Sources: Number of traffic fatalities soaring past 2018 figure
Despite an official policy and tax-funded projects to reduce traffic fatalities in Portland, almost twice as many people have been killed in crashes in the city this year compared to the same time in 2018.
According to the Portland Bureau of Transportation, a motorcyclist killed in a Saturday crash was the 40th fatality of 2019. That compares to 22 deaths by that date last year.
The increase is especially surprising because the City Council has adopted a Vision Zero policy to eliminate all fatal and serious injury crashes by 2025, and Portland voters approved a 10-cent-per-gallon gas tax to help fund safety improvements at the November 2016 general election.
"We know that some national trends have been working against us. For example, the strong economy and low unemployment. More people are traveling and, therefore, more exposed to dangers when traveling, by any mode of transportation. I understand other cities are also seeing more traffic fatalities this year, compared with 2018," said Transportation Bureau spokesman Dylan Rivera.
Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, who is in charge of the Transportation Bureau, will ask voters to renew the temporary gas tax next year. She also is up for reelection in 2020.
Parasite decrease probably temporary
The Portland Water Bureau did not detect cryptosporidium in Bull Run water in the three months before it told the City Council the estimated cost of the filtration plant to remove the parasite had increased from $500 million to $850 million — and could go even higher.
That does not mean the plant is not actually needed. The bureau did not detect the potentially harmful parasite in Bull Run water in June, July or August 2018 either. But it did from October 2018 through May 2019, when wetter weather most likely washed animal feces — the source of cryptosporidium — into the Bull Run Reservoir.
Regardless, the Oregon Health Authority has ordered the city to treat Bull Run water to reduce such incidents.
The council has approved the construction of a plant that also can filter other contaminants out of the water.
Mayor Ted Wheeler said he was annoyed to learn the earlier estimates did not include the cost of the pipes to carry the water to and from the plant.
Younger residents leaving Portland
Although Portland was once noted for attracting creative young workers, it is now among several large cities that have lost tens of thousands of millennials and younger Gen X residents because of high housing costs.
A Sept. 26 story in the Wall Street Journal said Portland is among the cities that lost almost 27,000 residents age 25 to 39 in 2018, according to recent U.S. Census figures. According to the story, headlined "Millennials Continue to Leave Big Cities," the primary reasons for the declines are housing costs and poor schools.
So it's no surprise that Business Insider recently ranked Oregon as the eighth most expensive place to buy a house in the United States in 2018. The median price for a home in Portland is now $486,000, according to real estate database Redfin.
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