Link to Owner Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr.

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Colin Herring is a resident of Oak Grove and a student at Portland State University

Will Metro rise to the challenge to provide meaningful leadership on climate and livable streets in their transportation bond? This is the question that I and many of my peers at Sunrise Movement have been asking in the past couple months. We've been closely following the development of Metro's transportation package expected to be referred to voters this November.

Forty percent of Oregon's carbon emissions come from transportation; as a 20-year-old terrified of the future, I know there's no choice but to shift our transportation investments towards carbon-friendly transportation options. Anything less is robbing my generation of a livable planet.

Fortunately, climate-smart transportation investments also improve our quality of life and provide economic mobility for all of our neighbors. As a Portland State student with family in Clackamas County, I'm acutely familiar with the burdens our inadequate transportation system places on those of us who can't afford a car. Recently, while commuting home from a late-night shift at my job I balance with my undergraduate studies, I missed my bus transfer. I didn't have time to sit and wait, so I made the hour walk home along McLoughlin with limited lighting, abysmal sidewalks, and fast cars speeding by in the cold rain. I can't help but wonder how many people in the Portland region have had to make similar decisions due to the shortcomings of our existing transportation options. It's even harder to imagine how unpleasant, dangerous and more difficult this experience would be for folks who aren't youthfully able-bodied, don't benefit from male and white privilege, and are attempting to get home with their grandparent or child.

This commuting horror story isn't just mine; it's shared with many Clackamas County residents dependent on transit. Metro's package has many great projects, but it still includes hundreds of millions of dollars for further road expansions at the expense of better transit, safer streets, and lower carbon emissions. Those championing more roads and the suburban sprawl they bring are probably not the people who have had to wait in a cold bus shelter for an hour or more, will experience the worst of the urgent climate emergency unfolding, and not the people who are unable to drive due to age, income or disability.

THerringhe Metro Council has a unique opportunity to prioritize investments that not only address the dire need for more thoughtful, equitable transportation options in Clackamas County, but to do so in a way that moves our region closer to hitting our carbon emission reduction goals. We can build a transit-friendly, walk-friendly Clackamas County by divesting from fossil-fuel heavy road expansions like the C2C corridor and instead fully investing in enhanced transit on McLoughlin. All we need is political leadership.

Maybe in a decade, a long walk on McLoughlin will be a delightful stroll along a beautiful thoroughfare, with abundant housing, safe streets and frequent transit. I hope the Metro Council has the courage to invest in this brighter, more sustainable future for our communities. My future depends on it.

Colin Herring is a resident of Oak Grove.


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