Someone let the cat out of the bag that the Portland Bureau of Transportation is beginning to explore a street utility fee, local gas tax or other revenue sources to augment or replace declining state gas tax revenues.
All I can say is it’s about time. The Portland Plan makes clear why this is an absolute necessity: our policies for shaping the future of Portland in a way that is healthier, more affordable, more resilient and more sustainable are pushing us to drive less – which in turn undermines our ability to maintain our transportation facilities, since the current revenue stream is based primarily on fuel taxes.
That alone would be enough reason to think about a different way to pay for our streets. But in addition the state gas tax is not indexed to inflation, and increasing fuel economy (another good thing!) further reduces the revenue.
Let’s get on with it! Certainly it’s going to be a challenging conversation with voters, but there’s really no way around it.