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Other Views: Focus on fixing

A public hearing on state transportation came to Bend last week. Money is limited. Choices must be made. What should the state priorities be?

Here's what we think:

Some advocates want Oregonians out of their cars. In their view, the state's priority should be to discourage cars and promote alternatives, such as buses, trains, biking and walking. The state already has rules, policies and directives intended to reduce driving and make parking more challenging. Some want more. Is that what you want?

Others call for a focus on social equity. In other words, their aim is to ensure everyone has access to affordable transportation options.

We'd argue the state should focus first on ensuring what it has gets fixed. State roads and bridges need repairs. It's a basic and fundamental investment in keeping Oregon competitive. So much of Oregon's economy relies on being able to export goods, and the state can't count on the federal government to fix the problems.

Rough pavement means Oregonians must spend more on repairs to vehicles and tires. As much as two-thirds of the state's bridges need work. Without improvements come weight restrictions and truck detours. That can create congestion and incentives for companies to move elsewhere.

Seismic retrofits can also be smart investments. We don't know if the numbers are right, but before the 2015 legislative session, the Oregon Department of Transportation said the state needed some $5.1 billion to prevent major bridge collapses.

Keep the state's focus on fixing.