Oregon Transportation Reform Activists Network

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The Oregon Transportation Reform Advocates Network (OTRAN) is a coalition of land use, transportation, and environmental organizations devoted to promoting community-friendly and environmentally-friendly transportation. We believe in affordable, multimodal, and efficient transportation that limits pollution and minimizes the consumption of non-renewable and precious resources, including land.

OTRAN acts as an information clearinghouse and disseminates the tools necessary for advocacy organizations and concerned citizens to participate in the transportation planning process in their own communities and at the state level. OTRAN also promotes the adoption and implementation of sound transportation policies at the state level.

OTRAN’s potential lies in building the organizational capacity of each member group through the exchange of resources and information, greater visibility, and the leveraging of volunteer citizen effort diet pills. The network creates a framework for members to more effectively participate in statewide issues.

OTRAN is a coalition of interests, not a separate incorporated organization.


OTRAN then and now

Almost 10 years ago, a handful of organizations—1000 Friends of Oregon, Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA), Citizens for Sensible Transportation, Oregon Chapter Sierra Club, Oregon Environmental Council (OEC), etc.—formed OTRAN.

In more recent years, OTRAN has been dormant as the organizations and individuals most involved have focused on other issues.

With Governor Ted Kulongoski announcing (in August 2007) that transportation funding will be a top priority in the 2009 legislative session [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8], the time may be ripe for OTRAN to play an important role.

Looking forward, OTRAN can continue to serve as an information clearinghouse diet supplements. What OTRAN can do beyond that is up to you. What are your ideas?

Email list

A message can be sent to all OTRAN members via an email list. From the email list’s Web page, one can:

  • get info about the list,
  • contact the list owners,
  • post a message to the list,
  • subscribe to the list,
  • unsubscribe from the list,
  • and more!

Typically, messages should sent directly to: otran at lists.onenw.org (replace “at” with “@”).

WARNING: The OTRAN email list is private in the sense that only subscribers can send messages to the list (without having to be approved by a moderator). But even though it consists of people generally sharing the goals described above, the list should NOT be used for sharing information considered to be confidential.

Web page

This Web page is intended to complement, not replace, the OTRAN email list. Use email for sending brief messages with ideas or comments; use this Web page as an evolving resource and to provide links to other resources.

This Web page is a part of a wiki. A wiki is a Web site that can be viewed using any Web browser. In addition, visitors to a wiki can easily and collaboratively create, edit and link Web pages using just a Web browser—without the need for any special software (such as DreamWeaver).

You can edit this page right now just by clicking the edit tab. (A login account helps, but it’s optional.)

If you have ideas, questions, or concerns about the contents of this page, you can discuss these by clicking on the discussion tab.

For additional information about how to use this wiki, click the Help link in the left sidebar.

Currently, the OTRAN wiki page is part of the EugeneNeighbors.org wiki, which is currently supported as a pro bono community networking project of Artifice, Inc., the Eugene-based creators of PetitionOnline, GreatBuildings, Archiplanet, DesignCommunity, and ArchitectureWeek.

Transportation reform ideas

DISCLAIMER: Following are transportation reform ideas from various sources. These ideas are provided for reference purposes only and are not necessarily endorsed by OTRAN or any of its members.

Blueprint for Oregon's Future

On November 20, 2007, 1000 Friends of Oregon released the draft Blueprint for Oregon’s Future, which includes some specific ideas for reforming Oregon’s transportation system:

