The other day, local activist/journalist Angela Todd of PDXReal turned her daily criticisms of Portland government toward the transportation bureau. “What are they actually doing with all of this money?” she asked her many followers, in a tweet about the city’s 10-cents-per-gallon local gas tax program known as Fixing Our Streets.
If you have followed Todd at all, you’ll know that she harbors a deep distrust (hate might be a better word) of city government and she clearly framed her tweet (which has been viewed over 15,000 times) with a conspiratorial tone that was meant to discredit the Fixing Our Streets program.
Two days after Todd’s tweet, PBOT sent out an email newsletter from their Safe Routes to School program. Among the highlights of that email was the announcement of a new sidewalk project in north Portland. The source of funding? None other than the 10-cent per gallon local gas tax.
That project will build about seven blocks of new sidewalk on the south side of North Willis Boulevard in the Portsmouth neighborhood. This section of Willis has been identified by the city as an important connection for students and families who attend César Chávez K-8 School. “Walking routes and challenging connections were highlighted by school communities during a Safe Routes to School outreach process held throughout 2017,” the city says on the project website.
Once the project is complete, there will be a nice new sidewalk and ADA curb ramps between Newman and Chautauqua. Construction is slated for later this year.
And that’s just one of the many projects PBOT spends the local gas tax on. If you can’t support kids being able to walk and bike to school more safely, perhaps you can appreciate that, of the $64 million they expect to raise form this tax between 2020 and 2024, $25 million will go to paving, $13 million will go toward basic maintenance (like filling potholes), $4.5 million will go toward street lights, $6 million will toward making neighborhood streets safer, $5 million will be spent on signals and beacons, and so on.
So that’s what PBOT is spending the 10-cent citywide gas tax on.