How Will the Transportation Package Bill Invest in Walking, Bicycling, and Public Transit?

Last week Oregonians came out in force at the State Capitol to testify in support of transit, safety, walking, bicycling, and Safe Routes to School in public hearings on HB 2017, the statewide transportation funding package. Thanks to all The Street Trust members who spoke out as well as our partners in the Transportation for Oregon’s Future and For Every Kid Coalitions.

We hope to see an amended bill by next week with hearings likely to be scheduled next Monday and/or Wednesday.

Based on the HB 2017 -3 amendments under consideration and the legislative discussion from the Joint Transportation Committee on Preservation and Modernization hearing on 6/8, recorded here, we’re expecting to see the following investments in transit, walking, bicycling, and Safe Routes to School in the package. Our estimate is that the total investment will be approximately $1.394 billion over the 10-year-life of the bill:

This level of investment in bicycling, walking, and transit is unprecedented in Oregon and is a testament to those who care about community health, safety, equity, and mobility sharing their priorities with legislators. We are excited about the prospect of a significant increase in funding for our priorities and cognizant of the many other investments and policy changes under consideration.

What can we expect from the overall package?

We don’t know where the final numbers will land, but the bill language released previously includes earmarks for a variety projects, some of which are valuable safety projects and some of which we would want to know the environmental impacts of and ask lawmakers to ensure that good data and tools like congestion pricing are used to mitigate that impact. The amendments under consideration could also mean that 80% of the road funding investment outside of specific earmarks be dedicated to repair and maintenance of the existing system, road safety improvements, and seismic safety investments.

The bill includes many revenue sources including gas tax and vehicles registration fee increases, a motor vehicle sales tax, weight/mile taxes, and lottery bonds. We are also expecting to see the final package include a $15 sales tax on adult bicycles as part of the funding dedicated to off-street bicycle and pedestrian paths.

This estimate is still a work in progress. Legislators are currently working on new amendments, we’ve got some question about how, exactly, the new ConnectOregon program (Bicycle and Pedestrian Trail Funding) will work, and nothing will set in stone until a supermajority of both houses of Oregon’s legislature vote in support of a final bill.

We’re anxiously awaiting the amended bill, so stay tuned. . .

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