As most people probably know, there has been a recent proposal to extend the Portland Streetcar into our city.
From reading all of the news and following the progression of the project, I am getting the sense that a majority is against this idea moving forward. Funding has become an omnipresent issue, and will continue to be throughout the planning and development phase. The question of money, especially where it's coming from and how much, is a popular first reaction when I bring it up to a tax-paying citizen of Lake Oswego.
I ask, 'What do you think of this whole thing, do you like it?' They have answered, 'I don't want to pay taxes for it.' For some it is as simple as this, but I have heard other factors that are adding to the hesitation and skepticism towards the project. Increased foot traffic, decreased safety, construction on private property and the tedious task of changing State Street's layout have all been brought up.
I personally am in support of the streetcar and am excited about the possibilities that an enhanced public transportation system can bring to the Metro area. I find that Lake Oswego residents' fears are valid, but are mainly focused on short-term inconveniences. My excitement spurs from looking forward into the future of sustainable movements, and the possibility of inspiring similar projects locally, in Oregon, and across the whole nation.
I believe that the next 20 years will be defined by humanity's ability to adapt in a world with diminishing fossil fuels and increasing environmental issues. The transition process will need to be extensive, and I am optimistic about changes that need to be made. One of those changes focuses on how Americans decide to transport themselves to and from the places they need to be. The days of individuals driving on crowded freeways need to come to an end.
I believe that the best way to promote a transition away from automobiles would be to develop an extensive public transportation system that connects all people to the places they need to be. Having citizens use a transit system, riding with other members of their community and decreasing their impact on the environment, would promote a healthier and more sustainable future. I understand that the streetcar may seem like it has minimal impact on a global scale, but I feel like there needs to be support for any potential project that focuses on increasing public transportation. It will inspire future projects and increase the awareness of developing a more sustainable form of transportation. We need to think long-term and become mindful of how our decisions today influence the people and places of the future.
I sense that the young people of this city are in support of this project, and are excited for similar reasons to mine. The idea of connectedness is something that I discuss quite often with my friends and classmates. Connecting people to new cultures, places and ideas is something I will always support. Seeing and hearing the approval from the younger generation, adds to my optimism of how the world may take shape in the near future. The young people need to be included as a variable in whether or not anyone decides to disapprove of this project.
Daniel Freeman is a Lake Oswego resident, a 2010 graduate of Lake Oswego High School and a student at Portland State University.