Metro staff are preliminarily recommending a $3.11 billion regional transportation funding for the November 2020 ballot. The funds would pay for projects and planning in 13 transportation corridors in Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties.
The largest amount — $975 million — would be dedicated to the Southwest Corridor between Portland and Tualatin through Tigard, where TriMet is planning its next MAX light rail line.
The total is far less than the $20 billion that Metro President Lynn Peterson has suggest is necessary to address growing congestion problems in region.
Metro government relations director Andy Shaw said the recommended projects are among those that have already planned and can be completed within seven years. Metro is seeking additional funding for other projects from other sources.
The elected Metro Council is not expected to finalize the measure until spring of next year.
Despite polls showing public support for road expansion projects, the council previously ruled out spending any funds on I-5, I-205, I-405 or Hwy. 217. Only one new road is proposed, a short connector between 172nd and 181st avenues in Clackamas County. Many of the other projects would improve safety and increase bike and pedestrian access in the corridors, a move Shaw called "transformative."
Major recommended Southwest Corridor light rail-related projects include a Marquam Hill Connector: a proposed connection from a MAX Station on Barbur Boulevard to Marquam Hill, including Oregon Health & Science University.
Other projects recommended for funding include replacements bridges for the Newbury and Vermont viaducts on Barbur Boulevard; Tigard Triangle street improvements; and the parking garage in Bridgeport Village at the southern end of the new MAX line.
Other major recommended projects in Portland include seismic upgrades to the Burnside Bridge; rerouting the ramps at the Ross Island Bridgehead; Albina Vision-related street improvements in the Rose Quarter; and improvements to the intersection at Northeast 82nd Avenue and Airport Way. Money also is recommended for planning a MAX tunnel under downtown Portland.
Staff also recommends that 2% of each corridor's funding be set aside for community building and reducing the risk of displacement.
Many other decisions have to be made before the elected regional government refers the final version of the measure to the ballot, however. Among other things, the council must decide if it supports the mix of projects and planning in the staff report, which was released on Wednesday, Oct. 23.
The council also must decide how to pay for the projects. Peterson opposes using property taxes to pay for them. Other options available to Metro include a regional payroll tax, increasing motor vehicle fees within the region, an income tax and a sales tax.
Much of the preliminary work on the measure is being done by a 35-member Metro-appointed regional Transportation Funding Task Force, co-chaired by Multnomah County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson and Washington County Commissioner Pam Treece. Among other things, it prioritized the 13 corridors where the spending is recommended. During July and August, Local Investment Teams appointed by Metro in each county also considered potential projects in each corridor.
The task force will discuss the staff recommendations at its Wednesday, Oct. 30, meeting and is expected to approve its recommendations to the council on Nov. 20. It will review revenue options and funding considerations at its Dec. 15 and Jan. 18 meetings. The council must refer the final measure to the ballot in the spring of 2020 to meet state election deadlines.
The report was released at a Wednesday afternoon media briefing held at Metro's headquarters on Northeast Grand Avenue. A chart shows that most of the money will be spent in Multnomah and Washington counties. In addition to their shares of the Southwest Corridor project, Multnomah County would receive $840 million and Washington County would receive $785 million. Most of the Multnomah County spending is in the city of Portland. In comparison, Clackamas County would receive only $390 million.
The Metro funds are expected to leverage nearly $1.41 billion in other funds, with $1.4 billion being committed to the Southwest Corridor projects from other governments. Half of that project is expected to come from the federal government.
According to the report, the measure is intended to accomplish multiple goals, including: Improving safety; prioritizing investments that support communities of color; making it easier to get around; increasing access to opportunity for low-income residents; leveraging regional and local investments; and supporting resiliency, clean air, clean water, healthy ecosystems and economic growth.
Where the money would go
The report identifies numerous projects to be completed and future planning to be conducted in the 13 corridors. The recommended Metro spending in each corridor is as follows:
• Southwest Corridor (downtown Portland to Tualatin): $975 million.
• McLoughlin Boulevard (Milwaukie to Oregon City): $200 million.
• Clackamas to Columbia/181st Avenue (Northeast Sandy Boulevard to Highway 212): $140 million.
• Sunrise Corridor (Highway 224 to Southeast 172nd): $70 million.
• Tualatin Valley Highway (Cornelius to Highway. 26): $350 million.
• 185th Avenue (Highway 26 to Southeast Farmington Road): $200 million.
82nd Avenue (Northeast Airport Way to Highway 224): $370 million.
• Burnside Street (Sunset Transit Center to Northeast Kane Drive, Gresham): $240 million.
• Central City (downtown and inner eastside Portland): $220 million.
• 122nd Avenue (Northeast Marine Drive to Southeast Foster Boulevard): $90 million.
• 162nd Avenue (Northeast Sandy Boulevard to Southeast Powell Blvd.): $70 million.
• Albina Vision (Rose Quarter, Portland): $55 million.
• Powell Boulevard (downtown Portland to Northeast Hogan Road, Gresham): $30 million.
You can find a link to the report here.
More details can be found here.
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