Checking up on the state of Oregon’s transportation system
ODOT has released the 2012 State of the System report, which provides information for the public on the condition and performance of the state’s multi-modal transportation system in relation to the seven goals of the Oregon Transportation Plan (OTP). The report aims to provide the public information on the state’s transportation assets and the significant trends and challenges affecting the system, from changing demographics to aging infrastructure.
Among the highlights discussed in the report:
· Economic Vitality: In the aftermath of the recession, Oregon remains a trade-dependent state: goods exports account for nearly ten percent of the state’s economic product, and about one in five jobs in the state are trade-related. Even with the recession, Oregon saw freight movement grow from $242 billion in value in 2008 to $253 billion in 2010, underscoring the importance of maintaining and improving transportation facilities that help Oregon businesses efficiently reach national and international markets. The Oregon Freight Plan proposes strategies to maximize the efficiency of the goods movement system, and an update to the state’s rail plan that will begin in 2013 will help lay a foundation for continued improvements to the rail system.
· Mobility and Accessibility: The recession has had significant impacts on the transportation system, including declining vehicle miles traveled, a significant reduction in freight rail traffic, and deep cuts in public transportation services that have impaired the mobility of many who are dependent on transit. Over the same period, active transportation modes like biking and walking have grown. Oregon is a national leader in this area, with three Oregon cities (Portland, Corvallis, and Eugene) named in the top 10 bicycle friendly communities by the League of American Bicyclists.
· Safety and Security: Oregon’s roads have become much safer and now have a fatal crash rate lower than the national average. However, continued progress needs to be made—especially with stubbornly high numbers of pedestrian fatalities. To improve the resiliency of the system, ODOT has developed plans for a backbone system of lifeline routes that would be hardened to remain operational after a major earthquake.
· Funding the Transportation System: Significant investments under the three Oregon Transportation Investment Acts (OTIA), ConnectOregon, the Recovery Act, and the Jobs and Transportation Act (JTA) have improved safety, created a more efficient freight transportation system, preserved critical transportation assets, and improved the livability of Oregon’s communities. However, most of these investment packages were one-time infusions rather than long-term sustainable funding, and ODOT faces long-term funding challenges. Growing debt service on bonds, revenue projections that are down significantly from previous expectations, agency operations costs that are growing faster than revenue, uncertain federal funding, a lack of long-term adequate funding for non-highway modes, and growing fuel efficiency—all of these forces conspire to reduce the resources ODOT will have to preserve and improve the transportation system in coming years.
To view the State of the System report, please click here.