Sharing a Few Thoughts on the CRC

Local economist Joe Cortright and I share a few thoughts on the Columbia River Crossing in the O this morning.

Over at Northwest Progressive Institute, there’s a nice perspective piece from the Washington side of the bridge.

27 Comments

27 Responses to Sharing a Few Thoughts on the CRC

  1. Mr. Tired
    January 30, 2007 at 4:16 pm Link

    Chris,

    I read your piece in the Oregonian today and was disappointed.

    My questions for you:

    1. At what point would you consider all “choices” to be fully studied? What about “choices” that clearly don’t solve the stated problems? I have a very difficult time believing you would want to eliminate LRT from the project because it’s the Hummer version of the solution, rather than the econobox BRT.

    2. Would a ‘solution’ that costs 1/2 as much as a new bridge, but did not reduce congestion, improve transit access, or improve safety be worth the money? How much should a ‘solution’ like this be studied?

    3. Do you really think that the CRC project can be fairly compared to the Mt Hood Freeway project? I think it can be safely argued that the 2 projects are very different animals. With maybe the main difference being that one project was a new facility while the other is merely a replacement for what is already there.

    4. Do you know that much of the projected cost of the project is not just the actual bridge? Rebuilding several critical interchanges, adding light rail or BRT, and other improvements make up a great deal of the total cost.

    5. In your opinion, do you believe the existing bridges should be retained and carry freeway traffic in the future? Should any road capacity be added at all? Should transit service over the Columbia be improved with additional buses or LRT?

  2. djk
    January 30, 2007 at 7:06 pm Link

    Great piece, Chris!

    Given a choice between “buy a new Hummer” or “keep driving the beat-up Toyota”, I’ll stick with the Toyota.

    We need to see some real options going into the DEIS, something beyond the $2 billion+ superbridge or nothing. Let’s see what kind of solutions $1.5 billion, $1 billion, $700 million will buy. Let’s take a hard look at putting those extra two lanes on different bridges for local travel.

  3. Chris Smith
    January 30, 2007 at 7:57 pm Link

    1. At what point would you consider all “choices” to be fully studied? What about “choices” that clearly don’t solve the stated problems? I have a very difficult time believing you would want to eliminate LRT from the project because it’s the Hummer version of the solution, rather than the econobox BRT.

    They’re not fully studied until they have credible price tags so that we can evaluate cost/benefit trade-offs.

    2. Would a ‘solution’ that costs 1/2 as much as a new bridge, but did not reduce congestion, improve transit access, or improve safety be worth the money? How much should a ‘solution’ like this be studied?

    You’re assuming we’re in agreement on the problem that needs to be solved. The op-ed was pretty clear that we think the “Purpose and Need” may be too narrow.

    4. Do you know that much of the projected cost of the project is not just the actual bridge? Rebuilding several critical interchanges, adding light rail or BRT, and other improvements make up a great deal of the total cost.

    Which is why $2B may be a very low estimate.

    5. In your opinion, do you believe the existing bridges should be retained and carry freeway traffic in the future? Should any road capacity be added at all? Should transit service over the Columbia be improved with additional buses or LRT?

    I think we should start with a land-use and economic strategy, and then design the transportation solution to fit, rather than make a transportation improvement that will drive land-use in the wrong direction and perhaps have little economic benefit.

  4. Whill
    January 30, 2007 at 8:41 pm Link

    I bet it’ll top $18 billion by the time it is finished and the dust settled.

  5. Mr. Tired
    January 30, 2007 at 9:57 pm Link

    Chris,

    Did the decision to build westside MAX start with a land use and economic decision? I don’t think it did. In fact, it was exactly the proposed transportation decision that was expected to drive the land use and economics affected by the project. Ditto for the streetcar, the streetcar extension and the tram. Actually, almost all of Portland was developed that way. I think you are probably OK with all of those decisions. It’s strange that you then disagree with the current CRC recommendation based on your answer to my 5th question (which you really didn’t answer at all). You seem to have a very subjective decision-making process, and I feel that this affects your ability to fairly evaluate the current CRC proposal w/o bias. Rails good, tires bad. It is exactly this impartiality that is a requirement to actually make these important decisions by evaluating them on the basis of agreed upon standards (both community & engineering) and regulations.

