Today the Metro Council sent voters an unprecedented regional transportation investment measure to make it easier and safer to get around the greater Portland area.
The measure, known as Get Moving 2020, would be the largest-ever investment in greater Portland’s transportation system, making significant improvements in the critical network of roads and transit routes that connect the region. Among other investments, the measure would extend the MAX from downtown Portland to Tualatin, connect a regional rapid bus network, repair and replace bridges, complete sidewalks and pedestrian crossings on major roads, and upgrade thousands of traffic signals and streetlights in Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties.
In addition to the roughly $5 billion proposed for project and programs investments in the Get Moving 2020 plan, the plan is expected to draw an additional $2.8 billion in federal, state and local funds. A recent analysis says this investment could create at least 37,500 jobs.
"As we recover from this pandemic and return to school and jobs, we will need a transportation system that gets people where they need to go safely and reliably," said Metro Council President Lynn Peterson prior to the Metro Council's final vote. "We can rebuild our transportation system and our economy at the same time.”
Created with community
The Get Moving 2020 plan was created over more than 18 months of engagement with community members, transportation and business stakeholders, and elected leaders from around the greater Portland region. Metro conducted close to 130 presentations, meetings, forums, workshops and hearings, with thousands of people sharing their input along the way. When the coronavirus pandemic started, engagement continued unabated, albeit online.
"With this measure we took that mold which we have been using for the last 70 to 80 years and we just broke it," Peterson said. "And in its place we relied on public engagement and a transparent process to create a measure based on the shared values and needs of this entire region."
Advancing racial equity
Metro staff studied the potential of Get Moving 2020 investments to advance racial equity goals for the region. Analysis shows that more than half of the proposed corridor investments, particularly safety and transit investments, are located in areas with higher than average concentrations of people of color.
The Metro Council has directed staff to continue analyzing and reporting on racial equity outcomes. The Council also adopted a number of strategies to ensure people of color and other marginalized communities are fully engaged in future decision-making and oversight.
In early 2019, the Metro Council President appointed a 35-member Transportation Funding Task Force to make recommendations to the Council. The task force, which included elected, community and business leaders from across Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties, started by defining priority outcomes such as improving safety, reducing climate climate change, benefiting communities of color and low-income Oregonians, and supporting a strong economy. They then worked together to identify investments that would achieve those outcomes. The group also developed recommendations for oversight of the work and accountability for the outcomes.
The task force met 22 times over the course of 15 months.
At the public hearing today, Pam Treece, Task Force co-chair and Washington County Commissioner, said she was nervous when the process started. "We had questions – would we be able to come together?" she said. "But we were all able to put each ourselves in each other’s places – sometimes that was literally.”
Metro worked with community partners to host more than a dozen community events – including virtual events in spring 2020 – to hear transportation priorities and concerns from people around the region. Metro funded four community organizations – including, APANO, Unite Oregon, the Portland African American Leadership Forum and Verde – to conduct focused engagement with communities of color, bringing historically marginalized voices directly to the decision-making process. All told, more than 6,000 individual participants and attendees provided input in workshops and community forums, online surveys, or direct testimony to decision-makers. Metro received comments in 11 different languages.
"I can tell you, people are excited about it," said Ashton Simpson, community asset director at the Rosewood Initiative, at a Metro Council listening session on July 6.
At the listening session, he described a community workshop that took place this spring at the Rosewood Initiative on Northeast Glisan and 162nd Avenue.
"We had about eight different languages being translated at one time while we were trying to explain to our non-native English speaking community about the changes that will eventually happen in their community," Simpson said. "I take that to heart because I know what it's like to be excluded from major decisions. And they needed to know what was going on within their community."
Simpson also served on one of three local investment teams that toured corridors and studied potential investments in each county, and provided feedback to the Task Force and Council .
"These were real folks, real people," Metro Councilor Christine Lewis said about the teams today. "Not wearing an organization hat, not there on behalf of any agenda other than to point out street improvements, road improvements, bikeways and walkways that would make an impact in their everyday lives."
Investing in major travel routes connecting greater Portland
The Get Moving 2020 plan is built around a fact of life in greater Portland: Every day, hundreds of thousands of people cross city and county boundaries to get to work and school, go shopping, visit friends or recreate. Though social distancing has reduced this travel in the short term, that pause is temporary. As the region continues to grow in the future, so will the number of people making similar trips every day.
