March 23, 2006
Columbia Crossing Options Narrowed
The Columbia Crossing is all over the front page of the Oregonian this morning following a four hour meeting of the Crossing Task Force last night. The task force narrowed the options under consideration.
As Jill (a task force member) reports in a comment to her earlier post, a west side bypass to a third bridge is off the table on the grounds that it would not help the issues in the I-5 corridor sufficiently.
Unfortunately, high-speed rail also appears to be off the table.
On the upside, a number of transit options are still in play (under the general heading of "high capacity transit") and one of my favorite ideas, a parallel arterial bridge, is also still under consideration.
March 23, 2006 12:28 PM
rex Burkholder Says:
To be clear, no options are "off the table". There was a staff presentation last night but no committee action. The committee had lots of questions that still need to be answered before it will take action. Stay tuned.
March 23, 2006 3:23 PM
Jill Fuglister Says:
Thanks Rex. My earlier post must have miscommunicated that a decision was made to take things off the table. And of course, both the Columbian and Oregonian articles about the meeting, erroneously reported that things were taken off the table.
As I mentioned in my earlier post, while the staff recommended that the bypass and other new crossings should be removed, I think we still need to keep the pressure on to make sure the bypass does not make it past this first cut. It was clear that the task force members still had a lot of questions and concerns before it could move forward on any decisions about what was proposed by staff.
March 23, 2006 3:36 PM
Ron Swaren Says:
I don't think you should, in the long run, rule out the North Portland Rd/ Union Pacific RR crossing site. This DOES NOT mean a west bypass freeway. I can understand that the projection of increasing poulation in Clark County will inevitably mean that alterations to I-5 will be neeeded. That doesn't mean that finding a shorter route to Hwy. 30, from Vancouver, would not also be advantageous.
Please bear in mind that downtown Vancouver will be growing westward and along the Columbia River. It's already in the cards. Why not provide a convenient link for them--such as by commuter rail on a multimodal crossing?
March 23, 2006 3:41 PM
Lenny Anderson Says:
The data in the front page graphic of the O was pretty compelling...we are talking about a lot of local traffic forced onto a freeway bridge because there is no arterial option, no transit option. Clearly an arterial bridge with MAX would cut significantly into the number of trips on the existing bridges. Not that proponents of more capacity continue to cite "Freight;" this is just a stalking horse for capacity. Freight represents less than 10% of traffic on I-5 and can best be facilitated by reducing SOV demand.
Also, for all the hand wringing about I-5, we now have two transit systems that do not recognized each others' tickets, and no rideshare program; there is plenty of capacity for commuters on I-5...its in the back seat!
March 23, 2006 4:18 PM
Ron Swaren Says:
How would you promote carpooling? That would truly be the biggest reduction.
March 23, 2006 4:38 PM
"...recommended dropping high-speed trains, a monorail, a western bypass freeway, a third bridge..."
Crap, ???, yea!, crap...
March 23, 2006 4:41 PM
Dropping HSR is a pretty short-sighted move for the future of Cascadia... not that it would alleviate *commuter* traffic between Vancouver & Portland, however. Perhaps HSR & local traffic need to be stuck on their own bridge... although personally the most efficient/ideal scenario would be:
-change existing bridge set for local traffic + light rail and possibly HSR.
-Build new bridge for freeway (better design, taller so it doesn't need to close for ship traffic, and possibly for HSR if it doesn't go on the other bridge.
March 24, 2006 7:14 AM
Jim Mayer Says:
I just want to set the record straight on one point. My story in The Oregonian did not erroneously report that the task force had voted to take proposals off the table. The article correctly reported that these were staff recommendations and that no decisions have been made.
March 24, 2006 9:40 AM
Chris Smith Says:
Jim, sorry if my choice of words mischaracterized your very thorough article. That's why I always include a link to the article, I want folks to get it straight from the source.
March 24, 2006 10:51 AM
Jim Mayer Says:
No worries. It will be interesting to see if the task force sticks with the staff recommendations.
