How Do We Size and Allocate Freeway Capacity?

Yesterday’s Portland Tribune, in milder terms than the FHWA, editorialized that Metro may be overlooking roads in the Regional Transportation Plan update.

While Steve Clark, the Trib’s publisher, and a mover and shaker on transportation issues in the business community, would probably concede that we can’t build our way out of congestion, the tone of the editorial suggests that he wants us to try a little bit.

Metro’s approach on the other hand is to recognize that freeway capacity is a finite quantity, and we’re better off building better connected local grids to avoid funneling so much traffic onto the constrained freeways.

Another way to look at this is to ask how we’re going to allocate our freeway capacity: with congestion, so whoever is willing to wait the longest gets to use the freeway. Or perhaps more rationally, with some form of pricing, so that the economically most important trips get priority?

This is going to be an interesting discussion to watch unfold.

48 responses to “How Do We Size and Allocate Freeway Capacity?”

  1. I thought we were way past the Highwayman’s Motto: “It won’t work, we know it won’t work, we’re going to do it anyway.” From Pricetags

  2. Okay, we know that the publisher of the Tribune is one of the authors of the Costs of Congestion study. That study has been criticized as specious and one-sided, but it definitely represents the interests of a bunch of business types who seem to want to get some superhighways built around here.

    Frankly, I don’t think that’s what Portland wants. But I worry that we might get railroaded.

    (Clark quotes again that figure for Portland’s alarming growth: a million more people in the next 20 years. Again — and again and again — I ask: says who? And why? And if we don’t build it, will they do us a favor and not come?)

  3. I think another way to look at the population projection is to ask WHY those people are coming here. Could it perhaps be because Portland has a reputation of being a place that is distinct in America? A place that isn’t auto-oriented, but is rather, a people-oriented place? Maybe people want to move here because we don’t have a lot of freeways?

  4. Freeways tend to be under the purvey of State and Federal agencies. Although sometimes the counties get in on them as well – but for the most part they are not so much a local issue.

    Metro has a responsibility to balance things through out the region. Some things get funded and planned heavily through other agencies – so Metro need not focus on them itself, while others tend to get left out so Metro should take them up.

    Metro with regards to transportation tends to champion the little guy, from what I can tell. Car oriented development gets money from so many sources, that it is important to not forget the other aspects.

    And I agree with nuovorecord – one of the things that makes Portland so cool is the fact that bikes and pedestrians seem to carry the same weight as cars in the city.

    We came here from several VERY car focused cities, (Atlanta, Los Angeles, Albuquerque) and we much prefer Portland.

    I have always though that if you don’t like sitting in traffic, you should move closer to where you need to go.

  5. The old saying “Build it and they will come” can be applied to freeways. We have one up here that is carrying 100,000 vehicles a day, and it was meant to only carry 5000. The idea for Interstate 405 between Tukwilla and Lynwood was to allow truckers to bypass Seattle. Unfortunately, crossing U.S.10, which became Interstate 90, made it easier for this freeway to funnel traffic from a farming community to get to Seattle. Developers got in there, and within a few years, Bellevue became King County’s second largest city. I-405, Interstate 90, I-5, as well as local freeways like SR520, SR518, and SR18 helped the automobile gain a supremacy that will be hard to beat(but that does not mean give up), and created the megalopolis of Pugetopolis. These freeways are sometimes seen as a waste of capacity. There might be some calling for WSF to discontinue late-night sailings because of a lack of traffic. I sometimes observe coming home from the once in a while trip to Clearwater Casino a handful of passengers and a dozen or two cars making the Bainbridge run, on a boat built for 200 cars and 1500 passengers! The WSF is justified as an extension of the highway system. If the latenight sailings get scapegoated, I hope someone brings up the fact that freeways do not carry much at night. Where I-5 meets Interstate 405 and SR518 at Tukwilla, it is 6 lanes in each direction. It gets the traffic to justify those lanes during the day, but late at night, they are near empty.

