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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.
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.
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