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Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick celebrates first 20 projects, announces schedule for future repair work and safety improvements.

The temporary 10 cent-a-gallon gas tax approved by Portlanders voters in May takes effect on Jan. 1.

In one of his last official acts in office, former Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick held a press conference Thursday to review the first 20 street projects funded with bond proceeds supported by the projected revenue, and to announce a schedule for future projects.

"Last May, Portland voters decided to pay a higher gas tax in order to fix the streets and make them safer," said Novick, who is in charge of the Portland Bureau of Transportation. "With the 20 base repair projects, PBOT has already started to fix the streets. In 2017, Portlanders will see more streets repaved, dangerous intersections fixed, sidewalks installed, and greenways improved. They'll also see strong emphasis on creating safe routes to schools. In short, they'll see their dime in action."

Novick held the press conference with PBOT Director Leah Treat at a recently completed repair project near the intersection of Southeast Milwaukie and Ramona Streets. There, PBOT crews fixed a failing section of street and installed a new concrete bus pad along TriMet bus route 19.

"2017 is going to be an exciting year for the Fixing our Streets program," said Treat. "After completing 20 small, but significant projects all across Portland this fall, we will now start major paving and safety projects in 2017. We are delivering what voters expected when they passed Measure 26-173: projects that will make their roads better and their city safer."

Novick, was defeated by small business owner Chloe Eudaly at the November general election and is leaving the council at the end of the year. Before that, he sponsored the tax proposal as his final version of the contentious street fee debate that many feel contributed to his loss. It projected to raise $64 million over four years. In addition, last May, at Novick's urging, the City Council also unanimously passed a Heavy Vehicle Use Tax that will raise an estimated additional $10 million over four years.

The money is divided between road maintenance project and street safety improvements. The funds first began to be spent on 20 projects last year from a bond supported by the taxes. The spending comes at a time of increased traffic fatalities in Portland. They have risen in both 2015 and 2016, despite the council approving a Vision Zero policy of eliminating fatal and significant injury crashed by 2025. The safety project spending is especially expected to help the city achieve that goal.

Major future projects include: $3 million to pave Foster Road from 82nd Avenue to 92nd Avenue and add curbs; $2,24 million to pave Southwest Vermont from Oleson to Capitol Highway and add ADA curbs; $3,15 million to pave Southeast 50th from Division to Hawthorne Blvd and ADA curbs; and $2,100,000 for Small Freight Improvement Program projects to improve freight efficiency and safety.

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