Columbia Crossing Attitudes

The Columbia Crossing project recently completed a round of focus groups with folks from both the Oregon and Washington sides of the river. It’s not on the project web site, but after hearing a summary at TPAC, I was able to obtain a copy of the focus group report and scan it (PDF 574K).

Keeping in mind that focus groups are a qualitative research tool, not a quantitative one, it’s still interesting to see that people seem to have a good grasp of some of the issues (ramp design and spacing creates a lot of the safety problems) and a very positive attitude toward transit as part of the solution set. There’s also some healthy skepticism about costs.

14 responses to “Columbia Crossing Attitudes”

  1. Today again we have an article reported by Jim Mayer from the Oregonian suggesting public acceptance of Light Rail transit in Washington as in tht there is a major shift in the mind-set of the people in Clark County.

    When you read the survey taken and how the questions were formated and asked as written by the CRC Task Force Staff, they pointed to getting predetermined answers that they wanted.

    If someone who was independent of the CRC Task Force was able to have paticipated in this survey it would have been interesting.

    People have to remember we just went through a political season and we heard a got a lot of BS thrown at us form very partisan special interests and that is exactly what we have with the CRC Task Force funding and writing the text on question that they wanted answered.

    I could have changed the results of this survey by 50%+ and still covered all of the same subjects.

    I support extending LRT into Vancouver but do not support how the CRC Task Force plans to make it happen with fully burdened cost and implications that will be found to be un-acceptable.

    There are right ways and wrong ways of doing surveys and this is again an example of the wrong way to do it.

    Make any survey fare and balanced, have both sides of an issue present in the writing of the questions and have agreement in how they are presented as in what order and that did not happen here.

    The CRC Task Force Staff bought and paid for answers that can be presented as fact to some people who are not informed.

  2. “There are right ways and wrong ways” always leads to “facts to some people who are not informed” which of course is the majority of people.

    It’s all politics anyway. :o

    But in all seriousness, I’d also really appreciate some more honesty and integrity in polls. The ones I’ve attempted to participate in recently where horrendous and offensive in their efforts to force feed me my answers and provide a predetermined result.

  3. Adron, your WEB Site is wonderful. Your comments are insightful and well written. You need to get on one of these Tri-Met Boards and on Metro Transportation committees but not buried so low that your insight does not filter up.

    Honesty is hard to find but when you find it you can endorse people even if you disagree on singlar issues.

    Pragmatism is a hard road to follow and leading surveys are and I agree; Horrendous and Offensive.

  4. Paul,
    In what way do you think the poll is biased? I have always found Davis and Hibbitts to be independent,and expensive because they care about their sample and the wording of the questions. Why spend $46,000 to get a pre-ordained answer? You could hire one of the cheap outfits if that’s all you wanted. And I have always found they put a lot of effort into the wording of questions to get a useful answer. IN any case, the poll does not totally bolster the staff’s proposal. For example, as I noted in my article, adding lanes to the freeway ranks higher in the publlic mind than building a new bridge.

  5. Jim, I agree that Davis and Hibbits are the expensive local pollsters but when you guide them with a very thightly orchestrated agenda that does not address the success and implications of the suggestions you are going for a given answer.

    We all know that there are significant alternatives to what the CRC Task Force has locked into that were not part of this survey.

    If any of the people surveyed knew that just replacing the Interstate Bridge would not eliminate the congestion in the I-5 corridor but in fact make it worse by inducing additional vehicles into the corridor how would they have weighted their opinions.

    Were they people told that the Delta Park Widening Project is going to happen and has hothing to do except fit into the long term plans of what ever happens with the yes/no on the CRC Project. Delata Park widening will be a major benefit to Washingtonians.

    No-one was told that making the I-205 the primary freight corridor through Portland and when this is done and it is widened out to 4-lanes for a lot less miney the replacing the Interstate Bridges we can move 11% of the through truck traffic out of the I-5 corridor and acheive 20% reduction in congestion and have a major effect on reducing air quality problems in the I-5 corridor.

    No-one was told that there will be major congestion in the I-5 corridor by 2030 that will give us LOS conditions of “F” for 14-hours per day with backups of 5-miles and that will be because we threw all of our money at a Interstate Bridge replacement project that in its self does not solve the systemic problems associated with the I-5 corridor.

    Jim, I can go on and on and you have received for example my PSU Class Project/Report on the I-5 and the CRC Project but you have never taken one attempt to present the other side of this picture.