    In your opinion, do you think there is a “problem” with the current Columbia River Crossing?

  6. Chris Smith
    January 30, 2007 at 10:13 pm Link

    The “problem” is that unless land use is very carefully managed, we’ll spend many billions of $$$ replacing a congested narrow bridge with a congested wide bridge.

    I’m a fan of the 2040 concept for our region. My experience is that rail helps move us in that direction and freeway lanes generally move us away.

  7. Mr Tired
    January 31, 2007 at 7:47 am Link

    Don’t you think buses move us towards the 2040 concept? Has rail really moved us any closer to the 2040 concept? I think the evidence on the ground says otherwise. I don’t think more roads are the answer either. But then again, the CRC project really isn’t about more roads. Are you really interested in debate or just sticking to your guns? You don’t seem to want to answer direct questions. I hope you don’t spend time accusing politicians and project officials of the same obtuseness…

  8. Chris Smith
    January 31, 2007 at 10:26 am Link

    Mr. Tired, I think buses provide mobility but have limited impact on land use compared to rail (bus with dedicated right-of-way, which we don’t use in the reason would be more like rail in this respect).

    You’re falling back into making this about personalities (me) than about policy, which is not how this site works, and I’m not going to engage on that level.

  9. Mr. Tired
    January 31, 2007 at 12:25 pm Link

    Buses do impact land use, and can do so with a greater dollar for dollar impact than rail. Many cities in the world have highly developed bus networks. You still haven’t answered any of my basic questions: Has rail really moved us any closer to the 2040 concept? Is there a “problem” with the current Columbia River Crossing? At what point do personalities intrude upon objectiveness? How can we have a debate if you refuse to answer my questions and don’t provide me with the opportunity to do so?

  10. Evan Manvel
    January 31, 2007 at 12:46 pm Link

    Excellent Op-Ed, Chris. Hopefully those who are making decisions are as aware of what’s going on with this process.

    The lack of attaching costs and benefits to the various options would drive any economist nuts.

  11. nate
    January 31, 2007 at 1:07 pm Link

    Hey Mr Tired,

    I’ll answer your questions!

    -IMO, rail has certainly moved PDX toward the realization of the 2040 plan. Rail already connects several Nodes, and the connections will only improve as the system expands. Its a flexible system: by using buses LRT and Park and Rides, many different users are accomadated for many different types of trips. It gives people the option of an *easier* trip to some of the places they want or need to go to. At this point, of course, the system is still young. Remember that the first MAX line, to Gresham, is only 30 years old. And in that time period the system has expanded and we’ve learned a lot from early days of our pioneering effort! Were already seeing, and will continue to see, with increased frequency, higher density and mixed-use projects, especially in the Nodes.

    To sum it up, its not perfect but were moving forward. It should be noted that Portland is a pioneer in these efforts, and these things take time.

    -Of course there is a problem with the CRC: moving people and freight efficiently.

    The “problem” with the CRC is not limited to the CRC “impact area”. Essentially, the new bridge cannot not solve the problems associated with the CRC because the impact area is only a small part of the problem.
    Additionally, a new bridge (safer, bigger, seismically sound, with transit etc) would be welcommed, I think, by everyone… As long as it doesn’t increase SOV capacity. HOWEVER, the cost, at least 2 Billion Dollars, is prohibitive. Itd be nice to have a new bridge. But not for 2 Billion. Come on, don’t you get it yet?? The cost is the *biggest* issue with the CRC “solution” currently on the table…. And its th only “solution” on the table right now. Get it??

    In addition, regarding Chris’ comments on land use planning (and your “rebuttal”, which was more like a personal attack, BTW), I believe it is prudent and wise to take a look at Vancouvers land use plans *before* moving forward with any construction. Vancouver benefits far more from this bridge than any other area…. And those benefitting the most will be exurbanites and suburbanites living in Clark Co. Its only just to examine of their wishes are compatible with the health of the entire region.

  12. Mr. Tired
    January 31, 2007 at 1:36 pm Link

    Thanks Nate!

    Not sure I’d go so far to call LRT a ‘flexible’ system. Clearly it’s less flexible than buses. Many, if not all of the node-based projcets were built with public subsidies. Transit mode-share hasn’t increased very much in Portland despite the presence of LRT.

