Gov. Brown urges support for transportation package

TRANSPORTATION ROUNDUP: Governor urges Oregon Legislature to answer call for improved infrastructure; Portland postpones final Uber vote; bill calls for more interstate cable barriers.

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Governor Kate Brown urged the Oregon Legislature to answer call for improved infrastructure at an event with the Medford Chamber of Commerce.

Republicans have protested the transportation in light of the recently-passed clean fuels bill, the Medford Mail Tribune reports.

She said it is important the economy recovers and thrives statewide, with education, workforce skills development, infrastructure and transportation all part of that goal. … A safe and efficient transportation system moves goods to market, gets workers to their jobs and creates a desirable quality of life that attracts innovative people to the state, she said. …

The governor alluded to regional problem-solving efforts paving the way for Combined Transport’s relocation closer to the freeway through a Connect Oregon grant, significantly reducing operating costs, emissions and traffic congestion. She pointed out how the federal resources were leveraged into the revitalization of the Siskiyou Rail Line, reducing shipping costs and emissions.

Portland postpones final Uber vote

The City Council left many questions unanswered one day before Uber and its competitor Lyft were supposed to start operating in the city.

As a result, the council postponed the scheduled April 15 vote and will hold an “informal work session” today, the Portland Tribune reports.

Now that April deadline may prove too optimistic, after a citizen task force rushed to create a set of guidelines for the four-month pilot project. In essence, the task force suggested an experiment in partial deregulation of Portland’s taxi industry — though most of the benefits flow to Uber and Lyft, its main competitor.

Task force members, led by retired state administrator Mike Greenfield, laid out several ideas for accommodating Uber, while assuring that its drivers undergo background checks, its cars are inspected and they provide commercial-level insurance. Though the task force sought to create a level playing field between traditional taxis and transportation network companies, it’s clear they fell short.

Uber general manager for the northwest, Brooke Steger, was receptive to the recommendations but objected to the fact that drivers would be required to get business licenses.

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Bill calls for more interstate cable barriers

A bill requiring more cable barriers bordering interstate freeways in Oregon drew only one dissenting vote Monday.

The Statesman Journal reports:

The Fritz-Fairchild Act, named for two people who died in a September 2014 crash on I-5 in Salem, would direct the Oregon Department of Transportation to complete installation of median barriers on interstate highways where the space between opposing lanes of traffic measures 100 feet or less. Oregon State Hospital employees Dr. Steven Fritz and Cary Fairchild were killed when a vehicle traveling north on I-5 crossed an open median and struck their car.

“On September 24, we lost two remarkable Oregonians in a tragic crash,” Senate President Peter Courtney said. “We know cable barriers work. We know they save lives. This legislation will save lives in the future.”

The bill moves on to the House of Representatives. 




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