In what’s being hailed as an unprecedented moment for regional transportation reform, Metro Council voted unanimously on Thursday to adopt the Get Moving 2020 plan and send it to voters in November.
Centered around 17 “investment corridors,” the plan could pump nearly $8 billion into regional transportation infrastructure and programs over the next 20 years. If approved, the measure would start generating revenue in 2022 with a 0.75% payroll tax paid by employers of businesses with over 25 employees. (UPDATE: A last-minute amendment exempts all state and local government agencies.) Metro’s latest pitch has framed the proposal as a massive jobs package that will put over 37,500 people to work with high-paying construction and consulting jobs.
Metro spent over 18 months negotiating the details of this package. While it’s not perfect and has received very mixed reviews from transportation reform activists, the overall feeling seems to be that the myriad benefits of the “good” projects and programs far outweigh the few “bad” projects that made the cut.
Despite a majority of Metro Council expressing concerns about the future of a nearly $800 million project that will expand the I-5 freeway through the Rose Quarter, only two out of seven members voted against giving the Oregon Department of Transportation $129 million to continue working on it.
The 5-2 vote came at a meeting just hours after the Oregon Transportation Commission gave ODOT permission to move forward with the project without the rigorous environmental analysis called for by hundreds of Portlanders, many organizations and key local elected officials including Mayor Ted Wheeler and Commissioner Chloe Eudaly. On the Metro Council agenda was a resolution to greenlight funding that allows ODOT to do two things: Purchase “right-of-way” parcels in the Rose Quarter where they’ll stage future construction equipment; and continue to pay expenses related to project development, outreach and preliminary engineering, and so on. (It’s the same funding passed by a Metro advisory committee last week.[Read more…]
This post was written by Cameron Whitten. You might also be interested in a similar post from another candidate in this race, Chris Smith.