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New transportation bill in Salem includes $78 million to widen Portland-area freeways – UPDATED

Posted by on June 24th, 2015 at 2:59 pm

Legislators held a special hearing today
to hear testimony and learn about
the new proposal.

Despite growing consensus that the main effect of widening roads is not to reduce travel times but rather to lengthen car trips, Oregon’s overwhelmingly Democratic state legislature seems to be preparing to approve a bill that would spend around $78 million to add lanes and widen several freeways in the Portland metro area.

More widening projects are also planned around the state.

HB 2281, the 73-page bill being debated in Salem today, would raise $370 million through a mix of new vehicle registration fees and a two-cent gas tax increase. About $125 million of that would go to the Portland metro region (ODOT Region 1). The bill also includes 25 earmarked projects — most of which would widen freeways to “improve safety and provide congestion relief” and allow for “freight mobility improvements.”

There’s nothing in the new bill set aside specifically for bicycling or walking, though the multimodal Connect Oregon program would continue, presumably still funded by the state lottery.

You can read a useful summary of the bill here, but here’s the operative text from the bill itself:

Screenshot 2015-06-24 at 2.19.01 PM

As you can read above, state funds for the Portland area would be spent either on wider freeways ($75 million) or on on one of four other projects:

  • $3 million to add standard travel lanes to Interstate 205 west of Oregon City
  • $20 million in unspecified “improvements” to Cornelius Pass Road, a mostly rural route in Washington County that has sometimes been discussed as a possible route for a future freeway bypass
  • $2 million to increase the vertical clearance on a freeway overpass
  • $25 million to improve Powell Boulevard through East Portland enough for a jurisdictional transfer to the City of Portland

This list refers only to state projects funded by the new revenue. Half of the revenue from the hikes would be passed from the state to its cities and counties, who could then spend their share of the money on whatever roadway projects they saw fit.

Because of a series of ballot issues in the 1980s, Oregon’s constitution prohibits spending auto-related fees and taxes on off-road bikeways or mass transit. However, advocates had hoped that Oregon’s most Democratic state legislature in a generation would create a permanent fund for making multimodal urban roadways like Powell Boulevard, Barbur Boulevard and 82nd Avenue safer to walk, bike and drive on.

For advocates of a shift to more biking and walking, the one bright spot in the plan so far might be the allocation for outer Powell. East Portlanders have pushed hard for walking and biking improvements there.

Another notable piece of the bill would allow transit districts to levy an employee payroll tax (0.185 percent of wages earned) that must be spent on improving bus operations and service. TriMet already collects employer payroll taxes, but this would be slightly different because it’d presumably show up on employee paychecks rather than being hidden on the employer’s side of the ledger. In the TriMet district, this would generate an estimated $71 million annually — enough to increase TriMet’s bus operations budget more than 40 percent.

This bill is a far cry from the agreement before this year’s legislative session in which automotive interest groups teamed with other transportation groups to endorse a larger inflation-indexed gas tax hike.

So far, the representatives of oil and gas businesses seem supportive of the bill. This is likely because it was created as an alternative to a “clean fuels” bill that had already passed the legislature but is now on the brink of repeal as Democrats try to cut a deal with Republicans on the broader package. The new bill calls for fuel blending, something oil and gas lobbyists prefer to a mandate on a new type of fuel.

Stay tuned as we try to keep up this fast-moving bill. For more on today’s hearing, follow the Oregon Environmental Council on Twitter. We’re also indebted to Gerik Kransky, advocacy director for the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, for helping us follow some of the details.

Download a PDF of the current version of this bill here.

Jonathan Maus contributed reporting to this story.

Correction 12:01 am: An earlier post used a different estimated value in the headline for the planned Portland-area freeway widenings. The corrected headline reflects the $20 million cost of “improving” Cornelius Pass Road, which is not a freeway.

UPDATE, 6/15 at 11:12 am: This package is dead. Governor Kate Brown says there’s “no path forward” this session. Full story at The Oregonian.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Chris I June 24, 2015 at 3:19 pm

    And nothing for earthquake retrofits. Genius.

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    • Craig Harlow June 25, 2015 at 8:14 am

      Are there no transportation planners advising our elected officials? If there are, who are they, and can we get some quotes?

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      • Jayson June 25, 2015 at 9:14 am

        That would presumably come from ODOT. This looks like a page from their textbooks.

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        • was carless June 25, 2015 at 8:20 pm

          Bridges are mostly owned by Metro, IIRC. And most politicians in Portland are either lawyers or community activists… noone to my knowledge with a background in STEM or planning.

