Highway Robbery: Exurbs win, Portland loses (and pays double)

By Joe Cortright of Portland. Cortright is President and principal economist with Impresa, a Portland consulting firm specializing in regional economic analysis, innovation and industry clusters.  Joe is also a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, and is the chief economic analyst for the Oregon Business Plan, a multi-year, private sector-led effort to develop the state economy and senior policy advisor for CEOs for Cities, a national organization of urban leaders.

HB 2001 -- this session's big highway bill is moving forward. The new feature that is drawing the most attention is legislative earmarking for highway projects around the state. HB 2001 calls out almost a billion dollars in projects to be paid for by bonds that will be repaid from increased gas taxes and registration fees.

The bill's $960 million in earmarks overwhelmingly benefit rural Oregon.  Yamhill county (thanks to the Newberg/Dundee bypass earmark) gets more than $2,000 per resident.

In this chart, Multnomah County gets a little more than $75 per person for two projects.  One is $24 million for East County (I-84/ 257th Avenue). The second is $30 million for the Macadam Avenue/Sellwood Bridge interchange (not the bridge itself)--which is less than 10% of the cost of the Sellwood Bridge replacement.  The amended bill authorizes Multnomah and Clackamas Counties to raise local vehicle registration fees, which mean their residents get to pay double--once for projects statewide, and again for local projects.

I've assigned projects to the counties in which they are located, and computed the per capita amount spent in each county.  Counties not on this list don't have any earmarked projects.

Note: Amount in total is project amounts in thousands of dollars. Per Person is the number of dollars in projects for a county divided by that county's 2008 population. This analysis is based on the -17 amendments.

As HB 2001 works its way through the process, I'll report on any changes to these allocations on my website.


  • Joel H (unverified)

    How could this be different? Rural Oregon has (a) more highways and (b) fewer people than Multnomah County, so of course there's more money spent on highways per person there.

  • (Show?)

    I have to concur with Joel here. Roads are not just used by the people living there, but also by the people traveling through. And by trucks which bring farm products from rural counties into the cities to sell.

    It is also, quite simply, one aspect of density. There is simply less pavement per person in Multnomah than there is in Yamhill.

    In fact, that would be the best way to determine which county seems to be getting a disproportionate amount of funds: divide not by the native population but by the amount of existing pavement in the area.

  • Ten Bears (unverified)

    "... overwhelmingly benefit rural Oregon ... ?

    There's a reason why four wheel drive is important out here - there's no damned roads! Bend may have been the hottest spot in the whole freaking world just a year ago, but today we are the housing hurricane (Forbes), number one in the nation (for unemployment), and for all the pretensions of the Califorinicators who have destroyed my home town WE SILL HAVE DIRT STREETS!

    I'm tired of paying taxes to pave Portland's streets and educate Portland's children. Especially when there's no money left to educate my grand-children. Carry your load.

  • sunflowrs21 (unverified)

    What about the county and city dollars that are going out in the bill? Multnomah co is slated to get $14,601,000 annually and $11,894,000 annually. How does this change the distribution?

  • Elizabeth C (unverified)

    Back of the envelope: 25 million a year out of 840 million = about 2.9%... Roughly one out of five Oregonians live in Multnomah County, that's 20%. Yup, still a problem.

    For those who say "but urban people use rural roads" Yes, but rural people use urban roads in significant numbers, too. It's certainly not a 30-to-1 ratio that urbanites are using rural roads.

    And I'm not sure that Multnomah has significantly less pavement per person than Yamhill. Regardless, it doesn't have 30-to-1 ratio.

    And the bill specifically earmarks pieces of Connect Oregon III disproportionately to population, biased toward rural Oregon.

    There's no way to slice this except a gross underserving of urban interests.

  • (Show?)

    Ten Bears,

    You may not believe this, but we still have dirt roads in Portland. There are many roads in the neighborhoods that were annexed by the city years ago that have never been paved by the city. Get off the main roads and you will find some of the worst roads in the country here in Portland.

    By the way, Portland and its surrounding counties pay for rural roads and schools, not the other way around. The tax flow is from Portland outward, not inward.

  • Greg D. (unverified)

    My family owns a ranch in a county where the population density must be about 4 people per square mile - maybe less. But there are lots of roads. Does "Mom" have to pay for 13.5 miles of public highways that adjoin the boundaries of the family ranch? Spending by county is meaningless to me and should be meaningless to any intelligent person.