  6. The Trib’s editorial is right on target. Metro’s Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) is a social engineering document, not a transportation planning document. Portland is a transportation hub and transfer point where the majority of people vote everyday with their cars as the preferred regional mode of transport. Metro MUST acknowledge these factors with supportive road investments that keep pace with growth. The interspersed major arterials Metro suggests are already becoming more congested by PDOT’s so-called “street modernization” program. This wasteful spending that adds curb extensions allowing TriMet busses to obstruct traffic by loading and unloading busses in travel lanes is a complete detriment to any arterial plan. Bulb-outs need to be replaced with bulb-in bus bays and turnouts that allow busses to load and unload without the disruption to other traffic. Furthermore, sluggish slow moving streetcars have no place on these high volume arterials and must be shifted to parallel streets.

    Capacity and level of service must be defined by the demand for each mode of travel and destination. The I-5 corridor along with other major freeways must be viewed as how they connect to the entire West Coast transportation system. The plan must allow for highway expansion as a viable alternative to meet both the local and connectivity demand. Parking must be treasured instead of being viewed as just another piece of developable property or buried underground where it can have personal safety implications.

    Efficiency for alternative modes must also be defined as financially self-sustainable. Transit fares must better reflect the costs of providing the service. For bicycles, sharing the road must also mean sharing the financial responsibility with some form of bicycle license or bicycle tax paid by bicyclists only. If bicycle infrastructure does not pencil out as being cost effective for the bicyclists to pay for it, policies must be trumped and the bicycle infrastructure not built.

    The primary stakeholder financiers of transportation infrastructure are the motorists paying gas taxes and other taxes and fees assessed on motor vehicles, not those who are vocal critics of the automobile. The cost of congestion study reflects what is needed to be done for the region’s economic future. Metro’s RTP does not. Social engineering must be replaced with transportation engineering. Metro needs to STOP and listen.

  7. perhaps more rationally, with some form of pricing, so that the economically most important trips get priority?

    I’m fairly certain that a pricing model would lead to the economically most important people rather than trips are getting priority on our freeways. I can only see this being disastrous for the people that hop on the freeway twice a day to drive to their ~$10/hr job for which there isn’t a transit alternative (which is nearly certain if they live in the lower-cost sections of town (Southeast south of Divison, Beaverton/Tigard south of Beaverton Hillsdale or north of 26, Northeast between Grand and 65th, and so on).

  8. I’m not normally “pro freeways”… But I do think its wise to continue to invest in strategie highway improvements. Some advantageous and worthy improvements might include:

    The central city portion of. I-5 route on the water with only 2 lanes. Logically, highway proponents and alternative transit supporters can both support this.

    OR-99W, the portion in Yamhill Co. certainly, but I think the whole road into Portland could use some TLC.

    I-5 in the vicinity of the Marquam bridge, the 405 split and the SoWaterfront. This are is a mess due to merge lanes and will only get worse.

    I’m sure there are others. However, my point is to suggest that addressing certain critical points in the Highway infrastructure will give us great benefit as we attempt to move more people and freight.

    We might as well maximize and streamline what we’ve got. In some cases, maybe that’s inexpensive. In others it will be very expensive (CE I-5 route comes to mind).

  9. mark

    when people use the term “social engineering” they use it as a political buzzword to build support for their ideas. its not meant to be taken literally.

    same thing with “vote with their cars”. the more you think about that phrase the less sense it makes.

    but it sure sounds good!

  10. George

    I agree completely. These terms are buzzwords intended to create an emotion response. It’s a response that we have been conditioned to since we were young – like “It’s socialism!” The intent is to kill debate and intelligent discourse.

