In today’s Daily Journal of Commerce, Mayor Royce Pollard of Vancouver is quoted as hoping that based on the ramp design and possibly capping portions of I-5, he’s hoping the CRC will help heal Vancouver’s downtown.
“The concern for me and the community is that we have an opportunity to heal and reconstruct what was destroyed when they first put Interstate 5 through Vancouver,” said Vancouver Mayor Royce Pollard. “We’re booming and we don’t want to do anything to harm that. This bridge is about the future economic viability of the region, and we ought to heal some of the things done in the past.”
This would seem to be directly opposite from the speculation by Oregonian Architecture critic Randy Gragg last year that the ramps could further impact downtown Vancouver.
Of course, capping the I-450 Freeway in Portland was a hot topic for a while. Coincidentally a reader just sent me a link about freeway capping in other cities.
21 responses to “CRC to Heal Vancouver?”
Could an arterial bridge that ends at the south edge of downtown (and a light rail line from it) also help “heal” Vancouver? It seems that it would send a lot more people through the area. Now, you have to work to get downtown, since you’re already on the freeway if you want to use the bridge.
The proposed mega-bridge has to fly over the railroad embankment putting it much higher than downtown Vancouver. How do you cap that?
Jim, you better put that question to Mayor Pollard!
I would argue that the continued prosperity of downtown Vancouver would be better served by more travel options other than a massive freeway expansion. Mayor Pollard gets it that MAX is critical to its future; now if we can get him to understand that an arterial link to Portland with great transit/bike/ped facilities will make us all want to travel north! Is his opposition to the arterial option based on all that tax free shopping at the other end?
Is his opposition to the arterial option based on all that tax free shopping at the other end?
I think any politician on the Clark County side of the river is afraid to be perceived as opposing fixing the freeway “bottleneck”. There are just too many people sitting in that traffic who see widening the bridge as a magic bullet. If there is any leadership capable of saying no to a wider bridge, it is going to have to come from the Oregon side of the river.
I think any politician on the Clark County side of the river is afraid to be perceived as opposing fixing the freeway “bottleneck”.
To be fair, at the tolling forum, Mayor Pollard said that if this was just about getting more commuters from Clark County to Portland he wouldn’t support it (I’m paraphrasing).
And Clark County Commission Steve Stuart was very concerned at the CLF forum about only having one option other than the no-build.
And Pollard coasted to re-election, so he is in a position to lead on this, and he has lead on lightrail. I just don’t get how helping even more cars woosh past downtown Vancouver helps keep things moving there. The arterial bridge will bring more traffic thru downtown Vancouver, yes, but with traffic comes customers…isn’t that the first rule of retail? I do not understand his position.
the mayor is a politician and as such may want to enforce existing Washington law which requires the local citizen to pay a sales tax on out of state purchases, fopr example if you buy a TV Set in Oregon you must by law stop at the tax office and declare it and pay the tax.. Yes I know almost nobody does it, though Washington does collect tax on vehicles, as sooner or later you must apply for tags and they knick you then..
Jason McHuff Says:
Per the comment on the arterial bridge – yeah. I don’t see why this isn’t being more seriously concerned. No matter what gets put in place to fill the gap for the I-5 needs, it isn’t going to be a very good solution. If light rail goes on it, that’ll slow down the already slow interstate ave yellow even more, making it even LESS valid. But then of course the I-5 bridge replacement won’t really help traffic either at the rate it is increasing. So maybe the hour long yellow line trip to and from Vancouver wont’ be too bad for the hour long drive to and fro Vancouver. Either way a replacement, at least in the context it is in now, isn’t much of a band aid let alone a solution.
Yeah, that’s a really good point. So if we really wanted to do something to get Portland (and Vancouver) noticed we could just build a bridge OVER Vancouver. :) Completely bypassing the downtown and thus not causing any problems.
Lenny Anderson Says:
Portland would freak at this proposal of fiscal accountability but seriously, the income tax is BAD. It makes it THAT MUCH MORE EXPENSIVE for business to be done in Portland. Get rid of it, put in place a sales tax. Then we’ll quit leaching Washington shoppers and they’ll quit leaching Oregon’s jobs.
