Trib Fires Back on Congestion

A number of contributors, including guest contributor and economist Joe Cortright, have questioned the assumptions of the Cost of Congestion study.

Today the Portland Tribune editorializes in response to Cortright, and calls for the federal government to name Portland a priority transportation corridor for the economy.

9 responses to “Trib Fires Back on Congestion”

  1. Without commenting on the substance of the editorial (which can be found here), I want to point out this phrase:

    “Despite the national attention that Portland’s efforts are receiving regionally”

    Who edits the editors? :-)

    – Bob R.

  2. The Port of Portland moves a lot of wheat, bulk minerals and automobiles, but not much else; its not a significant container port. Based on this, it would make sense to get some federal help to improve some of the freight rail bottlenecks as recommended by the I-5 TF.
    For interstate freight movement by truck, non-regional traffic should be directed to I-205; indeed, that route should be designated “I-5” with the inner city leg getting some other number, as per Autobahns in Germany.
    Curiously the two arterials serving the bulk of Portland’s port, heavy manufacturing and warehousing areas…Going Street and Columbia Blvd…are not now congested nor are they expected to become so over the next 20 or so years. Curious.
    As the Oregonian pointed out two weeks ago, freight congestion is largely due to single occupancy auto traffic. The freight community and bicycle community need to team up! People need options.
    Across the Interstate Bridge commuters lack options to driving alone…no high capacity transit, just a few vanpools (which receive no support from Clark/Vancouver) and poor bike route connections.
    The Delta/Lombard widening will be approved by Portland City Council this week. This $50M project will remove a headache for Clack county commuters, but at the expense of freight headed south off Columbia Blvd.
    Beware of roadway capacity advocates who cite freight…they just want more roads; freight be damned.

  3. The Portland Tribune glosses over numbers with rhetoric in their editorial.

    Cortwright is correct not in “downplaying the economic importance of [spending money on transportation]…” but in setting those investments up against other potential investments. It’s economics (or business) 101. If the people who say they want government to work like a business were to look at investments, they wouldn’t pour additional billions into roads, because they’d be driven out of the market.

    Next, they say not spending $6 billion will “strangle the region and the economy.” That’s not at all what the report they cite found.

    FInally, they don’t have any suggestion on where the money will come from, unless the feds bail us out.

  4. Who edits the editors? :-)

    Steve Clark obviously. That’s what spurred the need for a rebuttal of Cortright that claims he is wrong, but gives no evidence to support it.

    If they want to limit transportation investments to resources that are already exclusively reserved for transportation investment, then they are not going to even have $4 billion to invest muchless the extra $6 billion Cortfight suggested would be better spent on education.

    The fact is that the shortage of money to invest in early childhood education and k-12 is far more critical to the region than pubic investment in transportation. It just doesn’t have the same stakeholders with the same political clout.

  5. You did notice, at the bottom:

    “Editorial board member Steve Clark is a participant in the regional Cost of Congestion steering committee.”

    in other words: Hey, this Cortright guy is making my study look bad! Good thing I’m president of a newspaper …

    (What does being “Tribune President” mean, anyway? Is it an elected position? =) And is this going to devolve into another spitting match between the T and the O? Why can’t our local newspapers just get along …)


  6. I actually think Steve is a pretty good guy. While I don’t necessarily agree with all his views on transportation policy, he has been instrumental in getting the business community to think about how investment in transportation effects the economy.

    Of course we can still argue about which investments :-)

  7. he has been instrumental in getting the business community to think about how investment in transportation effects the economy.

    I don’t think that is true. Most of the business community doesn’t think about it at all. Clark has been instrumental in rallying portions of the business community to support increased transportation investments – mostly more and wider roads.

    Cortright’s basic point is that transportation is a misplaced priority for the local economy in terms of public investment. If Cortright is correct, Clark has done the region no favors. Its too bad he didn’t put the same effort into rallying support for education.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *