In addition to energy development, transportation policy is another illustration of the damage that radical environmental thinking does to people’s lives and the hope that conservative environmentalism brings for crafting reasonable solutions to environmental problems. And no area illustrates radical environmental transportation policy better than Portland, Ore.
Portland has a long history of, among other things, being the centerpiece for “environmentally friendly” urban growth and transportation policies – sometimes referred to as “smart growth.” In the 1970s, the Oregon State Legislature passed a law establishing stringent restrictions on urban growth. Portland city officials immediately jumped on board with the radical environmental thinking behind this “urban growth boundary” law and began canceling road construction and maintenance projects in favor of public transit projects like light rail (e.g., Utah’s TRAX system is a light-rail system).
What has decades of such “eco-friendly” thinking and policy produced for Portland residents? Recently, a local Oregon newspaper chronicled the pathetic state of Portland’s crumbling road system – a city assessment found that nearly half of neighborhood streets and more than a quarter of major roads are in “poor” or “very poor” condition – and the reasons behind its sorry state of affairs. Further, in the face of this dramatic need for road repairs, the Portland Transportation Bureau recently decided to put off any major road paving until “at least” 2017, and the city cut its road services budget (e.g., bridge monitoring, street cleaning, etc.) by $15 million. Read more