Ensure Transportation and Development Projects Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Global warming threatens Oregon’s economy, Oregonians’ health and safety, vulnerable fish and wildlife habitat, and our quality of life. Recognizing these threats, the 2007 Legislature committed to stopping the growth of greenhouse gas emissions by 2010, to reducing them by 10% below 1990 levels by 2020, and to reduce them 75% below 1990 levels by 2050. Strong and decisive action is required.
A tax on carbon emissions is an efficient, powerful way to make those who are imposing the costs of climate change pay for their damage. Adopting a carbon tax at the federal level may be the fairest and most effective means of implementing this goal. In the meantime, there are important steps Oregon can take to reduce carbon emissions and to prepare Oregon communities for a carbon-limited future.
To reduce transportation-caused greenhouse gases, which are 38% of Oregon’s greenhouse gases, the Governor’s Advisory Group on Global Warming recommends Oregon improve vehicle fuel efficiency, increase the use of biofuels for transportation, and reduce the amount of driving Oregonians need to do, by improving land development patterns.
All three steps are needed to meet the state’s global warming goals; the legislature has taken action on the first two. If we are to reduce transportation greenhouse gases another 400,000 tons a year by 2025 through land use, as the state policy calls for, we need to do a much better job of planning. The extra driving caused by inefficient sprawling development results in the average household pumping four thousand pounds more greenhouse gases per year than an average household in a well-planned development.
To ensure transportation and development projects reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the Governor and 2009 Legislature should:
  1. Require transportation programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions so we can meet the emission reduction targets in Oregon law. We can’t meet our greenhouse gas reduction goals if we focus our spending on widening highways, or building new highways, to serve new low-density car-dependent development.
  2. Hold inefficient development responsible for its climate impact. State law should require developers outside urban growth boundaries to offset the increase in greenhouse gases they produce, and should require similar greenhouse gas offset payments from large commercial big box developments and office parks located in car-dependent locations. An offset system is in use today by electric utilities and industries that burn coal or natural gas. Those companies compensate for the additional pollution they cause by paying others to reduce their carbon production. The same should happen in land use, by charging inefficient sprawling development a carbon impact fee adequate to pay for projects or incentives to reduce emissions in our existing communities.
  3. Direct state agencies to better implement land use laws that require efficient development. Well-designed development results in 20% to 55% less driving than standard patterns, with concurrent savings in greenhouse gas emissions. Current state laws—statewide land use goals 10, 11, and 14—are designed to ensure new development is efficient, but these laws have not been applied consistently, and must be better implemented. Special attention should be given to areas where urban growth boundaries are expanded.
Create a Healthy, Climate-Friendly Transportation System
Over the next 30 years, Oregon will grow to more than five million people. Our people and our economy will need a strong, balanced transportation system to serve us. Governor Kulongoski and the Legislature are taking this challenge seriously, and discussing a new transportation funding package to be acted on in 2009.
A well-designed transportation package will benefit Oregon. But a poorly-designed package will undermine Oregon’s communities and our commitment to take climate change seriously. To succeed in a time of limited transportation resources, we can’t rely upon isolated transportation projects, today’s traffic reports, or the belief that everyone can or wants to drive a car. Instead, we must focus on where we want our transportation system to be in 30 years, and start to build the system that will get us there.
Four principles should guide the Legislature’s design of a transportation funding package in 2009. The Legislature should:
  1. Fix roads first before expanding them. The Legislature should change the formula for distributing existing highway dollars to local governments and the state so we have enough resources to maintain the existing transportation system. If more resources are needed for maintenance, we should raise those first before raising taxes for transportation system expansion. The Legislature should repeal the law that requires the Oregon Department of Transportation to spend money on road expansion regardless of maintenance needs. Both state and local governments should include the costs of mitigating stormwater runoff impacts in maintenance budgets.
  2. Create real choices and true balance. One out of every four Oregonians – roughly a million people – are too young, old, sick, or poor to drive. This number will grow as our population ages. The Legislature should require that local or state proposals to increase transportation capital construction funding reduce the need to drive and reduce the number of miles Oregonians drive by expanding transit, pedestrian, and bicycle investments and improving the local street systems needed for short trips.
  3. Make better use of existing systems before funding expansions. In congested areas, we should increase funding for programs such as access management (that increase road capacity by controlling where and when cars enter the road), crash response (because about one-quarter of congestion is crash-related), and transportation demand management (programs that reduce the peak demand on roads by shifting when and where people drive and the method of travel). These are low-cost alternatives to expensive, disruptive road expansion.
  4. Put transportation expansion proposals through a “carbon filter.” As previously mentioned, any new transportation projects must be designed to reduce our need to drive and result in reduced carbon emissions.

