Metro’s New LRTP Boosts Bike/Ped Funding from 2008 Draft Levels

7_1_09_pedestrian.jpgPhoto: La Cita Vitta/Flickr
In the winter of 2008, Metro released the Draft Long Range Transportation Plan, outlining the agency's funding priorities for the next twenty years.  The plan divided every funding category into two amounts, "constrained" and "strategic."  The Metro Board, hoping to get more funds through Measure R, put off passing the plan until after last fall's election, hoping that Measure R would pass.  They wanted to pass a "strategic," i.e. well funded, plan instead of a "constrained" one.

Eight months after Measure R has passed, the Metro Board is finally ready to pass its Long Range Transportation Plan at its meeting on July 23.  Instead of 2008, the LRTP will be passed in the 2010 fiscal year.  Instead of a gloomy "constrained" plan, the Board will be passing a much more robust plan because of the half cent sales tax dedicated towards transportation.

Of course, not everyone was a winner in Measure R.  Despite pressure from 200 people that signed a letter asking the Metro Board for a bicycle and pedestrian set-aside in Measure R funds, so while the rest of the plan is "strategic" funding for non-motorized transportation remains restrained.  Metro staff is quick to point out that municipalities are free to use their part of the 15% of Measure R funds that go back to communities for whatever they want including bicycle and pedestrian projects; but it's still sad to think that whenever the Metro Board releases copy for the final LRTP they are expecting to vote on later this month, the official website hasn't been updated since March 2008, all categories will see larger numbers than originally forecast except the bicycle and pedestrian projects.

But there is some good news.  While the 2008 LRTP said there was $241 million set aside for bicycle and another $241 million set aside for pedestrians; Metro staff is now saying there is actually $324 million each for the bicycle and pedestrian budget line.  Metro staff explains where Metro currently stands in relation to bike and pedestrian funding:

The $324 million identified each for bicycle and pedestrian modes represents a revenue stream reserved for each mode in escalated dollars from 2005 - 2030.  In today's dollars, this would be equivalent to receiving an average of $11.7 million per year each for the life of the LRTP from 2005 - 2030.  That this is a substantial, dedicated long-term investment for bike and pedestrian improvements within our agency’s transportation plan. 

The Measure R Local Return funds are above and beyond what is identified in Metro’s Long Range Transportation Plan.  In other words, the 15 percent return is a separate amount of funding that the region’s 88 individual cities have the opportunity to utilize for, among others, bike and pedestrian projects they feel are important. 

That's a pretty big math error, especially since the "strategic" amounts listed for bicycle and pedestrian projects were $368 million per mode in the 2008 LRTP.  We've already made up most of the difference between "constrained" and "strategic" by just fixing a math error.  It doesn't seem like too big a lift for Metro to come with with another $84 million to help non-motorized transportation jump from "constrained" to "strategic" too.