  11. I bet the supposed-GM Streetcar Conspiracy would be Social Engineering too. I read an example of one city that dumped streetcars in the early 1950s, Minneapolis/St. Paul, and it was interesting. GM did help with the decision to scrap Twin Cities Rapid Transit’s streetcars, but it was mainly a loan from General Motors Acceptance Corp. The ultimate blame goes to an un-indicted co-conspirator without whose help, GM would not have gotten way. THe Ameican Consumer. Now the Twin Cities are building Light Rail, the Hiawatha line, which finally got built under Governor Ventura, has seen major increases in ridership, and it has helped the bus system too, but it will not reach the ridership TCRT once had, just like in the context King County Metro has had 103 million riders in 2006. Seattle Transit had 130 million riders in 1944, but there is a big difference, the population of Seattle was around 400,000, rest of Puget Sound around a million, Gas was rationed at the time, and also Seattle Transit only served Seattle. Farebox Recovery is different. Seattle Transit made a profit, while Metro gets barely 20% farebox recovery. Fuel costs are one reason. Seattle Transit, primarily servicg the city used Trackless Trolleys, with about a 3-1 ratio over motor buses. THe Electricity came from Seattle City Light.

  12. The real cause in differing ridership numbers for the streetcar systems of the past and today isn’t the number of track miles – it’s the fact that way more people have cars.

    It might be more instructive to compare, say, rider miles per non-auto-owning worker; in which case I suspect that we probably do better today than in the pre-interstate era.

  13. I’m not sure that entirely new freeways are being proposed here. As I read it, the editorial is seeking to have existing facilities maintained, and is also perhaps encouraging the addition of a few more lanes here and there.

    Combined with a national trend towards congestion tolling and HOT lanes, I can see where this might be headed: Adding HOT (High-Occupany/Toll) lanes to existing freeways in certain areas.

    Metro has already adopted a policy that basically says, as I remember, that while they don’t plan to add any lanes anywhere right now, when they do, they will consider tolling them.

    Since toll lanes could presumably pay for themselves, the question is just where could they be installed without doing (further) damage to the surrounding communities, where would their installation do the most good, and what kind of timetable makes sense?

    I would urge leaders to pay close attention to the HOT lane efforts and studies that are taking place elsewhere around the nation, since this seems to be the only realistic way to add lane capacity in the Portland region.

    And finally, if after all is said and done, we decide to add nothing additional to our regional freeway system, that’s fine, too. Maybe a better-connected grid of surface streets that allows frequent transit, bikes and peds to become the dominant modes really is the answer for Portland.

  14. Since toll lanes could presumably pay for themselves,

    I think this is an inaccurate assumption. If you limit tolling to new capacity and require that the toll pay for building and maintaining it, there will be no new capacity. You simply can’t generate enough money to pay for the roads.

    I’m fairly certain that a pricing model would lead to the economically most important people rather than trips are getting priority on our freeways. I can only see this being disastrous for the people that hop on the freeway twice a day to drive to their ~$10/hr job for which there isn’t a transit alternative

    I think there is some truth to this. Tolling ought to be seen as a way to pay for attractive alternatives for people who choose not to pay the toll. The folks who pay the toll are already getting the free flowing freeway tolling creates.

  15. I believe the owner of the Tribune opposed the Newberg bypass as it will go through property he owns.
    We need to start removing freeways, not adding capacity. The Eastbank freeway and Marquam Bridges are huge negatives on the value of public and private property in the heart of our City. The growing traded sector economy is not based on export natural resource comodities, but on free flow of ideas.

  16. Manzell said: “I’m fairly certain that a pricing model would lead to the economically most important people rather than trips are getting priority on our freeways.”

    Who is going to determine who is the most important and why? This sounds like a socially engineered political agenda. Is a person going to be able to buy importance with wealth? Such a notion of who is the most important reeks of a division by class, not allowed by the Oregon Constitution.

    George said: “when people use the term “social engineering” they use it as a political buzzword to build support for their ideas. its not meant to be taken literally” “same thing with “vote with their cars”.”

    If you believe that, then too “we have to get people out of their cars.” Is a politically motivated buzz phrase that Metro is wasting a million transportation dollars on for a TV and radio advertising campaign. Any political process, action or spending to achieve such a statement, including using the tax codes, most people would define as social engineering.