    Raise the gasoline tax by $0.50 per gallon. Generate enough revenue to cover all necessary projects, and create a disincentive to use gasoline. But quit whining about county-to-county comparisons.

  • sunflowrs21 (unverified)

    Elizabeth C, If you're using the $25 million figure to calculate, it ought to be compared with the funds going out to cities and counties, not the total amount. That total is about $136 million - bringing the Portland area closer to 20%. that are comparable, which is about $136 million to counties and cities - closer to 20%.

  • OSUfan (unverified)


    Stop bitching everyone. If you look at HB 2001 it has something for everything one - other than the liberal elite in Portland!!!

    Let's be real here. As I look over the projects in the bill, in makes sense. We have a real transporation problem here in Oregon. For Nolan and Cannon to vote against this bill is riduclous!!!!!!

  • Emily George (unverified)

    I appreciate this post, but think it's missing the point.

    Whether or not this is a huge suck of money out of urban Oregon into rural Oregon misses the big picture.

    The big picture is that this is a highway boondoggle that isn't about creating jobs. Studies show that building public transit, pedestrian improvements, and repairing existing roads create MORE jobs than building new roads. So cut out the "this is about jobs" garbage promoting the bill.

    The problem is the people who get those alternative jobs don't have the same juice in the capitol as the road-building lobby and those who think that "if we just build more roads like LA or Houston we'll solve our transportation problems."

    This bill is tying the hands of the next 10 legislative sessions by bonding huge amounts of money and spending it on a political, rather than data driven set of road projects. These legislative-picked projects don't account for actual traffic flows, alternatives that could be done to meet transportation needs, or the huge need to fight global warming.

    It's a throwback to the 1950s at a time we can't afford it.

    Thank god a few legislators got it, but it's staggering how few.

  • Rulial (unverified)

    I have to admit that I'm a bit sad about this post. The last thing this state needs is more us v. them, rural v. urban bickering.

  • mara (unverified)

    Well put, Emily.

    The bill creates incentives for people to drive more and fails to fund the multi-modal transportation system we're going to need in the future.

    We're cutting bus service at a time of record high ridership. We're expanding roads rather than maintaining the system we have, including replacement of the Sellwood Bridge, which carries 30,000 cars per day and has a sufficiency rating of 2 out of 100. We're not helping our regional governments plan for their transportation systems to address global warming. We're failing to provide sidewalks on major roads, so people have to walk in the mud next to high speed traffic to get to the store or bus stop.

    We're very much in need of a forward thinking transportation package, and I'm sad that the one we're getting isn't it.

  • (Show?)

    Who wants to explain why the single largest expenditure on transportation in the bill, is a bypass so people can get to the beach faster? Is that really the most pressing priority the state has?

  • Mike Austin (unverified)

    I'm tired of paying taxes to pave Portland's streets and educate Portland's children. Especially when there's no money left to educate my grand-children. Carry your load.

    Ten Bears:

    You've got it backwards, just like so many of your rural compatriots across America.

    The truth is that rural America receives far more than what it pays in taxes and urban America receives less. This is absolutely beyond dispute.

    We subsidize your roads, your irrigation, your electricity, your phone service, your cable and internet connectivity, your farmers and ranchers, your schools, your social services and so on. Moreover, if we didn't subsidize you, you couldn't afford the true cost of living where you do. Your cherished "way of life" is made possible by the subsidies you receive.

    Most taxpaying urbanites understand that if we didn't subsidize your way of life we'd be much worse off. That's why we - usually - don't complain. We need you. So why can't you acknowledge that we're in this together and stop your whining? The truth is that we're carrying a good portion of <u>your</u> load, as well as our own.

  • Joel H (unverified)

    Here -- sorry for the huge comment -- I'm using county mileage data from http://highway.odot.state.or.us/cf/highwayreports/omr.cfm . Please don't everybody abuse their server; it took it several minutes to generate the mileage-per-county report. The other data is straight from the Impresa page.

    Yamhill does get a lot per mile, but Multnomah County (#5) is hardly hurting. Clackamas County (#3) and Washington County (#2) are also doing fine.

