Are the roads in your area looking a little rough? Perhaps you’ve been swerving to avoid potholes more often than usual? Is your wait at the bus stop getting longer and longer? Maybe you want to bike more often, but are terrified of sharing the same lane as an oversized Hummer? Whatever your situation, transportation infrastructure affects everyone. The construction and maintenance of America’s roads, bridges, transit, and bike lanes rely on federal funding. This funding not only improves our ability to get around, but also provides thousands of much needed jobs.
Usually, the federal government passes something known as the Transportation Reauthorization Act every five to six years to assist states in funding transportation infrastructure projects. Unfortunately, legislation of this kind has not been passed since the expiration of the last reauthorization (enacted 2005)more than two years ago.
A few weeks ago, we profiled John Mica (R-FL), Chairman of the House of Representative’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. He is in charge of the House proposal for federal funding of infrastructure improvements. We looked at the transportation costs of two different cities in his district, one urban and one rural, to see how the lack of transportation investment affects his constituents. All politics is local, right?
This week Abogo visits the district of another member of this powerful committee. Peter DeFazio has represented Oregon’s 4th Congressional District since 1987 and is the ranking member of the Highways and Transit Subcommittee in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Bordering California to the south and the Pacific Ocean to the west, his district includes more than 680,000 constituents.
Springfield, Oregon, is where DeFazio resides when he is not working on legislation in the nation’s capital. Since Matt Groening grew up in Oregon, it is rumored that this Springfield may be the one that the Simpsons family lives in.
Let’s see what Springfield residents’ transportation costs are on average per month.
Assuming the Simpsons family does indeed living in this Springfield, the Abogo gas slider shows that Homer and Marge and their three-dimensional neighbors could expect to shell out $867 per month on transportation costs. That’s a 15 percent increase from 2000. 2010 Census data show that the average commute to work is about 20 minutes for residents, and that 74 percent drive alone to work. To lower these costs, residents can consider carpooling or taking the Lane Transit District bus system that operates in both Springfield and neighboring Eugene.
Another city located in DeFazio’s district is Florence, Oregon. Located on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, the city is known as a popular tourist destination. Let’s see what residents near Heceta Beach, one of the more popular beaches in the area and the location of the infamous exploding whale story, can expect to pay in monthly transportation costs.
Given the current gas price of $3.50 in Oregon, residents can pay around $1,127 per month in costs related to transportation. This is a 19 percent increase from what could be expected in 2000, almost $300 more per month than Springfield. Due to the beautiful, but less location efficient setting of the beach, residents are more car-dependent than families in Springfield.. According to 2010 Census Data, the majority of residents in Florence commute less than 10 minutes to work. Given such short commute times, many could reduce the cost of their commute by walking or biking instead of driving alone.
We at Abogo come to the same conclusion here in Oregon as we did after our trip to south Florida: DeFazio’s constituents are spending a sizeable chunk of their incomes on transportation. They could use smart investments in transportation that would help people become less car-dependent and less beholden to the gas tank. DeFazio, like Mica, should be pushing hard to pass a Transportation Reauthorization Act that improves the everyday lives of people and spurs jobs.
Where does your congressional representation stand on transportation investments? What do you want to see invested in transportation-wise you’re your tax dollars?