Transportation Funding

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Quinn Thomas


As Oregon’s population continues to rise, the strain on the state’s transportation infrastructure intensifies.  In 2016, state elected officials made clear their intent to pass a comprehensive transportation funding package to improve Oregon’s transportation system.


Working in partnership with the communications firm, Quinn Thomas, DHM conducted a series of focus groups with both urban and rural Oregon voters to gauge perceptions of transportation funding and future priorities for the system.

These groups provided legislators with critical feedback about how Oregonians think about transportation funding, what they expect their state to provide, and what improvements they want to see in the coming years. Our research found that, although Oregonians of different backgrounds hold differing priorities for transportation and how to fund it, they are brought together by shared values. Put simply, Oregonians want to know that their roads are safe, efficient, and that everyone chips in to help pay for them.


These results were  reflected in the elements of a draft transportation package. For example, having revealed concerns from many suburban and rural residents that bicyclists need to pay their fair share too, the package included a sales tax on new bicycles. Also participants around the state wanted to ensure that new funding considers residents’ use of the roads and their ability to pay. These concerns were reflected in a moderate increase in the gas tax, plus a small payroll tax. By including elements that reflect the values of Oregonians, the Legislature alleviated voter desire to refer any elements of the transportation package to the ballot.