    County      Total       Miles       Per Person  Per Mile
    YAMHILL     192000      146.81      2036        1308
    MORROW      14200       176.91      1137        80
    TILLAMOOK   27000       146.47      1036        184
    BAKER       10100       302.09      1000        33
    WASCO       19000       244.01      786         78
    GRANT       5600        233.34      744         24
    WALLOWA     5000        117.4       703         43
    HARNEY      5000        292.66      649         17
    JACKSON     125000      276.33      609         452
    UNION       12000       195.98      473         61
    HOOD RIVER  10000       89.59       462         112
    MALHEUR     12500       398.27      395         31
    KLAMATH     23000       381.2       348         60
    CLACKAMAS   122000      221.53      324         551
    LANE        82000       430.5       237         190
    UMATILLA    15800       383.42      218         41
    WASHINGTON  108000      153         208         706
    MARION      62000       208.11      197         298
    DESCHUTES   32000       222.55      192         144
    DOUGLAS     14100       328.97      134         43
    JOSEPHINE   10000       133.97      120         75
    MULTNOMAH   54000       167.94      75          322

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)

    Joe, I feel your pain. For once it appears that a transportation funding bill will benefit the rest of the state more than the 4 coun ties around Portland. Boo-Frickity-Hoo.

    Perhaps your whinig would carry a little more weight if you added some historical data regarding road fund spending over the past 1-2 decades. If the data show a significant shift of highway fuel tax and registration dollars from the Portland area to the rest of the state, then (and only then) would the post have any merit.

    The real issue at hand here is the legislature and governor (both democrat) have created a list of road projects and corresponding tax and fee increases in the middle of a recession. If all of these failed roads and projects really needed to be addressed, it would have been done already without the tax hike.

  • Joel H (unverified)

    Benton, Clatsop, Coos, Crook, Curry, Gilliam, Jefferson, Lake, Lincoln, Linn, Polk, Sherman, and Wheeler counties combined have 2,000+ miles of ODOT highways, and apparently no funding in this bill.

  • Elizabeth C (unverified)

    First - you can't count the county data only against part of the package. The point is how much money per resident each person gets in the whole package. So, yes, add in the $25 m to the earmarked part, but do that for each county. Multnomah still loses big time.

    Second, the dollar-per-existing-road-mile metric makes no sense. Just because we've built a bunch of roads in the past doesn't mean we should pour an equal amount of money into that county in the future. If this were a maintenance bill, it would make more sense (though the right metric there would be looking at road ratings and maintenance needs).

    This is mainly about new projects. And so we need to look at where the needs are. And one possible shortcut on that is population. There's a lot more sophisticated ways to look at that. Which is exactly the point - the bill does none of that. The bill has virtually no relationship to a reasonable or strategic targeting of very limited dollars.

  • Joel H (unverified)

    Elizabeth, are you trying to explain this pattern of funding by suggesting that Harney County ($5M) has better highway lobbyists than Lake County ($0)?

  • ws (unverified)

    I'm just now reading a bit about the purpose of the Newberg-Dundee Bypass. So far, it seems that it's not just so people can get to the beach quicker, but so that Newberg and Dundee residents don't have to continue to be subjected to the huge traffic volume of cars going back and forth to the beach.

  • jim (unverified)

    This bill is not about providing jobs.

    This bill is not about providing transportation choices.

    This bill is about increasing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing reliance on vehicles.

    This bill is about letting every area in the state outside of Eugene and Metro Portland off the hook in planning for fewer vehicle miles traveled and reduced emissions.

    This bill is about spreading the projects to buy votes in the Legislature and try to immunize against a referral.

    This bill is about, as Joe writes, another significant subsidy of rural Oregon by city dwellers. It is about dollars that will not be spent on a collapsing Sellwood Bridge - or about any of the other desperately unfunded transportation needs of Metro Portland.

    We get one of these big transportation bills about every decade, and this one would get a passing grade for Chicago-style politics in the 1960s. But for transportation needs in Oregon today, its nowhere close to a passing grade. It is indeed hard to believe we may mortgage all these revenues on this pile of pork.

  • Roger Brandon (unverified)

    I grew up in Dundee and since I was little I've seen 99W become a nightmare- now it's not just on Friday and Sunday afternoons, when half of Portland comes stampeding through on their way to the beach, but it's all the time, with lots of people also going to the Casino- which I feel should have to help pay for the bypass, as they are making massive money on those Portlanders that drive through here in endless convoys.

    Actually the other solution to this problem would be to cut off Portland from the rest of the state- you don't come to us, and we don't come to you! I try to never go up to Portland anyway, as I find the people extremely rude.

    Of course, the beaches, wineries, Mt. Hood and all the food we ship to the city would be cut off too, but it would save a whole lot of money!