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    • Craig Harlow June 25, 2015 at 8:29 am


      Just as increasing road capacity reduces the cost of travel and thus increases demand, the reverse is also true – decreasing road capacity increases the cost of travel, so demand is reduced. This observation, for which there is much empirical evidence, has been called Disappearing Traffic, also traffic evaporation or traffic suppression. So the closure of a road or reduction in its capacity (e.g. reducing the number of available lanes) will result in the adjustment of traveller behaviour to compensate – for example, people might stop making particular trips, condense multiple trips into one, retime their trips to a less congested time, or switch to public transport, walking or bicycling, depending upon the values of those trips or of the schedule delay they experience.

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    • Evan Manvel June 25, 2015 at 9:04 am

      Of note, of ODOT’s state share of $103 m/yr, they plan on spending $50 million a year for bridges, most of which when they are rebuilt/retrofit will be seismically upgraded. $33m/yr would go to the bonded projects listed in the bill, and $20m/yr would go to pavement, culverts, and safety projects.

      And the $103 m/yr for cities and counties could be spent on seismic work.

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    • Chris Anderson June 26, 2015 at 7:06 am

      Maybe it will be reborn as a Vision Zero funding package (which of course would take earthquake risk very seriously).

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  • rick June 24, 2015 at 3:23 pm

    I-205 from Stafford to Oregon City “improvements” would require 2 new Tualatin River bridges along with numerous new overpasses and underpasses.

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  • Amy June 24, 2015 at 3:30 pm

    We can’t afford to fix the neighborhood greenways there’s just not enough money!

    That was sarcasm.

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    • 9watts June 24, 2015 at 3:42 pm

      I can think of few things dumber than widening freeways. It is 2015, folks! Paris Talks? Ever heard of leaving the remaining fossil fuels in the ground?

      As for the gas tax increase, this is the flip side: When we’re broke we can’t build as many freeways.

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      • was carless June 25, 2015 at 8:24 pm

        Everyone in planning and policy seems to think electric self-driving cars will replace all mass transit, all internal combustion vehicles, and magically solve all transportation congestion issues once they launch in 2016. No comment on where the electricity comes from (coal) or the fact that more cars = more congestion.

        What we really need is investment in our city centers = build a damn metro in every city over 1 million in the US. Nothing else gets you around auto congestion.

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        • 9watts June 26, 2015 at 3:43 pm

          the damn metro also takes electricity. There’s really only one way around this conundrum and it is the first four letters of the name of this blog.

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    • meh June 24, 2015 at 3:47 pm

      State vs city transportation budgets.
      Salem doesn’t take car of city streets, city hall does that.

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  • Adam H. June 24, 2015 at 3:39 pm

    Hopefully Portland would spend its share of the extra funds on safety projects. Can the funds be used for protected bike lanes, since they’re technically not off-street?

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    • david hampsten June 25, 2015 at 4:13 am

      Yes. Half of the money will go to ODOT, which will build freeway ramps, outer Powell, etc. 30% goes to counties and 20% to cities. Portland long ago worked out a deal with Multnomah County to get a portion of its gas tax funds, so there should be a fair amount of extra funds for sidewalks, cycle-tracks, and local match for ODOT projects in Portland, which can be spent on any public right-of-way, not just state roads.

      The money is a revenue stream, so ODOT, the counties, and Portland will all borrow against future revenues, so expect a huge flurry of new projects well beyond the $78 million. Great time to advocate, folks. Hint! Hint!

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  • Lynne June 24, 2015 at 3:39 pm

    Would this trigger proper shoulders on Cornelius Pass Rd? I’d love to be able to ride it from Skyline to Hwy 30 again. Easiest way over the hill.

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    • Tom Hardy June 24, 2015 at 5:13 pm

      I rode Cornelius pass for many years, but!! The improvements are to straighten out the sharp curves near the top so semis can negotiate it easier so they can bypass Portland going between Beaverton and Longview bridge to bypass the Police in Vancouver.

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    • rick June 24, 2015 at 9:13 pm

      nearby McNamee road is an alternative

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      • Lynne June 26, 2015 at 11:21 am

        Not so much, other than it is quieter
        Road Distance vf max grade
        Cornelius Pass 3.5 540 6.6%
        CP to McN 1.5 282 7.8%
        McNamee 4.6 1048 13.5%

        Not everyone wants to be a hero every day.

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    • wsbob June 26, 2015 at 9:54 am

      Cornelius Pass Road north of West Union Rd where it ventures into the countryside and up over Tualitan Mtn is well on its way to becoming a monster; too many motor vehicles in use and allowed to travel the road at too high a speed.

      The countryside the road passes through is very beautiful, though appreciation of it becomes increasingly difficult due to exceessive motor vehicle use. Straightening out curves, if that was what the money allocated was to be spent on (recent bikeportland update says the bill is dead:http://bikeportland.org/2015/06/24/proposed-gas-tax-hike-spend-100-million-widen-local-freeways-145001#comment-6437055), can have a contradictory result in worsening the character a road presents to the land it passes through; more motor vehicles, traveling faster, more noise, pollution and danger produced.

