Recap: Three Years in Washington County

140123_BTA003RFor the past three years, I have had the joy of working as the Bicycle Transportation Alliance’s Washington County Advocate. Today is my last day at the BTA and I want to say thank you to all the families, partners, BTA members, and community leaders who are fighting to ensure everyone in Washington County has safe and healthy transportation options. Thanks to you, more people than ever are embracing walking, biking, and transit.

Here are three ways Washington County is becoming a healthier, more connected community for all, and what’s next.

1. Building the Network

19125065992_0667182c60_oWe know that making our streets safe for everyone requires dedicated investment in safe biking and walking. When bike lanes and sidewalks aren’t funded, they don’t get built. Washington County funds $175 million of transportation improvements every five years through the innovative Major Streets Transportation Improvement Program, but previously most of those dollars went to road widening.

This week, County leaders proposed the next slate of projects to be funded. They prioritized more sidewalks, bikeways, and Safe Routes to School projects than ever before, plus increased funding that can go to multi-use paths and transit through the Opportunity Fund. None of these projects could move forward without the strong voices of neighborhood leaders calling for more walking and biking, and supportive elected officials who decided to invest MSTIP dollars in twenty-first century transportation options for all Washington County residents and commuters.

Washington County is also now dedicating $2 million per year to biking and walking projects around schools. This is a great start but falls far from meeting the more than $100 million need for Safe Routes to School and even further from completing the network of protected bike lanes and sidewalks neighborhoods need. We’ll keep fighting for more dedicated funding for safe streets in Washington County and in the state legislature so that the whole Blueprint can become a reality.

Check out our Blueprint Status Update for more details on progress in Washington County.

2. A Safer TV Highway 

FullSizeRenderThe Tualatin-Valley Highway has seen more than its fair share of traffic deaths. Most years, three or four people are killed walking, biking, driving, and accessing transit on TV Highway. In 2015, three people were killed crossing the street in just one month, and we knew it was time to get serious about making this big street safe for everyone.

Local leaders agreed that something needed to be done about TV Highway, but they weren’t investing in the safety improvements that would make a difference. We organized more than 1,500 people to demand a safer TV Highway with complete sidewalks on both sides of the street, frequent crossings to transit stops and other destinations, a physically separated bike lane or parallel multi-use path, and safe speeds for all travelers.

When you spoke out, your representatives listened. TriMet, Washington County, ODOT, and the cities of Beaverton and Hillsboro all got on board to add multiple pedestrian crossings throughout the corridor, better bikeways, and sidewalk improvements. Meanwhile, the cities of western Washington County completed plans for the Council Creek Trail: a future rails-to-trails route that parallels the highway between Hillsboro, Cornelius, Forest Grove, and Banks.

We are a long ways from having a completely safe and connected TV Highway, but if transit riders, those who have lost loved ones, families, and commuters keep speaking up, I know we will be successful.

Read more about the Campaign for a Safer TV Highway.

3. Coming Together for Kids

20669244021_ff1685fceb_oPeople in Washington County played a big role in the For Every Kid campaign’s successful victory of $3.5 million for Safe Routes to School in the Portland Metro Region. The cities of Beaverton, Tigard, and Forest Grove all spoke up loud and clear that is was time for safe routes to school in our region. So did countless neighborhood groups, families, and teachers from Tualatin to Forest Grove. It’s no surprise, then, that two westside elected officials were strong champions for the For Every Kid campaign. Thank you to Metro Councilor Kathryn Harrington and Mayor Denny Doyle of Beaverton, and to all of their constituents, who advocated strongly for Safe Routes to School.

Three years ago, a safe route to school was a dream for most families in Washington County. Today, Tigard and Beaverton have robust Safe Routes to School programs and the funding won by the For Every Kid Coalition could help Hillsboro, Forest Grove, or other communities get started.

We know that there are still more than $100 million worth of safety projects kids need in their neighborhoods today. All jurisdictions need to step up to ensure the next generation has a healthy future.

Speak up for Safe Routes to School For Every Kid in Oregon today! Sign the petition.

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  1. rick kappler Permalink  | Oct 29, 2018 07:54pm

    What is The Street Trust doing for Washington County at the ground level? Where is the street level advocacy like what is taking place for the east side of the metro area?