Metro and TriMet are continuing to plan for a new bus rapid transit (BRT) line that would connect downtown Portland with Gresham, running along Division Street. The agencies are considering bridge crossing options that include the Hawthorne Bridge and the Tilikum Crossing. The Alliance provided Metro and TriMet with a list of criteria they should consider in evaluating crossing options, including travel time and reliability, cost differences, congestion impacts, capacity and economic development opportunities. Read the letter.
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A two-step transportation demand management (TDM) program is being proposed by the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) as a part of the Central City 2035 Plan and Mixed-Use Zones Project. Step one of the program is intended to be a “basic” program that would assess a fee of $1,100/unit on new residential development and $2,400/ksf on new nonresidential development to provide education and financial incentives to new residents and employees. The amount would be assessed one time and up front when applying for a building permit. Step two will include work with an advocacy group to provide a more tailored program. The Alliance is compiling developer concerns and recommendations to ensure that this proposal does not discourage new construction.
The Alliance has been working with partners to encourage the Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation (JPACT) to allocate funding for project development on significant transportation bottlenecks in the region. JPACT, comprised of regional elected officials and transportation providers, allocates federal funds that flow through the region every three years. The region currently does not have large-scale projects that are ready to be competitive for federal grants and other future funding opportunities. Directing dollars to these efforts now in partnership with the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) will help the region position itself to fund projects that will improve the function of the transportation system and have a beneficial economic impact, as shown in the Value of Jobs 2015 Economic Cost of Congestion report. Read the letter.
The Alliance expressed its support for the city of Portland’s four-year, 10-cent local gas tax that has been referred to voters for the May 2016 election. The funds will go toward transportation safety and maintenance. The Alliance supports this revenue mechanism because it is user-based; has low administrative overhead; requires voter approval; cannot be diverted to other uses per the Oregon constitution and won’t inflate annually. The Alliance has long supported a well-maintained and safe transportation system to move goods and people; without additional investment in maintenance, fixing the city’s streets will be exponentially more expensive as things deteriorate further. Read the release.
The Alliance offered its conditional support for Commissioner Steve Novick’s proposed gas tax. The proposal is a four-year, 10-cent-a-gallon local gas tax to raise approximately $16 million per year in additional revenue for street maintenance and safety projects, and includes an oversight committee to monitor implementation. The proposed project list directs approximately 56 percent of the funding for paving maintenance and 46 percent for safety-related projects. The Alliance is prepared to support a 10-cent local gas tax, with the following caveats:
The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is proposing a number of street closures around Pioneer Courthouse Square for the World Indoor Track and Field Championships in March of 2016. The Alliance expressed concern about potential business impact as a result of the street closures and requested the following measures: scale back length of closures, hire organized traffic management, do positive public outreach regarding closures, utilize sidewalk management tools such as High Pedestrian Zones, use private parking garages in addition to SmartPark garages, promote downtown businesses and plan for additional restrooms.
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The Alliance signed on to a letter with Presidents of Oregon’s four major business associations to express concern over possible discussions between the U.S. Government and the Government of Japan that would result in the elimination of Oregon’s only direct flight to Asia. The Government of Japan’s proposed changes would undermine Delta’s ability to maintain its hub at Narita International Airport. Direct access to Asia is critical for Oregon’s international trade activity, which is a cornerstone of the Oregon economy and supports one-quarter of the state’s manufacturing jobs. The Alliance is urging the Oregon Federal Delegation to push U.S. negotiators to insist that Japan provide enough slots to allow Delta to remain competitive in its efforts to operate U.S. to Tokyo flights.
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The city of Portland’s Private-For-Hire Innovation Task Force, which included a representative of the Alliance, submitted its final recommended regulations for transportation network companies (TNC), such as Lyft and Uber. Portland City Council voted 3-2 to approve the final regulations. The Task Force recommended accommodating innovative and emerging industries such as TNCs and achieve parity between TNCs and the taxi industry while recognizing a few areas, such as insurance requirements, where the regulations vary due to inherent differences in the transportation models. Read the letter.
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Responding to a question from Portland Commissioner Steve Novick, the Alliance communicated its position on using a municipal gas tax to fund the maintenance backlog on the city’s road network. The Alliance is open to a discussion about a gas tax or other user-based revenue mechanisms, but its support will rely on whether or not our previously adopted principles are included. The Alliance continues to urge the city to also identify more of its own financial resources that can be used for maintenance and safety projects and that the maintenance backlog should be the highest priority for spending additional revenues. Lastly, the new revenues should be additive to funds already spend on street maintenance and safety, and reserved for that purpose. The Alliance will continue to stay engaged in the street funding discussion and advocate for a user-based revenue mechanism. Read the letter.
On April 21, Portland City Council voted 3-2 to allow Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) like Uber and Lyft to begin operating in the city during the initial 120-day pilot. The Alliance is participating on the city of Portland’s Private For-Hire Task Force, which is charged with reviewing antiquated taxi cab regulations and the evolution of the private-for-hire industry, including the entry of TNCs. The Task Force’s Phase I recommendations on fares, background checks, insurance, equity and inclusion were presented to City Council and formed the basis for the council’s decision. The Alliance will continue to participate on the Task Force during Phase II, which will review the data collected during the initial 120-day pilot, and make final recommendations to council in July 2015.
On Jan. 6, a coalition of business and civic leaders released an update to a 2005 Cost of Congestion report, revealing that Oregon’s future economic competitiveness and job growth are heavily reliant on an efficient and reliable transportation system.
The 2015 report analyzes the state’s dependence on a reliable transportation system to move goods, ensure access to labor and increase productivity. It highlights that additional transportation investment is needed to maintain Oregon’s ability to remain competitive in a global economy.
This report identifies the current economic foundation of the state and examines how congestion and transportation barriers affect Oregon’s economy, jobs and productivity. It also analyzes the impact of increased transportation investment on the state’s economy and jobs. Key report findings include: