Light rail is too expensive and unnecessary
To the Editor:
The King City City Council's July 11 meeting was a bit of a firestorm over the issue of a petition by the citizens of King City to vote on light rail. The signed petition refers to an "Act To Require Voter Approval of New Rail Transit In the City of King City."
More than sufficient signatures were filed June 1 and approved by Washington County and the secretary of state. The council reluctantly voted that it should go on the September ballot at a cost of $3,300 to the city.
The controversial issue of light rail is raising havoc in many Oregon cities.
At a time when the nation, the state, the county and the cities are on tight financial budgets, the idea of building multi-million-dollar light rail systems in anticipation of population growth 30 years from now is preposterous!
The King City Council appeared to be caught off-guard. They have not had an opportunity to deal with the issue, which has been on the drawing board by Metro for the 99W corridor for four or more years. The petition was brought up at the June council meeting.
The object of the King City petition drive had nothing to do with the King City council but with the Metro push to get federal funds and push light rail from Portland to Sherwood, Tigard and Tualatin.
The long-term goals are to grow population density, provide railroad transportation and get cars off the road.
Because of Portland's traffic, no light-rail train can have more than two cars and impede traffic. Thus, it can never carry sufficient numbers of passengers to pay for the service. Oregon metro-area citizens are faced with the prospect of spending millions of dollars to build a system whose operation will always lose money... There must be better answers!
In December Metro was awarded a $2 million grant by the Federal Transit Administration to analyze alternatives for improving transit in the corridor that includes Barbur Boulevard/Highway 99W and Interstate 5.
The full funding grant agreement for new starts funds is appropriated by Congress on an annual basis.
To receive such funds, the entire system (including existing service) is subject to an examination of the current operating condition of the project sponsor; the level of commitment of operating funds for the transit system; the financial capacity of the project sponsor to operate and maintain all proposed, existing and planned transit services; and the reliability of the operating cost estimates and planning assumptions.
TriMet is facing over $1 billion in unfunded liabilities and is in a multi-year process of making cuts.
The USA, Oregon, the metro area, King City, Tigard, Tualatin and Sherwood do not have the funds to pay for this planned system.
The region will borrow against an unexpected $2 million to $3 million a year in regional flexible funds to generate $27.4 million for the Milwaukie light rail project, $6 million for planning mass transit between Portland and Lake Oswego, and $6 million for planning along the Oregon 99W/Barbur Boulevard corridor.
Most flexible-fund projects are put through extensive discussion and public meetings, but the idea of borrowing money to pay for corridor planning has just emerged in the last few weeks.
In September it is hoped that (King City) citizens will realize that more thoughtful planning must go into the future transportation system, and it doesn't have to be limited to light rail.
Natural gas, electric batteries and other sources of clean fuel, more and better buses, and loading and unloading off highway lanes permitting better traffic flow might present possible answers that don't spend $241 million per mile to lay track for systems that can never earn their daily cost of operation.
This is going backwards as many areas had tracks dug up years ago that supported trolley systems.
I can get my hands on factual information and records from places like news.oregonmetro.gov as anyone can. There are detailed maps and reports.
I invite any and all community members to attend the monthly meetings of the King City Republican Club on the third Wednesday of each month, where many items such as light rail are discussed.
This drive was not to intimidate or distress the City Council members, who care much about this lovely retirement city but to permit the taxpayers to have a voice in our future before we are faced with the problems facing other areas.
King City light-rail initiative