March 24, 2006 1:17 PM
Chris Sullivan Says:
Hey guys, you have a great site.
I have a question that maybe somebody who has some insight into this maybe can answer. As a resident of North Portland, I am a bit upset that there has not been enough emphasis in simply reducing traffic load on I-5. It is already impossible for me to even navigate in my neighborhood (Arbor Lodge) at 5:30pm. Interstate Ave. crawls, as does Vancouver Blvd. Even Greely and Denver Ave. see significant traffic loads, as my fellow NoPo'ers bail off Interstate to avoid the sea of Washington plates.
I'm saddened that an alternate crossing seems to have been removed from the table, and that mass transit improvements look increasingly like a "no option."
Washington commuters are already crushing the quality of life in neighborhoods near the I-5 corridor. I, personally, won't stand for any increase in my property taxes that is just going to put more traffic into Kenton, Arbor Lodge, Piedmont, and Overlook. It already makes me quite upset that I sit in a sea of Washington plates just to get home from Freddy's.
Are there just not enough NoPo voices in the planning process? After all, we're the ones that are likely to suffer the most, with construction and increased traffic.
March 24, 2006 1:48 PM
Lenny Anderson Says:
Commissioner Adams...who lives in NoPo...is on the CRC group; be sure to be in touch with him.
Yes, more auto lanes across the Columbia will be knock 5 minutes off the commute time from Battle Ground residents & elevate property values there, but at the expense of yours, which according to a Metro study will go down.
All the Oregon parties to this process, City Portland, Metro, ODOT, TriMet, Multnomah county, Port of Portland, must stand firm and together to make clear that extension of the Yellow Line must be part of any package...No MAX, No Bridge!
Even the widening of the Slough Bridge, done to make Clark county commuters happier, does harm to I-5 operations south of the "bottleneck," or if you prefer "metering device."
Actually traffic counts before and after Interstate MAX and the Interstate TravelSmart project show a 9% reduction in vehicle trips in your neighborhood. All this progress will be wiped out by more auto lanes across the river.
March 25, 2006 11:15 PM
Ray Whitford Says:
HSR is off the list! So, we will re-visit our need for a HSR corridor ten to twenty years from now and the costs for the corridor and the Columbia River Bridge for HSR will be $500 Million. That is alot of cash!
Why not design the corridor into the current superstructure of one of the option so that you get the most bang for your buck! We are so short sighted!
My current suggestion has been using the current Northbound I5 Bridge for Light Rail and then HSR. Remove every other pier for better river navigation and elevate the whole length.
Why can't these people think in phases?
1. Build the new bridge/tunnel.
2. Rebuild the Southbound I5 Bridge for local traffic.
3. Rebuild the Northbound I5 Bridge for Light Rail and then HSR. (engineer the capacity for HSR!)
They are dooming us to never realizing a Cascadia Regional asset. Can someone explain to me how going over the Willamette River twice is a HSR corridor? Why is going the straight, and shortest way considered "off the table"???
Thanks CRC Committee!
Peak Oil hits us and Portland will be so isolated without HSR. Just think about the price of airline tickets when gasoline costs rise to the $3 to $5 dollar per gallon range.
I would have thought saving alot of cash and preparing for the future would have been important but I was wrong.
March 26, 2006 2:45 AM
I propose an aerial tram...
March 26, 2006 2:32 PM
"Actually traffic counts before and after Interstate MAX and the Interstate TravelSmart project show a 9% reduction in vehicle trips in your neighborhood. All this progress will be wiped out by more auto lanes across the river."
That is pure baloney.
There are only 2 parking lots for the entire line which can be used by folks from Washington who want to use the Interstate line.
We counted the cars in both lots during the entire commute period. At the EXPO lot, there were 12 cars. from Washington. At Delta Park, there were 14 cars from Washington.
That's 26 cars over a three hour period or less than 9 cars per hour over the three commute hours. The bridge carries about 5,500 cars per hour.