Didn’t Steve Stuart used to be Executive Director of Friends of Clark County? I agree that both he and Pollard are generally friends of good land use and transportation decisions. Neither one of them supports more sprawling development in rural Clark County and they are going to do what they can to try to limit it.
It sounds like Pollard is trying to figure out how to protect his city from the negative impacts of a new bridge and trying to get some benefit from whatever is built. If the bridge is a done deal, it makes sense for him to be focusing on design issues that will mitigate its impact.
I just don’t think the sales tax stuff is much of an issue. I suspect most of the downtown Vancouver businesses see themselves gaining customers from Portland, rather than losing more customers across the bridge.
You know, it’s very easy for people who don’t actually understand the consequences an action has on reality (people, buildings, the environment, etc) to make outlandish claims.
For instance, I can easily say that “catching bears and putting them all in a zoo will be very beneficial to them because they will no longer have to live in the harsh outside environment. The bears will be much better off living in small, comfortable metal cages for the rest of their lives.”
However, simply by making a statement does not necessarily make it true, even if it were made by a wildlife agent. If urban planners – the supposed experts – were the ones who suggested laying freeways through city neighborhoods in the first place, what about some politically-oriented elected official who happened to have absolutely zero understanding of urban environments and the impacts of transportation infrastructure upon them?
The Columbia River Crossing folks did a presentation at the C-TRAN Board of Directors Meeting on Tuesday night. I was unable to stay for their presentation, or attend the CLF forum last week, but I think the general idea that people are saying is: let’s see an option that doesn’t involve doing nothing, and doesn’t involve a mega-bridge.
Sorta like saying you’d like a new grocery store in your neighborhood, but the only proposal on the table is one that would put a big box store in.
Yellow Line MAX travel time from Expo to Pioneer Courthouse Sq is 30 minutes; I would expect another 10 minutes or less to downtown Vancouver with a stop on Hayden Island. So 40 minutes or under from Ester Short Park to Pioneer Courthouse Sq…pretty quick and easy; maybe too easy.
Lenny if the yellow line comes to downtown Vancouver for it to make a dent in the traffic crossing the bridge people will have to park in the downtown area and it is not designed to handle that kind of traffic increase, and who would want to use that much land for a parking place.
IT makes more sense to find a way to pick people up at, or very close to their homes and then take them to a number of transfer stations that would then shuttle them to downtown Portland by bus.
A Yellow Line MAX/LRT connection into downtown Vancouver might reduce the number of people commuting to work in the I-5 corridor in the critical AM and PM peak period Rush Hours by 1% to 2% initially. Connecting people, the commuters, to the MAX Yellow Line is one thing and the other things is getting the commuters to their place of employment in a reasonable time with reasonable implications.
On the westside of downtown Vancouver core is the current Columbian Newspaper properties. They are moving to their new complex next Ester Short Park and their old property would make a great Transit Center with room for lots of parking and still close to the main core of the City.
This location matches up nicely with a MAX Yellow Line route that could loop around the EXPO Center to a new arterial multi-mode replacement BNSF RR Bridge. This is desperately needed for river safety and to expanding north/south heavy rail capacity in our region.
In replacing this RR bridge with a multi-mode double deck bridge we have the ability to extend Light Rail on it for very little cost and can get a Light Rail stop on Hayden Island and a new back door to the Island and Vancouver that can only help everything and everyone.
Using an existing rail hub to facilitate a city’s growth is widely followed and time honored. It’s even happening here around Union Station.
It so happens that at Vancouver’s main rail hub, along the BNSF route, there is already an AMTRAK station. Is there room for parking? I definitely think so. Is there room for some traffic lanes, too? Also, definitely, as that corridor is not yet built out and the existing nearby structures have little value. This could extend northward to NW 78th St and then connect to I-5. This is also parallel to the Fruit Valley highway route out to Ridgefield.
