Cost of Congestion Study: Another Perspective

Here is why I think this is an important, possibly historic effort. For the first time in many years, leaders of both the business community and transportation agencies are sitting at the same table, in the same room, having a discussion about the issues we face as a region.

rex_congestion

Rex chairing the JPACT meeting where the cost of congestion report was presented.

Here is why I think this is an important, possibly historic effort. For the first time in many years, leaders of both the business community and transportation agencies are sitting at the same table, in the same room, having a discussion about the issues we face as a region.

The numbers are not the message.

The message is that we are facing a difficult future with many trends converging to make it so and that pointing fingers doesn’t help. There is plenty of blame to throw around. For example, trucking interests really did cook their goose in ’97 when they opposed more money for roads unless the weight-mile tax was eliminated. On the other side, government has promised more than it could deliver (“temporary inconvenience for permanent
improvement”) and still proposes mega-projects that have no foreseeable source of funding, praying for Congressional manna to fall from the sky.

Add loss of competitive advantage, lost economic opportunity and more time stuck in traffic to the list of undesirable outcomes that result from continuing with the status quo. The big deal is that there is a growing understanding that we can’t continue to see transportation through the lenses of the last century.

It’s not working now, and it won’t work in the future.

Now the question is, “What do we do to avoid such a future?” The report did not make recommendations beyond listing a variety of strategies to choose from. Where we go from here is all our responsibility. I hope the update of the Regional Transportation Plan will provide us the means to make those choices. We are designing the process to elevate those projects, programs, and actions that respond most effectively to how they create the community people want to live in. (for an idea of the radically new approach we are taking, or to bid on the contract, see
http://www.metro-region.org/article.cfm?ArticleID=15905)

So, let’s celebrate the fact that when this study was presented yesterday, the Metro Council chambers were packed to the rooftop yesterday with members of JPACT, the Bi-State Committee, the Portland Freight Committee and many interested citizens (a shout out to Chris, Lenny, Scott and the rest of you bloggers!)

Full text of the Congestion Study is available at: http://www.metro-region.org/article.cfm?articleid=16673

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