  • Dave (unverified)

    My biggest problem with the bill is that it includes no funding for the Sellwood replacement, yet includes a ton of dough for the Yamhill bypass, which I'm not sure is necessary. The Sellwood is highly unsafe and needs replacement.

    However, it does contain a ton of funding for the second biggest transportation problem in the state, and that is the I-5 interchange at Woodburn. As it stands now, the interchange will collapse in an Earthquake, and is entirely inadequate to serve the needs of the community. It takes half an hour to get from 99E to I-5 after school in Woodburn because of the interchange, when the outlet mall is busy, the interchange backs up I-5, sometimes for miles, and when the tulip festival is going on, it takes almost two hours to get from Wilsonville to Woodburn. As a Woodburn resident, I can say that we've been trying to get funding to fix this for over a decade. So forgive me if I don't feel bad that we're finally getting ours. Of course, if you want goods and services flowing in and out of Portland, getting some roads fixed in the rest of the state isn't a bad idea, is it?

  • Rural Molalla Resident (unverified)

    Jim, Pull your head out of your ass and realize that some parts of Oregon still need to use cars as a mode of Transportation. How else do you expect to get your Illegal Alien grown weed thats being grown in rural areas. Maybe you need to exhale and realize that the portland area has repeatedly blown its wad on public transportation projects that were previously being covered by busses and is now being coverd by overpriced light rail that has yet to be proven to move people better, faster, or more efficiently.

  • jjj (unverified)

    Just keep in mind that Joe Cortright is the guy going around the country saying that if you just attract the "young and the restless" you'll create the cities that will be most competitive in today's knowledge economy.

    His favorite case is Portland ... but we haven't heard much about this now that Portland trails most of its competitors in job creation, has high unemployment, and we've now learned even trails our own rural and suburban areas.

  • Martin Burch (unverified)


    Is there some system/metrics the legislature employs to determine highway expenditures, or is it based on lobbying, "my turn," legacy spending patterns, or simple chance?

    Seems to me it would also be interesting to see if there's any coordination between the highway spending authorizations and committees dealing with alternative energy, transportation (as a whole, not just highways and autos), agriculture, and commerce.

    I admit being a relative novice about the workings of the Oregon legislature, having been studying it now for just four years. However, something I noticed in Texas and California, as well as what I seem to be discovering here in Oregon, is that committee organization is based more on "just because that's how we've always done it" than what makes the most sense for serious and coordinated planning.

    It would be productive, I believe, if business organization concepts were applied to legislative committee organization so that communications between legislators was more formal than it is now. Just because a bill is about highway funding doesn't mean its impact is more appropriate for agriculture or commerce. Does that make sense, or am I not explaining my thoughts properly?

    Of course, if folks are following me on this, how we'd manage such a serious structural change is a whole 'nother topic.

  • Bob R. (unverified)

    For context regarding "jjj"'s remarks, here's a link to just what is meant by Joe and others by the phrase "young and the restless":


    "but we haven't heard much about this now that Portland trails most of its competitors in job creation, has high unemployment, and we've now learned even trails our own rural and suburban areas."

    Maybe you should check out Joe's web site, which has an employment chart right on the front page.

    [Full disclosure: I've been involved in deploying the new open-source software platform for the Impresa web site.]

  • Richard (unverified)

    Last session the legislature gave $250 million to Portland for the Milwaukie Light rail extension.

    There, now sit down and be quiet.

  • Bob R. (unverified)

    Regarding the Lottery funds for the tranist bridge / Milwaukie Light Rail project that Richard is referencing, here's a PDF of the 2005-2007 Lottery Fund disbursements by county:


    Here's the lottery's 2008 financial statement:


  • Terry Parker (unverified)

    I'm getting tired of saying this. Is it that you just like deadbeats?

    The City of London just finished a two year study on the cost of dedicated bike lanes and found that by raising driver consciousness, there were a number of knock-on effects. Mainly in terms of insurance rates and accidents at intersections, but the common denominator was that it was the motorists that were getting the lion's share of the side-effect benefits.

    Enough is enough! I want these freeloaders paying their fare share. Cyclists incur personal expense everyday, they generate positives from the purely financial to the esthetic to the environmental, FOR YOUR AUTOMOBILE DRIVING, FREELOADING ASSESS! Deadbeats, pay your own way. You use artificially low priced fuels, you allow businesses to discriminate in favor of car owners in hiring, while collecting and collecting on the dividends paid by cyclists. Then you spit in their eye. Admit it. At the end of the day your weight and bone laziness is the only reason you have to have a car.

