I can fondly remember my days of growing up in Beaverton. So many of the roads seemed rural back then and stretched in between different large farm properties.
So much has changed since then. Those back-country roads have become increasingly urbanized. The tractors that used to drive slowly on them have been replaced with lines of cars driven by frustrated commuters spending countless hours stuck in traffic.
The population here in Washington County has grown so much throughout the years. But the road capacity has not grown with it and that is becoming a problem.
Instead of working to ensure adequate capacity, politicians in the Portland area have decided to prioritize your tax dollars on pet projects that serve a fraction of the population.
I firmly believe in evidence-based policy making, as opposed to the ideologically driven transportation policies that we’ve been seeing in action.
There is no disputing that the vast majority of people in this county and region use cars to get to and from work. They want improved automobile infrastructure.
Instead, there’s constant talk about raising taxes to spend billions of dollars on fixed-route systems. This approach ignores relevant data in favor of predetermined outcomes that do not benefit the average person in any way.
Despite substantial taxpayer subsidies, ridership and the needs of citizens for these fixed route systems continues to decline over time. As inconvenient as officials have tried to make driving, it still has not forced people to take public transportation. Attempting to do so is not only bad customer service, but it is incredibly impractical and increasingly expensive. It is yet another form of government overreach.
Based on these on-the-ground realities, I am opposed to the proposed SW Corridor light rail project. I’ve also yet to see any proof that the ambitious plans to create an underground tunnel will do anything to reduce congestion or be a wise use of taxpayer dollars. I think it’s much more likely to become another multi-billion-dollar boondoggle, like Boston’s infamous Big Dig project, which ran well over budget and many years behind schedule.
I’m not outright opposed to public transportation. I think that bus services should be the first option, as they are more convenient and cost effective. They make a lot more sense, because their routes can also be adjusted according to changes in ridership.
There are transportation projects that I do support. One is the Major Streets Transportation Improvement Program, which is aimed at addressing demands for multiple modes of transportation. I’m also in favor of the county partnering with the Oregon Department of Transportation for projects on major arterials. The Aloha Tomorrow project is important, and worth supporting, because we need to make sure that the unincorporated areas of the county get the services they deserve. We have growing needs that have been brought on by the South Cooper Mountain development, which has not been well-planned up to this point. I also think that the county should look into taking back ownership of some roads, where it makes sense to do so.
I’ve spent most of my life watching Washington County grow. Entire industries and numerous businesses have started up in that time and people have moved here from all over Oregon and the United States to share in the prosperity of what we have going for us. However, many of the transportation polices that have been implemented are not working.
As your next commissioner, I am committed to making targeted investments in our transportation infrastructure that will shorten commutes, increase capacity and be responsive to the demands of the people that live and work in Washington County.