People in greater Portland appear ready to invest in the region’s transportation system, according to the results of a scientific survey conducted earlier this month.
The survey, which queried 1,463 voters and had a margin of error of 2.8 percent, asked residents their opinions on growth in the region and addressing greater Portland’s growing congestion issues. Respondents overwhelmingly agreed that congestion is impacting their lives, with 73 percent saying traffic congestion was an extremely or very serious problem.
When asked how much they’d be willing to pay to improve the region’s transportation system for all users, 55 percent said they’d be willing to pay up to $300 a year in additional taxes. Nearly four-in-five voters said they’d pay $100 a year.
By comparison, in 2017, 66 percent of voters said they’d pay $50 a year in additional taxes to fund affordable housing in the greater Portland region. A year later, 59 percent of voters in the Portland Metro area approved a housing bond that cost the average homeowner $60 a year.
“This goes to show that people are ready for solutions that address our commutes,” said Metro Council President Lynn Peterson. “People are tired of sitting in traffic, or waiting for a bus. They want to be home with their families. We need to address this at the regional level and come up with a plan that works for everyone.”
The survey found general satisfaction with TriMet, the regional transit service provider, with 73 percent having a favorable opinion of it.
Metro Councilor Craig Dirksen said the survey shows that the public is looking for a variety of solutions.
Advocates, Dirksen said, “believe that everybody believes what they believe, and the fact is that’s not so,” he said. “There’s a balanced view of what needs to be done.”
It also found growing concern about climate change, with 64 percent saying climate change was a significant issue.
Also on people's minds: Earthquakes. Seismic retrofits to bridges were extremely or very important to 78 percent of people taking the poll, more than improving pedestrian safety (71 percent) and widening roads and highways to address bottlenecks (67 percent).
Repairing and upgrading bridges to survive an earthquake was the top priority for 26 percent of people taking the poll, second to road widening (31 percent).
The region's residents are clearly concerned about growth. More than half of people surveyed said they thought the greater Portland region was growing too fast. Nearly half said growth has been a negative for their community, compared to 27 percent saying it’s been a positive.
“Our economic success has led to a lot of growth, and we’re all feeling the effects of that. We need to make sure we’re keeping up as our region continues to grow,” Peterson said. “We need to address these challenges in a way that helps all the people of our region, particularly the communities of color that have been hurt so much by past decisions about transportation infrastructure.”