Key senator speaks out on Governor’s veto threat as voters flood office with concerns

Pressure is building on Oregon Governor Brown to reverse her threat to veto a long-awaited infrastructure project in southwest Portland. In the past two days readers of BikePortland have helped spur dozens of phone calls and emails to her office. Our community’s voices are helping buoy efforts by legislators who are urging the Governor to reconsider.

Here’s where things stand…

Senator Devlin plans to hand-deliver a letter to Governor Brown today.

I spoke to veteran Oregon State Senator Richard Devlin yesterday. The SW Capitol Highway project borders his district and according to other legislators I’ve spoken to in recent days, he’s the main champion of the project.

Devlin told me he plans to hand-deliver a letter to Governor Brown today. I’ll post that letter once I receive it from his office.

While he said he and Brown have a good relationship, her veto threat came as a complete surprise. “The arguments made publicly so far by the governor have very little rational basis,” Devlin said. He also thinks this could very well be a case of the governor simply being unaware of the background and importance of this project.

“I think if she went out and talked to the people she would have a much different understanding of the project,” Devlin added. “Is it a project of statewide significance? No. Is it a crucial regional project? Probably not. But for the 30-40,000 people around that area it’s a very important project.”


Screen grab of our action alert. Read it here.

Is there a chance she’ll change her mind? Devlin said he’s “Hopeful she can find a path to reconsider.” He also urged people to contact her office and share their opinions. “I would hope as many people as possible would get on the record. That’s all we have left at this point… to try and get as much feedback to her as possible.”

Yesterday I sent out BikePortland’s first-ever action alert to our list of about 700 subscribers and donors. I’ve gotten a ton of positive feedback about it and according to the stats so far, about 60 people have clicked over to the governor’s contact form to share their opinion. The action alert has also been shared on Facebook, Nextdoor, and so on.

Thank you to everyone who read, acted, and shared our message.

We have until Tuesday to tell Governor Brown she shouldn’t veto this important project. If you haven’t contacted her yet, please do so. Her office phone number is (503) 378-4582.

For more background see our other coverage this week or check out the action alert.

UPDATE, 11:28 am: Congresssman Blumenauer has written Governor Brown urging her to change course on the veto threat:

Dear Governor Brown,

I am writing regarding your stated intention to veto Section 83 of House Bill 5006, providing $2,050,857 for City of Portland SW Capitol Highway safety improvements. Your veto would be unprecedented in undermining more than two decades of planning and work on this much-needed project, continuing to put in jeopardy the safety and accessibility of pedestrians, cyclists and motorists on SW Capitol Highway. As a former City Commissioner for the City of Portland in charge of transportation, I am very aware of the tremendous need for these improvements.

While you can give accolades to the overall transportation package that was passed during the legislative session, the suggestion that the SW Capitol Highway has not been appropriately vetted or carefully considered is completely false. The Portland City Council adopted the Capitol Highway Improvement Plan in 1996 after years of neighborhood advocacy and community involvement. The City was finally able to secure funding of $8 million for the project in 2016 after voters approved the Fixing Our Streets funding program. The project’s completion hinges on the State of Oregon’s investment of $2 million. This project was carefully vetted and considered on its own merits by both chambers of the legislature. To imply otherwise is misguided and wrong.

I urge you in the strongest terms possible to prioritize the safety in the SW Capitol Highway corridor and rescind your veto threat for Section 83 of House Bill 5006.


Earl Blumenauer
Member of Congress

UPDATE, 11:58 am: More pressure building. All five members of Portland City Council – including Mayor Ted Wheeler – have sent a letter to Governor Brown urging no veto:

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and

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