Washington County is growing.

This shouldn’t be news to anyone. The need for additional land for new schools, housing and high-tech businesses is well documented. To that end, the Oregon Legislature is, at this very moment, completing a “grand bargain” that would provide clarity for urban and rural development in the metro area for the next 50 years.

Which is why Measure 34-210, appearing on the March 11 ballot in Tigard, makes no sense.

This citizens’ initiative, if passed, would require Tigard’s government to automatically oppose any high-capacity transit corridor project unless an election is held first and voter authorization obtained.

It’s the equivalent of a “just say no” policy for transit, and it threatens to make permanent the traffic congestion Tigard residents already experience in their daily commutes.

The measure, sponsored by transit opponents, would effectively take Tigard out of the running for high-capacity transit such as light rail or bus rapid transit. This would mean that as more people move to the Tigard area, the city and region would be very limited in their ability to provide transportation options to an ever-growing population.

If Tigard voters approve the measure, it would require the city to send letters each year to the governor and other public officials informing them of the city’s opposition to transit projects.

It’s safe to say it wouldn’t take long before transportation grants are directed elsewhere. Right now, a high-capacity transit study is being completed for the Southwest Corridor, which extends through Tigard. If the city is forced to oppose this corridor plan, regional money and attention will turn instead to plans for a similar line on Portland’s eastside.

The measure also would set a dangerous precedent for individual jurisdictions being able to opt out of projects that may benefit the region as a whole. Think of it this way: If Interstate 5 had been approved by Washington and California, but Oregon had opted out, then the highway wouldn’t have much use.

But that’s what this measure is proposing. If a regional transportation project that passed through Tigard — such as a Southwest Corridor bus rapid transit line — were proposed, the city would be required to oppose it until an election is held. In the meantime, the entire project would come to a crashing halt.

Two business groups — the Tigard Chamber of Commerce and the Westside Economic Alliance — have wisely taken a stance against this measure. As the chamber notes, Tigard businesses need transit options. The Westside Economic Alliance points out that the measure will limit choices and condemn the area to a future of traffic gridlock.

With a projected population growth of 35 to 40 percent in the Southwest Corridor through 2035, access to transportation is of critical importance. Passage of this measure would undermine local government’s ability to make sound transportation decisions that can reduce traffic congestion.

We’ve said it before, but it bears saying again, Measure 34-210 is a bad idea — not just for Tigard, but also for the entire westside population.

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