    Portland has to subsidize every auto based initiative that comes along, while paying lip service to the bike. Oh, yeah, that brings all kinds of financial benefits. More freeloading! Give it back to the people that earned it.

  • billy (unverified)


    Portland has to subsidize every auto based initiative that comes along, while paying lip service to the bike.

    JK: Yeah. They blow them. Personally, I like the other end, and the best way to do it, is to get people to dither on climate change. Urban density is another important wedge issue, and, if you direct it at people having kids, it's easy to inspire enough fear of the other that people will demand 2 acre, min, lots! The whole post subject can be summarized easily. We're winning. Real estate interests will always win. They have the public by the balls, literally.

    Thanks, JK

  • Bob R. (unverified)

    Still posting as "Billy", JK?

  • Bob R. (unverified)

    Oh, never mind, I believe the Terry and Billy posts were spoofs. Hard to tell because JK is actively posting right now over on another blog.

  • John Davis (unverified)

    Posted by: Richard | May 29, 2009 12:08:48 AM

    Last session the legislature gave $250 million to Portland for the Milwaukie Light rail extension.

    There, now sit down and be quiet.

    OK. You're not sarcastic. Are you a moron?

    There, Dickhead, now go jack off! "Richard". I think I'm going to start calling my dickhead "Richard". Why is it that the further to the right, the more "law and order" a poster, the more they are too chicken shit to identify themselves?

  • ws (unverified)

    I read a little more about the Newberg-Dundee bypass. Those two towns probably deserve a break from the traffic, but the DOT's plans for the bypass also include adding 2-4 lanes to I-5 where the bypass meets it, effectively encouraging more people to drive that route....I would imagine, more people from the metro area, rather than from the exurbs.

    Creating more and better travel routes for bikes is probably one of the smartest ways to move greater numbers of people for less money, at the same time reducing the miles of motor vehicle roadway that need to be built to accommodate projected increases by motor vehicle travel . By all reasonable means, encourage people that want to ride their bike rather than drive a car. We'd still probably need the bypass though.

    billy...terry parker... . What is that? Some kind of schizoid personality thing? From their last two posts, I can't tell for sure which way they're going.

  • Richard (unverified)

    Bob, What's the significance of the PDF links?

    John Davis, Are you pretending you have something figured out or are you just trash talking?

    The greater point on this topic is the hypocritical complaining about this new transportation spending not quite going to the right Portland rat holes.

    With Portland (and region's) Urban Renewal draining millions from the common school fund every, along with many other reckless schemes and detriments to basic services, complaing about actual road improvements is laughable.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)

    For all of the Portland apologists, how much does the rest of Oregon send to Tri-Met every year? Why do the rest of the state have to help Portland subsidize outrageous salary/nbenefit packages for Tri-Met?

    According to Dennis Richardson's e-mail newsletter, Tri-Met benefit costs are 118% of salary costs. For every dollar Tri-Met pays in wages they pay out $1.18 in benefits. That is seriously whacked. And lets not even talk about the Colorado manufacturer that Portland is now majority owner in.

  • Joel H (unverified)

    I thought we had established that this funding is disproportionately going to the Portland metro area, especially Washington County, and particularly so if you count the Newberg-Dundee bypass as a benefit mostly for Tigard and Portland.

  • Joba (unverified)


    TriMet is funded primarily by a payroll tax levied only on employers within their service area. They recieve only a tiny amount from the state, in the form of grants. As you know, grants require certain performance objectives to be met in order to continue receiving that money.

    If you're just going to spout mindless Cascade Policy Institute/Matt "The Screwdriver" Wingard/Dennis Richardson drivel, why not just post links to their newsletters and websites and save us the trouble of having to listen to your ignorance?

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)

    Joba, your Tri-Met is the most out of control public transportation agency in the entire country. The entire state pays, through the nose, for these inefficiencies.

    We pay through Oregon Lottery Dollars that could go elswhere, we pay through extra charges that get passed on by Portland area businesses and we pay through opportunity loss due to the gross inefficiencies and monthly losses that Tri-Met continue to run.

    Tr-Met was unable to meet cost/rider and cost/mile performance criteria at the federal level and conveniently got the accounting rules reviewed in order to final pass that.

    Admit that your transportation district in Portland is woefully out of control.

  • Brian Newman (unverified)

    People should keep in mind that the legislature dedicated $250 million in lottery bonds for the Portland to Milwaukie light rail project in the 2007 session. This is in addition to the $125 million for westside light rail project and about $75 million for the Washington County commuter rail project. Sure, these projects benefit more than the metro region but a disproportionate share of the benefit is for Portland metro residents.