    Lenny said: “We need to start removing freeways, not adding capacity.”

    We need to start removing obstacles that impede traffic and freight movements such as curb extensions and bike lanes on high traffic volume arterials, not freeways, and we need to relocate streetcar lines to parallel streets. If development of the region is to continue with without gridlock and economic stagnation, the expansion of road and highway capacity must be a top priority to meet the needs freight and the public’s preferred regional mode of transport choice, the motor vehicle. Anything less is politically motivated social engineering.

  17. Terry,

    Let me get this straight: any type of program or agenda to get people out of their cars and into or onto alternative forms of transportation is “politically motivated social engineering.” Yet, any type of program or agenda intended to keep people in their cars and dependant on an autobased infrastructure is NOT “politically motivated social engineering?”

    Frankly, I don’t buy it. Your posts are just as much a proponent for “social engineering” as the rest I’ve read here today. Thus, I am indeed led to believe these are attempts to kill intelligent discourse. And sadly it’s working considering I’m not commenting on freeway capacity!!!

    uhhh…. well how bout I close with this then:

    nuovorecord has a great point. I know MANY MANY people who have moved here specifically because Portland enables them to live a life that is more people oriented rather than auto oriented. Additionally, I also think Nate has some excellent points in regards to focusing on strategic highway improvements. It seems more efficient and cost effective to streamline the infrastructure that we have AND invest in alternative transit methods rather than build our way out of a problem that, as evidenced in major cities across the nation, wouldn’t work as a long term solution anyways.

  18. You guys forget that Portland is one of only 6 major West-Coast North American hub urban areas with direct lines of trade to the massive Asian tiger economies, that are comprised of well over 3 billion people. Yes, people are going to move here, as it is a very connected city globally, and continues to increase its cachet every year.

    San Diego, LA, San Fran, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver

  19. Dan said: “Let me get this straight: any type of program or agenda to get people out of their cars and into or onto alternative forms of transportation is “politically motivated social engineering.”

    That is correct, because political attempts are being made to dictate choice rather than promoting and allowing for freedom of choice.

    “Yet, any type of program or agenda intended to keep people in their cars…”

    This part of the question also would be social engineering “IF” the playing field was even, but it is not. Motorists pay for the infrastructure costs of streets, roads, highways and bridges, plus subsidize transit and bicycle infrastructure. If those subsidies motorists pay to the alternative modes were to disappear, and if transit fares paid say 80 to 90 percent of the total costs of providing the service, and if bicyclists were directly taxed to pay the same 80 to 90 percent for the costs of bicycle infrastructure; the playing field would then be even, and the above statement would then be social engineering. But again, IT IS NOT, because alternative modes of transport pay far less of their own way than do motorists.

    “…and dependant on an auto based infrastructure is NOT “politically motivated social engineering?”

    This second part of the question is the product of what people choose to do – such as about one in 7 to 10 people hold jobs tied to the auto industry and people vote by using their cars every day. This is what drives a modern economy.

    Therefore, anything less than keeping pace with the demand needed for those who choose to drive is politically motivated social engineering. Poaching tax dollars paid motorists to fund and subsidize alternative modes of transport is also politically motivated social engineering.

  20. Ah!! The old “you can’t build your way out of congestion” lie rears its head again.

    Are you trying to tell us that if we doubled our freeway capacity, people would drive to work TWICE each morning?

    Here is a well balanced take of the reality:


  21. Terry, people move to Portland because it’s not like the rest of the country. The “modern economy” you describe exists all over this country. If you want it, it’s out there for you. In fact, it’s absolutely everywhere but here.

    Portland is different. People move here — in droves, voting with their feet — because they are sick of the modern economy, the cars, the congestion, pollution, traffic, angst and isolation that American car culture breeds. They do not *want* to be motorists, even if they sometimes have to be. Their grudging submittal to the ugly status quo should by no means be considered a vote of support for it.

