PORTLAND, Ore. (Portland Tribune) — Portland voters will be asked to renew the city’s 10-cent-per-gallon gas tax that funds street repairs and improvements at the May 19 primary election.
The City Council unanimously referred renewing the “Fixing Our Streets” program to the ballot on Thursday, Feb. 6.
“It’s well worth the dime we pay at the pump,” said Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, who oversees the Portland Bureau of Transportation and sponsored the referral.
According to the resolution approved by the council, “the City is behind in addressing the maintenance needs of much of its aging infrastructure. Portland’s 4,854 lane miles of paved streets show continuing decline, with 52% of the city’s busiest streets in poor or very poor condition, the most expensive categories to repair.”
The council also took testimony on a related heavy vehicle use tax and moved that measure to next week’s agenda.
The four-year gas tax was first approved by voters at the May 2016 primary election. It has already has raised more than $64 million for such projects. The Portland Bureau of Transportation has prepared a $74.5 million list of additional projects that it presented to the council before the referral vote.
Transportation officials also want to raise $11 million from owners and operators of heavy vehicles. A work group has discussed several options and settled on a tax on businesses in Portland that own and operate heavy vehicles. During the hearing, however, business owners disagreed with PBOT about how much the proposed tax would cost them. The council will address the differences at next week’s meeting.
Metro is working to refer a $4.22 billion regional transportation funding measure to the Nov. 3 general election.
During the hearing, PBOT said the Fixing Our Streets program has already paved or improved 40 miles of road, constructed 300 new ramps to meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards, updated 58 intersections for safety and built 53 Safe Routes to School projects that serve a combined 31 elementary schools, eight middle schools and 10 high schools in Portland. It also has provided significant funding for major streetscape projects such as the Halsey-Weidler Streetscape Project in the Gateway neighborhood and the Foster Streetscape Project in Southeast Portland.
Proposed projects on the new list includes $25 million dedicated to paving, $5 million for new traffic signals, $4.5 million for sidewalks, $4.5 million for street lighting and millions more for better and safer access to schools, transit and community services. Spending from the program would continue to be overseen by the Fixing Our Streets Oversight Committee, which represents multiple communities with a stake in Portland’s streets and roads.