Council OKs plan for sidewalks, bike paths
Beaverton city councilors have approved a plan to spend millions on improvements in sidewalks, bicycle paths and street crossings.
The plan, which won City Council approval on Tuesday, Feb. 6, calls for a total of $118 million — $25.8 million of it for completion of sidewalks and bicycle lanes on regional routes evaluated as "high needs."
"The biggest hurdle is finding founding to kick off these projects," said Todd Juhasz, Transportation Planning Division manager within the Department of Community Development.
Among the goals are safe sidewalks and lighting citywide, safe routes to school, expanded paths and trails that connect to major destinations, safe crosswalks, and bikeways on major commuter routes.
What is known as the Active Transportation Plan was heard Nov. 29 and approved by the planning commission. It was put together with help from the Engineering Division of the Public Works Department, community and technical advisory committees, and consultants.
Among the top priorities are 10 street crossings, 11 pedestrian projects and 11 bicycle projects.
"The plan is great," Councilor Marc San Soucie said. "I think there are still some things we can keep working on as we move forward."
It also won a conditional endorsement from Kari Schlosshauer, senior policy manager for the Safe Routes to School National Partnership.
One condition in her letter calls for priority for improvement projects near low-income housing and racially diverse neighborhoods.
Some projects may qualify for new money that Beaverton will get as a result of the higher fuel taxes approved by the 2017 Legislature under a $5.2 billion statewide plan for transportation improvements.
"The city of Beaverton must choose to spend a significant portion of new dollars on active transportation needs (to) make progress on this active transportation plan," the report says.
Under the Oregon Constitution, fuel taxes can be spent only on road and bridge work, although sidewalks count when they are part of the public right of way.
The report also says that city officials will have to consider creating other sources of money, such as a citywide systems development charge, a street utility fee or a local fuel tax.
According to a 2016 city analysis of how city transportation money was raised and spent between 2005 and 2014, sidewalk projects account for a total of $2.1 million, and street projects for motor vehicles, $19.7 million.
Some of the listed projects fall under the authority of Washington County and the Oregon Department of Transportation.
As one of its goals for this year, the council seeks to have this plan integrated with the city's transportation system plan, which is due for an update in the 2018-19 budget year.
For a link to the presentation of Beaverton's Active Transportation Plan:
The full report is also available on the city's website.