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Oregon Gateway
In early 2006, the Southwest Economic Transportation Team was formed to look at job creation, expansion and retention, through the strategic investment of limited transportation resources with both public sector and private industry members. The Team includes legislators from
both major political parties as well as the chairs of the Oregon Transportation Commission, the State Aviation Board, and the chairs from two regional Area Commissions on Transportation (ACT)—the Rogue Valley ACT (Jackson and Josephine counties) and the South West ACT (Douglas, Coos and Curry counties). Private industry representatives include Roseburg Forest Products, Harry & David Holdings, Inc. and Cascade Wood Products Inc.
This Team is developing solutions based on smarter ways to use existing funds. Oregon’s economy relies on an efficient transportation system and the demands on our system continue to grow. While many things impact growth, this Team’s focus is solely on transportation.
"One of the frustrations we’re experiencing on the legislative level is the demand for education, jobs and public safety services," said Representative Susan Morgan. "There is a general recognition in Salem that the best way that we can provide those services is to grow the economy and get people to work. One of the ideas that surfaced was that, in order to set the stage for the economy to develop and flourish, we need to improve the transportation infrastructure. The discussion needs to not be just around the road system. We need to take a look at the rail system, the air system and the port system and how they connect."
Early in the process, the Team recognized their effort would not reach its full potential without a process to measure the economic performance of public transportation investments. A number of Team members familiar with economic analysis software developed by Regional Economic
Models, Inc. (REMI) suggested the company could provide the needed economic measurement platform. The Team elected to use the nationally recognized REMI model as its analysis platform. Once Task Force goals had been established, a measurement process that incorporated existing Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) policies, transportation planning infrastructure and Team project data needed to be developed to make the most of existing and future State resources.
"What sets this group apart is the private-public partnership that helped develop this model," State Senator Verger said. "From that partnership, REMI developed a custom TranSight model that estimated the economic impacts for both the southwest region and the entire state. "Effective
distance" can be imagined as the distance between two centers of economic activity, adjusted for the efficiency of transportation between them. Transportation improvements reduce effective distance between two locations and, consequently, increase their interaction (in terms of the flows
of labor, intermediate inputs and end-use commodities). In general, as effective distance increases, costs rise through an exponential process called "distance decay." The model’s transportation cost matrix includes individual matrices for transportation costs, accessibility costs and commuter costs. The travel data enter each individual matrix as changes to effective distance, which are then analyzed as changes to delivered costs, production costs, and commuter costs for the region.
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