PORTLAND, Ore. — TriMet might ask congestion-weary voters to help pay for a new light-rail line and other transportation projects.
The Oregonian/OregonLive reports the plan — as currently imagined — would place a $1.7 billion bond measure on the November 2018 ballot. If passed, it would impose a new property tax assessment on homeowners within the service area. The assessment would cost the average homeowner an additional $150 a year. Vehicle registration fees would also increase.
Officials with the Portland-based regional mass transit agency caution the proposal is in the exploratory stage, and could be changed or scrapped.
"While the Nov. 2018 election had been mentioned, no date has been determined as it is unclear whether such a measure will be pursued," said TriMet spokeswoman Roberta Altstadt. "The same goes for the dollar figure of a possible bond measure – the concept is just too preliminary at this time."
TriMet is aware that motorists are tired of ever-worsening bottlenecks in the tri-county region, confirmed by a recent report from the Oregon Department of Transportation.
"We know from the polling that we've done that the residents of the region are very concerned about congestion, said Bernie Bottomly, TriMet's executive director of public affairs. "They feel it every day, and they really want to see something done to address it."
The light-rail line under consideration would connect downtown Portland with its southern suburbs Tigard and Tualatin. The bond measure would provide $740 million toward a project that's expected to cost about $2.5 billion.
Federal money would also be necessary, and the prospect for receiving it is uncertain.
Bottomly said the ballot measure could be written in such a way that the light-rail portion of the package doesn't take effect until federal funding is secured.
The rest of the bond money — $950 million — would be distributed to Washington, Multnomah and Clackamas counties, as well as the city of Portland, for congestion-relief and safety projects.