    Where is your concern over the cost of additional LRT projects? I don’t think it’s right to criticize the CRC project cost while ignoring, say, the cost of the Green Line. The $2b estimate includes the cost of a HCT system, as well as several interchanges. So it’s not just the bridge.

    Suggesting that Chris is using selective reasoning (as you are doing as well by pointing out the cost of a new bridge but ignoring the cost of light rail elsewhere) and wondering if this is affecting his ability to look at the issues impartially is hardly a personal attack. Also: pointing out the obvious biases of someone’s opinion when they spend time doing exactly that to others is also be fair game.

    BTW: saying this region or that region benefits more is smacks not only of nimby-ism, undercuts regional efforts to work together, and is flat out untrue.

    Looking forward to your reply.

  13. Lenny Anderson
    January 31, 2007 at 2:24 pm Link

    Thanks Chris for your piece. At some point common sense has to be imposed on schemes that get hatched out of the bowels of government.

  14. nate
    February 1, 2007 at 3:30 am Link

    Mr tired,

    First of all, our transportation system is not LRT-only, it is a multi-modal system consisting of roads, highways, freeways, LRT, Streetcars and buses. Its flexible because its *not* LRT-only.

    Subsidies are required for some new developments for two reasons: 1) TOD is a new and mostly unproven concept, and 2) construction materials are now so expensive that developers are rarely willing to take chances…. to control the process better, its prudent to offer some subsidies.
    I think subsidies will decrease as 1) TOD is proven to be popular and efficient, and 2) developers continue to produce new homes in proven areas- ie the pearl continues to explode with new homes despite the fact that major subsidies are no longer on the table.

    Re: the cost of a new CR bridge compared with the cost of the Green Line: I understand why the cost of the bridge is greatly affected by transit and interchange requirements. However, this may be reason to enough to nix such a bridge.
    In the same way, the Green Line’s price is greatly affected by the Mall conversion. This also may have been a good reason to forego the new Mall alignment. In fact, I’m am not a proponent of the new Mall.

    Costly LRT projects may not be in the city’s best interest. I’m not sure about Chris’ viewpoint, but IMO, LRT to Milwaukie may not be worth the cost….in the same way that the CRC may not be worth the cost.

    However, every project, whether LRT or highway, needs to evaluated on its own merits and costs.

    Re: Vancouver benefitting more than PDX.
    I stand by my comments…. And I don’t understand how it can be NIMBYism to say that Vancouver’s growth pattern and overall culture is incompatible with the region’s aspirations.
    The fact is Vancouver is dragging its feet as the west coast enters the 21st century. Their outdated city-model will only damage Portland’s accomplishment of becoming a world-class mid-sized city.
    My primary concern in terms of a new bridge would be increasing West Coast mobility and freight mobility. I have no interest in subsidizing a lifestyle (the Vancouver lifestyle) which I believe to be incompatible with the region as a whole and the morality and ethics of the 21st century person.

    I just don’t see why there is anything wrong with Portland *not* subsidizing a suburb that will only harm the city itself. Vancouver, and I don’t mean personal offense to anyone here, is a parasite. It can only function by siphoning off of the city. Its land use plans are medievel…. And until this changes I do not believe Vancouver should get better access to Portland jobs and Portland roads and Portland services and Portland shopping…especially when Portlanders while be paying for a large part of a new bridge.

    I will say, build the bridge if Vancouverites are willing to pay a 5€ toll on it, just like on the GG in the Bay Area. Then they are paying for it…. And I have little problem with that.

  15. Mr. Tired
    February 1, 2007 at 8:06 am Link

    Nate – thanks very for your commments.

    Re: flexibility. Your original post concerned the flexibility of the LRT specifically. If you meant the entire trans. system as a whole – fine. But LRT (and rail in general) is inflexible. (also cited as one of its most important characteristics.

    It’s been years already with the TOD concept – both in PDX and elsewhere. I believe the convential wisdom among planers these days is that the concept is a bit of a disappointment. In any case, the point is that large subsidies for development around LRT stations are still required to get stuff built. Not only is this economically inefficient, but it also flies in the face of the planners that suggested that the subsidies would never be needed. Gateway is still nowhere near what it was ‘planned’ to be, and Eastside MAX is over 20 years old!

