Jan 18, 2008

1.4 Billion Reasons Against Multnomah County's Vehicle Registration Fee Increase

Today's Portland Tribune article about the $1.4 billion dollar cost of the proposed new line rail line from Portland to Milwaukie explains in an obvious way the reasons why Multnomah County's proposed vehicle registration fee increase to pay for bridge maintenance/replacement is irresponsible. From the Tribune's article:

"According to a preliminary draft environmental impact study released by TriMet last week, the Portland-to-Milwaukie line could cost up to $1.4 billion, nearly double the $757 million being spent on the South Corridor Light Rail project, which is scheduled to be completed next year. . ."

"According to both Liberty and TriMet officials, a major factor in the cost is the new bridge across the Willamette River that will connect the South Waterfront urban renewal area to the Central Eastside Industrial District."
"The study estimates the cost of the section of the project that includes the bridge at nearly $340 million — almost one-fourth of the entire project."

"The bridge — which is not a replacement for the existing Sellwood Bridge — also is expected to provide an east-west connection for the Portland streetcar, and to carry pedestrians and bicyclists across the river."

The money to replace the Sellwood Bridge is already available. But Oregon's congressional leadership, our state legislature, and Metro have other priorities. They have already decided that spending $1.4 billion for light rail to Milwaukie, and a BRAND NEW light rail/ bike bridge over the Willamette River is more important than preventing a disaster at the Sellwood bridge.

Whatever happened to government's highest reason for existence- public safety? Blaming the Troutdale City Council for not "playing ball" by rejecting Multnomah County's proposed vehicle registration fee increase is ridiculous. We said "no thank you" to the vehicle registration fee increase because it's unfair to Multnomah County residents. It won't raise enough money to replace the Sellwood Bridge. And it ignores the elephant in the room- the region's leaders have ignored their responsibility to provide safe streets and bridges by making light rail a higher priority.

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