      Really…visionaries for Cornelieus Pass Road’s future, should plan a full fledged, full length cycle track distanced a 100′ or so from the road, and running from West Union all the way up and over the hill to Hwy 30. Never going to happen, but costs nothing to think about it. On the other hand, the threat represented by ideas of a west side bypass, is real. That could eventually happen. Punching a big hole through the Tualitan Mountains for a highway-freeway tunnel to Hwy 30, could also eventually happen.

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  • The Duke June 24, 2015 at 3:43 pm

    Smoke and Mirrors!

    politicians are like street magicians, they’re just trying to screw you out of your money!

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  • Dave June 24, 2015 at 3:49 pm

    Treason–more driving=more oil use=more US $ to terrorism supporting countries. Starve ISIS–ride a bike!

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    • Tom Hardy June 24, 2015 at 5:14 pm

      Amen! That is also the original reason for WNBR.

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      • soren June 24, 2015 at 9:20 pm

        And the ride should return to its roots in PDX, IMO.

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    • Tait June 24, 2015 at 9:46 pm

      I don’t know how this bit of misinformation got started. The Dakotas and Canada are not a terrorism-supporting countries, last I checked. And of the motor fuel oil not generated domestically, Canada is the largest source. I think Mexico was next. Saudia Arabia is a ways down the list, but they’re an ally who’s helping us fight ISIS right now. Approximately none of your gas money goes to countries that support terrorism.

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      • Chris I June 24, 2015 at 9:51 pm

        That’s not how global markets work. Our insatiable demand for oil boosts the price globally, which allows terrorist-supporting governments selling oil to make more money.

        Personally, I think that climate change and vehicular carnage are bigger reasons to move away from cars, but you can’t ignore the ties between our usage of oil and our military involvement in the middle East.

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        • Tait June 25, 2015 at 9:55 pm

          If you want to go that direction, that is not how global markets work, either. Oil is in demand around the world because it’s a source of energy, and among the cheapest available. Oil is used for far more than just powering automobiles. There is plenty of demand elsewhere if the demand from automobile fuel doesn’t keep up. And demand for energy in general is climbing rapidly with no signs of slowing down. If you want to hinder the sale of oil, you need to hinder the world-wide demand for more energy — for all purposes. And if you want to see what a less energy-intensive lifestyle looks like, all that’s needed is a visit to the history books.

          Or, we could be more precise in our controls and try to hinder financing of terrorism through economic barriers that selectively apply to those sources that funnel proceeds to terrorism. And we already do that.

          Trying to link use of automobiles or gasoline to support of terrorism (at least of the ISIS sort) is a false connection — both superficially and at the deeper level you suggest. That’s not to say there aren’t plenty of other reasons to reduce automobile usage. Financing of terrorism, however, is not one.

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      • Oregon Mamacita June 25, 2015 at 10:06 am

        Tait- how dare you say that Canadians are not terrorist-loving putine-eaters! They sneak their bands (Bare Naked Ladies) their beer, their sports (hockey- wtf?) across our borders. The Maple Leaf is the leaf of oppression!

        As for the Dakotas- doesn’t it concern you that the mountainsides have huge presidential heads growing out of them? What is going on with the “Black Hills”?

        I love group think 😉

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        • Tait June 25, 2015 at 10:17 pm

          Hey, what about hockey? The Winterhawks are a great team, and I even go to their games. 🙂

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      • q`Tzal June 25, 2015 at 6:19 pm

        The Dakotas and Canada are not a terrorism-supporting countries,…

        What about those Coal Rollers in ND we heard about from NPR last year?
        The local ND correspondent, who has no national level articles after his critically panned “Coal Rollin’ is Gud Clean Fun!”, presented a subset of Murica that gets their rocks off on scaring, gassing and otherwise terrorizing other people “jus cuz”.
        Certainly not usually lethal but….

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      • was carless June 25, 2015 at 8:27 pm

        Saudi Arabia directly funds Wahhabist extremists throughout the Middle East, for which we spend approximately $500 billion annually to station troops in roughly 1,500 military bases in that region alone.

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  • Ty June 24, 2015 at 4:04 pm

    This is good news. Wider freeways = less cars on greenways.

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    • 9watts June 24, 2015 at 4:32 pm

      Adding another runway to PDX doesn’t free up curb cuts for people in wheelchairs.

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    • Kyle June 24, 2015 at 5:25 pm

      Nope. Especially given the fact that drivers can’t seem to be nice to one another, one extra lane on any of our freeways will just fill right up.