Our counts and TriMet counts show no more folks using Interstate MAX than used the now discontinued No. 5 Interstate bus. 60% of the TriMet ridership for Interstate are trips in fareless square between the Rose Quarter and the Galleria, which was NOT part of the Interstate line construction but trains were run there to boost ridership.
The so-called study was never intended to determine the effects of various options. It was, like the groups before other lines, a device to sell the extension of light rail.
Some are content to avoid the truth about the light rail program -- that since it started in 1986, according to Texas Transportation Institute that measures metro area congestion annually, Portland metro has had a greater rise in congestion than any metro area in the US.
March 26, 2006 4:23 PM
Yea, how 'bout you not.
I fear the CRC committee is looking at the CRC as just a project to reduce car-commuters car-travel time (via lower congestion) over the River.
What they should be focusing, as Ray keeps pointing out in his agenda reiterations, is that we need a comprehensive, multi-modal transport spine connecting Eugene, OR - all the way to Vancouver, Canada.
Now, if our politicians can't think big, I propose starting up a grass-roots organization to promote Cascada, lightrail throughout all the major cities in Oregon, connected by a HSR spine. Any takers? Ray?
March 26, 2006 6:27 PM
Ray Whitford Says:
My next step is to join that local rail and transit group (AORTA) since strength is in numbers.
I'm planning on being at the summertime CRC meetings.
Unsure if I can add more to my plate, as of today.
I know that there are groups set up from members of the CRC committee but I don't think we have a block of individuals meeting to advocate for High Speed Rail. Someone from the CRC committee needs to step up and say "This is important to me". Others on the committee will then need to decide if HSR is important to them.
March 27, 2006 9:27 AM
Lenny Anderson Says:
Traffic counts in N. Portland were taken at 75 locations by PDOT before and after Interstate MAX/Interstate Travel Smart...the little rubber counters don't lie.
TravelSmart's data is very extensive on changes in how people travel in North Portland. People are driving less and biking and using transit more.
Interstate MAX will carry a lot more riders when it is completed to Vancouver. Bringing more commuter vehicles over the Columbia does nothing to enhance livablity in North Portland. Why would we do this to ourselves?
March 28, 2006 7:20 PM
Lenny Anderson Says:
>"Traffic counts in N. Portland were taken at 75 locations by PDOT before and after Interstate MAX/Interstate Travel Smart...the little rubber counters don't lie."
But PDOT does. The city , Metro and Tri Met have been manufacturing data for years. ODOT Region 1 did the same thing to show how west side MAX caused counts to go down on the Sunset when it opened in Sept 1998. They did this by comparing the highest month usage before Sept with the lowest month usage after Sept. When adjusted for normal seasonal variation, the counts showed that Sunset volumes went up.
Publish the counts and I'll show you why and where they are wrong. Go and count the cars in the parking lots and you will see for yourself that there is deminimus Washington usage, ergo, there cannot be any lowering of highway volumes in the affected segments of I-5 north.
>"TravelSmart's data is very extensive on changes in how people travel in North Portland. People are driving less and biking and using transit more."
That is contradicted by Tri Met's data comparing Interstate MAX usage with the bus serice that exisited prior to the Interstate. I have no idea what TravelSmart is but it sounds like an anti-auto propaganda group. Send the data and I'll prove it . Go to the US Census Bureau site and download the mosal split data. Biking and walking are not going up. Transit inched up a small fraction but entirely at the expense of car pooling. The overall auto numbers are up. The Census Bureau data is the most reliable data available.
>"Interstate MAX will carry a lot more riders when it is completed to Vancouver."
We hear that after disappointing numbers come in after every new addition, not only in Portland but in the entire country. That's the same old HUD theme -- it stinks because we aren't spending enough.
You, probably aren't aware of the experience we had with transit across the Columbia when the bridge section closed for trunnion repair. The folks found that the trip to rail and the trip on rail was much longer than driving all the way, even with the freeway at its worst.
It is interesting that there is no support among the people in Clark County for extending light rail, except for the politicians talking about creating temporary jobs rather than transportation value.