    Portland is proof that your assumptions about the central importance of cars in human existance are false. Otherwise, our economy would have collapsed long ago. Otherwise, the defeat of the Mt. Hood freeway would have been the start of a long decline, instead of a rennaisance. Otherwise, Portland would not be so widely considered one of America’s most liveable cities.

    But still, people show up on this blog and rail, on and on, about how doomed we are, how stupid, how poisoned by communism. Portland is going to hell, they say. I’m prepared to wait and see. If you’re impatient, I hear Las Vegas is booming ….

  22. We need to start removing freeways, not adding capacity…The growing traded sector economy is not based on export natural resource comodities, but on free flow of ideas.

    I don’t understand what “growing traded sector economy” means.

    I was coming back, on I-5, at about 4pm from a dental appointment in Lake Oswego. Traffic was pretty much stopped going south –I was glad I was going north– turns out because of an accident. But I struck by how many trucks were on the road.

    Terry and Jim…half our congestion comes from accidents. We can’t build our way out of that. And getting people out of their cars makes more ROOM for trucks on the road (and transit provides alternatives for the amateurs who shouldn’t be driving in the first place…causing accidents that create congestion!)

    Lenny…I don’t get what you’re saying. You seem to deny we’ve the freight traffic we have.

    On the highways in France and Germany they have “lane discipline” that seems to keep traffic flowing a lot more smoother…trucks on the right, and the left lane kept free for passing. How about discussing “enforcement” as a tool to fix some of our congestion issues?

  23. Are you trying to tell us that if we doubled our freeway capacity, people would drive to work TWICE each morning?

    No. But they would choose a job or house that required driving twice as far. Increased traffic has been caused as much by people driving more as it is by increased in population. Moreover, most trips even during rush hour are not between work and home. So there are plenty of trips people can choose to take or not. In addition, people make less use of transit, car pool less etc.

    And it is not just freeways – no one lives or works on a freeway. You also have to double the capacity of all the roads that connect the freeways to the destinations people have, including doubling the capacity of entrance and exit ramps. One of the real problems with our current transportation system is that the DOT’s are responsible for freeways but largely not responsible for the local street networks that get congested as a result of those freeways.

  24. now i am super confused about what “social engineering” means, and feel even more like its just a buzzword.

    its seems to be defined above as ANY political action that has ANY bearing on people’s choices is “social engineering”. so i guess criminal law is social engineering? if so, again, the definition is not very meaningful to our discussion.

  25. and please explain this “vote with their cars”.

    as far as i can tell it means: “lots of people drive and therefore i claim a political mandate to do what i think is good for the roads.”

    please help me out and tell me how it means something else!

  26. In my mind Metro has forgot that with all of the secondary modes (HC Transit, Streetcars, Buses, Vans, Bike and PED) they cannot with current land use implications supply enough reductions in needed capacity to move people and commerce within our region to where we not have significant negative impacts on our environment, public health, economy, investment that creates jobs, and quality of life for all segments of society.

    When population growth adds to demand, pragmatic assements must determine if the transportation system that is available will meet this demand.

    Metro programs growth, in how they manage the Urban Growth Boundary. Local governments manage growth secondarly, with their own overlays and zoning. We find our region living with the consequences of these conditions. We find that there is virtually NO affordable family housing options (3-bedroom) on the west side of the Willamette River and a limited amount through out the intercity.

    There is limited transit options to take our working poor and most everyone to any of our critical industrial work centers, like Rivergate, our Port terminals, NW Industrial area that addresses getting people from their houses to places employment. The exception being Swan Island.

    If you zone it, plan it, you had better pragmaticlly figure out how you are going to address the needs of transportation or we end up with what I see most everyday on the I-5 corridor throght Portland. Realistic programs that achieve real success must be put into effect or build more roads.

    Everyone within 500-feet of the I-5 corridor is getting killed in a slow death by in-action to solve the problems of greater demands with programs that have NO reasonable possibility of providing enough capacity to make a difference.

