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Portland’s Moody Avenue Project: Subtraction by Addition

Portland Mayor Sam Adams announced Monday that the reconstruction of Moody Avenue in the South Waterfront neighborhood was finally complete after 19 months of work. This $51 million project rebuilt 3,200 linear feet of the street by raising it 14 feet and widening the right-of-way to 75 feet, enough space to accommodate a six-lane freeway.

 

However, despite the huge expansion, motorists are actually worse off than they were before. Only two lanes are reserved for motor vehicles, and they now have to share space with the slow streetcar, which blocks traffic four times an hour in each direction. Virtually all of the new right-of-way is allocated to bicyclists and pedestrians, who only account for 13% of total passenger throughput on the street.

 

Motor vehicles do the heaving lifting, moving 63% of all passenger trips on Moody. Not only is this a large number, but it’s growing: Auto traffic is up 55% from just two years ago. As the district continues to develop, this road will be unable to handle future traffic loads.

 

The Moody Avenue project was a waste of $52 million, and it now has the South Waterfront district locked into a street pattern that is doomed to fail. Taxpayers should demand better from their elected leaders.

John A. Charles, Jr. is President and CEO of Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.

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