10 things to watch in transportation world in 2019

10 things to watch in transportation world in 2019

Where are we going, gang?

As a state, Oregon recently passed 4 million residents. There’s seemingly a hotel popping up on every other corner in downtown Portland.

Thorny transportation issues loom ahead for the Portland region as a whole, as the prospect of freeway tolls, Interstate Bridge replacement talks and big-ticket freeway construction projects at the Rose Quarter hang in the ether. Some people are pushing for bullet train or passenger ferries, and any number of ways to get around that don’t involve being alone in a car. This is all without mentioning autonomous vehicles.

In some ways, 2019 may feel like a year of transition, or one of treading water. Here’s what to expect in the transportation world. 

Metro wide bond

Lynn Peterson officially takes the helm as Metro Council President on Jan. 7, and the former Washington Department of Transportation leader and Clackamas County Chair will be one of the central figures driving the region toward a mega transportation package in 2020. That’s still far away but expect to see and hear more in 2019 about what may be included in that package and what dollar figure might be sought. It’s believed to be in the $20 billion ballpark, which would fall well short of transportation bonds in the Seattle area. But big-ticket items like a light rail extension through Southwest Portland to Bridgeport Village and a new or upgraded Steel Bridge are on TriMet’s wish list. Will Portland tunnel freeways or transit underground? Big questions await.

Peterson said the plan would be about a vision to get people out of traffic, not just a package of big projects. 

“We’re going to start this conversation with the intent that we’re planning for action, real action for real people on the ground today and 20 years from now,” she said recently. The final plan should “put us on the cutting edge of transportation and get us out of traffic.”

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