    It is not particularly helpful to examine one bill for winners and losers without looking at the totality of transportation funding in the past few sessions.

    We should be funding projects that make sense on their merits - and that should include a close examination of the Yamhill bypass which I am skeptical of - but the winners and losers rhetoric is toxic and just pits part of the state against eachother.

  • Outsider (unverified)

    Martin, the "earmarks" in the transportation bill were not legislative pork, they were the priorities that ODOT has established through a very public process based on their assessment of the state's transportation needs.

    Who thinks the Newberg-Dundee bypass is a top priority? ODOT does.

    Who thinks we "may" have to spend $3 million on a regional transportation corridor in Heppner? ODOT does.

    And let's be clear about this: ODOT has a very public, very fair, process for allocating transportation dollars. Do I wish that the department gave more weight to environmental concerns? Do I think that they should give us wider highways to mak them safer for bikes? Sure.

    But those concerns should not be used to scuttle an investment in this state's transportation infrastructure that will put thousands of people back to work in family-wage jobs, and will help make Oregon more competitive when trying to recruit new businesses.

    Kudos to Senators Verger, Metsger, Speaker Hunt, and the Governor for putting together a bill that has survived the legislative process, and that may avoid a referendum, without attaching a bunch of pork.

    This is a good bill, and folks on Blue Oregon should be singing Hosanna's in praise of the people who made this deal happen.

  • Elizabeth C (unverified)

    Can you point us to a source about ODOT and your claims? I think that ODOT has dozens - hundreds of "top priorities."

  • Outsider (unverified)


    Look at the 2010 - 2013 draft STIP. You will see that of the 14 line items for projects of statewide significance, the Newberg-Dundee Bypass accounts for 2.

    Please also note that the funding for projects of regional significance, the transportation bill does not indicate that any SHALL be funded, but rather that they MAY be funded.

  • Terry Parker (unverified)

    With only two 12 foot lanes for motor vehicles (one each direction), two 6 and one-half foot bicycle lanes (one in each direction), and two 12 foot wide sidewalks (one on each side of the bridge) for both pedestrians and leisurely bicycling; it needs to be the deadbeat freeloading pedal pusher bicyclists and pedestrians from the Sellwood Neighborhood, not motor vehicle owners, that pay for the majority share of a replacement Sellwood Bridge. Equity requires that both a hefty bicycle tax on the deadbeat freeloading pedal pushing bicyclists and a local improvement district within the bridge impact areas be implemented before Multnomah and Clackamas Counties even consider raising motor vehicle registration fees.

    As for earmarking motorist paid roadway dollars for specific highway projects, that is no different than earmarking (and in many cases a poaching of roadway dollars) for bicycle infrastructure or transit infrastructure, including a new light rail bridge over the Willamette. The complaints by bicyclists, transit advocates, Metro area politicians and other deadbeats who don’t pay their own way and then expect something for nothing from the motorists who pay the lion’s share of transportation taxes is all sour grapes.

  • JTT (unverified)

    Might I suggest that a better methodolgy is to compare $$ by county as a function of total road miles. That might get you a better idea of where the money is going.

    And as someone who grew up in rural Oregon, I wholeheartedly think the Sellwood bridge project is more deserving of $$ than a Newberg-Dundee Bypass. I'll take not having a bridge collapse over a wine-country expressway any day of the week.

  • Joba (unverified)


    Let me break this down for you, point by point, real slow.

    Your original statement was: “how much does the rest of Oregon send to Tri-Met every year? Why do the rest of the state have to help Portland subsidize outrageous salary/nbenefit packages for Tri-Met?”

    First of all, the salary and benefits you are referring to belong to union employees. Am I right? Well guess what: state and federal grant dollars, including Oregon Lottery Bonds, go specifically and ONLY to the design and construction of new projects like the Milwaukie Light Rail and WES. (By law. They do not ever touch the general fund.)

    Those projects are designed and built primarily by non-union employees. Project planning and design staff is not represented and does not receive the salary and benefit packages you are complaining about. In fact, most of the represented employees at TriMet are the Bus and MAX operators and much of the rest of the operations staff. Not project planning and design.

    Therefore, your state and federal dollars have nothing to do with the “outrageous” salary and benefit packages you complain about. Debunked.