>"Bringing more commuter vehicles over the Columbia does nothing to enhance livablity in North Portland. Why would we do this to ourselves?"
Having Clark County people work in Oregon is a windfall for Oregon. They pay taxes but get no services. Oregon has been losing employers and residents steadily because of high City of Portland/Multnomah County taxes and congestion. The greatest growth in the region is in Clark County and the western edge of the UGB in Washington County.
Still, the ideologues don't learn from empirical evidence. What is it they say about someone who repeats the same mistakes over and over and over.
March 28, 2006 8:45 PM
Ron Swaren Says:
Hear, hear, Mel. Let's send the "Tax and Spend" bunch back to the arithmetic tables. Not that I am against all that is proposed, or a apologist for private automobiles. I would bicycle regularly, rather than recreationally, if it was appropriate for my vocation.
The reality is that this entire region has complicated tranit planning needs that can only be solved by a balanced and fiscally responsible policy. Ever since Tom Walsh completely underestimated the costs of MAX we've been struggling to bring reality to transportation projects in this town. A poorly thought out strategy will find itself adding solutions and improvements, ad infinitum.
March 29, 2006 9:49 AM
Lenny Anderson Says:
I'm happy to have Clark county residents work in Portland, I just don't want to have to accommodate all their vehicles. In all fairness they should have options...drive via freeway or arterial bridge, ride a bus or MAX train, ride a bike. What's the harm in that? Until we have a mass transit network and bike network that matches the roadway network, its hardly fair to compare usage. You can't ride transit, if there is none!
The only expressway I think should be built would run from the Milwaukie Expressway to 217 at I-5 through the heart of Lake Oswego...I think a double deck roadway could be located in the RR ROW. A bridge with big interchange at Rt43 would give LO residents great access to the entire region.
You see the problem with building more roads is that everyone who wants them wants a new road through someone else's community, but not their own. Why? because they are pretty unpleasant affairs...unless you own vacant rural property; then ODOT will make you rich. Ask the residents of LO how they would like a great east/west connector as per above?
March 31, 2006 12:41 PM
There has been much discusison about freight mobility - and how to move freight around the city/region after it comes off of a boat or train. Again, lets take a look at Europe:
VW Cargo Tram in Dresden:
Since we have discreet industrial areas in the metro area, why can't we electrify and expand rail lines into these areas so we can move freight this way? Build a nice multimodal center, and trucks can move them off the trams and over to the factory, if not build the rail lines into each factory like we did 100 years ago!
Ditto for the new industrial areas going to be built in Damascus/Happy Valley... give 'em their own ROW, and boom! No problem. Delivery to malls and dispersed commercial/retial facilities such will still be a problem, of course. But for INDUSTRY, this could really help. Use existing MAX lines and run them between trains.
March 31, 2006 2:42 PM
Lenny Anderson Says:
The region has virtually no data on freight movement. Metro has only begun to look at this; the Port, the City, ODOT has some but the Governors' Task Force (so-called "Trade Partnership") had NO data, except that trucks represent about 10% of peak hour vehicles on I-5 in the PM peak. Its clear that the greatest impediment to freight movement is commuters, especially SOV commuters. On Swan Island we move freight by creating and promoting transportation options for employees. Over 20% of SI employees do NOT drive alone to work. Going Street and Basin Avenue are not now and are not expected to be congested in 2025.
March 31, 2006 6:44 PM
Lenny Anderson said:
>>>"I'm happy to have Clark county residents work in Portland, I just don't want to have to accommodate all their vehicles. In all fairness they should have options...drive via freeway or arterial bridge, ride a bus or MAX train, ride a bike. What's the harm in that? Until we have a mass transit network and bike network that matches the roadway network, its hardly fair to compare usage. You can't ride transit, if there is none!"
They have a transit system called C Tran. They don't want rail for many good reasons, the most important being that rail offers terrible door-to-door service. You have to get to rail and from rail to match origins and destinations. C Tran used to run a bus to the Gateway transit Center. They did that at Tri Met's request. Tri Met planned for the bus to take residents in Clark County to Gateway and get off to take MAX downtown.