    Re: the cost of the bridge vs LRT/interchanges. The interchanges are sorely needed to be rebuilt, even if no new bridge was built. The New Mall alignment was 100% necesary in order to get the Green Line to CTC built. In some ways, it is a similar project (froma funding point of view) as the CRC project in that there are several different drivers that allow the project to be funded, and justified. But what I don’t hear you saying is that the Green should not have been built b/c it was too expensive and did too little. If you examine it with the same lens of the CRC project, you will easily find it not worth the cost and heavily subsidized by US taxpayers. In fact, this is true w/ almost any trans. project (shhh, that’s the dirty secret…). There are some great articles by Martin Wachs down at UC Berkeley about this stuff….

    I say Nimbyism b/c in effect Vancouver is the outflow of many of people in the region that want to live in a car-dominated area and are unable to get that in Portland. We are the ones saying to them (I think rightfully so) that we don’t want that sort of development in our backyard. Beaverton, Gresham, LO, Tualatin, Tigard, Hillsboro, etc. are also being built with a car-dominated culture. As for impacting Portland’s world-class-ness? Hardly. Does the growth patterns on Long Island (Nassau/Suffolk counties) or up in Westchester or NJ (same or worse than our suburbs) impact NYC’s class? No. As I said before – subsidies are everywhere – roads & rails. The system needs a balance. Replacing an outmoded, unsafe bridge (only traffic signal b/n Mex and Can on I-5), redoing some poorly designed interchanges that cause much of the traffic, adding some form of HCT, improving freight, providing safe access for bikes and ped, all by working with 2 states (WA is paying most of this BTW), 2 cities, 2 counties, 2 regional govt’s, etc etc. is a great way to tie the region together. Just like capitalism is slowing undoing the yoke of communist repression in China, maybe by tying PDX/Van together more tightly, can we help to ‘export’ a more sustainable style across the river. Anyway – those vancouver folks are paying taxes to Oregon after all! Oh – and I think there will be a toll – both ways!

    Thx

  16. Nick
    February 1, 2007 at 9:43 am Link

    Nate said:

    “Costly LRT projects may not be in the city’s best interest….but IMO, LRT to Milwaukie may not be worth the cost.”

    Mr. Tired said:

    “Re: flexibility. Your original post concerned the flexibility of the LRT specifically. If you meant the entire trans. system as a whole – fine. But LRT (and rail in general) is inflexible. (also cited as one of its most important characteristics.”

    Agreed. But this is what we are going to get, as long as railfans control/influence the transit agenda here in Portland. As I have said before, people should be asking the hard questions about all this investment in rail in a region that is not suited for it. Also, what is the agenda of people calling the shots or involved in transit planning.

    At least the transit lanes over the new CRC could be dual-mode (BRT/LRT), as it looks like we are already stuck with MAX to Vancouver. But I doubt that this would happen, given the current political realities.

  17. Frank Dufay
    February 1, 2007 at 11:23 am Link

    Just getting caught up on this thread, home in bed…

    You guys make me laugh out loud. There’s Chris, champion of the East Side Streetcar “alternatives” analysis…that failed to look at ANY alternatives to the streetcar, where it went, and who it served, bridling at the lack of serious alternatives analysis for the bridge to the Vancouver ‘burbs. Gotta chuckle.

    And then, Mr. Tired…I mean, c’mon, Mr. Tired? I may not agree with Chris sometimes…and, frankly, I think you raise some interesting points. But Mr. Tired? You don’t have a name? (And if it really IS Mr. Tired you may have sincerest apologies…otherwise, geez, just call me Mr. Sleepy Head.)

    I think the overarching issue here –to be serious for 2 seconds, tops– is we need to really look at transportation alternatives…not impose a top down solution to problems that may fit one set of assumptions and agenda, but may not, in the final analysis, be best for everyone.

    I am so friggin’ sick of us assuming that people will get out of their cars…when they’re not. Especially when we don’t even give them sidewalks to walk to their buses.

    We need a broader conversation. I had a dentist appointment out on Barnes Road yesterday and I was early and tooled around a bit –in my car– in my old Cedar Hills Neighborhood and beyond, what used to be farmland. Has anyone looked out there lately? They are NOT building Transit Oriented Development. Sure, I lived there 30 years ago…but that area is unrecognizable to me today.

