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The City of Portland, Oregon

Auditor Mary Hull Caballero

Promoting open and accountable government

Audit says evaluate street projects' effect on livability

The Bureau of Transportation designs and constructs projects to improve streets for pedestrians, bicycles and vehicles. A recent audit found that planning expectations of projects were met, but the evaluationReport coverof outcomes should be improved.

The City’s goals are outlined in the Transportation System Plan. In addition to goals related to prioritizing certain modes of transportation, such as public transit and bicycling, the plan also includes livability goals, such as access to jobs, schools, grocery stores, and health care, and supporting economic development.

After constructing projects, Transportation evaluates associated traffic data, such as the number of cars or bicyclists using the improved streets, the number of car related crashes, or changes in travel time for cars. However, for livability goals, such as improved local businesses or community development, it is not always clear whether they were accomplished or how the project changed the neighborhood, including any unintended consequences.

Determining how a project affected the neighborhood – for example, what changes residents had to make to their commute, or how they accessed local shops and schools – may require management to commit resources to broader evaluation.

The audit recommends the Bureau develop and fund a consistent evaluation process that includes livability and neighborhood impact assessments and use the results to inform the City’s transportation plans.

Find a copy of the full report here.

-- Alexandra Fercak