Instead, the people did not get off the bus to take MAX. They stayed on and the Oregonians at Gateway got on rather than take MAX downtown. The reason was that the bus went downtown on the freeway to pick up passengers to take to Clark County. The trip by bus on the most crowded freeway segment in Oregon in the congested period was faster than MAX.
People have an option to ride bikes but don't feel that a bike trip from Clark County to various places in Oregon is the way to start the day.
You don't want options that actual users need. You just want to pack people on trains.
>>>"The only expressway I think should be built would run from the Milwaukie Expressway to 217 at I-5 through the heart of Lake Oswego...I think a double deck roadway could be located in the RR ROW. A bridge with big interchange at Rt43 would give LO residents great access to the entire region"
I'm sure you don't speak for the people in either Milwaukie, Sellwod or Lake Oswego. Did you ever both to find out how many people go from Milwaukie to 217? These are available for people who want to find out before making a fool of themselves. Apparently, not or you would not suggest a route that would be quite so expensive per passenger. Why not provide roads where there is already volume begging for capacity?
Your remarks are juvenile, with regard to the cost of bridges, double-decks and usage.
By the way, just how do YOU accommodate the vehicles from Clark County? Those vehicles pay for the roads and for their parking. You're just a person that has nothing better to do than tell people how to live their own lives, even if you don't have the slightest knowledge of the subject.
March 31, 2006 11:13 PM
Chris Smith Says:
Mel, we have a firm rule on Portland Transport that you're welcome to criticize policies or idea, but not individuals. Please keep your remarks focused on the issues, not the people sharing their views.
April 4, 2006 5:11 PM
Bob R. Says:
Back on March 26th, Mel wrote:
"There are only 2 parking lots for the entire line which can be used by folks from Washington who want to use the Interstate line."
"We counted the cars in both lots during the entire commute period. At the EXPO lot, there were 12 cars. from Washington. At Delta Park, there were 14 cars from Washington."
Good news, Mel, usage appears to be going up. Your count was such an astonishingly low figure that I've kept a mental note to go check out those lots for myself.
Well, today I had a meeting downtown and had some free time after, so I rode the Yellow Line out to the Delta Park/Vanport and the Expo Center stations.
It was 2:45pm when I got to Delta park, and people were already leaving, but I found that the lot was nearly full - it was easier to count empty spaces. There were 7 empty regular spaces... there were only 3 empty spaces when I got to the lot, but 4 parties from my train departed by car while I walked the lot.
I did a plate count on one long row of cars and counted a ratio of 4.6 out-of-state plates to every 1 Oregon plate (23:5 actual count). The other rows appeared similarly distributed at-a-glance.
The park and ride lot has 117 regular spaces, so that means there were 110 cars there, and using the 4.6:1 ratio, there were about 90+ Washington state cars there.
At the Expo Center, 2:55pm, I counted 66 cars, with a number of people also making departures from that train. I didn't do a formal count of states, but the ratio appeared to be about the same, so figuring on about 50 from Washington.
So basically I found 160 Washingtonians in a 10-minute window of time whereas you only found 26 in three hours. I'd say usage is going up!
(Today was not a holiday and there were no events going on at the Expo Center, as evidenced by the fact that all of the cars were parked adjacent to MAX, not near the Expo Center entrance.)
FYI, the current combined weekday boarding count for those two stations is 716.
Also, I had in mind the remarks that Steve had made about fareless square in his comments in another thread. At least in the MAX car I was riding, the overwhelming majority of people who got on the train stayed on the train beyond fareless square. There were a number of short hops, but well over three-quarters of the boardings stayed on. This was also evidenced by the fact that the train was fairly empty when I boarded (2 stops from start-of-line) and about half full by the time we reached rose quarter. (By half full, I mean every seat taken plus a few clusters of standees.)
Oh, in case Steve comes around saying that I'm spinning and distorting again, I've got digital photos of the Delta Park lot to prove my figures.
- Bob R.