Why Local Governments are Likely to Get Onboard the Sprawl-Inducing Transportation Bill

In a word – Maintenance. The City of Portland, as one example, would see about a 40% increase in gas tax revenue available to fix potholes and rebuild streets that are too far gone for routine maintenance.

As one transportation official told me, this would “stop the bleeding”. The bleeding in this case being the $9-10M by which Portland’s road maintenance backlog grows each year. It would probably NOT be enough however to make significant progress in reducing the backlog.

At the County level, the bill would provide mechanisms (registration fee increases) that, coupled with the increased gas tax revenue, would let Multnomah and Clackamas Counties assemble funding for the Sellwood Bridge replacement (with Portland’s help).

So the local folks who understand the very negative greenhouse gas impacts of the bill are likely to do little more than mutter under their breath.

At the same time Democratic House leadership is strong-arming pro-environment Portland-area legislators over this bill. Freshman legislator Jules Kopel Baily, who ran on a strong environment platform, voted for the bill in committee. And he is not the only pro-environment legislator who has indicated probable support for the bill.

On the side of the good guys, Onward Oregon has joined the list of organizations calling for restoration of modal balance to the bill.


9 responses to “Why Local Governments are Likely to Get Onboard the Sprawl-Inducing Transportation Bill”

  1. I just read the bill (from the PDF on the linked page) and I don’t see that much that’s really going to induce sprawl in it. Other than the Sunrise Corridor, which pretty much is just needing a funding source to get built, and the Newberg-Dundee bypass there isn’t much in there that isn’t already a fairly developed area.

    Some of them are upgrades of rural routes, which in theory could cause sprawl, but we already have UGB’s in place to prevent that.

    Overall it looks like fixes for a number of roads and interchanges that are outdated designs that cause problems for cars and trucks.

  2. It should be the bicyclists, and not motor vehicle owners, that pay for the majority share of a replacement Sellwood Bridge. Unlike city streets where the bike lanes make up the smaller percentage of the paved surface than the motor vehicle lanes; bicycle infrastructure on the deck of proposed replacement Sellwood Bridge takes up more space than the rationed allocation for motorists. Call it affirmative action for past discrepancies in the transportation tax policies where motorists have been unjustly treated as the cash cows to pay for bicycle infrastructure, but this time equity requires a bicycle tax so it is the deadbeat bicyclists that pay!

  3. Furthermore, the police should target bicyclists for random muggings, I mean “revenue collection events”–wherein people found to be on bikes are robbed at gunpoint–excuse me, taxed–to fund roadwork projects. And if that doesn’t raise enough money from the deadbeat bikers, random inspections of garages should be conducted, and anyone found to be in possession of a bicycle should have their firstborn indentured into the salt mines, until the collective debt which these freewheeling freeloaders owe to the motoring public is paid off!

    (Cue the martial music)

  4. Oh yeah. Anyone found at a critical mass rally should be sentenced to tow my SUV back and forth from work on their bicycle. Good for the environment.


  5. Err, according to the LPA, there would be 13ft of bike lanes, and 24ft of automobile lanes; the LPA also allows for 24ft of sidewalks, but bikes aren’t allowed there.

    Besides, a sedan weighs around 15 times what a bike+cyclist weighs, and SUVs around 20. Let’s imagine (again, speculating) that the Sellwood Bridge at capacity must be able to suspend 120 cars over the Willamette (2000ft of bridge, and a toyota camry is 16ft, 3700lbs), so that’s about 444,000 pounds (220+ tons) of automobile. If we generously suppose that each of those 120 cars carries two people, and that the average bike+cyclist combo weighs 300lbs: if we closed the Sellwood Bridge to cars, at the prior assumed level of human traffic we would relieve the bridge of 372,000 pounds of weight, or over 83% of its maximum burden. (Notice I’ve also assumed that each car passenger weighs 0lbs, and each cyclist is overweight at 270lbs.)

    The virtue of a bridge is that it crosses a barrier by holding-up weight, not just providing a well-paved surface. We could save money and avoid replacement by closing the existing bridge to auto traffic, but it would be mean-spirited to make the only crossing south of the Ross Island Bridge be in Oregon City.

    Statewide transportation funding comes from gas taxes *and* the general fund. I’ll admit to having no numbers to back this up, but 15-20x the tax burden for cars vs. bikes sounds about right, eh?

  6. Check again, I believe the LPA, at least the Sam Adams version, allows bicyclists on the sidewalks – otherwise 24ft of sidewalks would be unnecessary. 24 plus 13 equals 37 which is more than 24 ft of rationed roadway. At the very least, motorist paid taxes and fees ought not be used to pay for the bike lanes, sidewalks and a proportional amount of the bridge superstructure.

  7. Dan– Terry’s entire line of argument is utterly ridiculous. You’re wasting your time if you are debating with him the width of roadway that cyclists or motorists deserve.

  8. We should just close Sellwoood Bridge to motor vehicle traffic and it becomes a wonderful bike/ped facility…all for the price of some paint and bollards.
    Let Clackamas build a bridge farther south with a more direct route to Kruse Woods and employment areas in Wash. county.

  9. Who are the primary users of the Sellwood Bridge, anyway?

    Sellwood/Westmoreland residents?

    People from SE trying to get downtown, but seeking an alternative to McLoughlin?

    People from SE heading to outer SW Portland or Washington County?

    Lake Oswego or West Linn residents going to SE?

    A river crossing between the Ross Island Bridge and the Abernathy Bridge is probably needed–but where is an interesting question. Part of the problem is that east-west movements on both sides of the river are problematic, even if you’re not trying to cross–the West Hills limit you on the west side. North of Milwaukie, there are quite a few good east/west corridors, including JCB; but east/west movements in the triangle formed by OR224, I205, and the river are also problematic.

    A similar situation exists for east-west movements north of downtown–only one river crossing (the St. Johns Bridge), and only a couple routes through the West Hills (Cornelius Pass, Germantown).

    While a bridge someplace might be useful; for any crossing to be more than a local connection, lots of additional work would be need to be done–work that would be expensive and politically difficult.

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