A new report released by the City Club of Portland Sept. 9 has found that the Oregon city requires $205 million per year for at least the next ten years in order to catch up on its transportation infrastructure maintenance backlog.
The report, compiled by a volunteer committee, found that most of Portland’s roads were considered to be in ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ condition, and bike and pedestrian infrastructure was unsafe and lacking in traffic signals, sidewalks and street lighting.
The study recommends Portland immediately dedicate as much funding as possible from a budget surplus and the city’s general fund, then put a gas tax measure on the ballot for voter approval. Additionally, the committee urged the city to consider increasing and implementing new fees, including a commuter payroll tax for out-of-city employees and new parking permits. They also recommended exploring vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) fees, and lobbying the state legislature for the ability to charge a weight-and-value-based vehicle registration fee.
Under conclusions, the committee stated, “Deferring maintenance is fiscally irresponsible. It doesn’t just kick the can down the road; it also increases the cost of the problem at an accelerating rate.”
The report was released nine months after Mayor Charlie Hales (D) decided against including a street fee proposal on the city ballot for the next year and a half, and two months after a measure to increase transportation funding failed in the Oregon state legislature.
In 2014, a 20-year state forecast budget released by the Oregon Department of Transportation revealed an additional $405 million per year was needed to maintain current infrastructure and prevent deterioration. Without additional investment, the agency forecasts that freight markets and businesses would suffer, 100,000 jobs would be lost, billions more in funding would be needed to fix distressed bridges and degraded pavement, and drivers would pay an average of $380 per year more to repair vehicles.
To read the report, visit: here.