Transportation bill passes; West Linn benefits from gas tax increase
SALEM — A transportation package that will bring nearly $647,000 a year in new gas tax money to West Linn has been sent to Gov. Kate Brown for her signature after the Senate passed the bill 22 to 7 last week.
"This is a critical and most important piece of legislation. This is what the 2017 session will be known for 20, 30, 40 years from now," said Sen. Rod. Monroe, D-Portland, one of 14 lawmakers who crafted the plan, which will raise an average of $11 million a year over the next 10 years for Clackamas County and $5.3 billion statewide.
The Senate's vote came on July 6; a day earlier, the House of Representatives passed the bill 39 to 20. Because of tax hikes and new taxes, the bill required a three-fifths majority vote in each chamber, according to the Oregon Constitution.
The 10-year plan includes hikes in the gas tax and increases to registration and title fees, as well as new taxes on payroll, new vehicle purchases and bicycles priced at more than $200.
The package also calls for congestion-priced tolling at some of Portland's bottlenecks. The Oregon Transportation Commission is responsible for establishing the program, which could toll certain lanes on Interstate 5 and Interstate 205 to pay for congestion-busting projects.
Among projects specified in the plan are congestion relief on Highway 217, widening northbound Interstate 205 from Powell Boulevard to Interstate 84 and initial investment in adding new lanes to Interstate 5 through Portland's Rose Quarter.
State lawmakers each received a summary last week of projects in their respective districts that are included in the plan. Rep. Ann Lininger, whose House District 38 includes Lake Oswego, said the package "will fund essential improvements to our roads, bridges, transit systems and bike routes."
"It will support good jobs around our state," Lininger said, "and help the people in our local community."
Statewide, the entire package will provide $130 million a year to improve the connectivity and frequency of bus service in rural and urban communities, $10 million per year to create safe routes to schools (by funding crosswalks, lights, sidewalks and other improvements to school zones) and $1.2 million per year for bike/pedestrain pathways, among other things.
The plan hikes the state's existing 30-cent gas tax gradually over a seven-year period to a total of 40 cents. Registration fees would climb by $13 and title fees by $16 in 2018. Beginning in 2020, the state would move toward a tiered system of registration and title fees based on a vehicle's gas mileage.
The plan also levies a 0.5 percent tax on the purchase of new vehicles. About $12 million of the revenue from the proceeds of the vehicle excise tax would be used for rebates on the purchase of electric vehicles.
A $15 flat fee would be charged on the purchase of new adult bicycles with a price tag of more than $200. The proceeds of that would go toward paying for commuter bicycle and pedestrian paths.