Report from the First Ever

About 10 hearty Portland Transport stalwarts braved rain and high winds to meet at Wynne’s last night. After about 30 minutes of socializing we heard a presentation from Jay Lyman, head of the consultant team for the Columbia River Cross (accompanied by Linda Mullen from the project’s communication team).

Jay gamely fielded questions for almost 90 minutes. I’d like to express my thanks to Jay and Linda for their braving the weather and the questions.


Jay Lyman and Linda Mullen address a fiesty group of Portland Transport readers.

About 10 hearty Portland Transport stalwarts braved rain and high winds to meet at Wynne’s last night. After about 30 minutes of socializing we heard a presentation from Jay Lyman, head of the consultant team for the Columbia River Cross (accompanied by Linda Mullen from the project’s communication team).

Jay gamely fielded questions for almost 90 minutes. I’d like to express my thanks to Jay and Linda for their braving the weather and the questions.

I learned quite a bit from the presentation, but a couple of things stand out:

  1. While the new bridge may improve congestion between peak periods, Jay made it clear that the southbound morning commute from Clark County to Portland will not be any faster after the bridge is built than it is now during the AM peak.
  2. As we’ve discussed here before, it’s never too early to get involved in policy development. Many of the key parameters for this project (e.g., 3 through lanes in each direction) were spelled out in the I-5 Partnership process, several years ago.

Linda asked me to point out that the CRC has a podcast (mp3, 6.4M). Check it out.

I’d like to thank the readers who made it to the event, and solicit their feedback about how useful it is. I’d also like to thank those who intended to come, but were restrained by the weather.


9 responses to “Report from the First Ever”

  1. I came, and must have went by a good solid 2 times on the #4 but for some reason I was adamantly blind. I also in my infinite wisdom didn’t get the street number. :(

    Since my return trip on the #4 ended up somewhere back around 7th I thus deemed my efforts a failure and returned home to figure out where I had put a crux in my efforts.

    Anyway, cheers to next time.

  2. For those that were there, I was the one who came in at about 7:30. I had wanted to come earlier (and could have) but the power went out where I work (SE 82nd) and wanted to help. I was also told that all of SE had lost power & wondering whether the event was a go. What was interesting is that the winds and rain calmed when I did decide to go.

  3. Thanks, Chris, for hosting the event. Not quite a party party –not enough wine and beer flowin’– but more a policy wonk get together. Not unanticipated nor unappreciated. Always nice to put some faces to names.

    About the Columbia River Crossing presentation…

    We kept hearing “project area” that includes Oregon and Washington State. But, on OUR side, we’re doing transformative things with density and transit, and trying to reduce reliance on the automobile. On THEIR side…sprawl, and more sprawl, with the jobs –and personal income tax– on OUR side, and the strip malls and single family homes spreading out on theirs. Of course they come to Oregon to shop, as well, to beat their sales tax.

    I kept thinking: why should we encourage this? Why a possible 5 lanes each direction new bridge to support a lifestyle we Oregonians (well, some of us) are trying to reverse course on, which is built almost entirely around the auto-centric transportation model?

    Put another way…what’s the point of all our Portland land-use planning travails, if across the water, none of our rules apply? But they want access to our jobs and malls, and dump their car traffic on our streets?

    Maybe feeling a little defensive here, but that comment that Washington’s “sprawl” was a “Portland-centric” interpretation of what’s going on up there…well, I know sprawl when I see it.

    I kept thinking how the “sale” of this was based on how much of the traffic was localized and short trips…so then what’s the problem with average speeds of 20-25 mph then?

    Why not divy this “congestion” problem up…and start with transportation alternatives that don’t accept the dominance of the automobile?

  4. I think Clark County residents’ perception of ideal living conditions is changing. True, it has been one of the single family home, on a lot even bigger than in Portland, or better yet a modest acreage. But recent condominum developments indicate something different. For example, the huge project stretching along the Columbia just east of I-5 (I’ve beeen there but don’t know the name).

    I’ll say it again–riverfront property is going to soar to a premium. Sooner or later a developer will see an opportunity to market high rise units in Vancouver–with views comparable to, or even better, than Portland’s. Maybe not twenty five story structures–but ten stories would be quite plausible.

    PSU professor Will Macht has proposed a waterfront development for the Vancouver shore. Do Vancouverites want it? Probably a mixed answer to that question.

  5. I missed this opportunity to meet everyone that came and I am sorry. I hope everyone who was there held the CRC Task Force Staff feet to the fire.

    Like in the time when the Mt Hood Freeway priority was challenged, this is the time to determine if this replacement of the Interstate Bridges is the highest priority over 50-needed local projects and if it solves the problems of congestion in the I-5 corridor that compounds a problem and helps create the 3rd worse air quality conditions found in the nation.

    A simple question to these CRC people is does it solves the I-5 congestion problem and we all know the answer is NO!, in fact it makes it worse by inducing additional traffic into this corridor.

