CRC Open House Question # 8

Travelers using cars, trucks and public transit need more reliable travel times between Portland and Clark County.

Agree/Disagree. Discuss…

14 responses to “CRC Open House Question # 8”

  1. I think reliability is a worthy goal. There are lots of ways to improve reliabilty: work on preventing and clearing accidents faster, pricing (e.g., High Occupancy Toll lanes), etc.

    Reliability is probably more important than the absolute travel time.

  2. Some may suggest that we can solve the problems of the I-5 corridor with replacing the Interstate Bridges with a new wide structure, some improvements in the bridge influence area and putting Light Rail into Vancouver and that is simply putting your head in the sand.

    Realiable Travel Times, will not be the result of this new CRC Project. More cars will just get across the bridge south bound and then sit in greater congestion with no money left to make a dent in trying to solve the problems of to many vehicles without enough capacity in the north/south interstate corridors in our region.

    Trucks will have deminished window to get to and from their destinations in the I-5 corridor as the peak period rush hours get extended to 9 and 10 hours per day. This lack of Freight Mobility within our region is going to kill businesses and our ability to retain and create new jobs. It will kill investment and can lead to a downward spiral of our economy.

    Light Rail can help in the long run dampening the ever increasing level of congestion but its initial benefit canbe measured maybe at removing possibly 1% of the vehicles that currently congest the I-5 corridor between Portland and Vancouver. HCLRT advantage is the reliable seperate corridor but you cannot look at it as some magic wand that corrects a failure to provide adequate capacity based upon demand.

    Tolls and TDM methods are regressive approaches and more deal with symptoms and cannot in the case of the I-5 corridor provide enough benefit without major negative costs to people and the economy.

    The FHWA comments on the Draft, Region Transportation Vision of the Region Transportation Plan call for us to get our head out of the sand and come up with real plans that create more needed capacity. The CRC Task Force recommendations do not do that when you look at the I-5 corridor as a whole with a regional understanding that we have a broken corridor and just replacing some bridges and putting in HCLRT does not solve this I-5 problem.

  3. Again, I think everyone would agree. But it is not clear a new bridge, with its monopoly on river crossings in the corridor, would improve reliability. You have placed all your eggs in one basket.

  4. Tolls only treat the symptoms?

    Complete bullshit. The underlying problem of congestion in every city in the US is that there are more people, more people are driving, there are more cars/people, and people keep moving farther from where they work – commuting longer and longer distances.

    Combined with the fact that I-5 is the only major transportation corridor between Canada and Mexico, along with approximately 45 million americans, and of course you are going to have a huge amount of truck traffic, because we haven’t invested squat into freight rail.

    If this were any country in Europe, S Korea or Japan, we would already have six tracks of rail over the Columbia, plus 2 for high speed rail, and about 8 lanes (tolled) for road traffic.

    As far as tolling being simply a ‘symptom,’ you obviously do not understand basic economics. If you offer a product or service for free, there will be infinite demand. With an increase in the price of that product or service, demand will lower and eventually equal the cost of providing the service or product (the break-even point).

    Last time I checked, there was no charge or toll for crossing the river.

    Paul, I think you have been takin’ too much Tussin’.

  5. I have advocated for a radical change in overall rail capacity and the extension of High Capacity Light Rail into Vancouver. Virtually everything that you suggested, but the special interests tell us that we need a new 6-lane CRC Bridge Project feeding into a 2 and 3-lane freeway network in Portland.

    Bill, I do not know your education and/or back ground in economics, and the needs of the our working poor but we had better look at the impact on the creation of jobs and the regressive impacts on our working poor when you make tolls the solution to reducing demand.

    Right now we have the most effect metering of traffic with the 3-lanes of the existing Interstate bridges. Common sense tells me that without overhead and increasing the scope of government we limit traffic to some degree in the I-5 corridor with what we have. Of course we can open up the gates and make a bridge 6-lanes and then put tolls on it to try to reduce the flow of traffic.

    I made a living for over 40-years consulting with businesses large and small and they did not pay me a lot of money because I did not know anything about how business and economy works.

    We need a new alternate Bi-State multi-mode arterial corridor and I am not against having tolls placed on this corridor to fund its construction.

    Bill, within this new corridor you get everything that you want and it is example of what the FED’s are trying to tell Metro to look at. You get Light Rail into Vancouver without replacing the Interstate Bridges. One of the problems is that it would be done in a public/private partnership and this limits Metro and the DOT’s from having the need to get their hands into pockets of all of the commuters in the I-5 and I-205 corridors.

    I admit that I am not a proponent of big government and I do not think that they have all of the right solutions in the world. For me to give them a pipeline to redistribute money collected in tolls in what ever way they think is right is not what I want.

  6. “Travelers using cars, trucks and public transit need more reliable travel times between Portland and Clark County.”

    I agree with this statement. However, it is not the I-5 bridge crossing itself that is creating the congestion. The fact there is no local access to Hayden Island adds congestion to the freeway. The fact the only way for motor vehicles to travel between Portland and Vancouver is on a freeway bridge places local traffic on and creates congestion on the freeway. The HOV lanes create stop and go congestion when vehicles cut in and cross the other lanes of traffic to exit or enter the freeway. Replacing the restricted HOV lanes of discrimination with full service travel lanes bill benefit freeway users as a whole.

    Furthermore, it should also be noted; One, having Max cross the Columbia into Vancouver will not resolve congestion either – it is not multi-directional and most people crossing the bridge are not going to and from downtown Portland. Two, you can not build your way out of congestion with transit alternatives. Three, the bicycle component of the Columbia Crossing is totally inefficient and a waste of taxpayer dollars.