Read the full draft Blueprint for Oregon’s Future online

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report

Some recent news stories about the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) meeting in Valencia, Spain…

U.N. Report Describes Risks of Inaction on Climate Change
(New York Times, 11/17/07)
VALENCIA, Spain, Nov. 16—In its final and most powerful report, a United Nations panel of scientists meeting here describes the mounting risks of climate change in language that is both more specific and forceful than its previous assessments, according to scientists here.
Synthesizing reams of data from its three previous reports, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for the first time specifically points out important risks if governments fail to respond: melting ice sheets that could lead to a rapid rise in sea levels and the extinction of large numbers of species brought about by even moderate amounts of warming, on the order of 1 to 3 degrees.
The report carries heightened significance because it is the last word from the influential global climate panel before world leaders meet in Bali, Indonesia, next month to begin to discuss a global climate change treaty that will replace the Kyoto protocol, which expires in 2012. It is also the first report from the panel since it was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October—an honor that many scientists here said emboldened them to stand more forcefully behind their positions.
As a sign of the deepening urgency surrounding the climate change issue, the report, which was being printed Friday night, will be officially released by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Saturday. (more…)
Emissions Growth Must End in 7 Years, U.N. Warns. Report Lays Out Stark Choices to Avoid the Deaths of Species
(Washington Post, 11/18/07)
The world will have to end its growth of carbon emissions within seven years and become mostly free of carbon-emitting technologies in about four decades to avoid killing as many as a quarter of the planet's species from global warming, according to top United Nations' scientists.
The stark choices laid out yesterday by the agency's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) describe the daunting task if the world is to avoid the consequences of a planet heated up by more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) since 2000.
The panel, which distilled research from about 2,500 scientists, avoided conclusions about how much global warming is too much.
"The scientists now have done their work. I call on political leaders to do theirs," U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said upon formally receiving the report yesterday in Valencia, Spain. (more…)
A Last Warning on Global Warming
(Time, 11/17/07)
The language of science, like that of the United Nations, is by nature cautious and measured. That makes the dire tone of the just-released final report from the fourth assessment of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a network of thousands of international scientists, all the more striking. Global warming is "unequivocal." Climate change will bring "abrupt and irreversible changes." The report, a synthesis for politicians culled from three other IPCC panels convened throughout the year, read like what it is: a final warning to humanity. "Today the world's scientists have spoken clearly, and with one voice," said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, who attended the publication of the report in Valencia, Spain. Climate change "is the defining challenge of our age." (more…)

Additional info is available online:

In particular, the last link is the IPCC chapter on what can be done in the transportation sector to mitigate climate change—a good starting point for those of us wanting to think how Oregon’s transportation system is going to have to change.

Puget Sound's Proposition 1

Affected voters in Washington State rejected an $18-billion regional transportation funding package (Proposition 1), with 55% of voters opposed. Proposition 1 would have built more than 180 lane-miles of highway and 50 miles of light rail for the Puget Sound region around Seattle.

This defeat for a major transportation funding package should be a cautionary tale for Oregon, especially as Governor Kulongoski’s advisor Chris Warner recently suggested to the Oregon Transportation Commission that Proposition 1 was the kind of balanced transportation funding package that could be approved in Oregon.

So why did Proposition 1 fail in the Puget Sound region? Read what Eric de Place of Sightline Institute recently wrote in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

Read also the following from Sightline Institute:

Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and Climate Change

On November 13, 2007, ODOT Sustainability Program Manager Damon Fordham gave a presentation on "Addressing Sustainability at ODOT" (PDF 1.93 MB) to Live Move, the Transportation and Livability Student Group at the UO. Additional support was provided by the Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium (OTREC).

Oregon Historic and Forecast Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Reduction Goals

Among other topics, Mr. Fordham talked about the State of Oregon's goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 75% below 1990 levels by the year 2050.

In 1990, Oregon's total greenhouse gas emissions totaled just under 60 million metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent (MMTCO2E). Already by 2000, Oregon's greenhouse gas emissions had risen to just under 70 MMTCO2E. If the "business as usual" trend continues, Oregon will be up to almost 90 MMTCO2E by 2020, and perhaps up to 125 MMTCO2E by the year 2050.

Meanwhile, based on the best science available, the Governor's Advisory Group on Global Warming recommended three targets for reducing Oregon's total greenhouse gas emissions. Earlier this year, these targets were made into state policy with the adoption of House Bill 3543:

  1. By 2010, arrest the growth of Oregon's greenhouse gas emissions and begin to reduce greenhouse gas emissions [i.e., stabilize emissions at just over 70 MMTCO2E].
  2. By 2020, achieve greenhouse gas levels that are 10 percent below 1990 levels [i.e., reduce emissions to just over 50 MMTCO2E].
  3. By 2050, achieve greenhouse gas levels that are at least 75 percent below 1990 levels [i.e., reduce emissions to roughly 15 MMTCO2E].