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  • Tomas LaPalella June 24, 2015 at 4:15 pm

    We’re growing by leaps and bounds and people are still driving. Nothing is going to radically change that in our lifetimes. I know that’s not what any of the commenters here will ever admit, but maybe it’s time to get real and come to grips with the fact that cycling does not, and never will, work for everyone. We need increased road capacity before our city is total gridlock, and I suspect these funds still won’t do nearly enough to handle demand. Bring on the lanes! All the luxury condo dwellers operating in a greenwashed cloud of denial will need the room to drive their Priuses, be it to Whole Foods or Orchard Hardware.

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    • 9watts June 24, 2015 at 4:22 pm

      “Nothing is going to radically change that in our lifetimes.”

      Let’s check in about that every so often, Tomas.

      I’d venture that *everything* is going to radically change in our lifetimes.
      This just in:
      Dutch government ordered to cut carbon emissions in landmark ruling
      Dutch court orders state to reduce emissions by 25% within five years to protect its citizens from climate change in world’s first climate liability suit


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      • Tom Hardy June 24, 2015 at 5:18 pm

        Holland is the place to legislate that. Most of the country is below sea level and the sea’s are rising already to critical levels for them.

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        • 9watts June 24, 2015 at 5:21 pm

          NYC? Miami? SF?
          But you’re of course right. They’ve got a few feet on our coastal cities.

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    • Tom Hardy June 24, 2015 at 5:16 pm

      Condo dwellers do not do Orchards.

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    • Brad June 24, 2015 at 8:09 pm

      More lanes bring more traffic. Induced demand is well-studied and well-known. Build more highways, get more gridlock. Ironic term, actually, since grids don’t lock up like freeways and arterials do.

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      • david hampsten June 25, 2015 at 4:35 am

        A further irony is that East Portland, the poorest district in Portland (150,000 residents, 25% of the city), is also the most car-dependent, as current transit service cannot get our working-poor to their jobs along the Columbia Corridor, Gresham, Clackamas County, and Clark County, let alone when they work (graveyard shifts), while the sidewalk and bike infrastructure here sucks. 25 years after annexation, you’d figure Portland would have done more than it has.

        Increasing the gas tax is highly regressive, as it hits our poorest residents hardest. If you can’t bike (no greenways actually built, just funded) and there is no transit, then you have to drive. The only affordable places to live are far from transit and basic active transportation.

        In general, I quite agree with the comments that car-dependence is a very bad long-term strategy (I never learned to drive myself, in spite of coming from the terrorism-supporting nuclear-missile state of North Dakota). However, given the realities here in East Portland, I support the projects listed. East Portland is so car-dependent, and PBOT has been very slow to implement active transportation improvements in spite of all the pedestrians killed here (and a suspect vision-zero policy), the long list of ODOT projects on 205 and Powell is actually quite welcoming to the community here.

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        • Chris I June 25, 2015 at 8:09 am

          I bike in outer-east Portland nearly every day. The city can do a lot to help, but the problem is no different than anywhere else in the city. People don’t want to exercise, they don’t think they have the time, and they don’t like getting wet. This is why they drive.

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          • Alex Reed June 25, 2015 at 10:15 am

            Soo… why do so many more people in Montreal, Amsterdam, and Copenhagen bike than in Portland? I assume people there also “don’t want to exercise, don’t think they have the time, and don’t like getting wet.”

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            • KristenT June 25, 2015 at 11:12 am

              A lot of that is probably cultural– the USA is a fast-food, fast-delivery, obese culture where exercise is certainly desirable but takes too much work and takes too long to show results. How many people do you know have walked a continuous mile today? Yesterday? Last week? Most people won’t do it because they think it’s such a long distance. They’ll hop in their car instead.

              I’m not from Canada or the Netherlands so I can’t say if this sort of mental block is as prevalent as it is here.

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            • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
              Michael Andersen (News Editor) June 25, 2015 at 11:13 am

              Actually not true that more people bike in Montreal than in Portland! Still much to be learned from Montreal. I owe BP a post about this after a recent trip there.

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          • Aaron June 25, 2015 at 10:46 am

            Whoa there! I live on 139th and the experience of getting my girlfriend into cycling has shown me that the infra does matter – a ton. For one, you have to bike further to get anywhere at all, but mainly there’s the huge lack of greenways, crossings, and connections. All the little things that serve to intimidate new cyclists and prevent them from becoming veteran cyclists. And something else – it’s lonely out here. Being in true bike traffic is a great feedback loop.

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            • Chris I June 25, 2015 at 10:53 am

              True. One of the biggest challenges in east Portland is that it was developed with absolutely no city planning. The neighborhood connectivity is terrible, which is a big barrier to walking/cycling. I don’t know how the city could fix this, though, without tearing out houses to create green spaces and cut-through trails.

