close to the Tigard Transit Center.

To escape an approaching rain squall, we headed back inside to consider what we could learn from past efforts to link land use to better transportation choices.  Meeky Blizzard, Congressman Earl Blumenauer’s Advisor for Livable Communities, and Metro Councilor-elect Bob Stacey shared examples of successful efforts by regional advocates to reprioritize transportation funds for projects that support more livable communities. From 1000 Friends’ landmark Land Use Transportation Air Quality principles to the 2040 Growth Concept, the Portland region has produced many strategic initiatives to broaden transportation options and create a community-driven process for long term transportation and land use planning.

Takeaways:

1.     To ensure that the outcomes of our transportation investments are equitable and support statewide land use goals, Oregon needs broader representation and better monitoring of long-term policy implementation.

2.     Improvements in planning technology and tools will go a long way to address individual market differences and to better inform long-term choices, but will only work if there is significant and meaningful public engagement and participation.

3.     It’s time to rethink how our transportation system is funded, how we analyze costs and benefits, and the role of user fees. 1000 Friends of Oregon will join our allies and partners will continue to take the lead in shaping the conversation and educating leaders to make sure we find real solutions that stick.

As our Land Use Leadership Initiative’s first year wraps up this winter, we’ll put together a full report on what we’ve covered, and describe how 1000 Friends will continue developing land use leaders in 2013. Stay tuned for a full assessment on the state of infrastructure funding in Oregon in our upcoming report release, More Extensive is More Expensive, which will propose opportunities and solutions for infrastructure funding.