But a picture is worth a thousand words: The upper orange line is where we are heading; the lower red line is where we need to go. Closing the gap between 125 MMTCO2E and 15 MMTCO2E is the challenge.

Note that the transportation sector (car, truck, transit, rail, air, marine) accounts for 38% of Oregon's greenhouse gas emissions, which in 2050 would be almost 50 MMTCO2E if the "business as usual" trend continues—well above the target of just 15 MMTCO2E. Thus significant changes in transportation will need to occur if Oregon is to meet its target by 2050.

Also note that all these figures are for total emissions by the state, not per capita figures. As the population grows, the carbon footprint for each Oregonian will need to fall even more dramatically than the graph suggests: With more and more Oregonians, each of us will need to tread even more lightly on our fragile planet.

Nevertheless, the State is planning to continue building more freeway bypasses such as the Newberg-Dundee and Sunrise Freeway projects and has proposed a multibillion dollar expansion of I-5 through Portland to Vancouver. At the same time, the State is also promoting an acceleration of deforestation for "biofuels" and burning trees to generate electricity.

The chart of hoped-for greenhouse gas reductions mirrors predictions of the long decline of petroleum availability, often called the "Hubbert Curve" after geologist M. King Hubbert, who developed the mathematical model over a half century ago. Steep rises in the price of gasoline and / or gasoline rationing as the world passes Peak Oil are the most likely means to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Governor’s office, Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC)

The Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC) held its annual workshop on October 9–10, 2007, at the Salishan Resort. Workshop 3 focused on transportation funding and offered a glimpse into the Governor’s and ODOT’s ideas for a transportation funding package in the 2009 legislative session. Chris Warner, who is the Governor’s policy advisor on labor and transportation, and public opinion researchers Adam Davis and Tim Hibbitts, gave presentations. Following are the written materials for and audio recording from that workshop:

  • Matthew Garrett, cover memo (PDF 24 KB)
  • Adam Davis and Tim Hibbitts, “Research Findings for Statewide Transportation Services” slide presentation (PDF 66 KB)
  • Chris Warner, slide presentation (PDF 476 KB)
  • Audio recording (in 30-minute parts):
    • Part 1 (MP3 13.7 MB):
      • 00:05: Matthew Garrett, introduction
      • 01:15: Chris Warner, introduction
      • 02:30: Adam Davis and Tim Hibbitts, slide presentation
    • Part 2 (MP3 13.7 MB):
      • 00:00: Adam Davis and Tim Hibbitts, slide presentation (cont.)
      • 14:20: Chris Warner, slide presentation
      • 28:50: OTC, Chris Warner, etc., discussion
    • Part 3 (MP3 13.7 MB):
      • 00:00: OTC, Chris Warner, etc., discussion (cont.)
    • Part 4 (MP3 12.8 MB):
      • 00:00: OTC, Chris Warner, etc., discussion (cont.)

Governor Kulongoski is expected to kick off his ideas around transportation at the Oregon Business Council Leadership Summit on December 3, 2007, at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland.

Oregon Business Council (OBC)

The Oregon Business Council (OBC) is an association of more than 40 top business executives focused on public issues that affect Oregon’s life and future.

In 1992, the Oregon Business Council launched the Oregon Values and Beliefs Survey. The goal was both simple and innovative: get an in-depth picture of what Oregonians really think, really value and really believe.

The Oregon Business Council is also behind the Oregon Business Plan, a statewide initiative of Oregon’s business community to shape a long term vision and strategy for creating more quality jobs in our state. The plan consists of a goal (to create more quality jobs), a vision, a strategy and 12 initiatives.

The Oregon Business Plan’s transportation initiative is to “enhance Oregon’s Transportation Infrastructure. Oregon must promote creation and retention of jobs by expanding the market reach and productivity of Oregon businesses through strategic, trade-related investments in all modes of transportation infrastructure.” In particular, the plan in 2007 is to “work with the Oregon Transportation Commission, the Oregon Legislature and the Governor’s Office to identify and support enactment of a long-term, sustainable funding options for safety, capacity, maintenance and preservation or Oregon's system of transportation infrastructure during the 2009 legislative session.” The business leaders of the transportation initiative are Steve Clark, Community Newspapers; Michael R. Nelson, Nelson Real Estate (and OTC); Randy Papé, The Papé Group (and OTC); Tom Zelenka, Schnitzer Steel Industries (and Oregon Freight Advisory Committee).

