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Transit funding debate revs up

Transportation in the Portland metro area and how it is funded continue to be hot issues that readers are debating on our Web sites, www.localnewsdaily.com and www.portlandtribune.com, and in letters to the editor. Look for highlights from the online debate about bikes and cars on our July 27 and July 31 Insight pages.

Gas tax is on idle, but costs are not

Let's not forget that the last time a gas tax increase was on the ballot, the voters turned it down by almost 9-to-1 (Money comes for rail, but not roads, July 6).

The state gas tax hasn't been raised since 1993, and construction inflation has been 70 percent in the past 14 years, leaving very little in the way of purchasing power.

All local governments throughout the state have the same challenge of maintaining and operating a system built during heady times of regular increases in the state and federal gas tax, while trying to provide mobility and access to a growing population.

The exception is Washington County, which is able to maintain its roads because of passing three property tax levies that have been rolled into their tax base by Measure 50.

Rex Burkholder

Metro councilor

Via Web

Public transportation is a partial solution

How can public transportation facilitate economic growth (Money comes for rail, but not roads, July 6)?

Very few public transit advocates are willing to even address the question. Their answer usually is a put-down or a comment about how we don't perceive the traffic congestion problem properly due to our background or educational level.

If the transportation planners, advocates and politicians continue to push their pro-public-transit agenda, we need to organize economic growth away from Interstate 5 and the Portland metro region to promote economic diversity within the state.

Mark R. Gravengaard

Northeast Portland

Via Web

Solve more pressing problems first, please

Sam Adams might want to remember those of us on very fixed incomes - i.e., Social Security - for whom additional charges on water and sewer bills to pay for roads would be a real hardship (Money comes for rail, but not roads, July 6). This utility bill - even quarterly - is difficult to pay even now.

My question is this: What happened to the surplus that was being bragged about in the city budget not too long ago? It seems to me that any extra funds should be used to take care of the most pressing problems, and not spent on such things as art, etc.

Richard Fountain

North Portland

If it ain't broke, don't pave it

I attended Sam Adams' neighborhood transportation meetings but find it hard to support the new fees/taxes he proposes (Money comes for rail, but not roads, July 6). Most of the funds raised would go toward adding pedestrian-friendly improvements, which I think could actually add to traffic congestion.

Adams also wants to pave the city's gravel back roads, yet I like these roads as they are. They do soak up some storm water (better than asphalt).

Adams also talked of using some of the funds for more policing, but this struck me as part of a smooth-talking politician's routine plea for more taxes. Such new taxes, ultimately, could be designed to free other funds for Adams' pet projects.

Bob Clark

Southeast Portland

Via Web

When all cooperate, commute improves

Kudos to Commissioner Sam Adams for addressing transportation issues plaguing the Portland metro area (Adams takes Portland street plan to the people, June 22).

And while I commend the efforts to follow through with a well-conceived transportation plan, I will say that commuter behavior also needs our attention. Regardless of your mode of travel, traffic in Portland is congested and growing worse. Everyone wants to get somewhere yet feels unnecessarily delayed by some unknowing, perceived oblivious person or, worse yet, someone deliberately and defiantly not following the law.

Mass transit works only for people who live and work near mass transit. Until we are able not only to support basic road maintenance, but also fund additional transportation, it's simply not a practical option for most.

Yes, I do drive a car. I also log 600 miles or so on my bicycle a year, use MAX and, when downtown, do a respectable amount of walking. I am an advocate of all modes of transportation, and for establishing safe, respectful guidelines to help members of each group travel where they want safely.

With an organized effort, we have room for great improvements in our daily commute through our behaviors. Congestion is ultimately a symptom of supply and demand, or the overuse of resources. Until we develop better solutions and are ready to fund a well-thought-out plan, practice patience and be a good partner in the commute.

We're all in this together.

Erin Janssens

Northeast Portland