    Next: “We pay through Oregon Lottery Dollars that could go elswhere"

    So you consider bond funding (a loan that must be paid back) to be an expenditure rather than a liability? So when you purchase a car or home and take out a loan, you think you somehow get to keep that money for yourself, not pay it back, and count it as income? Wow. Fascinating. But not in the real world. It’s a loan not an expenditure. And those lottery bonds do go elsewhere, often, and are paid back. These projects are no exception.

    Next: “we pay through extra charges that get passed on by Portland area businesses”

    Not so fast, my friend. Your original beef was how much people in Oregon (outside of Portland) have to “send to Tri-Met”

    “Extra charges” have nothing to do with your original argument, (you complained about TriMet, not magical “charges” that citizens somehow pay to businesses). You also provide ZERO statistical factual-based evidence to back up your claim. (Cascade hasn’t had a chance to get around to that “study” yet?)

    And, after all, this is a capitalist economy, pal. If you think you’re paying more for a service than you should be because of some delusional economic theory of how the price is impacted by a tiny payroll tax, then purchase it from somewhere else.

    If that laughable scenario ever did occur (which it doesn’t), it’s still up to the business to pass on as much or as little of the impact of that payroll tax to its customers. So if they’re charging you more, complain to the business. Or shop somewhere else.

    “we pay through opportunity loss due to the gross inefficiencies and monthly losses that Tri-Met continue to run.”

    Kurt, what “opportunity loss” do you speak of? How is a citizen of say, Pendleton, “paying” if TriMet has a bus route that suffers from sub par on-time performance? Hmmmm? You’re claiming that it “costs” citizens of Oregon. How? That’s a very novel concept. Prove it. I’d like to see your statistical proof how an average person in Oregon outside of the Metro area is somehow financially impacted by TriMet’s performance. Laughable, Kurt.

    “Tr-Met was unable to meet cost/rider and cost/mile performance criteria at the federal level and conveniently got the accounting rules reviewed in order to final pass that.”

    Prove it. You provide no source or information to back up your claim.

    “The most out of control public transportation agency in the entire country…”

    Wow, that’s a bold claim with ZERO evidence backing it up.

    In fact, if you were to ask the Federal Transit Authority, the U.S. Dept of Transportation, foreign governments like South Australia, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, top businesses, engineering associations, charitable organizations, architectural firms, and the American Public Transit Association (made up of the most engaged and successful authorities on public transit), they would all tell you the opposite.

    In fact, they would tell you that TriMet is one of the most successful and well-managed public transit agencies in the nation. And they’ve all given them numerous awards to prove it. (Check their website: trimet.org/about/awards.htm)

    So in other words, you’re claiming that a few fringe right-wing anti-tax lunatics (including one who likes beating and force-feeding children) are somehow more adept at gauging the progress and efficiency of a public transit agency than the experts within public transit, business, livability groups, architects, engineers and the FTA and DOT?

    Wow, congratulations, you must be one of the foremost experts on public transit agencies in the entire world, because somehow all of those people not only got it wrong, but actually gave TriMet awards! You sir, are sitting on a wealth of knowledge. I cannot believe you are posting it on a blog. If I had such a pot-o-gold that no one else seemed to know about, I’d keep it secret!

    If your actual knowledge of and authority on public transportation came even CLOSE to your ridiculous bravado and impossible-to-prove scenarios, you’d be fielding requests by the hundreds from major media sources asking to use you in media reports on the topic as an “expert”.

    I’m gonna guess your phone ain’t ringin.’

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)

    Joba, the truth hurts and your condescending attitude and retorts bleed through. You want data? OK 'pal' here it is. The FTA REFUSED to continue payments to Tri-Met because their rates when measured againat mmilegage and ridership were the HIGHEST in the country.

    Here are some other tidbits you apparently are too educated to understand. All public works financed through stste/federal funding are known as "prevailing wage" jobs. that menas that it doesn't matter if the contractor is union or non-union.

    The wage/benefit packages at Tri-Met as reported are for all employees as well as retiree vested benefits. All employees, represented and not, have their extremely generous medical/dental benefits paid for for themselves and their families to the tune of about $1950/month. That annualizes to a little north of $22k each year for each employee with family coverage.

    Those 'grants' you so cavalierly refer to as revenue are not. They are publically bonded expenses from the rest of the state for Tri-Met's pet projects. and Tri-Met isn't paying them all back in a timely manner when they run a monthly revenue DEFICIT of $250k - $330k each month so far this calendar year.