  7. Does anyone know the percentage of trips over the river (preferably restricted to the congested rush hours) that are restricted to Hayden Island. In other words, is there an estimate out there for the degree to which these trips would be reduced? It’s important to note also that if you lived on Hayden Island and worked in SW Washington further out, you’d probably still take the freeway…

  8. When you offer a product or service for free, there will be infinite demand.

    Why does it seem only some of us grasp this? Why is it that some understand that a buck or two isn’t a real price, it’s still excessively subsidized.

    Bill is right. Traffic and congestion will continue to increase until a REAL price is associated with auto travel. Today people truly consider one thing, the cost of gas. No matter what you tell them until they start paying out of pocket on the spot for service, gas will be the only consideration.

    Bill is right. I gotta say, not that I know him, but he’s right.

    Paul Edgar

    Regarding the poor, either way they’re screwed until they get an education, push themselves ahead, or get with a real solution. Other people taking care of them will do SQUAT. This “we gotta do it for the poor” excuse is the sickest, least cost effective, least effective solution in dealing with the “poor”.

    It is ridiculous in addition. If we where really worried about the poor there are a million solutions, the primary one being churches need to take the lead. It is the only functional result of churches in this day and age to take care of the poor. Churches don’t have power (nor should they) in political terms, they don’t run and organize wars and militaries. They should however be taking care of the poor.

    But I digress, I could go on for days about the philisophical, idealogical, and pragmatic problems with the “war on poverty” and the hand out mentality toward the “poor” but it would take dozens, hundreds, or more pages to complete a remotely thorough examination and refutation of the ridiculousness of this “war” and “mentality”.

    Deal with what is at hand, the poor are a different problem altogether. You do them more disservice than good by treating them as a problem to deal with.

  9. Roads and highways are not free. They are paid for with gas tax + registration and licensing fees. Some states also have a sales tax on new cars and a tax on registration as well.

    Transit, on the other hand, is more of a free lunch since 80% of its operations + 100% of capital costs are subsidized. Bike infrastructure is 100% subsidized. When are these users going to start paying the full cost of their trips?

  10. Roads and highways are not free. They are paid for with gas tax + registration and licensing fees. Some states also have a sales tax on new
    cars and a tax on registration as well.


    Federal and State Spending > $100 Billion per year. That doesn’t include the local, city, and other highway/road/street fees that are usually 100% subsidized.

    Gas taxes and fees account for about 30-50 Billion per year, depending on how much gas is sold (a good example is if the oil companies are making money, then a landfall of taxes are being collected too).

    So don’t tell me 80% vs. 50% of a disappropriation fee is “covering” highway costs.

    The sad fact is it is ALL subsidized. The sad fact is we don’t have free-market choices anymore most likely because people found cars to be cheaper when the Governments of the States and the Feds dumped billions into interstate, highway, and other projects.

    Effectively forcing the need for subsidy for passenger rail and passenger air traffic also. Don’t even get me started on the little piddly regulation book for autos while the air and rail regulation books are some of the largest in the world. (Think 12k plus pages)

    So really… yeah yeah, user fees this and that.

    As for your last two statements:

    Transit, on the other hand, is more of a free lunch since 80% of its operations + 100% of capital costs are subsidized.

    No, 80% is with the infrastructure and capitol costs included. If you just count operations fares cover more to the tune of between 33-80% of operational costs – depending of course on the transit line/system. Some of the busses, with subsidized pricing, actually turn profits which of course feed back into the system. Of course there aren’t enough of those to supply a balancing for the remainder of the system.

    Bike infrastructure is 100% subsidized. Well yup, this is true. But then of course they’re not riding around in a car, but they’re still paying for your road your riding on (see above comment) Because a whole mess of money comes from general funds.

    …and last:

    When are these users going to start paying the full cost of their trips?

    When are the sub 33k income earners going to stop mooching off of the 34k+ income earners?

    When do I start getting returns on the massive amounts of my income I lose each year to the taxes that are supposed to pay for the roads, rail, boats etc. When do I get a real choice and go purchase market based selections?

    When? I’m not sure if I’ll ever have that level of choice and freedom again, but you bet yer ass I want my choices today because I don’t want stuck in a car tomorrow. Been there, done that. lame.

    It’s too bad my only choice in today’s political environment is to push for special interest politically motivated transit projects and road repairs.

  11. …oh yeah.

    Per the topic of Travelers using cars, trucks and public transit need more reliable travel times between Portland and Clark County.

    Reliable? The proposed bridge will NOT fix the travel times. The only way to resolve that is for Vancouver to act as part of Portland as the East Side is to the West side of the Willamette.

    To build a huge bridge is doing nothing to grow the area and nothing for traffic seperations, everything is still funneled into one big CLUMP.

    hehee. That’d be a great name for a single bridge idea. It should be called the “Clump Bridge” idea.

  12. Reliable travel times are nice, but not at the expense of those who live and do business in N and NE Portland. 20K-40K more vehicles over a big new bridge will overwhelm our communities that are only now recovering from the destruction wreaked by the original I-5 freeway.

  13. I have to ask how bad it would really be for those who do business in N Portland to have 20k-40k more customers available to them. Probably more, counting carpools that might be formed if HOV or HOT lanes are included.

    In addition, better reliability of drive times could easily help Vancouver by hopefully increasing access to and from it. Currently going from an office there to downtown in the morning for an appointment is a total roll of the dice. Leaving downtown to the office at 4:15 PM won’t happen get you there by 5PM.

    I know firsthand that I get my lunch in Vancouver daily, and often my dinner also. Oh well, I pay a little sales tax, but I avoid sitting in traffic around the bridge. It’s easier than dealing with the current mess that is Hayden Island and N Portland’s freeway ramps.