PORTLAND, Or. — Today, Portland City Commissioners voted unanimously to refer a renewal of the city’s 10-cent-per-gallon gas tax to voters to the May 19 ballot. If renewed by voters at the same tax rate, the 10-cent fuel tax is estimated to raise $74.5 million over four years beginning January 2021.
“Thanks to voters’ support in 2016, Portland was able to start catching up on a backlog of crumbling streets, dangerous potholes, and missing sidewalks. Renewing the local gas tax will ensure that Portland continues to make progress toward better streets,” says Fix Our Streets Campaign Manager Steph Routh. “Small investments now can save us big in the future—making roads safer and more accessible for all.”
Originally approved by voters in 2016, the tax has raised $76 million dedicated to the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) Fixing Our Streets program—and an additional $8 million from a heavy vehicles use tax approved in 2016. With those funds, PBOT repaved 38 lane miles of city streets, made repairs to over 400 sections of failing roads and sidewalks in East Portland, and completed 170 additional safety improvements across the city over the past four years.
“These investments are vital for our community—our commitment to Fixing Our Streets will shape the future of Portland,” PBOT Commissioner Chloe Eudaly said during the council hearing. “I urge all voters to cast your ballots this May in support of renewing this gas tax. It is well worth the dimes we pay at the pump, and it will provide us the tools we need to advance safety, equity, and sustainability in Portland’s transportation system.”
Renewing the gas tax will allow the Fixing Our Streets program to continue keeping Portland’s streets in good condition for current and future users, with project selection guided by existing plans and public input from neighborhood stakeholders, transportation justice advocates, and business groups. Proposed projects include pothole, gravel street, and pavement base repair; traffic signals and crossing beacons; improved sidewalks and street lighting; and funding for Safe Routes to School projects and Neighborhood Greenways. For a full list of proposed projects, visit www.fixourstreetsportland.com/projects.
Many community members testified in support of referring the measure to the May ballot for renewal, citing Fixing Our Streets’ record of delivering needed investments in neighborhoods across Portland, while also creating jobs, building prosperity, and advancing equity.
“PBOT has demonstrated that they can deliver what they promised,” Ken Marks, Director of Transportation Equity at Rosewood Initiative, testified at the council hearing. “There are a lot of good projects going into East Portland, projects that in 2014 we would have never believed were going to happen. PBOT has done an amazing job of delivery.”
In the first three years of the Fixing Our Streets program, 40% of all contracting dollars were awarded to COBID-certified firms—minority-owned, women-owned, service-disabled veteran-owned businesses, and emerging small businesses—exceeding the City’s goal of 20% participation.
Maurice Rahming of the Professional Business Development Group, an organization working to enhance the business environment for minority businesses in the construction and contracting community, testified in support of the referral. “Change is slow, and we are so impressed by what happened here. To go from 20% to 40% is truly amazing,” Rahming said. “PBDG is proud to support this measure, because we know that it takes a lot of work. PBOT has really changed the way that they do business.”