2020 Election: Austin’s Project Connect is a go; Portland’s Measure 26-218 is a no

Written by RT&S Staff
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Rising real estate costs and inflation have caused the cost of Austin’s Project Connect to almost double.

Unlike the presidential election, there is no waiting in Austin, Texas, regarding the fate of Proposition A. The latest poll shows 58 percent have approved the measure that calls for an 8.75-cent increase to the city’s tax rate that would pay for construction, maintenance and labor for Project Connect.

Project Connect is a $7.1 billion plan calling for the construction of two light-rail lines and a subway running through downtown Austin. The approval of Proposition A means the typical property owner in Austin will see a property tax increase of about 4 percent.

“With the passage of Proposition A, voters have given the green light to a once-in-a-generation opportunity to revolutionize our transportation infrastructure and provide people in our community with a safe, reliable way to get around,” Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk said in a statement.

Light-rail measures had not faired well in Austin leading up to the passage of Proposition A. A rail plan for the city was narrowly defeated by voters in 2000, and in 2014 a city proposition calling for a rail line from Austin Bergstrom-International Airport to Highland Mall was rejected.

Voters in Portland, Ore., however, did not share in the enthusiasm for revolutionary transportation packages. Measure 26-218 failed to pass. The move would have provided $5 billion in funding for 150 transportation projects that prioritized traffic safety, transit efficiency, mobility and reliability for roads and transit operations in Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties. Measure 26-218 also would have created a light-rail extension to Tigard.

Measure 26-218 called for taxing employers with more than 25 employees at up to .75 percent of their payroll within the metro district of Portland.

Read more articles on passenger rail.

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