Metro, invest transportation funds where they're needed
A new effort needs to be made to reconsider ODOT's regional transportation priorities. Our 2021-2024 Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program-Plan needs to be adjusted to eliminate congestion on our roads and highways.
We cannot continue to justify at this time spending $4 billion on the Southwest Corridor Light Rail Project as it has very limited, if any, positive effects on reducing racial inequities, congestion and carbon emissions in the area. Studies reflect that it will not get people out of their cars to where they will use this transit option.
All funding set aside for Southwest Corridor Light Rail Project should be redirected to the Stafford-to-Oregon City I-205 corridor widening project and associated improvements to the Abernethy Bridge. This would eliminate any need to have I-205 tolling or value pricing.
If we truly want to solve regional transportation problems, we must put our "all-purpose" transportation investment dollars to where they are needed most. Ridership on TriMet's light-rail system has been falling for the last 10 years. Even bike commuting has greater acceptance over light rail.
Growth in regional Metro population has increased, and so has the daily "Incidents of Travel Generated," which reflects that light rail is not what the marketplace wants and needs.
TriMet is creating greater and greater operational losses to provide this transit option, requiring greater payroll taxes. Creating even greater deficits in operational losses with the planned Southwest Corridor Light Rail Transit Project requiring more and more subsidies cannot be justified.
Creating a free-flowing, high-capacity I-205 corridor without tolling has greater overall benefits, resulting in diverting traffic away from the I-5 corridor. There is a critical need to eliminate I-205 corridor choke points, and that is something most everyone agrees to. What they don't agree to is how to fund it and whether the negative effects of tolling override the positive effects.
We have for multiple centuries underfunded our roads and highways. Is tolling the best way to add critically needed capacity, by taking more money out of the citizens' pockets? Or does this make things worse, with the negative effects, including inflation?
Let's solve problems, not make problems greater. Let's invest our all-purpose transportation dollars to where it is needed and provides greatest possible benefits.
Oregon City resident Paul Edgar is a member of the Clackamas County Historic Review Board.
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