So many projects, so little funding

The title of Friday’s article in the Trib says it all. They ask where the money to pay for the CRC is going to come from, and where we might find funding for other transportation projects in the region.

The critical question is probably whether business leaders and elected officials can get together on a common agenda to pitch to voters. That’s part of what the “Cost of Congestion” study was intended to lay the groundwork for.

My question is whether the agenda they could agree on is really the right one for the future of our region.

6 responses to “So many projects, so little funding”

  1. Sounds like its time for ODOT to join Metro in prioritizing projects based on whether or not they really fulfill common goals. The RTP (Regional Transportation Plan)update is the first honest attempt to do that (as opposed to assembling a laundry list), and of course it is under attack from the feds, ODOT, etc.
    When you don’t have enough money to build what you want, then you look at what you really need.
    Steve Clark at the Tribune was one of the movers and shakers behind the fatally flawed Cost of Congestion study, and he continues to campaign for more resouces for projects that for the most part run counter to Portlanders’ shared values.

  2. When we adopt the first reality-based Regional Transportation Plan (scheduled for fall 2007) we should all be in a better position to assess the case for additional revenue.

    Two things the RTP should do (for the first time) are (1) give a clear description of what can be achieved with the money the public is currently paying and can realistically be anticipated to pay in the future and (2) provide measures by which policy-makers and the public can judge the impact of varying levels of and types of transportation-related investment.

    In the current absence of a fiscally realistic RTP and meaningful system performance measures, all we have to make the case for more money today are fantastic* assertions of “need,” a claim the public has demonstrated it will not buy at the ballot box. And because the existing system measurement, the simplistic and out-dated “Level of Service” concept, ignores the principle of induced demand, it does not necessarily point to the most effective investments anyway.

    A successful RTP will not only be realistic for current fiscal conditions but could also help evaluate the cases for varying investment scenarios for the future. That’s probably a prerequisite before any coalition could form to successful push for more funding.

    *”fantastic” in its original sense, i.e. related to fantasy.

  3. does anyone relize that these folks are working from plans made in the 40’s and 50’s. and many of the current projects like the bridge only move the problem to another area, it fixes nothing. other problems have to do with size of vehicals and commercial usage which is going to change big time very soon. we need new plans not modified old plans.

  4. “When you don’t have enough money to build what you want, then you look at what you really need.”

    And what we do NOT need is more money wasted on politically motivated bicycle infrastructure that has very little impact on reducing congestion, but carries a big and less than cost effective price tag.

    What we do need are expanded funding sources like a direct tax on the bicycle mode of transport and transit fares that better reflect the costs of providing the service – including some of the capitol costs.

    Portlanders value their freedom more than anything else and vote in that manner everyday by driving their cars. The Federal Highway Administration is absolutely correct in their assessment and criticism of Metro’s draft RTP plan. Polls have demonstrated traffic congestion is at the top the list of public concerns. Streetcars and busses stopping to load and unload passengers in motor vehicle travel lanes only compound the issue by adding more congestion while taking up more taxpayer funded resources to operate. The Cost of Congestion Study is a reality check that must be used to formulate a RTP that meets the needs of the region if total gridlock is to be avoided.

  5. Terry… I don’t like people not paying per use either, but why do you keep reiterating this attack on bicycles? It’s a hill of beans. We’re talking about 6 Billion dollar bridges that don’t functionally change the real problem, merely band aid it, and the MASSIVE LACK of funds to pay for it. If you took every penny spent on bicycle infrastructure and altered the value for inflation and based it on today’s dollars it isn’t even REMOTELY close to what is needed for this bridge fiasco.

    …But I digress.

    I still think we ought to privatize this stuff, watch carefully with oversight, allow fair margins of profit for increasing infrastructure, and THEN see how much people really truly and honestly want to pay for their “cars”.

    The 8-10% that can’t afford cars at that point can ride on transit, if they don’t live in a place that is served they need to get with the program. The whole distribution of wealth via transportation funds is sickening.

    …and thus,
    “What we do need are expanded funding sources like a direct tax on the bicycle mode of transport and transit fares that better reflect the costs of providing the service – including some of the capitol costs.”

    I agree with you fully on this Terry. But the transit planners, and the mooching auto drivers don’t want real distribution of costs on actual users. Because right now the bulk of the cost is on the “money” people of America. i.e. anyone who makes more than about 60-80k. Especially people that don’t have a million write offs or who choose to not have children. Those people are paying well over 90% of the costs of these things. Of course the corporate execs that dumped money into various light rail segments over the years (re: light rail) should be allowed to do that if they choose, but it should ALWAYS be a choice of where to spend one’s money. Forceful redistribution is wrong on so many levels.

    I think the common term is “theft”.

    …anyway, in summary.

    Quit harping on the same bicycle issue. We all know you really hate those bicyclists stealing some of the road money.

    Yes you ARE right about transit/auto/bicycles/modes better reflecting and enforcing charges to show true cost of operation/capitol/infrastructure etc. For the honestly, integrity, and intelligent use of such systems this seriously needs to be done.

  6. I think the future of transportation in the Portland area will have to acccomodate a number of alternatives. The challenge will be squeezing these into an affordable strategy. I take seriously the strain on taxpayers–unfortunately begun by GWB, but also predicted to continue if planners don’t get their act together and CONSOLIDATE needs into some all purpose strategies. Even hillary c. is talking about wrestling down the beast of deficit spending.

    What’s wrong with bikes, Terry? Their routes often make use of forgotten pathways, it’s great for one’s health (with some exceptions). good family outing, etc. We’re not going to forget the motorvehicle, at least I don’t think so. METRO may like to dream, but I think reality is going to hit home eventually, and that, as evidenced by Robt. Liberty’s statements, includes fiscal reality. But even highway construction could be reduced and still allow for personal vehicles: what causes highway demand is employment commuting. Other traffic is more or less distributed around the clock. So providing mass transit options for commuters, at least those who can use it, should provide less congested motorways, for those who have to have that option.

    My prayer is that commuting by public transit can be made more cost effective. I am apaaled at the rising projected costs of some of the systems Tri Met is proposing. I think the public is going to wake up and be alarmed…..

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