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News Release: City Club of Portland affirms urgent need for a new funding source for transportation maintenance and safety

(Sept. 9, 2015) – The City Club of Portland today released a report, “Portland’s Streets: End the Funding Gridlock,” a detailed analysis of the City’s critical transportation maintenance and safety needs. The report calls for “an immediate source of funds to prevent streets from falling into further disrepair.”

Cities across the country face similar struggles in maintaining infrastructure, the report says. The federal government has not raised the gas tax in more than 20 years, even as construction costs have doubled, eroding the purchasing power of federal funds. The City’s general fund pays for many core City services such as police, fire and parks and there is not enough revenue to also pay for streets without significant cuts to those other priorities, the report says. Facing similar circumstances, other 22 Oregon cities and counties have enacted local gas taxes, 30 have implemented a transportation utility fee and two have done both. Portland has neither its own gas tax nor a transportation fee.

The report says:

  • “Portland is at the vanguard of this diversification of mobility and needs to adequately fund streets in order to maintain its position of leadership.”
  • “Portland needs money to fix its streets. The money must come from multiple sources because there is no plausible federal or state revenue stream large enough to fill Portland’s need, none of the potential local funding mechanisms alone can fill the hole, and there is not enough money in the general fund to cover all costs.”
  • “Preventing death and serious injury, particularly among our most vulnerable road users, is unquestionably a primary obligation of a city’s transportation system. Like road paving, safety improvements will need to be funded through a variety of sources, including any new transportation-specific revenue raised by the city.”

“We appreciate the City Club’s thorough look at transportation maintenance and safety needs,” said Maurice Henderson, Assistant Director of the Portland Bureau of Transportation. “PBOT is committed to responsible asset management and working towards our Vision Zero goal of ending traffic fatalities and serious injuries. We look forward to the City Club’s discussion and vote on Friday, and we will continue to provide information on this important issue to the club, our colleagues in city government and community groups from across Portland.”

On Friday, City Engineer Steve Townsen will discuss maintenance and safety needs on a panel discussion hosted by the City Club at its Friday Forum. The event will be held at the Sentinel Hotel, 614 SW 11th Avenue. Doors open at 11:30 a.m.; program begins at 12:15 p.m.

Read the full report at the City Club of Portland’s web site: pdxcityclub.org/streetfee

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The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is the steward of the City’s transportation system, and a community partner in shaping a livable city. We plan, build, manage and maintain an effective and safe transportation system that provides access and mobility. www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation