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Readers' Letters: Nation must bite the bullet, raise federal gas tax

In a recent push to raise the federal gas tax, U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-3rd Congressional District) noted that Congress has not raised the tax since “the beginning of the Clinton administration.”

Blumenauer also pointed out that, “Today, with inflation and increased fuel efficiency for vehicles, the average motorist is paying about half as much per mile as they did in 1993.” Technological improvement and a failure to index the tax rate to inflation have resulted in declining revenues alongside increasing costs. Under current policy, the gap between revenue and cost will continue to grow.

Blumenauer argued that, “There’s a broad and persuasive coalition that stands ready to support Congress, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National AFL-CIO, the construction and trucking industry, cyclists, professional groups, numerous associations of small and medium businesses, local governments, and transit agencies.” These groups recognize that infrastructure plays a vital role in maintaining U.S. economic competitiveness in the 21st century and realize our current policies are inadequate for the task.

Blumenauer wants to raise the federal tax, but Oregon also should consider raising our own. Oregon introduced America’s first gasoline tax in 1919. In less than 10 years, the gas tax swept the country. In those days the gas tax was popular. People wanted good roads and were willing to pay for them.

With gridlock in Washington, D.C., we need to find alternative ways to fund infrastructure spending. Oregon’s legislature is working to implement road-use taxes for fuel-efficient vehicles. Such taxes would discourage consumers from purchasing hybrids and electric vehicles. ODOT is advocating public private partnerships (PPPs) to help attract outside funding and lower costs. PPPs work well for construction, but fail to address maintenance.

Oregon should instead return to history. We were the first state to tax gas, might we raise it 2014?

John Louis

Boston

(former Oregon City resident)

Transit issue needs more thought, ideas

Jim Redden’s article on Tigard and transit answers (Tigard transit initiative touches a nerve, Dec. 26) misses one key point. It is a good article, but he indicates only 3 percent of the people want more buses.

Having spoken in person and on the phone with more than 1,500 Tigard citizens, I take issue with that response. Residents want buses near their homes so they can walk to a bus stop and catch a bus to shopping centers like Bridgeport, Washington Square and, especially, to the industrial parks where they work.

Most said, “If there were just a stop somewhat near my home I would ride a bus to work.” They would like small shuttles in the industrial parks with some frequency of times as well as larger buses going to Portland and many other places like downtown Tigard and Tualatin. If they could get there, they want a return ride within a reasonable timeframe.

They dislike WES and light rail as it is slow, undependable in bad weather and has high crime rates. Women won’t ride light rail unless they are in a group because they don’t feel safe.

School districts have managed to have school buses going into the neighborhoods, picking up children at regular times and getting them to schools at various starting periods and taking them home likewise. They don’t make that much difference in the traffic flow and, where possible, they pull off to the side of the road to load and unload. City buses could do likewise.

If the city did a fair survey that was not loaded with questions tilted in the direction of light rail or high-capacity transit or dedicated lanes, they would see that a good bus system would solve the problems of heavy traffic and also the peoples’ wants and needs. This does not even go to the tremendous cost savings. Buses can burn natural gas with no residue and be as clean as electricity, which needs to burn coal to produce the electricity.

I suggest that more thought be given to the whole matter and less concern about getting partial federal funds that we have to borrow from China.

Billie Reynolds

King City

Tourists: Avoid the mess in the grass

My 14-year-old daughter and I decided to visit Eugene and Portland for our vacation. We spent a week in Eugene and a week in Portland. I must say that the people have been very nice and all is good.

But I have noticed and felt the pain of having to clean my shoe after walking in dog droppings in both places. I recommend to other tourists to stay on the sidewalk at all times. Do not walk on any grass, be it in a park or a tree-lined street.

It shows that most people either don’t care or enjoy leaving a landmine in the grass. As a tourist, it does not reflect in a good way for both cities.

There are decomposing plastic bags that are meant for cleaning up after your dog does its thing. Just saying.

Fred Schembri

Roberts Creek, British Columbia