Metro President Tom Hughes spoke at the monthly meeting of local conservative group the Oregon Executive Club last night. The purpose of his visit was to raise awareness of Metro’s Opt-In public involvement program (which has signed up many more Democrats than Republicans); but during the Q & A, the topic of transportation came up.
Metro’s in-house reporter Nick Christensen said one of the members of the club, well-known Metro and light-rail critic Craig Flynn, asked Hughes how he plans to deal with traffic congestion in the region.
Below is an excerpt from Christensen’s story:
“We haven’t seen a new freeway built since I-205, 30 years ago,” Flynn said. “What are you going to do to reduce congestion and add capacity to our freeway system that will improve our lives and make it easier for us to work and get around?”
The crowd applauded.
In response, Hughes listed a few ongoing freeway widening projects in Washington County. He also pointed out to the crowd that in Portland, people are actually driving less than they were in the 1990s.
“Flynn was unconvinced,” reports Christensen (emphasis mine)…
“Every time we built (a freeway), life has gotten better,” he [Flynn] said. “We haven’t done anything since 205 [Interstate 205], and our lives have gotten worse since then.”
According to Christensen, transportation came up again later in the session and Hughes told the crowd that he knows discussions around transportation issues have become “charged.” Below is another snip from Christensen’s story:
“We as a region have created an atmosphere where people think there are morally superior ways of getting from here to there,” Hughes said. “We need to pay as much attention to people using a vehicle as those who use a bicycle or light rail.”
I’m not sure how to interpret that “morally superior” part (is he referring to bicycling?); but the second part makes it clear Hughes wants the room full of Republicans to think he’s giving car advocates their fair share.
Hughes hasn’t made much transportation-related news (at least that I’ve covered) since being voted into office last year. It’s been just over a year since Hughes said he’d like to see “a bicycle registration fee” in response to a citizen’s question during a candidate forum.
Read more about Hughes’ visit to the Oregon Executive Club on the Metro News page.