Pete Truax among those opposed to alternative transportation rule

Forest Grove Mayor Pete Truax is among 21 of 26 regional mayors calling for Metro to slow down on plans to include requirements for bike paths, pedestrian trails and sidewalks in its next Regional Transportation Plan update.

In a recent letter to Metro President Tom Hughes, the mayors objected to Metro mandating the "alternative transportation" features in future local transportation projects. "Active transportation" is the term used by planners to describe alternatives to driving such as walking, bicycling and transit.

"Leave matters of implementation to local decision makers. To the extent that assistance is required in coordinating plans between jurisdictions, Metro could serve that role," the letter reads.

The potential requirements are included in the Draft Regional Active Transportation Plan that is working its way through the Metro planning process. It is tentatively scheduled to be included in the next update of the Regional Transportation Plan, which Metro uses to determine which transportation projects are built in the region.

In the letter, the mayors also objected to reducing motor vehicle lanes on existing roads to create room for bike paths and sidewalks, as proposed in the draft plan. The letter noted an April 2013 Washington County Transportation Survey by DHM Research found that 72 percent of county residents disagreed with such so-called "road diets."

The Metro Council is scheduled to vote on part of the draft plan next month. Discussions are underway about delaying the final decision until January 2014.

Most cities in the region, including Hillsboro, have already approved some policies to expand their bike and pedestrian paths. Goals include offering residents more transportation options and including greenhouse-gas emissions caused by motor vehicles.

But the mayors who signed the letter want to retain control over the final design of their projects.

"Primarily, the regional mayors would prefer to see the ATP as a guiding or reference document, rather than obligatory and binding," the letter reads.

The mayors signing the letter represent approximately 507,000 of the region's approximately 1.5 million residents. Four mayors did not sign the letter. They include Beaverton's Denny Doyle, Johnson City's Kay Mordock, Portland's Charlie Hales and West Linn's John Kovash. Together, they represent about 705,000 residents, with Portland accounting for the largest share.

Other Washington County mayors signing the letter include Hillsboro's Jerry Willey, King City's Ron Shay, North Plains' David Hatcher, Sherwood's Bill Middleton, Tualatin's Lou Ogden and Tigard's John Cook.

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