Register-Guard Guest Viewpoint: "Transportation Bill is Step in the Wrong Direction"
In a new guest viewpoint for the Eugene Register-Guard, Chris Rall and Richard Hughes argue that the newly passed federal transportation bill is a disapointment which “represents the last gasp of a 20th century approach.”
They see the transportation bill as failing to take into account changes in how people get around that are happening in Lane County, in all of Oregon, and nationwide. Rall and Hughes write,
Traffic is declining nationally. The trend is stronger in Oregon and among young people and has continued through periods of economic growth and recession (since 2002 in Oregon).
Lane County residents are driving 7 percent fewer miles total than they were 10 years ago, even as the population has grown by 9 percent. Transit ridership, biking and walking are all up, and cities are now growing faster than the exurbs. Young people today are the first generation less likely than their parents to have a driver’s license.
That evidence all points to a structural shift in where we live and how we get around — a shift that calls for a change in transportation investments.
We need to maintain roads and bridges rather than building expensive new ones. If we are going to invest, it should be in the gaps in our transportation system: better transit, more biking and walking routes, and rail. Instead, after three years of development and negotiations, this disappointing last-minute, closed-door deal does little more than avoid a shutdown.