Cascade Requests Congressional House Committee to Delete Funding for Milwaukie Light Rail

Last week Cascade Policy Institute sent a letter to Rep. John Mica, Chairman of the Congressional House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, requesting that he delete all $750 million in federal funding being requested by TriMet for the Milwaukie light rail project.

Noting that the recently-signed Budget Control Act of 2011 requires Congress to reduce federal spending by $917 billion over the next 10 years and that Rep. Mica has released a draft six-year transportation spending bill forecasting a 35% cut in federal highway/transit spending, Cascade President John A. Charles, Jr. stated that the price tag of $205 million per mile for Milwaukie light rail was “indefensible” and should be terminated.

Cascade sent a second letter to Gov. John Kitzhaber, informing him of the letter to Rep. Mica and asking that he intervene to terminate the Milwaukie project, but implement a low-cost alternative concept with the following elements:

• Finish the new bridge over the Willamette River
• Cancel the light rail portion
• Connect the streetcar loop
• Offer more “express” bus service to Milwaukie

Charles stated, “The Milwaukie project offers no new transit service, forces the relocation of 68 businesses and 20 residences, and degrades current bus service to Milwaukie. We can improve service while saving about $1.3 billion, and that plan would free up about $600 million in local dollars for other civic improvement projects.”

For the letter to Rep. Mica click here.
For the letter to Gov. Kitzhaber click here.
For a summary of the low-cost alternative plan for Milwaukie light rail click here.


Founded in 1991, Cascade Policy Institute is Oregon’s premier policy research center. Cascade’s mission is to explore and promote public policy alternatives that foster individual liberty, personal responsibility and economic opportunity. To that end, the Institute publishes policy studies, provides public speakers, organizes community forums and sponsors educational programs.

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Posted by at 01:00 | Posted in Economy, Federal Budget, Gov. Kitzhaber, Leadership, Local Taxes, Oregon Government, Portland Politics, Public Transportation, State Budget, State Taxes, Taxes | Tagged , , , , | 56 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Anonymous

    Good idea. Is there some way we cam get funding for the other light rail lines deleted in reverse?

  • the real valley person

    Brilliant move. As you undermine them, construction workers are pouring footings in the Willamette River for the new bridge. Maybe you can pay their mortgages while you are at it.

    Can’t you think of something more constructive to do with all your spare time?

    • wnd

      trvp, take your love of the $200 mil per mile Orange boondoggle Line and ring out it over in BlueOregon, not not here!   Argh!

  • Bob Clark

    LOVE IT!!!  GO CPI!!!  The city of Portland’s Financial Auditor reported to Portland city hall in July the city’s finances although satisfactory are worsening under mounting debt. The city of Portland’s debt load will only get worse with the funding of Portland (milwaukee) light rail project.  I wish TriMet had such independent, elected financial auditor…because TriMet is hemoraging much like the U.S post office.  Local businesses are getting tired of feeding this fat, insatiable beast with ever higher payroll taxes.

  • Hobojoe

    Here is what all of you are missing. This light rail is essential to the future of Milwaukie. Without it that area will die.
    It is a small price to pay to keep that part of the Portland Metro area alive and well. People need to get around this city without cars. Light rail can do that.
    Plus, it is realtively inexpensive when you look at all the other alternatives.
    Ride on!!!!

    • BiteItLibs

      Have any REAL PROOF to back up your dubious statement? Or are you just another public union sheeple bleating the “Party Line”?

      • Hobojoe

        No proof. But it is a feeling I have.

  • Rupert in Springfield

    Light rail, and projects like it, are absurdities of government spending that are of little use beyond History Channel programs of the future – Extreme Spending.

    When future generations look back on this nonsense, either from a perspective of collapsed country, or one that successfully turned itself around there will be  strong questions asked – When it was clear to all that spending had to be cut, how could a country not cut the easy call like this sort of thing?

    • Founding Fathers

      “Light rail, and projects like it, are absurdities of government
      spending that are of little use beyond History Channel programs of the
      future – Extreme Spending.”

      Right, because people in cities like New York, Chicago, Boston, Washington, and San Francisco never use there public rail transportation systems to get around, while people in Los Angeles have such great freedom because their freeways are free of traffic congestion 24 hours a day!

      • Rupert in Springfield

        >Right, because people in cities like New York, Chicago, Boston,
        Washington, and San Francisco never use there public rail transportation
        systems to get around

        Im from NYC and went to school in Boston  so please don’t try and tell me about mass transit when Im sure I have way more experience than you.

        When you can get the ridership density to what it is in NY let me know. Until then you just shot yourself in the foot with this one. NYC and Boston, among others, work, because people ride them. Here it is simply a waste of money.

    • the real valley person

      Since you are happy in Springfield with your great public transit system, you shouldn’t care what the Portland area chooses to do about its transportation issues, and we shouldn’t care about what you don’t do. 

    • the real valley person

      Since you are happy in Springfield with your great public transit system, you shouldn’t care what the Portland area chooses to do about its transportation issues, and we shouldn’t care about what you don’t do. 

      • Rupert in Springfield

        >and we shouldn’t care about what you don’t do.

        It is precisely because you care what I do that I am forced to care what you do.

        You care what I do in the sense that you use tax funds from what I do to pay for this garbage.

        You need to learn to think things through more – I mean five seconds thought would have saved you from making this error.

        Realize if you are asking others to pay for it, its a little absurd to then act like they should not have a care in the world what you do with the money.

        Again – Next time think, just a few seconds, go get a coffee or something. It would save you from making the same mistake in the future!

        • the real valley person

          So it matters to you whether Portland uses Federal gas tax dollars to pay for light rail or widening our roads? Or you just don’t want any gas tax period? Or you want Washington to decide how local governments should spend their share of gas tax revenues? I mean….what is it you want here? 

  • wnd

    Worth repeating:
     Will Governor Kitzhaber please step in and stop the MAX Orange Line
    debacle in its tracks…or at least at the Clackamas County Line?

    Voters have repeatedly said NO, yet TriMet continues to balk at such a command.   
    That said, Oregon’s Governor does have the means to rein in the $elf-willed runaway.

    Indeed,
    during their gubernatorial campaigns, both Chris Dudley and Allen Alley
    stated they’d put a halt the impracticable nonsense. 

    Dear Dr. John,
    In
    seeing and adapting to new reality, heed the drumbeat of taxpaying
    constituents, downbeat the carney’s of ‘governmentium’ metastasis,
    please.

  • Frank

    Without light rail to Milwaukie how will criminals without cars or money get to the areas they wish to rob???
    I ask you this in all seriousness.

    • wnd

      Your bus is a good as mine, butt, I say take Metro and TriMet and shovel ’em sumwhere south of the Mariopa County sublime and flack outa our region. Selah.

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