Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Legislative Update - 16.5 - 2001: A Transportation Odyssey

[updated Wednesday - see below]

Some details are finally public! House Bill 2001 has an official engrossed A version. It's all about electric cars. Nothing about bikes. No increase in the state highway fund, no non-motorized transportation fund. Disappointing. Excerpts directly from the summary:
Directs Department of Transportation to develop one or more pilot programs to implement congestion pricing in Portland metropolitan area.

Directs Department of Transportation to develop least-cost planning model.

Authorizes issuance of lottery bonds for transportation projects funded from Multimodal Transportation Fund.

Defines “medium-speed electric vehicle.” [lots more about electric cars]

Directs Oregon Transportation Commission to work with stakeholders to review and update criteria used to select projects within Statewide Transportation Improvement Program.

Directs Department of Transportation to develop environmental performance standards for highway projects.

Directs Oregon Transportation Commission to determine amount of federal transportation funds available to Department of Transportation that may be used for eligible nonhighway projects.

Permits city with population of more than 500,000 to establish vehicle registration fees.

Prohibits local government from enacting or enforcing provision regulating use of fuel in motor vehicles.

Changes certain vehicle fees and motor vehicle fuel tax.

Extends credit against corporate excise or corporate income tax for corporation that provides motor vehicle insurance issued under mile-based or time-based rating plan.
House Transportation Committee made no recommendation, and passed on to Revenue and then Ways and Means.

We'll pass on analysis and comment as they come.


1000 Friends reports
Currently, the package does not contain the planning component to reduce global warming pollution from cars and trucks. This element, which establishes planning requirements for Oregon’s three largest metropolitan areas, has been broadly endorsed by transportation stakeholders and is important for a balanced transportation package that will provide jobs, lower transportation costs, and build stronger, healthier communities.
The BTA also has an update with about 230 bike/ped projects statewide, most of which are currently unfunded.

Thursday Update. It gets better!

The Mercury is reporting that Governor Kulongoski is pressing the Oregon Transportation Commission for a bunch of earmarks he's not permitting Legislators to insert into HB 2001. Included in the list on pp 11 and 17 are three Salem-area projects. Ostensibly they "enhance safety" but in all cases they degrade the bicycle and pedestrian environment. One, in fact, threatens the Union Street Bridge: Widening the intersection at Wallace & Glen Creek and making dual-turns, which are very difficult for bicycles and pedestrians to navigate. This will make reaching the bridge even more difficult for walking and biking commuters.

More from the Oregonian. The proposed bill will contain a six cent increase in the gas tax. The article goes on:
The package, contained in House Bill 2001, ran into trouble last week, when Kulongoski threatened a veto over lawmakers' desire to list specific projects in the bill. But a compromise emerged that allows state transportation officials to designate the projects that will go forward.

On Thursday, the Oregon Transportation Commission held an emergency meeting and approved a list of $15 billion worth of transportation projects as a "menu" for legislators to pick from. Lawmakers working on the transportation bill will select projects from the list and include them in the bill, Hunt said.

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