  27. Over on Commissioner Sam’s blog, Jim Karlock suggested that:

    Double decking selected sections of freeways would not cost much more than a toy train line and be a lot more useful.

    That’s one component of how JK would “double our freeway capacity”. Note that he states such an elevated structure would “not cost much more than a toy train line”.

    Let’s look to a nearby city, Seattle, for an example. They are considering alternatives and proposals for replacing/rebuilding the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

    The least expensive proposal for constructing an all-new viaduct is $3.5 billion — over $400 million per lane mile. Some estimates put it at over $500 million per lane mile.

    JK has erroneously stated in the past that light rail only carries 1/4 of what an auto lane carries, but even by his standards light rail would have to cost $100 million per mile to even come close to something as expensive as that. (It doesn’t — the latest Green Line project, which includes the very expensive reconstruction of the transit mall and the addition of an auto lane, tops out at about $67 million/mile)

    Suppose we were to do as JK seems to suggest and double the capacity of I-5, by double-decking from the Marquam Bridge to the Columbia, just over 7 miles, 6 new lanes. Given Seattle standards, the project would cost at least $16.8 BILLION dollars.

    Those 6 lanes, also given the reality of the current Seattle viaduct, would carry about 110,000 vehicles per day.

    In order for motorists to pay the true cost of the project via tolls, say over a project lifespan of 50 years, the toll would have to be a minimum of $8.36 per trip (each way!) to avoid being subsidized by non-users. (Anything less would be “social engineering”, right?) That’s in today’s dollars and excludes financing, maintenance, and patrolling costs.

    Can you tell me how many Clark County residents would be willing to pay a $16 daily toll to double the capacity of I-5? Not many.

    This exercise in absurdity leaves us with a clear answer: Doubling capacity in existing urbanized corridors is prohibitively expensive. Very prohibitively expensive. Not to mention disruptive. What is far more rational is strategic improvements to remove bottlenecks, improve consistency, and minimize the impact of incidents.

    – Bob R.

  28. The $3.5 Billion estimate is for the new, 4-lane tunnel option that is going to an advisory vote next month. $2.8 Billion is the cost of a new elevated solution. The city proposed the original viaduct to wall off the waterfront from downtown. They did not expect that 2 years after completion, the very decaying scene of the waterfront would begin to change when the S.S. Ideal X sailed from Newark to Houston, carrying it’s cargo in containers instead of the traditonal way. Over the years, as the container terminals began to develop around Harbor Island and the mouth of the Duwamush River, the area from Pier 48 to 70 was transformed into a tourist spot. The only Piers that actually serve a non-tourist transportation trade are Piers 52 and 69, and the latter is a Passenger-Only operation to Victoria B.C.(The Victoria Clipper, profitable and privately run) I guess they felt a bridge across the sound would eventually replace the ferries, no on/off ramp at Pier 52 was included in the AWV.

    Now the Elevated Proponents are looking into a surface option, and one of them is the State House Speaker. Speaker Chopp is from Seattle, but represents the 43rd District, which is East of Interstate 5. Just a week agao he was pro-elevated, and now he is looking into something new.

  29. EvergreenTransitFan –

    Thank you for the update… the $3.5 billion figure I was using for the elevated proposal was from a 2004 newspaper article. Based on a $2.8 billion figure the toll from my example would be $6.69 each way. :-)

    (Also, please do not infer from my comments that I was taking sides in the Seattle debate… I’m just borrowing from their financial estimates. I do have opinions on the matter, but I’ll try and stick to annoying Portlanders for now.)

    – Bob R.

  30. Terry says:

    “Motorists pay for the infrastructure costs of streets, roads, highways and bridges, plus subsidize transit and bicycle infrastructure. If those subsidies motorists pay to the alternative modes were to disappear, and if transit fares paid say 80 to 90 percent of the total costs of providing the service, and if bicyclists were directly taxed to pay the same 80 to 90 percent for the costs of bicycle infrastructure; the playing field would then be even, and the above statement would then be social engineering.”

