The "right time" for transportation investments that benefit our communities, provide cleaner air, and reduce our reliance on climate emissions already passed a while ago; these investments are long overdue and the impact they have on community members is already felt.
The regional transportation measure (Measure 26-218) to appear on the ballot this November is an unprecedented response to calls from the community for long overdue investments in safety, accessibility and affordability. Through safe crossings, sidewalks, bikeways, transit access and reliability, and free transit fares for youth across the region, these basic and needed investments will make an enormous difference in all our lives and help create good, green, family-wage jobs.
It's hard to believe it's taken until 2020 to create a set of transportation projects that's supported by people of all ages and abilities, from across the region. Communities from Aloha to Rosewood to Oak Grove have been deeply under-served in basic needs such as sidewalks and reliable public transit. We have failed our communities and our planet by not prioritizing the transportation investments that will reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and make our streets the safest, easiest, most affordable way to get where we need to go — on foot, by bike, or on a bus.
We helped craft Measure 26-218 as members of Getting There Together Coalition, a group of more than 60 local and community non-profits in the region. As a coalition, we represent climate justice advocates, youth, older adults, transit dependent workers, low income, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) community members, disability advocates, and people from across the tri-county greater Portland region. This package of investments represents, for the first time, the needs of real people in the community, who showed up and spoke truth to power about transportation and climate needs that have been for too long ignored. Sure, no single measure will fix everything, but that is no reason to do nothing or put it off, again. This measure is a huge step in the right direction — toward safety, toward affordability, toward climate emissions reductions, and toward creating a just transportation system that is more accessible for all.
Frankly, we're insulted but not surprised that large, multinational corporations would swoop in at the last minute to say these investments should be delayed — the same corporate interests that always tell us it's not the right time to address our needs. We worked hard to ensure that funding these investments would not — and does not — touch the pockets of people in our community who are already strapped during a global pandemic; instead, the measure protects small businesses who represent the backbone of who we are as a region.
The time is now for these investments: We can do our part to save the planet and put people to work in good green jobs, we can reduce our climate emissions by investing in our transportation system, and we can provide the ability for everyone to get around our region — affordably, easily and safely. Join us in rethinking the next generation of transportation investments, and making sure they work for everyone to build the better future we deserve — by voting "yes" on 26-218 when you receive your ballot in October.
Members of the Getting There Together Coalition
Richa Poudyal: The Street Trust
Brett Morgan: 1000 Friends of Oregon
Edin Cook and Micha Bishop: Sunrise PDX
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