    If we keep designing and building homes around the automobile, then nibbling at the edges with MAX, trams and streetcars is exactly that…mostly irrelevant in the scheme of things.

  18. Nick
    February 1, 2007 at 12:40 pm Link

    Frank said:

    “If we keep designing and building homes around the automobile, then nibbling at the edges with MAX, trams and streetcars is exactly that…mostly irrelevant in the scheme of things.”

    Well, this is exactly my point: these rail lines are too damn inflexibe to do the job. This is why I am so pro-BRT–you can offer tailored service to where the riders go, avoiding a lot of needless transfers and lengthened trip times.

    Frank also said:

    “I think the overarching issue here –to be serious for 2 seconds, tops– is we need to really look at transportation alternatives…not impose a top down solution to problems that may fit one set of assumptions and agenda, but may not, in the final analysis, be best for everyone.”

    NOT HERE in Portland, Frank. You know, got to keep the railfans happy. Logic has no place here.

  19. Mr. Tired
    February 1, 2007 at 3:07 pm Link

    Well, it’s not really Mr. Tired. But – I chose that moniker because I am tired of the hypocrisy of the self-righteous. Frank – your point about the East Side streetcar is exactly what I am talking about. That is what makes me tired.

    What also makes me tired is listening to the same group of folks parrot the same sort of misconceptions and same sort of ill-conceived (though creative) solutions about the CRC project and other ones in the area. While there is no question that there truly is a lot of transportation knowledge on this site, it still pales in comparison to the the people that actually are working on this region’s projects. Those folks spend everyday looking and crunching the data and working to make the hard decisions. Public involvement in the process is absolutely crucial. And I am very very thankful to live in the 1 place in the US where people actually give a damn about their transportation system and are willing to give alternatives a try. But, I am tired of the conspiracy theories. I am tired of trying to explain why a 3rd bridge is a poor idea. I am tired of trying to explain that high speed rail is just not an effective way to spend money because it will not solve any problems.

    What I am not tired about is using my experience and knowledge of land use planning, traffic engineering, etc. and to try and offer explanation as to how and why decisions are made. I am more than happy to have a debate of LRT vs. BRT (BTW – the CRC plan calls for express buses in either situation). I’ve worked for years as a transportation activist in Portland. I know the people who make the decisions and am lucky to have the opportunity again and again to pick their brains about why and how things are done. I can and do see both sides. Read my older posts – it’s all there.

  20. Anon
    February 1, 2007 at 3:39 pm Link

    Mr Tired said: “What I am not tired about is using my experience and knowledge of land use planning, traffic engineering, etc. and to try and offer explanation as to how and why decisions are made.”

    The problem is, often times you resort to an “appeal to authority” to justify your agruments; This is a logical fallacy even when applied to someone who has genuine expertise. When an anonymous person uses an appeal to their own authority it borders on absurd.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appeal_to_authority

  21. Mr. Tired
    February 1, 2007 at 4:11 pm Link

    Good points and good moniker for the post. I’m not necessarily interested in convincing you that I’m right. Just that I can offer explanations for how/why decisions are made. I’m not making things up – I’m not going to write anything that isn’t true. Why would I take time to post here and then spend the time writing things that aren’t true? Does it sound like I’m crazy?

    It’s just not my job to take the time to prove it to you. You can find out on your own whether they facts are true or not. But I’m not sending you on a wild goose chase. I’ll point you in the right direction. Go through my old posts…

    The fact remains that there are several regular posters on this forum that still insist that their ‘solution’ is right no matter what. Can you send me the link to that Wikipedia page?

  22. Chris Smith
    February 1, 2007 at 8:26 pm Link

    You guys make me laugh out loud. There’s Chris, champion of the East Side Streetcar “alternatives” analysis…that failed to look at ANY alternatives to the streetcar, where it went, and who it served, bridling…

    Frank, while I acknowledge some parallels, the Streetcar project had a prior phase under City leadership (before we decided to go for Federal money and Metro took over the process), where several alignment alternatives were examined.

  23. Paul Edgar
    February 1, 2007 at 9:50 pm Link

    Mr. Tired, I have never been afraid to let people know who I am or try to hide behind any special interest effort to support the CRC Task Force for what most everyone has come to understand as an effort that you are part of. It is the company line or in this case the project line and it has nothing to do with what is right or wrong.

