ODOT and the Oregon Transportation Improvement Group (OTIG) have made significant progress in the development of a Public Outreach Plan (POP). The Plan will commence concurrently with the conclusions of each project’s initial financial and technical feasibility assessment -- the determination of whether to move ahead on any or all projects with more detailed investigations. For Newberg-Dundee, this is set for mid-summer 2006; Sunrise and I-205 will come later in 2006.
POP activities for each project area include interviews with project stakeholders, elected officials, and community leaders; focus group activities; and telephone opinion surveys. This work is substantially complete, and results are being compiled. The research will result in baseline information about the level of local knowledge on the three projects and approach; will tell OTIG and ODOT what further work needs to be done to ensure people have sufficient information to make informed decisions about the future of these projects, and will determine the acceptability of various alternatives, proposals, and approaches to organizing, financing and operating the three projects.
Two focus group exercises were conducted for each project. Participants were randomly selected from within each specific project’s area of influence, and ranged from 18 years old to retirement age; high school or GED certificate to post graduate; employed and unemployed; single, married, with and without children. Most participants were well informed and supportive of both the projects and public-private partnerships.
Ongoing activities include presentations to local governments in the project areas and to ODOT regional management and staff. These presentations focus on the description of the public-private partnership and the current activities underway on the three projects. Additionally, briefings have been made to the Oregon House Interim Committee on Transportation and Oregon’s federal delegation local office staff.
One-on-One briefings have been held with the directors and senior staff at AAA Oregon/Idaho, 1000 Friends of Oregon, the Columbia Corridor Association, the Portland Business Alliance, and the Department of Land Conservation and Development. More briefings are scheduled over the next several months and include audiences at the state policy level, statewide and regional public and private organizations, local agencies and transportation advocacy groups, the general public, and internal ODOT sections and offices.
OTIG’s Traffic Consultant, Steer Davies Gleave, has started data collection on trip generation, origin and destination. SDG is a world leader in traffic modeling and forecasting, travel behavior, and transportation technology, among other services. They are currently developing a plan for conducting traffic surveys, which are needed to determine the financial feasibility of the projects.
ODOT and OTIG staff and consultants are currently assessing and refining Newberg-Dundee project work required for complying with NEPA – the National Environmental Protection Act. There may be opportunities for streamlining some of the activities. (Oregon is a national leader in environmental streamlining.)
Work continues on preliminary design for Newberg-Dundee, and although it’s still early in the process, cost pressures have been noted (See Milestone One Final Report
As noted in March’s update, data collection activities ran through mid-summer. Results are published in the Milestone One Report.
Throughout early 2007, open houses will be scheduled for public input concerning results of the Milestone One Report.