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The City of Portland, Oregon

Portland Bureau of Transportation

Phone: 503-823-5185

Fax: 503-823-7576

1120 SW Fifth Ave, Suite 1331, Portland, OR 97204

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Transportation System Plan and Equity

What is a Transportation System Plan?

The City of Portland is updating the Transportation System Plan (TSP), the long-range plan to guide transportation investments in Portland. Portland originally developed its Transportation System Plan in 2002 and it was updated in 2007. Periodic updates of the TSP are mandated by the State of Oregon.

The TSP meets state and regional planning requirements and addresses local transportation needs for cost-effective street, transit, freight, bicycle, and pedestrian improvements. The plan will provide transportation options for residents, employees, visitors, and firms doing business in Portland, making it more convenient to walk, bike, take transit -- and drive less -- while meeting their daily needs. The TSP provides a balanced transportation system to support neighborhood livability and economic development.

Why do we need a Transportation System Plan?

The purpose of the TSP is to guide the maintenance, development, and implementation of Portland’s transportation system, to accommodate 20 years of growth in population and employment, and to implement the plans and regulations of the regional government and the State of Oregon, including Metro’s Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) and the Oregon Transportation Planning Rule (TPR).

The TSP is a component of the Portland Comprehensive Plan and is adopted concurrently with the Comprehensive Plan. The Comprehensive Plan includes goals and policies whereas the TSP provides greater detail on the sub-policies and implementation strategies.

Components of the TSP include:

Policy: transportation goals, policies, and objectives

Plans: master street plans and modal plans

Financial Plan: with revenue scenarios

Transportation projects: with cost estimates

Strategies and regulations for implementation

 Development of Equity Evaluation Criteria

TSP Equity

Development of Evaluation Criteria

While much of the 2035 Transportation System Plan update is technical in nature, the Bureau developed a project prioritization process to replace an obscure approach with one that is transparent, inclusive, objective and effective.  There were several problems with the previous project prioritization process:

• It was unclear to what extent criteria were used to derive project lists;

• Criteria were often not outcome-based;

• It did not adequately inform staff of potential priority projects for grant applications; there was no clear project development “pipeline;”

• Projects did not necessarily align with state, regional and local policy priorities;

• Small projects were not competitive for grant applications and often languished for years or decades;

• There was not a clear link between TSP and Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) projects and programs.

To develop evaluation criteria that would address these issues, in late 2013 and early 2014 Bureau staff reviewed state, regional and local rules and plans to determine which outcomes appeared in multiple plans.  Staff identified seven consistent outcomes, vetted the seven outcomes with the Transportation Expert Group, then developed a set of draft project/program evaluation criteria consistent with the criteria.

Evaluation Criteria Results

The resulting eleven evaluation criteria reflect the seven outcomes.  They include four economic benefit criteria, two freight-specific criteria, one public support/opposition criterion and one criterion for each of the other six outcomes.

Candidate Major Project Evaluation

With the Candidate list of major projects complete, the next phase of the TSP update was to develop a financially constrained list of major projects that could reasonably be funded with expected revenue over the next 20 years. Initial revenue forecasts indicated that the total cost of all Candidate projects far exceeded expected revenue, so only a subset of major projects in the Candidate list would be able to fit on the Constrained list. To assist PBOT staff in selecting major projects to recommend for the Constrained portion of the Major Projects list, projects were scored based on the evaluation criteria discussed above: 

•             Safety

•             Neighborhood Access

•             Economic Benefit: Opportunity Access

•             Economic Benefit: Freight Access

•             Economic Benefit: Freight Mobility

•             Economic Benefit: Revitalization

•             Health

•             Equity

•             Climate

•             Cost Effectiveness

•             Community Support or Opposition

Due to staff time constraints, the evaluation scoring process was limited to City of Portland projects on the Candidate list of major projects. While it would be beneficial in the future to evaluate major projects led by other agencies, it was a lower priority because other agency projects are likely to be fully or substantially funded through sources outside the City of Portland revenue forecast.

Equity Scoring Process

Preliminary scoring of projects for the equity criterion was completed using demographic data compiled by BPS to support the 2012 Vulnerability Analysis.

Through the Enhanced BPS Vulnerability Risk Factors analysis, each census tract in the City was assigned a score from 0 to 6 based on whether the population of that tract met a threshold set for each of six displacement risk factors. Of these six factors, four were used to rank projects on the equity criterion: Communities of color (> 27.4% of the population); Households at or below 80% median family income (MFI) (> 43.7% of the population); Population age 17 and under (> 19.2% of the population); Population age 65 and over (> 10.5% of the population). The scores for the four vulnerability factors were totaled for each census tract and the dataset was converted to a raster with 50 ft2 cells with potential values between 0 and 4. The scores of the 50 ft2 cells within ¼ mile of each project were averaged and then classified using the quantiles method to determine a score between 0 and 3 for each project.


1. Calculated the total of the four risk factors (Communities of color; Households at or below 80% of MFI; Population age 17 and under; Population age 65 and over) for each census tract.

2. Rasterized the tract dataset (50 ft2 grid cells) with the cell value equal to the sum of the four risk factors.

3. Found the mean score of the cells within a ¼ mile buffer around each project.

4. Classified the raw equity scores for the projects in 4 quantiles, assigning scores of 0 to 3 (0 to the lowest mean scores; 3 for the highest mean scores).

Preliminary Equity scores were manually post-processed to account for projects in areas with little or no housing. For example, scores for some projects in lightly-populated industrial areas were lowered because the equity benefit would be relatively low despite the automated method producing a high score. However, these projects still received some points to reflect the value of industrial jobs for many of the vulnerable populations referenced above.