    What strikes me as funny about much of what you say is how you write-off a 3rd Bridge and corridor when many leading transportation authorities have suggested this alternate option as having equal need and priority to anything needed in the Portland/Vancouver region.

    There is an apparent major fear amoung CRC Task Force Staff that a new 3rd Bridge and arterial corridor option might be better for our region. I have had some CRC insiders tell me that is why they are trying to cordinate an attack on this option.

    So Mr. Tired thank you for trying to carry the water for the CRC project and your PR efforts are understood. Politics and special interests are an art form that now flows into the blog world and without a legiment identity to tell us different we have to assume that you are just getting paid in some way to spread your story.

  24. Todd frpm Vancouver
    February 1, 2007 at 11:54 pm Link

    Chris,

    Thanks for hosting this and many other discussions.

    Well on the north side of the Columbia our discussions have many of the same splits…why should we pay more $ to build a bridge in order to make things in Portland, bleed our retail, and pay OR taxes – income and employer taxes. (Some are calling for another tea party.) There are a lot of cars over here now with OR plates…in many ways there are a lot of Oregonians who fled Portland’s urban vision when the 205 bridge became the relief value for growth – the UGB on both sides of the river are slow failures.

    Others like myself live and work local and are in the path and cloud (or shadow) of the wider facility. We know this might be the only way to get a quality bike and transit crossing to the south but are not sure if we want it to be even easier to sprawl in Yacolt and work in Lake O without commute time increasing.

    My neighbors and leaders to the north (county commissioners, etc.) seem to be bent on the bus option…I doubt they have ever gone a month without a car and ridden both forms of transit to work and the store. If they had then they would know LRT is a far more desirable ride. I worry they are dangling BRT in front of folks as an option only to take it away once LRT is stopped.

    The bridge congestion has started to create some interesting dynamics here…more retail shopping up here (and sales tax revenue) and folks looking at working over here. (The commute imbalance is now only 60K vs. 20K.) It is still a struggle since all of our news and media (advertising) still comes from Portland.

    I for one would rather see us try some well funded soft solutions and minor capital fixes – similar to the ones done 10 years ago for the 5 bridge trunion repairs: mandatory vanpools, I-5 commuter rail, etc. Plus new ones like starting a regionwide job swap bank, TravelSmart, bicycle buddies/ bike commute pools (RU Bridge Curious), closure of direct Hayden Island ramps/ new access to the south, closure of Vancouver’s 6th St ramp, relocation of SR-14 ramp, widening of the bike-ped paths on the bridge (Hawthorne style), a freight friendly toll, HOV lanes that go somewhere, etc. Then there is the rail bridge fix. The seismic issues for the bridges really make the no-build option difficult to push in most leaders minds.

    I look at the river crossing’s evolution over time…looking at transit tables…and mode proportion over the last 100 years each time the crossing is ‘improved’ by our DOTs transportation equity seems to slip as transit loses dedicated lane space/ headways stagnate and bike/ ped lane capacity stagnates too. (This would be a great CRC diagram to compare the capacity of the crossing my mode and era – TA in NYC has used this to some success for pushing transit bridge improvements. See “Bridge By Numbers” pg 5 http://www.transalt.org/press/magazine/012Spring.pdf )

    Look at CTRANs new service changes as express buses shift to feeding MAX and local buses replace Trimet’s #6 (Designing the Future http://www.c-tran.com/ ). I wonder if CTRAN wants bi-state transportation to work? They are struggling with the future of having to accommodate Trimet LRTup here. Removal of free transfers hurt ridership a few years back. Recently during the snow storms it was reported that CTRAN express riders had to pay $3 to ride a shortened bus ride from downtown Vancouver to Trimet’s Delta Park MAX station and then pay a full TRIMET fare. I hope this is not a hint of things to come with the new service changes. Perhaps our mayor will save us with Vancouver rescuing urban transit service from CTRAN – to recreate VANTRANS…back to the future before CTRAN was regionalized.

    I worry that the ‘freight first’ focus is a smoke screen for finding federal funding for building anything that will just provide more construction jobs, downtown redevelopment and not necessarily a regionally sustainable functioning transportation facility. Too bad the folks who are hammering about costs would invest the same effort to looking at promoting bicycling for most trips with in 3 or 5 miles as the real option for affordable mobility…better than rail, buses, or cars for most local trips…once some real investment is done for bikeways.

