Timing is Wrong for Metro Transportation Measure

As long-time advocates for better transportation in the metro area, we are reluctant to say no to any plan that promises to improve our congested roadways. Unfortunately, with the economy in recession, this is the exact wrong time for the Metro regional government to press forward with its $5.2 billion transportation measure — funded by a payroll tax.

As a result, the Pamplin Media Group’s editorial board is recommending voters reject Measure 26-218. In doing so, we ask Metro to come back in the future with a more refined proposal that also takes into account the region’s changing transportation needs.

In the current pandemic environment, traffic is no longer at the top of local residents’ list of concerns. More people are working from home, or sadly not working at all. Transit ridership also has plummeted. People’s habits are being transformed. Some of these changes likely will be fleeting — others will be permanent.

The idea for a regional transportation measure was conceived long before most Portland-area residents had even heard of COVID-19. Now that it is on the ballot, though, it seems oddly out of step with the current mood.