              The arterials are the only real way to get anywhere directly. To make them viable cycling routes, we have to get the speeds down.

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        • Dan June 25, 2015 at 8:13 am

          Many people can’t drive or don’t want to drive, and currently pay taxes to support driving.

          The gas tax should be WAY higher. Credits can be given to low-income folks who have a need to drive.

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        • 9watts June 25, 2015 at 8:38 am

          david hampsten,
          the historically evolved relationship between poverty and the automobile is pretty complex. I’d recommend Catherine Lutz’s book Carjacked.

          Here’s the abstract of an article by her The U.S. car colossus and the production of inequality that I can send you but I don’t have a link for:

          “The car-dependent mobility system of the United States not only reflects but intensively generates the inequalities which characterize the country. This talk suggests that the concept of compulsory consumption and the automobile’s centrality to the current regime of accumulation can help account for this. It suggests how theories of inequality and mobility might be adapted to account for the automobile industry’s capture of contemporary life.”

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    • soren June 24, 2015 at 9:23 pm

      Since you cannot craft a rebuttal based on fact or reason you resort to demeaning those who you do not like.

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  • PdxMark June 24, 2015 at 4:41 pm

    $125M in Region 1? Pfft. A sop to the commuter interests… and road building companies…

    Cost per lane mile for urban freeways are $5M-$20M.


    There are 6 different freeway segments mentioned, meaning 12 different segments to cover both directions. At an middling cost of $10M/mile, those 6 segments will get 1 mile each of new freeway lanes. NOt a fix to anything…. And I-5 is off the list because, despite being the most congested, it would cost way more than $20M/mile, and devastate any neighbor widening touched.

    And all our bike infrastructure to date has cost a bit over $60M….

    “Damn cyclists should be helping to pay for the roads”… We are. Clearly.

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    • Tom Hardy June 24, 2015 at 5:23 pm

      2 cents is a paultry amount. in the 50’s when the freeway boom was going a 10 cent per gallon fuel tax paid for 90 percent of the freeways. the 10 cents was equal to 1/3 the cost of the fuel. Now the fuel tax is 12 cents and the gas costs $3.25 per gallon. The tax should be $1.50 per gallon or more just for highway maintenance.

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      • J_R June 24, 2015 at 10:17 pm

        Tom: Your figures on fuel tax are incorrect. The federal gas tax has been stuck at 18.4 cents per gallon since 1993. Oregon’s gas tax was 24 cents per gallon in 1993 and was raised to 30 cents per gallon effective January 2011.

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  • q`Tzal June 24, 2015 at 7:45 pm

    But !?! …. But !?! …. JOBS!

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  • Brad June 24, 2015 at 8:06 pm

    Stupid, stupid. No road expansion until we can afford to repair and maintain all the pavement we already have!

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  • B. Carfree June 24, 2015 at 9:20 pm

    There is one little tidbit for cycling interests down in Lane (Lame?) County in the bill. On Territorial Highway just north of Lorane there is a long recognized need to do some work and there’s funding for it in the bill. This is the site that gave rise to ORS 811.065, the law that requires motorists to give cyclists room to fall in their direction when passing on a road without a bike lane and a speed over 35 mph. (Sadly, no law enforcement agency in the state has ever written a citation for this common violation.)

    Color me underwhelmed.

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  • J_R June 24, 2015 at 10:15 pm

    I read the whole bill and found interesting stuff.

    Virtually every fee associated with a vehicle or driver’s license is proposed to increase. The title fee goes up to $125. The annual fee for most motor vehicles goes from $43 to $53. But get this:

    The proposed annual fee for a electric OR hybrid vehicle goes to $188. While I can see justification for a higher fee for plug-in electric vehicles, I don’t see the justification for the MASSIVE increase for hybrids. That’s an extra $135 per year. A Prius owner who drives 6000 miles per year would pay $188 plus $33.68 in gas tax on 105 gallons. Meanwhile, the owner of a Dodge Ram pick-up who drives 6000 miles would pay $43 for a license plus $128 in gas tax on 400 gallons (15 mpg). Yes, that’s right, the Prius owner pays more to the state for driving 6000 miles than does the owner of the Dodge Ram. ($221.68 for the Prius and $171 for the Dodge Ram.) Is that CRAZY or what?

    My 23-year old car puts no demand on the transportation system when it’s in the garage. It only does so when it’s being driven or parked on the street. Revenue should be generated by taxing USE, not ownership.

    As I’ve suggested before on this forum, we should have a really big increase in the gas tax that is far more fair because it taxes use and lets the owners of big, inefficient vehicles pay their fair share. I’ve written to my representative and senator outlining my opposition to the current bill and supporting a much larger gas tax increase.