    Portland you can also help Vancouver out too…stop the local schools crisis to keep families at (your) home and reform your taxes (sales tax, etc.) to keep us from shopping down south.

    Or building a new aerial tram from downtown Vancouver to the end of an extended MAX at Jansen Beach. (I have not heard this one yet.)

  25. Terry Parker
    February 2, 2007 at 1:10 am Link

    Tonight was the first time I have looked at this thread, and there is some good conversation going on here.

    From my prospective, the biggest issue is the cost of the project, and that any costs of the project passed on to be paid by users of the crossing be spread across all modes of transport with any social engineering thrown out.

    I fully agree with those who view the potential costs of a big new bridge, actually three bridges tied together with a common deck, as far exceeding the suggested 2 billion price tag. Just having Mayot Pollard of Vancouver calling for a covering of I-5 will increase the costs. This is why every aspect of the cost factor must be looked at, even some that some people might call the trivial costs but could possibly be chipped away. For example, the current estimated costs for any new structure is $500.00 per square foot. (For the record that is a flexible engineering estimate that could go $100.00 or more each way. The bridge structure itself structure is 4400 feet long. The bicycle/pedestrian portion is 15 feet wide making the cost about 33 million just for to accommodate bicycles and pedestrians crossing the river. That price does not include the connection and approach infrastructure on either end for that would be needed. Is this cost effective for the estimated 200 or so bicyclists and the estimated 200 or so pedestrians (I understand the City of Vancouver is supposed to have the actual numbers) that use the crossing daily? Does including bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in the project have any effect on development? Should the policy to add such infrastructure be trumped in favor of making the project more economically acceptable thereby requiring bicyclists and pedestrians to use a transit option to cross the river?

    The huge price tag of the big bridge recommendation is also the reason I think a middle ground option should be brought forward in the process. Although I do not agree with all the details, I think Jim Howell’s concept is one to look at. Another concept might be to build a new six lane I-5 freeway bridge and use the current bridges for local connections and transit. Yet another concept is the third bridge option. Fixing the entrances to I-5 in the project area, creating a local connection to Hayden Island and a reality check need to increase the motor vehicle capacity on the crossing are far more of a must do than replacing the existing bridges.

    I also agree with Paul Edgar’s observation that the task force is doing everything possible to knock out a third bridge option. Taking that a step farther, my observations continues to be the Oregon side (and now Pollard) wants to socially engineer the crossing with light rail and less than accommodate the stakeholder motorists they expect to pay for the project, while the Washington side sees the reality and the need to increase motor vehicle capacity thereby representing the residents of Clark County. The CRC’s big bridge mega proposal is a result of combining the two options and the reason the CRC is also doing everything possible to knock out a middle ground option. However, without a middle ground option for comparison, I do not see how the CRC can justify the mega option.

    One of the issues I have problems with is placing land use over transportation needs. The history of development in the U.S. says otherwise. Placing land use ahead of transportation appears to be yet another end run at social engineering which I despise. Furthermore, the Cost of Congestion report done for Metro clearly identifies Portland as a transportation hub and a region where jobs are tied to transportation. That also tells me transportation must come in first.

    An associated issue I have a problem is the suggestion that light rail will increase development options. Any new transportation option short of bicycling and including roadways has the potential of promoting development.

    Furthermore, people vote with their mode choice and the federal government has told Metro people vote by using their cars. Since voting is a part of free speech. Then any social engineering that would be tied to this project would be an infringement on free speech and must be eliminated.

  26. Ron Swaren
    February 2, 2007 at 7:58 pm Link

    Hello CRC,

    Diversify OUT of the I-5 corridor, not make it worse by attracting more traffic! Build the Western Arterial Interstate Bridge! You’re going to waste Billions for nothing!

  27. Terry Parker
    February 3, 2007 at 1:59 pm Link

    One more quick comment:

    I think the CRC has for the most part correctly identified the number of motor vehicle lanes needed for an improved Columbia Crossing (3 full service I-5 through freeway lanes in each direction and 2 or 3 lanes in each direction to handle local traffic), however without further study of how the current bridges could be utilized and further pricing out of the various options for the motor vehicle lanes needed, I question whether big new bridge is the most cost effective way to go.

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