Get Moving 2020 corridors
- Southwest Corridor
- McLoughlin Boulevard
- C2C (Clackamas to Columbia) / 181st
- Highway 212 / Sunrise Corridor
- Highway 43
- Tualatin Valley (TV) Highway
- 185th Avenue
- Pacific Highway 99W
- Highway 217
- Highway 26
- 82nd Avenue
- Central City
- 122nd Avenue
- 162nd Avenue
- Albina Vision
- Powell Boulevard
Much of this daily travel – by car, truck, bus, MAX, foot and bike – converges on a handful of major streets and roads connecting communities and neighborhoods. They include TV Highway, McLoughlin Boulevard, 82nd Avenue, Burnside, Barbur, Highway 99W, Highway 43 and Highway 217, names well known across the region.
Seventeen of these major travel corridors are included in the Get Moving 2020 plan – a map reaching across the region to communities large and small, from downtown Portland to fast-growing residential and employment areas in Washington County, Clackamas County and East Multnomah County.
Many, like 82nd Avenue and TV Highway, are old state highways that now serve as community main streets in addition to regional thoroughfares. These are places where people and goods move – and places where families live, kids go to school, and people of all walks of life do their work and shopping. Many say these areas are long overdue for the investments proposed in Get Moving 2020: to make them safer and better for everyone who uses them.
At the public hearing today, Chi Nguyen, Task Force member and executive director of the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, talked about growing up near 82nd Avenue, walking on sidewalks that would disappear forcing her into the road. Even now, she said, "There's not a single day I don't see Chinese elders braving crossing 82nd, getting off the busiest bus line in the region." She praised proposed investments to bring the street up to a modern standard of safety.
"I'm very happy with the proposed measures that are going to be prioritizing people who are most impacted....All of these areas are going to be safer and better," said Washington County resident Arturo Romo at a Metro Council listening session on July 9, referring specifically to proposed investments on Washington County corridors such as TV Highway and Southwest 185th Avenue. "I'm happy to know that there'll be new crosswalks, signals, sidewalks, street lights and other projects to ensure safety."
Broader benefits through regional programs
Get Moving 2020 would also fund community-led anti-displacement strategies in each of these corridors, seeking to ensure that the people who live, work and worship in these communities can continue to enjoy the benefits of safer and more reliable transportation.
These strategies would be part of a suite of 10 programs in the plan intended to improve safety, increase access to transit and deepen community stability across the region. These programs include increased funding for Safe Routes to School programs, expanding affordable housing options near transportation, creating more walking and biking trails across the region, and speeding up buses where they currently get stuck in traffic.
Many community members who attended workshops during program development showed up to support a specific proposed program to provide free bus and MAX passes for youth.
"This measure can and will change young lives like mine who are dependent on transit and deserve a safer and more reliable way to get around," said Nia Calloway, one of several young people from around the region who spoke at the hearing today.
A commitment to accountability
The Get Moving 2020 plan includes numerous policies and commitments for ensuring community benefits are delivered as promised. An independent budget and outcomes oversight committee made up of community members and professionals from around the region would oversee the plan. Additional committees would guide anti-displacement strategies, programs and some of the more complex corridor investments.
The plan also includes commitments to increase diversity in the construction workforce, and to monitor air quality and greenhouse gas emissions related to the Get Moving 2020 investments.
At the public hearing today, Marcus Mundy, Task Force member and executive director of the Coalition of Communities of Color, commented on the ugency of the measure in the context of COVID-19, an economic recession and the death of George Floyd.
If this time has taught us nothing, Mundy said, "it’s taught us that unless we are deliberate about change and smart about our investments, those most often left out will remain left out and left behind and we won’t grow as a region.”
At the hearing, Nguyen applauded the Council for "putting their money where their mouth is and directly investing in communities and giving them what they need to truly thrive. Our communities have been waiting for decades and we cannot wait any longer."
The investments in the measure would be funded through a tax paid by businesses on up to 0.75% of their total wages paid in the Metro region. Businesses with 25 or fewer employees, as well as state and local governments, would be exempt from the tax.
Recognizing current economic uncertainty, the Council voted to delay the beginning of the tax until 2022. However, if the measure is approved by voters, the work on some investments could begin as soon as 2021.
“Ultimately this measure reflects our communities’ needs because it was crafted with the community and by the community,” said Metro Councilor Juan Carlos González before the final Council vote today.
The Council’s vote to refer the measure today was unanimous. Voters across the Metro District will consider the Get Moving 2020 measure on the November 3 ballot.
Read the ballot measure text and investment plans