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    • 9watts June 25, 2015 at 8:43 am

      Nice forensics, J_R. Thanks.
      I think this is sour grapes for all the massive public subsidies and tax breaks that we foolishly gave out to people buying hybrids and EVs. This is of a piece with the ‘ooh, look, gas prices just dropped, maybe this is a good time to raise the gas tax; maybe folks will be less likely to notice or mind…’ mindset.
      I’m still holding out for the clear-headed vision that ties transportation planning, funding, and the several looming crises together.

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      • Dan June 25, 2015 at 2:12 pm

        When I was buying gas the other day, the attendant said, “Here’s some dinosaur juice for you! Hopefully in that new Jurassic Park movie they kill lots more dinosaurs so we can bring the prices of gas WAY DOWN.” Bizarre.

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        • 9watts June 25, 2015 at 4:27 pm

          34 cents of every property tax dollar goes to secondary education in this town. Aren’t you glad?! 🙁

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    • Max June 25, 2015 at 11:40 am

      Average car is driven 12,000 miles per year, not 6,000.

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  • Psyfalcon June 24, 2015 at 10:40 pm

    Their revenue shortfall terror has made them forget that we want hybrids, and electric cars, and should subsidize the highest mpg and lowest emission vehicles that you can buy.

    Much of the cost of car ownership is fixed. Registration and insurance don’t normally care how much you drive. Add in a bus pass which was almost what driving daily would cost, and I found it would have been cheaper to drive into Portland from Beaverton as long as I found a free parking spot. (in a 15mpg Dodge truck).

    Everything should be done by miles and weight, and gas taxes are a close enough approximation to that. Electric cars are still rare, and Portland does have some of the cleanest electricity available (unless you are a salmon- but most of those dams arent going away). Tax them in a few years (per mile) when there are enough of them to worry about. Right now they’re getting a bit of a free ride, but are also testing new technology for all of us too.

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    • Psyfalcon June 24, 2015 at 10:42 pm

      Registration should cost what it takes to register the car.

      Motorcycle registration is lower than car registration, and I’m sure they take as much time to do the paper work on as a car.

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  • EngineerScotty June 25, 2015 at 1:02 am

    To echo PdxMark–the amount of money being discussed does NOT buy very much concrete; though if we’re talking a revenue stream of $78M/year, that could pay for that list of projects over time.

    Also, does the propsed I-5 widening between Bridgeport and Tualatin refer to an additional project beyond what’s being built right now?

    And I wonder what the city of Maywood Park thinks of the proposed I-5 widening that passes (howsoever briefly) through their city limits?

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  • Andy K June 25, 2015 at 6:57 am

    There is a rumor that Cornelius Pass will be an ODOT facility very soon.
    Also, $20M will go a long way there. I’m hoping for a super-roundabout at Skyline, which will take about a quarter of the budget. The remainder could smooth out a few curves.

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  • Aaron June 25, 2015 at 8:25 am

    I suggest people join me in writing your legislators to tell them you want bike and ped safety improvements included in HB 2281.

    Go here and use the find box in the lower right to get the email addresses of your reps: https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/

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  • rider June 25, 2015 at 8:55 am

    And yet there’s no funds available for flashing pedestrian beacons on Powell or 82nd. Love those ODOT priorities.

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  • Brian Willson June 25, 2015 at 9:03 am

    It is very sad that we cannot break our addiction to king car culture which just speeds up carbon emissions (particles of mass destruction) and distracts us from serious pursuit of sustainable and durable bioregional living. It is like we have a suicide wish.

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  • Kenji June 25, 2015 at 9:52 am

    So interesting thing- during a public meeting we had a top level staffer from ODOT tell us that for electric and hybrid vehicles there won’t be a VMT for electric vehicles if this passes. It’s either VMT OR the increased registration fee. Which is kind of a shame since prefer to see everyone go the way of VMT- and this renders OreGo useless for hybrid and electric vehicles.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 25, 2015 at 11:13 am

    UPDATE, 6/15 at 11:12 am: This package is dead. Governor Kate Brown says there’s “no path forward” this session. Full story at The Oregonian.

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    • John Lascurettes June 25, 2015 at 1:14 pm

      Ding dong [another] witch is dead!

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    • Justin Morton June 25, 2015 at 1:15 pm

      It always seemed like an uphill climb for Governor Brown. “We are going to repeal an environmentally friendly bill I just signed into law last month in exchange for a four cent raise in the gas tax that Republicans will try repeal at the ballot box next November.”

      I’m not terribly surprised the House Democrats didn’t go for it.

