Business Chamber Says Mapps Told It He Would Scale Back 4th Avenue Bike Lane Project

Mapps made no mention in a May 7 letter to the Metro Chamber of scaling back the improvement project.

Commissioner Mingus Mapps. City of Portland Commissioner Mingus Mapps (Brian Burk)

Last week, Bike Portland reported that City Commissioner Mingus Mapps had rejected a request by the Portland Metro Chamber to drop a $16.9 million bike lane project along Southwest 4th Avenue and instead funnel the money into two massive infrastructure projects: the OMSI redevelopment and the city’s Broadway Corridor plan.

But on Tuesday afternoon, the chamber wrote in an email to all city commissioners that Mapps had, in fact, told the chamber verbally that he would scale back the 4th Avenue bike lane project. According to the chamber, Mapps said that before sending a May 7 letter that made no mention of scaling back the project.

“Our main purpose of writing today is to thank Commissioner Mapps for his commitment to reducing the scope of this project,” Metro Chamber president and CEO Andrew Hoan wrote in a Tuesday email. “This wasn’t communicated in this letter, but we greatly appreciate that he personally communicated to the Chamber that only the broadly supported parts of the 4th avenue project will move forward under his watch.”

That appears to be a departure from what Mapps conveyed in his May 7 letter to Hoan.

“The SW 4th Avenue Improvement project is a transformative investment about so much more than a bike lane,” Mapps wrote in response to a letter the chamber sent him April 29 urging him to abandon the project. “First and foremost, it is a paving maintenance project....[The Portland Bureau of Transportation] will also be improving pedestrian crossings and replacing dozens of rusting streetlights up and down the corridor.”

Mapps made no mention in his May 7 letter that the full project wouldn’t move forward under his watch.

The April 29 letter from Hoan asked PBOT to cancel the 4th Avenue project and instead divert those funds to the Broadway Corridor and OMSI redevelopment projects—both of which are viewed as tipping points for the city’s future economic prosperity.

“We call on you today to cancel what can only be described as the unnecessary, wasteful, and disruptive SW 4th Avenue ‘improvement’ project and instead, shift those funds to the transportation improvements for the Broadway Corridor and OMSI District redevelopment projects,” Hoan wrote April 29. “This shifting of funds from one project to two, will fully fund the necessary transportation improvements that PBOT must complete before any further construction can begin.”

Hoan added that diversion of funds to the two development projects would still go toward “essential infrastructure improvements such as roadways, bike lanes, and pedestrian access” and would “unlock the development potential and pave the way for significant housing production, cultural amenities, parks, open space, and catalytic construction projects that will accelerate the vibrancy of our Central City.” Hoan charged that PBOT had been “stonewalling” the two development projects.

Mapps’ office did not immediately respond to a request for comment about his plans for the 4th Avenue project.

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