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A chance to tell ODOT what their spending priorities should be

Posted by on August 24th, 2017 at 3:10 pm

Current STIP project map showing projects that are in design (blue), under construction (orange), or completed (green).
(See full, interactive map here.)

If left to their own devices the Oregon Department of Transportation would spend all our money on infrastructure that puts the needs of motor vehicle operators above all else. That’s because despite high-minded claims to the contrary, ODOT is still a motor-first agency at its core with a few reform-minded projects, staffers, and policies around the edges.

Take the “performance report” they released earlier this month. While billed as a serious analysis of a major problem, independent economist Joe Cortright with City Observatory saw it more as propoganda. “While packaged as a ‘performance report’ on the region’s highways,” Cortright wrote in a sharp rebuke published on August 8th, “this document is really a sales brochure for upcoming ODOT investments to widen three Portland area freeways.”

It’s an inconvenient truth for transportation reform advocates that Oregon electeds and policymakers still choose to give motoring perspectives more weight and attention than others. While countering ODOT’s perspective can seem daunting, their policies and priorities are rooted in politics. And politics can change based on who speaks up and how loudly they speak.


On that note, now’s your opportunity to weigh-in on an upcoming cycle of the all-important Statewide Transportation Improvement Program. This is the multi-billion dollar statewide project list that sets the table for what gets built and when. ODOT is currently putting together the 2021-2024 STIP and they need to hear from you about how best to spend this money.

They’ve recently released an online survey, email newsletter sign-up form, and a video to help you get involved.

The survey is short and to the point. ODOT wants you to “indicate whether it is very important, somewhat important, or not at all important for ODOT to spend its funding on each item listed.” Here are the choices:

As any veteran advocate will tell you, the earlier you weigh in the better. Let’s let ODOT know what our priorities are and let’s watch this STIP process closely to make sure the outcomes reflect those priorities.

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

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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. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Eric Leifsdad August 24, 2017 at 3:25 pm

    Sadly, the accessory lanes they want to build are the source of congestion. Look at rush-hour traffic southbound I5 into the rose quarter / I84 and watch uncooperative drivers use the accessory lane to ruin the flow of traffic for everyone. Traffic flows fine until people try to use the extra lanes to get in front (saving themselves a few seconds, costing everyone else several minutes.) Drivers don’t know how to merge or cooperate.

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    • bikeninja August 24, 2017 at 3:31 pm

      True, the Highways and roadways are becoming a kind of ” Lord of the Flys” scenario with the only sanity to be found on the Bikeways in those rare moments when they are free of the terror of Karz and cyclists show what cooperation and harmony can be.

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      • B. Carfree August 24, 2017 at 8:44 pm

        I see the way we use our transportation infrastructure as an indication of where we are as a culture. Most motorists have abandoned any notion that this is a shared resource where give-and-take can make life better for all; sometimes one has to allow the needs of the many priority over one’s own desires (by not creating a wave of braking by darting and weaving, for example). We’re now in a phase where very few motorists consider anyone but themselves.

        As you say, thankfully there are people on bikes to show us how it’s done. I love watching/experiencing the grace and joy with which people share small spaces on bikes. We’re the one mode where almost all of us are pleased to see more people join us, even when that slows us down. Actually, considering how many show up for events, perhaps we really prefer to be in bike traffic jams.

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  • rick August 24, 2017 at 7:38 pm

    I’d like to see what plans they have for SW Canyon Road. I haven’t heard of any plans for the part of it in West Slope..

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  • B. Carfree August 24, 2017 at 8:38 pm

    I’d like to urge everyone to encourage ODOT to accept the now-proven wisdom of induced demand in all projects going forward. There’s no excuse for ignoring proven concepts just because one has been doing it wrong for decades.

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  • Adam
    Adam August 24, 2017 at 10:05 pm

    Feel free to use the eclipse car-pocalypse that never happened as evidence that our state highway capacity is just fine and doesn’t need to be expanded.

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    • Teddy August 25, 2017 at 9:53 pm

      It did take me about 2 hours and change to drive from McCoy to Tualatin after the eclipse on Monday.

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      • Dan A August 28, 2017 at 8:52 am

        If you drive at peak times, it’s fair to expect peak congestion. It’s just like going to Costco a couple of days before Christmas.

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