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The TPR: The Conversation Starts Here

Last night Portland area industry professionals and representatives from ODOT, Metro, LCDC, Washington County, and several other organizations, joined the Euclid Society at the GSB Portland offices for a discussion about the recent amendments to Oregon’s Transportation Planning Rule (TPR).

Ed Sullivan opened the meeting with a history where, beginning in 1974, Oregon instituted Statewide Planning Goal 12 to provide and encourage a safe, convenient and economic transportation system. In time however, more detailed requirements were necessary and the TPR was born in 1991. At bottom the TPR requires:

• ODOT and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (“MPOs”) which are designated by the Governor to deal with transportation needs within a given region to adopt binding Transportation System Plans (“TSPs”)

• Coordination between transportation plans and comprehensive plans and among state and local agencies involved with transportation for project development

• Safeguards to assure that transportation needs are considered in comprehensive plans, as well as plan amendments and zone changes, the latter through the most litigated provision, OAR 660-012-0060, Plan and Land Use Regulation Amendments.

Oregon is unique in its view that transportation planning is integral to all land use decisions and its TPR codifies the requirements to look at each decision’s impact on local and regional transportation systems.

William Kabeiseman then took the floor, to explain the recent modifications to the TPR. These changes include the addition of an option for local governments with urban areas to adopt multi-modal mixed use areas to allow mixed use development; and a rural fix that will allow economic development projects that may have impacts on state highways to avoid a full blown TPR analysis. This portion of the presentation highlighted the refinement of the “two Oregons” where state law recognizes that different regions face different challenges when it comes to transportation planning.

The meeting concluded with Jennifer Bragar looking into the crystal ball to consider some of the outcomes for proposals subject to new amendments. Many of the changes to the TPR require early dialogue with ODOT and she pointed out that traffic engineers will look at the new planning tools through a very different lens than planners. Local planners and applicants will have to recognize the need to educate traffic engineers about how the new planning tools can work to meet safety and service requirements for transportation facilities. She also pointed out that many terms in the amendments are not defined. For example, some projects may be allowed to use partial mitigation to meet the requirements of the TPR. But it is unclear whether a covered bus stop in a rural county will count as a partial mitigation to a statewide transportation facility. The outcome for this and other undefined terms will bear out in the legal challenges that are sure to come as development proposal are brought forward under the new rules.

This is only the beginning of the conversation. The Euclid Society members requested a follow-up conversation to track the development of ODOT guidelines on the new rules and report on cases as proposals trickle in. Stay tuned for a follow-up Euclid Society event on the TPR.

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