1120 SW Fifth Ave, Suite 800, Portland, OR 97204
Portland learned this lesson early. For decades, we have been a recognized leader in seeing and using transportation not merely as a system for movement, but as a tool for economic development, public health, environmental sustainability, and social good. Communities around the country look to us as a model. We have demonstrated that it is possible to grow both population and economy while preserving the core values and virtues that epitomize our city and our people.
But the last several years have challenged us. The Great Recession reduced budgets for both households and agencies even while costs for fuel and housing rose. Our vast transportation assets—public rights of way that account for over one-fifth of the land area of the city—are aging. Declining budgets over the years forced maintenance to be deferred. Today we must find new resources or face tough decisions about which assets and services we value most.
The future will demand even more. Over the past two decades, Portland has grown from fewer than 400,000 residents to nearly 600,000 today. The next two decades will continue this rate of growth, adding approximately 280,000 people (132,000 households) and 147,000 new jobs—over one-quarter of the total job growth in the region.
Even though population is growing and the economy is expanding, however, our roadway space is not. Our streets, roads and other public rights of way are, for the most part, a fixed resource. We must meet these demands of a growing city with the road resources we have, meaning it is ever more critical to make sure all facilities are in top shape and operating at optimal efficiency.
This is no easy task. The Bureau of Transportation faces significant challenges. Portions of the city have limited connectivity and incomplete pedestrian and bicycle networks. We have aging infrastructure and a number of unimproved streets. Changing climate patterns introduce new obstacles even while we wrestle with longexisting challenges to equity in access and local amenities.
While certainly daunting, we are up to the challenge. We are a city and an agency of innovators and leaders. The multiple plans that guide the Bureau of Transportation—the Portland Plan, the Comprehensive Plan, the Transportation System Plan, and Climate Change Action Agenda—all reflect the same ideas:
This workplan builds from the directives and priorities identified in these foundational plans. It provides real, tangible, measureable steps we can take—not in 20 years, but in two years. While actions are ambitious, they are achievable.
The workplan was created through an intensive and inclusive process that sought and incorporated the input, ideas, and initiatives from every level of the organization from front line staff to team leaders and managers, to the senior leadership of the agency. It sought the perspectives and priorities of sister bureaus and agencies, external stakeholders and advocates, and city leadership.
First Major Theme: Preserve what we have built and operate it well.