The OBC's ideas around transportation are reflected in a report they commissioned, The Cost of Highway Limitations and Traffic Delay to Oregon’s Economy, March 20, 2007.

Oregon Business Association (OBA)

The Oregon Business Association (OBA) believes that a vibrant economy requires smart, sustained investments in basic infrastructure–from roads and transit to water systems and parks to railroads and airports. For years, Oregon maintained a statewide transportation system superior to nearly any in the country. But now, congestion and poor connectivity adversely impact the way Oregonians live and do business. OBA considers transportation an important economic issue that must receive priority by public and private leaders of the state.

OBA supports incorporating sustainability goals into all facets of the transportation system. Specifically, OBA supports efficient land use that reduces travel distances and increases travel options, a transition away from nonrenewable fuels to cleaner, renewable alternatives, and efforts to reduce greenhouse gases to avert climate change.

OBA supports a balanced approach to transportation that addresses regional connectivity, both within Oregon and between our neighboring states, to enhance the movement of goods via roads, air, rails and port activities.

Multi-Modal Investing

For a number of years, transportation infrastructure investment has primarily focused on maintenance and enhancements of the highway systems. For Oregon to stay competitive in the national and international markets, investments must be made not only in the highway systems but also in passenger and freight rail systems, marine and airport facilities, bus and other mass transportation options.

Specifically, OBA supports:

  • Connect Oregon 2 to provide $100 million in additional lottery-backed bonds for investment in non-highway transportation infrastructure, including rail, marine, aviation and transit.
  • Emphasizing interconnectivity in funding projects by adjusting the weighting system according to the ability of districts to get matching funds and the impact of the project on the state’s economy.
  • Partnering with private sector and other governments (federal and local) to maximize cost benefit ratios.

State Police Funding

The State Police Department’s ability to provide adequate public safety has been reduced through budget cuts, population growth and an increase in highway miles traveled per person.

Specifically, OBA supports:

  • Funding the State Police’s budget at a level that provides 24/7 coverage–139 new patrol positions.
  • Funding of the entire State Police budget through the general fund. Services of the State Police should be given a core priority status to maintain an appropriate level of service even during challenging economic times.

Future Highway Funding

Electric vehicles, increased fuel efficiency, alternate fuels and other changes that lessen the relationship between petroleum taxes and highway use will have a significant impact on highway funding.

Specifically, OBA supports:

  • Continuing fuel taxes as a “foundation” for transportation revenues.
  • Increasing the fuel tax by 5¢ per gallon, phased in over 5 years at 1¢ per year, with increased revenue tied to identified system improvements.
  • Indexation of the fuel tax to construction cost indices.
  • Requiring the Road User Fee Task Force to report to the 2007 Legislature on the development of a revenue collection design that ensures a flow of revenue sufficient to preserve and improve Oregon’s highway and road system including but not limited to:
  • Determining the feasibility of supplementing petroleum taxes through congestion and time-of-day pricing; and
  • Determining equitable methods of taxing non-petroleum powered and fuel efficient vehicles whereby they pay their fair share.


OBA will be a resource to the Legislature for the business point of view and will request that the Legislature charge its committees to monitor large-scale transportation construction projects such as the proposed new Interstate Bridge and the proposal to move the I-5 freeway from the east bank of the Willamette River.

As a business organization OBA will advocate for the following:

  • Public involvement
  • Accountability
  • Transparency

Oregon MPO Consortium (OMPOC)

The Oregon MPO Consortium (OMPOC) provides a forum for Oregon’s MPOs to address common needs, issues and solutions to transportation and land use challenges facing Oregon’s metropolitan regions and surrounding areas. Its members are Oregon’s six MPOs, which from largest to smallest are:

OMPOC is developing a Legislative Policy Concepts and Objectives document. The second draft was developed in August 2007 and will be reviewed at the OMPOC 2007 Fall Summit.

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