PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — It’s no secret: Roads in the Portland metro region are clogged and the infrastructure needs to be upgraded. So ODOT’s Urban Mobility Strategy is working on all the projects in a cohesive and equitable way.
Officials with ODOT said relieving the traffic bottleneck and funding these improvements on I-205, in the Rose Quarter, Abernethy Bridge and others are their top priorities — but they’re also committed to equity.
Tia Williams, the communications director for ODOT’s Urban Mobility Office, said equity is a focus because they have seen what happens when it is not prioritized.
“For a long time equity wasn’t a consideration and we see the impacts to community of concern, communities of color, low-income communities, you know, where there’s already barriers to access transportation options get exasperated,” Williams said.
She said it’s important to understand the community’s needs from the beginning to change the tide of inequity. That includes putting money in places that haven’t received as much funding in the past — but are things that will be included when the planning process begins.
The area, Williams said, is “growing rapidly and we’re continuing to grow, 23% by 2040. So folks are obviously interested in the area and the demand on the system is not going away.”
Officials with ODOT say tolling is the only way to make these improvements happen.
Clackamas County residents and elected leaders have been vocal in their opposition to tolling along a stretch of I-205 because they say they will pay for the bulk of the bill.
However, traffic officials expect improvements to I-205 could reduce congestion from 14 hours to 2 hours. ODOT plans to add a third lane in both directions with shoulders that could accommodate buses.
ODOT will have a webinar with Clackamas County residents this week to show some early modeling as well as showing drivers and riders what they should expect as the project gets underway.
These projects all were pushed to the top of the importance pile when house bill 2017 was passed nearly 5 years ago.