Paul says “On the westside of downtown Vancouver core is the current Columbian Newspaper properties. They are moving to their new complex next Ester Short Park and their old property would make a great Transit Center with room for lots of parking and still close to the main core of the City. This location matches up nicely with a MAX Yellow Line route that could loop around the EXPO Center to a new arterial multi-mode replacement BNSF RR Bridge. This is desperately needed for river safety and to expanding north/south heavy rail capacity in our region.”
With its potential views of the Columbia and of the Cascades, this is an ideal spot for high-scale development. It is a location that could also be served by a streetcar line from NW Front Ave in Portland–once Front Ave properties are sold to condo developers, which I think is going to happen within the next decade or so. So there you have it– a major multi-modal transit and busines center in wonderful Vancouver, WA.
Combine the “arterial bridge to Hayden Island” into this corridor. If the arterial bridge was placed next to I-5, as some advocate, you’re just adding one more navigation obstacle for river traffic, plus disrupting downtown Vancouver with additional ramps. Having this twelve blocks to the west, in regards to accessing Jantzen Beach, ain’t gonnna hurt a bit.
The multi modal bridge in the BNSF corridor does everything that people are asking for–plus it opens up a new, alternative route into West Portland. It can easily take traffic headed for US 26/Sunset Highway by way of Yeon Ave and I-405.
Do this and there is no need for a new I-5 bridge–which based on previous trends, will be maxed out again in twenty years. My informal surveys indicate that this is a widely supported vision for improving connections between Clark Co. and the Portland area–without a major pork barrel project! Get on board, CRC task force!
Is his opposition to the arterial option based on all that tax free shopping at the other end?
No. Understand that Oregon and Washington have told the locals that maintaining a local access bridge is not their job. No one (city or county) on either side of the river has come forward to say they will keep the current I-5 bridges up and running.
If a second bridge was built, the state transportation departments are basically saying that the Feds will not be putting money into it. Therefore the states are not going to put any money into it. Therefore the locals are saying nothing about paying for or building a local access bridge with only local dollars. Locals have not come forward to take on the maintanence of the older bridges if a new crossing was constructed.
It is all about the initial capital costs and the on going maintainence costs. There is no pot of money for maintenance locally.
“Yellow Line MAX travel time from Expo to Pioneer Courthouse Sq is 30 minutes; I would expect another 10 minutes or less to downtown Vancouver with a stop on Hayden Island. So 40 minutes or under from Ester Short Park to Pioneer Courthouse Sq…pretty quick and easy; maybe too easy.”
And the old #5 bus used to have a running time of about 42 minutes from downtown Portland to downtown Vancouver during rush hours. What a shame, all this money down the drain for nothing.
Did the 42 minutes include time spent stuck on I-5 on-ramps (from both NoPo and Hayden Island)? I know that today this can really put the 6 off schedule.
Also, I have put a draft version on my web site on how the Yellow line could have been done better. In summary: put it along I-5 (there’s room) allowing higher speeds, avoiding 3 street jogs and attracting riders from the east. Also combine the stops for Overlook & Prescott and have no Kenton one. Make downtown-downtown trips take 20-30 minutes.
I’m looking at my old 5-Interstate schedule (effective 8.31.03) right now (Yes, I held onto it for posterity). Here are some examples of the *scheduled* run times from Downtown Portland (SW 6th & Mill) to 7th St. Transit Center in Vancouver:
7:02 AM > 7:42 AM – 40 minutes
8:01 AM > 8:44 AM – 43 minutes
5:01 PM > 5:55 PM – 54 minutes
6:32 PM > 7:17 PM – 45 minutes
6:52 AM > 7:28 AM – 36 minutes
7:52 AM > 8:28 AM – 36 minutes
5:01 PM > 5:46 PM – 45 minutes
6:32 PM > 7:13 PM – 41 minutes
7:07 AM > 7:42 AM – 35 minutes
8:01 AM > 8:39 AM – 38 minutes
5:01 PM > 5:42 PM – 41 minutes
6:32 PM > 7:11 PM – 39 minutes
I should mention that I actually used to use that 6:52 AM Saturday bus, which I used to transfer to C-TRAN 37-Mill Plain to get to my job at the time, which was in the Cascade Park area. Unless there was a bridge lift, that really did represent the actual run time.
