Dettmer: Help shape our region's transportation investments
When it comes to living in the Portland metropolitan region, what do you think has been the most significant change over the last 10 years?
Like many residents in the area, you would probably agree that transportation congestion has been one of the biggest changes.
I often hear people say, "In years past, I could get to work in 15 minutes. Now it takes me at least 30 minutes, and a lot of times, it's 45 minutes."
Some have said, "When MAX first came online, I could always find a seat. Now I have to stand for my whole commute."
Others can't believe how many bicyclists there are in East Portland, sometimes comparing it to places like Amsterdam.
The growth in the Portland area, combined with a longtime lack of local investment in our transportation infrastructure, has led to the congestion that some refer to as gridlock.
Earlier this year, Metro President Lynn Peterson and the Metro Council created a task force (the Transportation Funding Task Force) to address our regional transportation needs. President Peterson appointed the task force to advise the Metro Council on the development of a regional transportation investment measure in 2020. The 35 members of the Transportation Funding Task Force were chosen to reflect the diversity and interests of a wide range of people and communities across the greater Portland metropolitan region. They represent elected officials, business leaders and community leaders.
Early in the process, the task force honed its key values, including safety, resiliency, equity, economic growth, climate impact, affordability, and accessibility. Establishing these values was the first step in the process for selecting travel corridors for consideration in each county, which were recommended to the Metro Council for review and possible inclusion in a measure. The proposed list of corridors for investment was trimmed from 111 to 13 corridors across the three counties.
The next step the task force undertook was reviewing and gaining feedback from the Local Investment Teams (LIT) in each county. These teams are made up of people in the community, who have experience living or traveling in these key corridors. They have been tasked with reviewing potential projects and sharing their feedback. Across the region, there have been more than 25 LIT meetings, which have included summer bus tours to look at corridors.
In Washington County, the LIT has been reviewing three corridors. The first is 185th Avenue from Portland Community College's Rock Creek campus to the north and south of Tualatin Valley Highway. The second is Tualatin Valley Highway from Canyon Road to Forest Grove, and the last corridor being reviewed is Barnes Road between the Sunset Transit Center and Miller Road. The proposed SW Corridor MAX line will also be included in the proposed measure. The LITs will be providing their feedback to the Transportation Funding Task Force at its Sept. 18 meeting.
The task force is also making recommendations to the Metro Council about region-wide transportation enhancement programs that will be included in the 2020 measure. These include programs like Safe Routes to Schools, Main Streets Revitalization, Active Transportation Regional Connections, Corridor Planning and Safety Hot Spots. Recommendations from the task force are being finalized following the last meeting in August.
Since its inception in February, the task force has held 11 meetings. Up until recently, each meeting has been held at the Metro office, where the public has been invited to submit input to help shape a future funding measure. Later this month, on Sept. 18, the task force will host a meeting here on the Westside.
The Sept. 18 task force meeting will be held in the Beaverton Building in the Beaverton City Council Chambers (12725 S.W. Millikan Way, Beaverton) from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
You can also find more information on the transportation funding measure on the Metro website.
As the task force prepares to make recommendations to the Metro Council regarding the ballot measure, I am encouraging Washington County businesses and community members to share their experiences in getting products to market, employees to work, students to schools, patients to doctors' appointments, and etc. by providing testimony to the Transportation Funding Task Force.
I encourage you to get involved and let your voice be heard because getting around in this region affects us all. In President Peterson's words. "Let's get moving!"
Brantley Dettmer is president of the Westside Economic Alliance's board of directors and chief operating officer of Kaiser Permanente's Westside Medical Center in Hillsboro.
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