    I am just one person among many who look to the Oregonian for information and facts from all sides of the picture, please start.

  6. “Why spend $46,000 to get a pre-ordained answer? You could hire one of the cheap outfits if that’s all you wanted.”

    I think you answer that is in your article:

    “Danielle Cogan, a spokeswoman for the project, said the survey results confirm that the public generally supports their efforts and that critics who charge officials from Olympia and Salem are trying to force a solution that residents don’t want are wrong.”

    If your goal is to have something that you can use in public to affirm support for your preferred position you hire a pollster who will be credible with the news media.

    Like any private business, Davis and Hibbits work for their client. They get answers to the questions their clients want answers to. They aren’t in the business of making sure those are the right questions to ask to get to the best public policy.

    If the client is looking to ask questions that will affirm public support for them, Davis and Hibbits will get an accurate public response to those questions. They may even help select the questions that are likely to get the desired answers and avoid questions that won’t. They aren’t journalists.

  7. From my prospective, the entire procedure the task force has gone through has been orchestrated to formulate a preconceived outcome. From asking the public skewed questions for a desired result to the report that recommends removing the existing bridges to the suggestion of tolls for motorists only; the whole process has been staged for the purpose of obtaining federal funds. Left in middle of the river is Hayden Island that still needs a local access motor vehicle connection for any alternative to work effectively. This is a true demonstration of why people do not/can not trust the government.

  8. I have the absolute perfect solution to the I-5 Columbia corridor congestion problem. It is the lowest cost option, with absolutely no annual upkeep, and will completely eliminate 100% of all past, present and potential future congestion to 0.

    Want to know?

    Tear out all of the bridges. Don’t rebuild them. I guarantee that traffic across the river will drop to 0.

  9. It is the lowest cost option

    Not hardly. The cost to people who own homes in Clark County would be enormous. There would be costs to businesses that have customers on both sides of the river. But the suggestion makes clear what happens when you narrowly define the problem as “congestion”. You end up making bad choices from a narrow range of options defined by engineers.

  10. Not having read the article I don’t know all the points that were made, but did the poll by Hibbits and comapnay ask about opening the transit market to other providers and ending the monopoly that Trimet enjoys, or even bring up the idea of opening the market to others?
    I’ll find the time to read the article later today.

  11. The questions on a poll are all-important. The results can be rendered useless with vague wording. It is true that this survey did not ask specifically about all the possible options, and it would have been interesting to find out how voters felt about a specific arterial bridge proposal. But they did ask open-ended questions that are interesting, such as:
    Q6. What do you think should be done,if anything, to minimize the problems on I-5 between SR 500 in Vancouver and Columbia Blvd in Portland, including the Interstate Bridge across the Columbia River

    Lanes added/wider roads/eliminate bottlenecks: 27%
    Another Bridge Added: 24%
    Mass Transit(general)/development/improvement:10%
    Current Bridge replaced/widened: 7%
    Light Rail development/expansion across bridge: 6%
    Highways/roads route choices:4%
    Other responses: 3%
    Don’t Know: 20%

    The Tri-county results are similar, but Clark County shows some striking differences:

    Another bridge added: 38%
    Lanes added: 36%
    Current Bridge replaced/widened: 8%
    Light rail: 8
    Mass trasnit: 5%
    New highways, route choices: 5%
    Other: 3%
    Don’t know: 9%

  12. Jim, I have the report too and Clark County residents often were talking about correcting the 2-lane mess at Delta Park and that is going to happen with or without a CRC Interstate Bridge Replacement Project.

    In Clark County there would be a need to have the voters pass a Bi-State Taxing Authority authorization that would allow Tri-Met (the lead agency) to Tax Washington residents to fund operation of a Light Rail Loop through Clark County. Chances of tht happening are very poor.

    The questions and respondents did not have this information and no effort was taken to make these facts known.

    It is to easy to take the whole survey apart and make it not relevent and that should be reported.

    Unless the Oregonian and Columbian start doing the research and start presenting all sides of a story, more of us will end up making news print no longer relevent.

  13. No doubt, approving any tax measure to finance light rail would be tough. Saying soemthing positive to a pollster is not the same thing as opening your wallet,that’s for sure. But Ive got to believe that transit advocates take encouragement from this poll. The precise meaning of the results is open to debate, as you point out. But i think in general,it demontrates greater support for light rail in Clark County than people have assumed. That was the news I reported.

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