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    • 9watts June 25, 2015 at 4:33 pm

      From that Oregonian article you linked to:

      “Then came damning testimony from Oregon Department of Transportation Director Matt Garrett, who told lawmakers his agency overestimated the estimated effect of traffic flow improvements contained in the package. The plan initially said those improvements would reduce emissions by 2.02 million metric tons over 10 years. The revised estimates sharply lowered that figure to 430,000 metric tons.”

      Overestimating the carbon benefits of tweaking traffic flow rates? You don’t say?!

      Can’t they get anything right over at ODOT?

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  • Dan June 25, 2015 at 2:17 pm

    Going to have trouble passing anything with a gas tax in it, if you want to get reelected.

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  • Todd Boulanger June 25, 2015 at 4:21 pm

    Looks to me that the Oregon Legislature is working on their own mini-CRC for widening the I-5 corridor south of the border bite by bite.

    I hope all the loud anti CRC types south of the Columbia get to work to call their legislators to scuttle this…or else then they threw away light rail to Vancouver and a world class bikeway to Portland (the “baby” as part of the CRC “bath water”).

    Oh…by the way I have not heard of the anti-CRC (pro transit) forces working on a plan B to get the LRT to Vancouver yet (or Jantzen Beach) yet. Anything in the works? I hope so.

    The anti LRT (anti bike path) pro CRC highway types are still hard at work on getting “THEIR” bridge built see the links below. (They do have a nice little train and bike on their animation… we will see if it survives the “design” process.)



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    • Todd Boulanger June 25, 2015 at 4:24 pm

      …since may of the anti LRT / pro BRT voices on both sides of the river quickly flipped to anti LRT AND anti BRT once the LRT option was killed off.

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  • bjcefola June 25, 2015 at 5:07 pm

    I can’t tell from coverage but would like to understand: did the decision to cease efforts come from legislative leaders and the Governor accepted it, or was it the reverse?

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  • q`Tzal June 25, 2015 at 6:16 pm

    The Dakotas and Canada are not a terrorism-supporting countries, last I checked.

    What about those Coal Rollers in ND we heard about from NPR last year?

    The local ND correspondent, who has no national level articles after his critically panned “Coal Rollin’ is Gud Clean Fun!”, presented a subset of Murica that gets their rocks off on scaring, gassing and otherwise terrorizing other people “jus cuz”.

    Certainly not usually lethal but….

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    • Tait June 25, 2015 at 10:12 pm

      You could probably make a case for harassment with coal rolling. Assault would be a long stretch. I don’t think terrorism is anywhere close, and trying to apply that term (terrorism) to behaviors like coal rolling dilutes the gravity of term, to the detriment of its use in cases where the seriousness and level of injury are much greater.

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      • Dan June 26, 2015 at 9:14 am

        What’s a good term for intentionally trying to poison someone?

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        • Tait June 26, 2015 at 8:22 pm

          Probably harassment, assault, or attempted murder, depending on the details?

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  • oregon111 June 25, 2015 at 10:22 pm

    here is something that you all never thought about…

    by increasing gridlock, you are going to price housing in the inner city to levels never heard of before – because people with $$$ will not tolerate a 3 hr commute 1 way to travel 5 miles

    have fun moving to gresham

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    • Psyfalcon June 26, 2015 at 6:48 am

      Well, ignoring the part where wider roads just encourage people to move farther out and drive more, clogging that road, for most people a bike would have that commute under 30min instead of 3 hours.

      We already see bike commuter numbers jump when gas prices go up. If we ever reach a point where cars are slower than walking, bikes will be popular.

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    • Gary June 26, 2015 at 9:27 am

      This is parody, right? Commuter gridlock exists because people with $$$ decided they didn’t want to live in the city anymore. So we were bamboozled into bulldozing our houses and paving over our city so they could commute into jobs then back home at night. Now you’re arguing we should pave over more homes and parks to make sure there’s room for us to live in the city, too? How about we freeways and other major roads into neighborhoods to fight congestion. How’s that for “something you never thought about”?

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      • oregon111 June 27, 2015 at 3:52 pm

        gary, people moved out of inner cities in the 70s due to crime, taxes, and very cheap land in the suburbs at the time

        but now times are different – the inner cities are once again popular, but people still need to travel – for jobs, schools, shopping, lifestyle, etc

        clogging roads does not help anybody – except those who are young and walk/bike everywhere

        right now, portland has a small minority of people who want to force gridlock on the majority

        all that will accomplish is skyrocketing rent in the inner city — but i will gladly double my rent when i rent out a room — but will you be willing to pay the increase???

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        • Psyfalcon June 27, 2015 at 4:27 pm

          Most of us don’t want gridlock, we just understand that widening roads does not fix gridlock. It won’t unless you make the UGB a hard line where no one outside of it can build a house.

