Imagine a Portland where no one dies on city streets.

Where three-quarters of the city’s road system is in good shape.

Where there’s a dedicated bike lane within a half-mile of nearly every home.

That’s just part of the “bold and audacious” long-term vision for Portland’s transportation future, as laid out in a new $150,000 report released Tuesday by the Transportation Bureau and its director, Leah Treat.

Yes, those goals jump of the page. And city staff emphasize that for each, there is no actual time frame for when – or if – they’ll actually be accomplished.

But transportation officials say their new “Portland Progress” work plan – and the 176 specific tasks it identifies for action over two years – may help Portland meet those goals.

Someday.

The work plan “lays out a bold and audacious vision for what our transportation future can be – a city of zero traffic fatalities with streets and systems that are the envy of the nation; an inclusive city where every resident and business has the opportunity to grow and thrive; and a sustainable place that supports the health of both people and planet,” Treat wrote in an introduction for the report.

Treat announced her desire to create a two-year work plan when hired in 2013. But the plan has largely taken a backseat with the Transportation Bureau mired in an unsuccessful year-long process led by Mayor Charlie Hales and Commissioner Steve Novick to create new taxes or fees to pay for paving and safety projects.

The new work plan has five themes: Preserve and Operate; Vision Zero; Build a Future; Manage City Assets; and Health and Vitality.

For the first, Portland sets a goal that just 25 percent of its roads will be in poor or very poor condition. Today about half of roads rank poorly.

Similarly, the city also has a long ways to go on other overarching goals: 28 people died on Portland’s roads last year, while only about 60 percent of residents live within a half-mile of a bike greenway or dedicated bike lane.

Art Pearce, who manages policy, planning and projects for the Transportation Bureau, said the city doesn’t have a timeframe for when those goals might be met.

“The main focus of this document is on the actions and the action steps,” he said.

Most action items include some easily quantifiable measures. Some examples for the next two years:

  • 100 lane miles of preventative maintenance annually
  • use new money to increase the number of lane miles maintained each year
  • develop a three-year rolling plan for maintenance projects
  • expand the use of red light cameras
  • launch a bike-sharing program

Others are less straightforward. For instance, one action items calls for officials to “investigate recycling options” for debris from street sweeping. Another item asks officials to “consider” variable-priced parking, where meter rates increase based on demand.

Also included in the work plan: more “experimental” speed zones, such as the 20 MPH designation officials got for 70 miles of residential streets in 2011.

Commissioner Steve Novick, who oversees the Transportation Bureau, wrote that he believes the plan will also bring a new level of equity to transportation planning.

“I embrace this plan,” he wrote, “as a proactive initiative that puts in writing the bureau’s ambitious menu of actions.”

Unfortunately for Novick and Treat, the plan doesn’t identify one key thing they think could aid their efforts: more money.

— Brad Schmidt

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