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First Item on Hales' Agenda: Bike Projects

Let's play a guessing game. What is the first transportation item on Mayor-elect Charlie Hales' agenda the day of his swearing in?

A. $4 million in grants for more "bikeway improvements" fashioned by outgoing Mayor Sam Adams.

B. Gathering state money for paving sidewalks east of Interstate 205.

The answer, of course, is both.

The Jan. 2 City Council agenda includes one transportation item offered by Hales: a $4 million Oregon Department of Transportation grant to the city for pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure in East Portland.

The agreement with ODOT was crafted by Adams. The outgoing mayor floundered with a media narrative that he had favored bicycle projects over street paving.

But the bike-and-sidewalks project appears on the agenda of Hales, who promised a back-to-basics transportation department. Since his election, Hales has stressed the importance of sidewalks and road paving east of I-205—partly in response to pressure from his mayoral campaign opponent, Rep. Jefferson Smith (D-East Portland).

The "East Portland Access to Transit Project" will build crosswalks, sidewalks and bike lanes along Southeast Division Street and 122nd Avenue. All the projects will be near TriMet bus stops. The construction will also include an 825-space bicycle park-and-ride facility at Gateway Transit Center.

(Be sure to lock that bike: TriMet reported last year that Gateway was the most dangerous MAX stop over the past four years, with an average of 68 reported crimes annually.)