  6. Chris –

    I think it is important to note that the citizens who got involved early in this process and were sceptical of going forward with a new bridge have been weeded out of official roles, while the people who were supportive of a new bridge have been asked to serve on the next task force. There is a reason Lenny Anderson, who served as a citizen representative on the last one, is not on this task force.

    The DOT’s also pick and choose which of the recommendations of previous task forces (like three lanes in both directions) are “binding” on the next one and which are still up for grabs.

    I think it is also important to distinguish between the older city of Vancouver and the new development at its edges. There is a lot of support for denser urban development in the denser urban neighborhoods. But Clark County and WashDOT continue to focus new public investment on serving auto-centric development, not existing neighborhoods.

    Frank is right. The issue is not Portland-centric or Washington-centric. It really is competing visions of how the region will grow. You can’t have one region with two different growth patterns. And the battle over the bridge is just one more battle in that continuing contradiction. Clark County’s rejection of light rail was another.

    There are people who have never accepted the Oregon model of land use and urban development on both sides of the river. They lost on the Oregon side, but are now trying to use Clark County as a lever to re-open the debate in Portland.

    The refusal to evaluate the impact of a new bridge on access to I5 from North and Northeast Porltand is one clue as to where things are headed. When people in those neighborhoods have to wait at ramp meters a half hour or more to get on the freeway there will be a lot of support for solutions that solve the congestion problems the new bridge created.

  7. As a person who attended the gathering, I found it very informative. With a small group, everybody who wanted to had the opportunity to ask the CRC representatives questions or give opinions. Although I have attended many of the CRC open houses and events with multi-media presentations, I found this forum very informative. One of the conclusions I have drawn from the meeting is that the Oregon side has a very narrow view of the crossing – primarily as a connection to downtown Portland; while the Washington side views the bridge as a connection to the entire Clark County region and beyond. My conclusion applies only to the movement of people, both motor vehicle and transit modes, but not freight.

    I also would like to thank Chris, not only for planning the get together, but also for having an agenda that all who attended have an interest in.

  8. Paul,

    Obviously, by your post, you didn’t get it.

    The real juggernaut coming our way in the Portland Metropolitan area is a massive restructuring of the I-5 corridor, not just at the CRC. Ultimately it will provide for landowners in the Central Eastside Industrial District an incredibly valuable windfall as their properties transition from warehouses to prime commercial real estate. This will happen when the politically correct planners succeed in removing and/or burying I-5; replacing the I-5 bridges is just the initial phase of this master plan. This concept has been frequently discussed on this board. The greatest benefit is that lofty residents and businesses in West Portland will no longer have to look at ugly I-5 or the eyesore Marquam Bridge out their windows. They will see a beautiful, glittering mix of old and new on the new jewel of the northwest: The EastBank!

    A second part of this grand plan is to change the rail routes through Portland. It doesn’t stop only at a “high speed rail corridor” but also would necessitate relocating yards that are part of the UP system to somewhere else. Hopefully this will be foisted upon some powerless community (Troutdale has been mentioned) that will be unable to stop it.

    The third prong of this master plan is to construct several more MAX routes. That’s the only reason they’re building the $200 million downtown transit mall; it’s the vital link to the rest of it. It doesn’t stop at the completion of the I-205 and Milwaukie MAX. In theory, it will move on to: Barbur Blvd MAX, Foster Rd. MAX, Clark County MAX, Hood River commuter train. Who cares if the rides actually cost ten dollars a piece! It’s federal money, which can be printed, anyway!

    Then there is the streetcar prong. Any other major thoroughfare without a MAX can have a streetcar. Sandy blvd.! E. Burnside! Woodstock! Multnomah Bv.! But this is a smaller subsidy; maybe only $6 dollars a ride. Never mind if people will have to transfer once or twice. What are two fifteen minute waits for Pete’s sake!

    Fast forward these projects a decade from now. The cost will hover around thirty billion dollars. Maybe $40 billion. Glitches in the system will just be covered by finding some new thing to tax. Tolls maybe. Higher parking rates.
    More fiscally induced traffic fines. They’ll think of something. Of course these projects won’t really solve the problems, so figure in either more transit projects or elaborate thoroughfare plans. So figure in much higher fuel taxes.

    Look at the good part. We won’t be alone. Scores of other communities in the US will be doing the same thing! And by God, those Democrats will find some way to make it work, anyway. Maybe just import another hundred million people, and some of them will use these sytems, thus justifying the cost or at least paying the extra fees and taxes. Resistance is futile. It’s a Brave New World.

  9. Ron Swaren, I like it, you nailed it.

    I will in the future read your posting with a greater degree of understanding that you have a good handle on how absurd this transportation planning is in the “Peoples Republic Of Portland”.

    At the recent “Tolling Forum” Sam Adams open his presentation that he was from the “Peoples Republic of Portland”.

    Sams statement also showed that he understood that voter backlash could derail some of these grandiose $40 Billion Dollar price tag projects.

    In fact Sam was very pragmatic in his oversight of some of these proposals. I think Sam can count and he knows that it takes 50% of the vote plus 1 and he seams to be saying the idealist do not yet represent that count.

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