Yesterday afternoon, the Oregon Senate Interim Committee On Guidelines and Government Appointments heard from the greater than 60 of Governor Kate Brown’s nominees to numerous state boards and commissions. Amongst these nominees was outgoing state Senator Lee Beyer, who Brown has nominated to one of many 5 spots on the Oregon Transportation Fee a lot to the chagrin of many involved Oregonians.
The OTC is a strong physique that oversees the Oregon Division of Transportation and their $5 billion finances.
Some leaders from distinguished transportation and environmental teams see Beyer’s appointment as a step within the unsuitable route, with some opponents saying Beyer’s appointment will “double down on the previous” as an alternative of trying to the long run with “extra inclusive, consultant transportation decision-making.”
Beyer will substitute Alando Simpson, a a lot youthful, Black member of the fee. Within the Portland Mercury yesterday, Beyer dismissed these considerations. “Transportation is transportation,” Beyer advised the Mercury. He additionally stated opposition to the I-5 Rose Quarter freeway growth is “baffling” and “famous he’s ‘not a whole believer’ in induced demand.”
Regardless of this surge of opposition, no senators on the Guidelines Committee took up considerations with Beyer’s appointment, and no person spoke up in opposition to him on the assembly’s public remark interval. After Beyer had an opportunity to introduce himself to the committee, they moved ahead together with his nomination as commonplace process.
One group did present help for Beyer in response to neighborhood backlash over his nomination: the Portland Enterprise Alliance (a company activists have deemed considered one of Portland’s ‘local weather villains’). President and CEO Andrew Hoan submitted a letter of help for Beyer’s nomination, stating the senator is “maybe probably the most ready Oregonian to serve on the OTC,” having “confirmed to own a deep information of the transportation wants of the whole state and can collaborate together with his colleagues and stakeholders to advance the balanced transportation options we’ll want within the twenty first century.”
“Senator Beyer has unquestionably been considered one of Oregon’s best leaders advancing multi-modal transportation infrastructure, and modernization coverage and funding proposals in Oregon. He has efficiently labored to search out the precise steadiness between increasing transportation entry, supporting the motion of products, sustaining our infrastructure, and decreasing carbon emissions,” Hoan writes. “In these divisive occasions, it’s crucial that we proceed to help and rejoice leaders like Senator Beyer.”
Advocates say Beyer’s “steadiness” between transportation aims has been closely weighted towards driving-centric infrastructure. Over his time within the Oregon senate, Beyer supported initiatives just like the Interstate Bridge Alternative Program plan to broaden I-5 from Portland to Vancouver and its failed predecessor, the Columbia River Crossing. He additionally shot down a invoice to extend state funding for biking and strolling infrastructure.
When talking at yesterday’s Guidelines Committee assembly, Beyer addressed neighborhood apprehensions that he’s “solely involved about roads,” saying that declare just isn’t true.
“I’d draw individuals’s consideration again to what we did in 2017,” Beyer stated, referring to the transportation legislature Home Invoice 2017, which he was a main champion of. Beyer stated this invoice included the “largest infusion within the state’s historical past in increasing transit,” a “stable dedication” to Protected Routes to Colleges infrastructure and “devoted funding to off-road bicycle paths.”
Although HB 2017 was a landmark transportation invoice in Oregon that gave an unprecedented quantity of funding to public transit and lively transportation infrastructure ( a really low bar), it was overwhelmingly centered on freeway expansions and freeway initiatives.
In his remarks (learn them in full beneath), Beyer stated he thinks roads are vital for the state’s financial system.
“One level that I’d make – I’m involved in regards to the roads and I’m involved in regards to the roads for Oregon’s financial system. Oregon is an exporting state. Plenty of the merchandise that we use and discover in our shops get there on a truck,” he stated. “I prefer to say that Oregon’s financial system strikes on wheels and people wheels want one thing to roll on.”
Beyer is the second OTC decide from Governor Brown since November 2021 that doesn’t meet the calls for of Dawn PDX and the Youth vs. ODOT motion. The governor additionally didn’t heed the calls for of over thirty organizations statewide that requested her to carry off on this choice.
That push was led by The Road Belief Government Director Sarah Iannarone who posted her response to Twitter this morning. “Governor Brown dismissing out-of-hand considerations from 30+ main advocacy orgs and coalitions on this matter is actually disheartening,” she wrote. “If she’s not listening to us, who’s she listening to?”
Beyer’s full feedback to the committee are beneath:
Taylor has been BikePortland’s workers author since November 2021. She has additionally written for Road Roots and Eugene Weekly. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org