          If you made it real easy to drive Powell into downtown, it would reduce congestion for a year or two, until people realized they live out past Gresham and still commute in. Then we have gridlock again. The country has plenty of gridlocked 10 lane roads.

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          • oregon111 August 2, 2015 at 12:56 am

            OK, I moved here before I-5 in north portland had 3 lanes going north – so you are saying I-5 would be better if we went back to 2 lanes for afternoon tgraffic?

            see, your logic is bogus

            now, the argument against long commutes of 30+ miles has merit – but not expanding freeways when population doubles is not the best way to address that issue

            now, we have people who live in gresham who cant move on I-84, and they only live about 8 miles from their jobs

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            • 9watts August 2, 2015 at 9:06 am

              Induced demand (and its opposite) are well understood.
              We cannot build our way out of this. Everyone who isn’t an demagogue I think recognizes this.
              Sure it is counterintuitive to most people, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t so.

              “now, we have people who live in gresham who cant move on I-84, and they only live about 8 miles from their jobs”

              “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

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            • Psyfalcon August 2, 2015 at 11:22 am

              Gresham (year, pop, % change)
              1910 510 —
              1920 1,103 116.3%
              1930 1,635 48.2%
              1940 1,951 19.3%
              1950 3,049 56.3%
              1960 3,944 29.4%
              1970 10,030 154.3%
              1980 33,005 229.1%
              1990 68,235 106.7%
              2000 90,205 32.2%
              2010 105,594 17.1%
              Est. 2014 109,892 4.1%

              “On October 1, 1955, the Banfield Expressway opened to traffic. It was Oregon’s first freeway.[4] The highway was rebuilt during the 1980s, and the MAX Light Rail line was added along the north side at the same time.”

              So within 15 years, population more than doubled, which it continued to do until the road clogged.

              Vancouver, WA
              1920 12,637 35.9%
              1930 15,766 24.8%
              1940 18,788 19.2%
              1950 41,664 121.8%
              1960 32,464 −22.1%
              1970 42,493 30.9%
              1980 42,834 0.8%
              1990 46,380 8.3%
              2000 143,560 209.5%
              2010 161,791 12.7%

              Explosive growth in the 90s, slowing down now that the highway is clogged to hell.

              Meanwhile, Portland’s growth is much more constant.
              1920 258,288 24.6%
              1930 301,815 16.9%
              1940 305,394 1.2%
              1950 373,628 22.3%
              1960 372,676 −0.3%
              1970 382,619 2.7%
              1980 366,383 −4.2%
              1990 437,319 19.4%
              2000 529,121 21.0%
              2010 583,776 10.3%

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  • Jim Labbe June 27, 2015 at 5:51 am

    How can we make sure this flawed set of transportation funding priorities doesn’t come back in the next session.

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    • wsbob June 27, 2015 at 10:38 am

      With Oregon’s biennial legislative session: two years from now.

      I’d guess that the ‘flaw’ in the package, generally would not be considered to be what projects the bill proposed to spend money on, but instead, the means proposed to raise the money. Although there may be a lot of people that wouldn’t like the idea of their employer being obliged to deduct money from employees checks specifically for improvements to bus operations and service.

      Expanding the capacity of roads and highways to handle greater numbers of motor vehicles, still seems to be widely be thought of as the most logical way to meet the travel needs of a growing population. Light rail helps on a limited basis. Bike and walk infrastructure is nice, and makes the cities that build it look good..and also offers some recreational opportunity; this type infrastructure though, continues to not be the type widely thought to be essential to travel needs of the population.

      Continuing the ability of the roads to support motor vehicles as the primary means of travel, is I think what the vast majority of people think, or still hope, is the best place to be spending their tax and fee money.

      Not sure that priority view of spending money on roads to meet travel needs can be changed much before the next legislative session starts.

      There’s surely something foul though, about the reality of almost reflexively resorting to various forms of road widening explicitly for motor vehicle use, with the idea that this means of infrastructure change can continue to meet the travel needs of a growing population.

      Road widening, auxiliary lanes and other infrastructure changes of that sort, require more land be covered. Seems likely that gradual population growth could exceed the capacity of any motor vehicle use prioritized road infrastructure changes to satisfactorily meet the needs of the population.

      An examples of in many ways terrible results that major road changes, west of Portland, in the Beaverton-Hillsboro, have brought about, is 185th, north of, say Baseline Rd to Hwy 26. Dramatic changes to that road, support business, employment, the economy and so on…and people as in, ‘the public’, tend to widely accept, or resign themselves to such change; but are the results of that type infrastructure change really acceptable, and worth the tradeoffs? It seems the public widely continues to think there’s really no other reasonable way to go to meet the travel needs of a growing population.

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