As a general rule, I try to remain as neutral as I can regarding most political occurrences, so that I am able to analyze problems and interactions from an unbiased, scientific perspective. But the transportation bill that has been introduced in the House is fatally flawed in so many ways, and would threaten much of what I hope to accomplish professionally if passed. So in a rare moment of activism, I’ve joined in today’s campaign to produce letters and phone calls in opposition to the bill. I imagine that I’m preaching to the choir here a bit as Ms. Bonamici is almost a certain “no” vote, but here is the letter I sent to her this morning.
February 9, 2012
The Honorable Suzanne Bonamici
2338 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Congratulations on your recent election as Representative of the 1st District of Oregon! I wish you the best as you serve our terrific region in the Capitol. You assume this position just in time to vote on one of the most pivotal pieces of transportation legislation of my lifetime, H.R. 7, and I am writing to encourage you to resoundingly vote “no” on this bill.
Secretary LaHood said of this bill that it’s “the worst transportation bill [he’s] ever seen during 35 years of public service,” and it’s not difficult to understand why. The bill reinforces our reliance on oil for transportation and fundamentally alters the way transit is funded in the US, essentially replacing all transit monies with a promise for future funds that will be hard to keep. It doubles down on an unsustainable approach to transportation that has reduced the livability of our cities, polluted our air and water, and compromised our national security by rendering us dependent on politically unstable nations for fuel.
This bill addresses none of the fundamental problems facing the transportation sector. It reinforces the false notion that our 18.2 cent-per-gallon gas tax is adequate to fund our freeways, while relegating the other modes of transportation to second-class status. The truth of the matter is that we must find other revenue streams to supplement the gas tax, and put these toward a multi-modal, sustainable transportation system that is both solvent and capable of accommodating aggressive economic growth. These are big, systemic problems, and meeting the challenges they represent requires much more than the backward-thinking, politically motivated bill that is under consideration.
As I’m sure you know, Oregon has a history of leading the way on transportation issues. Our willingness to challenge orthodox thinking and innovate when faced with transportation challenges is unmatched, and we must not be too humble to suggest that other regions would be well-served by following our model. I am confident that you will represent this spirit with your “no” vote on H.R. 7, and I appreciate your leadership in this matter.
With best wishes,
Brian A. Davis
M.S. Candidate, Transportation Engineering
Portland State University