As for the City of Vancouver – rumor has it that they wanted to force C-TRAN out of 7th early, and have no bus service at all south of Mill Plain Blvd. Thank goodness that hasn’t happened, and C-TRAN on Tuesday night approved a plan that will hopefully make sure that doesn’t happen at all, with Broadway becoming a major transit street, and will also put the “Van” into Vanport Transit Center.
Jason, I agree that perhaps a better place for the Yellow line would’ve been along I-5 – but it was determined it would be better off replacing the 5-Interstate and run on Interstate Ave. Although, I think it would be great if they built “express” tracks along I-5, so the last stop in Oregon would be at Rose Quarter TC, and the next would be somewhere in Downtown Vancouver. I bet people would be willing to pay at least $4-5 per ride (or $175/mo.) for that type of service (C-TRAN express routes are currently $3 cash or $105/mo., and the monthly pass price allows one to ride any C-TRAN or TriMet route). Since I think (you’d have to ask them) that Oregon and Washington would both like to think the metro area ends at the state line, that’ll never happen (It has been commented before at C-TRAN meetings that some feel C-TRAN concentrates too much time/resources into Portland Express service – the reply is that, regardless of the pipe dream that everyone who lives in Clark Co. would also work there, that is simply not the case at this time and that the express service, at the level currently provided, is needed. IMO, however, it’s the best transit service in the metro area).
It’s clear that a lot of us on this site, however, see the state line as arbitrary, and the traffic/transit mess needs to be worked out cooperatively, not one side forcing the other to do something.
An interesting read…as always. As a member of the CRC and the former Interstate MAX Advisory Committee chairman, I have been involved with these projects for the last 15 years. I live in Overlook and walk across the Yellow Line to my job at Kaiser.
If I remember right (and I’m not going to go thru the pile in the basement to confirm it right now), the time gain on I-5 vs Interstate was a few minutes. The trains would only make it up to 37 MPH or so between stops. The small difference assumes they are operating at optimal speed on Interstate which happens most of the time. Reliability is dramatically improved. Yellow Line is on time >95% of the time while the 5 was on time 3/4 of the trips per my recollection. Of course, bridge lifts were a significant source of the deviations. Also, Interstate Avenue is substantially nicer than in the past for bikes and peds. It is safer for drivers too. Commutes are somewhat slower but were not unexpected. Having the alignment along I-5 would have made it a bit quicker for commuters (esp from Vancouver when the Yellow Line goes there and terminates at Kiggins Bowl). The number of homes and businesses that would have had to be removed was more significant – I think 30 structures was the number – due to the freeway ramps. Closing the Alberta Street ramps was discussed during the alignment alternatives analysis, but there was plenty of outcry to keep them open. Therefore the houses on Minnesota would have to go due to lack of access. We all know how difficult it is to take anything at the present time. However, with the alignment along Interstate, land values in the neighborhood are significantly higher in part due to those tracks. That wouldn’t have happened with an I-5 alignment.
The reason the Overlook (Park) stop on the Yellow Line was moved to the south instead of bisecting Overlook Blvd was that 2/3 of the line 5 riders during the day were coming to and from Kaiser’s campus while 1/3 were from the neighborhood. Hopefully Kaiser will join the party someday and do something besides offering to use pre-tax employee funds to pay for passes, tickets, etc. I do expect as developments such as Overlook Heights at Shaver & Interstate, the Crown Motel redevelopment, the Killingsworth Block development, the multiple complexes to be built soon along Mississippi Avenue and the smaller infill (e.g. along Prescott behind the hobby shop), the ridership will improve. When Kenton adds a big chunk of housing in the next 5 years, that stop will pick up numbers too. The lack of condemnation (which I support) plus the very high real estate prices have slowed the pace of development. The Interstate Corridor is just starting the zoning review which will hopefully improve the mix.
I expect going to downtown Vancouver should add 6 minutes to the current Yellow Line run. 3 minutes per station – Hayden Island stop in between.