Portland's Metro Shows How Much It Cares about Commuters
Metro, Portland's regional planning agency, says in its regional transportation plan that Portland-area commuters can expect to waste more that four times as many hours sitting in traffic in 2020 as they did in 1997. No wonder: Metro's plan calls for spending nearly all of the region's transportation dollars on things other than road-capacity improvements.
On June 19, the Metro council voted to spend $54.2 million in federal funds during 2006-2007 on the following transportation improvements:
How much of these funding will actually increase road capacities and relieve congestion? No more, and probably less, than $7.3 million, or less than 14 percent of the total.
* "Boulevard improvements" consist of converting four-
to six-lane arterials into three- to four-and-one-half lane arterials
(a half lane is, for example, an intermittent left-turn lane);
This leaves "Freight" and "Road Modernization." Of the freight funding approved, $3 million is for studies and data collection, $1 million is for "town center pedestrian improvements," and $2 million is for preliminary engineering work. Only the last $2 million might be counted toward "capacity improvements," but of course it will not itself increase capacities.
The road modernization funding consists of four projects, mostly on suburban collector roads. Averaging less than $1.3 million each, these projects will do little to ease congestion in the Portland area.
Metro is squandering much of the rest of the funds on projects that
will do more to increase congestion than reduce it.
All of these projects are funded out of federal gasoline taxes and other highway user fees.
So, if you are a Portlander, and someone says Metro cares about congestion,
you can answer, "Yes, they care so much they want to make more
of it." If you live elsewhere and someone says your city should
follow Portland's example, you can say, "No, thank you, we have
enough congestion already."
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