A new federal grant will help Metro work with partners to create a smoother travel experience in one of the region's busiest transportation corridors: Interstate 84 between downtown Portland and Troutdale and its parallel arterials, transit lines and bikeways.
The $191,680 grant from the Federal Highway Administration, announced Feb. 24, will fund a study to explore strategies for better traffic management and travel information to help people make more informed choices about where to travel, when to travel, and what mode or route to use.
Called "integrated corridor management", the approach can be a relatively inexpensive way to make existing facilities more efficient and reliable by combining numerous next-generation information technologies and real-time travel information.
Metro will lead the effort on the I-84 corridor, a 45-square-mile area stretching from the Willamette River to the Sandy River, and Sandy Boulevard to Powell Boulevard.
"This grant gives us the opportunity to take an existing transportation corridor that serves tens of thousands of people each day and make it work even better with technology," said Metro Councilor Shirley Craddick, who represents east Multnomah County.
"This takes real -time travel information to a new level," acting federal highway administrator Gregory Nadeau said in a release. "Innovations like these are 21st-century tools for our 21st-century economy, and will make our nation's transportation system even more coordinated and effective."
For example, a Portland-bound commuter leaving Gresham might be able to use apps and online resources to more quickly understand traffic conditions on major highways and arterials as they prepare to commute. Such information might help with a decision to take a different route or ride transit instead in times of heavy congestion. Or an Idaho-bound freight truck leaving an Airport Way warehouse might be able to adjust departure time or route to avoid a major backup on Interstate 84.
Partners on the study include the cities of Gresham and Portland, Multnomah County, the Oregon Department of Transportation, Portland State University and TriMet. The total cost of the study, which is expected to provide recommendations by spring 2016, is $239,600.
The study's recommendations could help the region bring the corridor to its full potential as a multimodal system, complementing major transit planning projects like the Powell-Division Transit and Development Project and supporting efforts to make bicycling and walking safer throughout the area.
"I-84 serves the heart of the region. Making sure people and goods can continue to travel safely and reliably means we need to invest in making the existing system work better while also meeting modern needs," said Metro planning and development director Elissa Gertler. "With this award, we'll work with partners to make I-84 and nearby streets work better for everyone. At the same time, we’ll continue giving people more travel choices by investing in transit and active transportation in the corridor, and better integrate these investments with neighborhoods and businesses.”
Over 30 proposals were submitted to the Federal Highway Administration for the competitive grants, but only 13 were awarded. A history of collaboration on planning and implementing major transportation projects may have made the Portland region's grant proposal particularly competitive.
"Metro was awarded this grant because our region has a history of partnership planning and implementing transportation projects," Craddick said. "I am confident that our history of working together collaboratively contributed to our ability to receive this award."
Metro's Transportation System Management and Operations program, better known as TSMO, conducts and funds similar projects throughout the region's busiest travel corridors.
Learn more about Metro's efforts to create a smoother transportation system