According to Commissioner Sam Adams and Portland’s transportation investment projects over the next 10 years, the cost of fixing and upgrading arterial streets is staggeringly above $243 million. Considering that figure is over 50% of all transportation investments, the taxpayers might wonder why so much?
Mr. Adams best puts this as the ‘pay now or pay more later’ dilemma, and I agree…to some extent.
The goal of the initiative is for safety on these arterial streets, and while this is important as we have had collision victims via automobile, bicyclists and pedestrians or a combination of the three, it definitely should not be undermined. But does it cost that much to coordinate traffic signaling and add some bike lanes? Probably not. The majority of funds will most likely be going towards replacing the bad arterials with new lanes, which is costly and unsustainable. The focus needs to shift towards sustainability, something Portland knows all about…right? Now I’m fairly certain after three bicyclist vs. automobile collisions in the past month, Commissioner Sam’s office has been inundated with calls from victims, families of victims and concerned bicyclists. This political pressure almost forces Mr. Adams to address safety issues, much to the dismay of safe bicyclists and aware vehicle operators.
But if Portland is to thrive economically and socially, the current position is not sustainable and for the potential Mayor Sam Adams, the motives need to be clear. I know Commissioner Sam is a bicyclist himself, and it’s certainly the most sustainable option of commuting to work, but it seems we’re forgetting about the 70% of Portland commuters who still drive alone to work. The 10-year plan has a disparaging figure of $3.2 million or 0.7% projected investment over the next 10 years, it’s clear that minimizing peak-hour congestion is not a priority with the city, which ultimately drives the economy.
Traffic congestion is placing severe constraints on our local economic potential. Companies are unable to attract investment and distribute goods, employees are unable to commute to their jobs in a timely manner and bus services are held up by traffic.
To put this into perspective from 2007-2009, the Washington Department of Transportation (WDOT) will have invested $5.5 million in their own Commute Trip Reduction (CTR) Program, and an additional $1.8 million approximately for our neighboring city of Vancouver alone. These funds are used to manage the program, provide local employer support and services, establish accountability, provide technical assistance, generate public awareness, and support policy development.
Not only does EcoShuttle help support and implement trip reduction programs, we face climate change head-on, which is probably the biggest subject faced with society today. EcoShuttle hits the road with a good environmental story to tell. We believe an alternative to Trimet and driving alone is needed most urgently (i.e. more than .7% over 10 years), if the future needs of business, residents and visitors are to be met.
One of the best ways to reduce traffic accidents is to reduce the amount of traffic. This simple concept will not only make our streets safer to drive, ride, or walk on, but it will also make our air safer to breathe. Of course more than .7% should of the commissioners budget should be spent on trip reduction. Can we afford not to?
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