    Now lets talk about the WES tram car or self guided rail car fiasco. How much of a defunct railcar company in Colorado does Tri-Met now have ersatz ownership of? Any payback on the several million dollar$ that Tri-Met "borrowed" from the rest of the state to buy those wonderful pieces of junk? Anyone ever get demoted, fined or fired for getting into bed with a fly-by-night operator with a documented history of underperformance?

    Any evidence that Tri-Met's new WES line will ever generate more than about half full cars? Any evidence that they will ever get more than 25% new ridership instead of the current 82% ridership that just switched over from buses?

    And Joba, or should I say Hut, if the Tri-Met situation was so flippin' rosie, why did they have to go running to the state to get payroll taxes raised yet again to pay for all of their overspending, erh, ah under revenue? How much are Clakamas, Washington and Multnomah counties pitching into the bottomless pit each month for the, ah under revenue?

    You, my laconic and sarcastic repondant are educated well beyond your intelligence. Go take another long hit off the hookah.

  • Joba (unverified)


    Once again, your rebuttal fails to address (let alone PROVE) your original claim. So, once again, you cannot provide us with any evidence that TriMet is costing Oregonians who live outside of their service area. (I'm sure you'll post more drivel as soon as you get an e-newsletter from Dennis Richardson or the Cascade Policy Institute. Wingard no doubt has to take the week off to lock his son in a closet.)

    You go off onto some sort of WES diatribe and you later delve into whether or not counties are paying for it, which again has nothing to do with people outside of the TriMet service area paying for TriMet. (Most of all three counties are indeed part of the service area.)

    You also refer to WES as a "tram" and then a "self guided rail car" proving yet again that you fail to understand even the basic details about the project. Have you even ever ridden TriMet at all, let alone WES?

    You can't seem to get past the fact that TriMet, despite it's mistakes along the way, is still one of the best transit agencies in the country.

    And finally, while we're getting personal: if by "educated" you mean I use big words, basic punctuation and know how to use spell check, then, yes, I am indeed "educated." And it is not a dirty word. You are, after all, on a liberal elitist east-cost latte-sipping hybrid driving blog, not a blog with a signature closing phrase of "Yip Yip" or some other childish thing. And, in case you forgot the election results, we are in-charge. On all levels of government. You poor, outnumbered soul.

    Now, please continue listening to Matt Wingard's diatribe-er-I mean floor speech, take a few more notes, and then post again repeating whatever drivel he spouted.

    (Just please leave out the parts about parenting.)

  • Roger Brandon (unverified)

    Joba = snide, dishonest, elitist and a fine example of your typical inbred liberal propagandist.

    How disgusting...

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)

    I come to this late, so just a few quick comments.

    1. I don't have the option of mass transit in any meaningful way by way of living in Crook Co. If you don't blend in the State dollars that have gone to the tri-County mass transit system for a per capita total transportation cost analysis, you are just playing with the numbers to favor your biased opinion.

    2. The chart several posts up only lists 22 Counties, Oregon has 36 Counties. My County, Crook, is not on the list.

    3. If the food and products we grow and make in rural Oregon don't get to market, then the Port of Oregon (Portland) will not have jobs and money. It takes roads to get stuff to Oregon's Port. Therefore, it is only fair that the roads that subsidise the Portland metro region by being their supply route should be in part paid for by the Portland metro region. Roads don't just favor the people that live by them, but in fact favor the people at the end of them. All roads in Oregon lead to Portland, and Portland would not exist as it does without them.

    ~~~ Statistics are sure easy to manipulate.

  • LT (unverified)

    Steve is right.

    I noticed Polk and other counties not on the list on the chart.

    Portland is not the center of the universe in Oregon, it just thinks it is.

  • The Hand of Omega (unverified)

    Portland is not the center of the universe in Oregon, it just thinks it is.

    By proclamation? Could you develop that? I can proclaim that the Saggitarius A black hole is not the center of the galaxy, but shit still rolls downhill!

  • Joba (unverified)

    Wow. Such amazing wit and charm, Roger. Yet, you, just like Kurt, fail to prove or even come remotely close to offering any proof of the ridiculous claims.

    Childish name calling is usually the last desperate gasp of someone who hasn't the slightest idea of what he or she has gotten themselves into.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)

    Hey Joba, I see that your wonderful WES was shut down today by Cottonwood "fluff" in the air. How much will that extra maintenance set back the 'profits' WES enjoys? I'll bet owning that railcar manufacturer in Colorado looks better and better every day ;-)

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