    Ahhhhhh yes…… How surprised am I that you came back to your consistent argument that transit users and “freeloading” bicyclists have their infrastructure paid for by motorists?? You always come back to this one same issue. Please allow me to address this.

    I am a bicycle commuter. I ride my bike daily to work. Sometimes I take a bus. But you know what? I also own a car. So do 80% of the bicyclists and transit users I know. If I’m lazy on a particular day, I DRIVE to work. I drive around the state to visit friends and family, to go hiking, to run errands on the weekend if it’s too far to bike or I have to carry something heavy. I drive approximately 5,000 miles a year. And guess what? My car drives on gasoline purchased AND TAXED in the fine state of Oregon.

    The majority of transit users and bicylists use A MIX of transportation options. These options include automobiles. To say that bicyclists and transit users are subsidized by automobile usage may be true. However, to call them freeloaders (which you do. consistently.) and accuse them of not assisting in the payment for mass transit and bicycle infrastructure is patently false.

    It’s not my fault you choose not to efficiently utilize your gasoline tax dollars like I do. That’s a personal choice you have made, and ultimately a problem of your own creation.

  31. Bob R, none taken. I have not even made up my mind, with all the alternatives proposed. The two on the ballot, the current elevated proposal and the new tunnel-lite, have their advantages, and disadvantages. There are some rejected proposals that are not getting much of a hearing. The idea of putting more band-aids on the Viaduct and wait 30 years, and then there is the bored tunnel under downtown combining the existing Great Northern Tunnel(with a new Downtown Sounder Station), a new transit tunnel, and a highway that has only got a few op-eds and a few minutes on the radio as for press coverage. Unfortunately, the latter would be the most expensive. It’s going to be a wierd election though, as it will be the first vote-by-mail only election in King County(35 of the other 38 counties have gone VBM).

    THe irony about the remaining two choices, was the City Council was told last year to have an advisory vote. They gave hearings to various options, it gave them a headache, so they voted for the tunnel, bypassed the voters. Olympia said vote, and now they have the two options. All the arguing has delayed construction of whatever will be built, putting a big traffic nightmare in 2010, about the time the Vancouver Olympics are on. There were suggestions that we would have had some benefit, just like in Expo 86, but in the case of that, all we had was a bus tunnel about to be dug.

  32. Dan: you are a freeloader if you do not drive a minimum of 12,000 miles a year in the state of oregon, using only oregon-purchased gasoline, and your automobile does not get more than 25 miles per gallon. Otherwise, you are beating the average and shifting the burden of payment to OTHER drivers, and thus causing social engineering.

    In other words, promoting communism.

  33. I have the term “Social Engineering” and at NO time have I ever equated it to communism. I get frustrated when government thinks that they know better how I should live my life and what my priorities MUST BE.

    We should all get away from casting stones and attaching derogatory terms to lable anyone.

    I like what I see and read on this blog because in the most part what see is intelligent people who care about the future.

    I hope they give as much credence to what I say as I give to what others say. But when we get down to a lower level, most everyone discounts anything that you try to share on this blog.

  34. Yes Hidelga, it is our God given duty to drive as many miles as possible in a vehicle that burns as much fuel as possible. As Stephen Colbert says, we should be driving as much as possible so that we can hurry up and use up all of the world’s oil. This way corporate interests will have no choice but to develop clean alternative fuel sources.

    So the real issue here is that most of us are not driving enough. If we all just worked to use more oil then everyone would be happy. There would be enough gas taxes collected to build not only transit projects for us godless communists, but all of the road project that Terry wants.

    (Tongue firmly in cheek)

  35. Paul –

    Regarding agreement/disagreement, I know we have debated here on several topics but want you to know that we agree in many areas and I do listen to your posts.

    I post a lot here and probably often come off as contrarian, but that’s mainly the nature of blogging – we react to the items which we think are incorrect far more intensely than those we agree with.

    – Bob R.

  36. Update on the AWV situation, it is, as Yogi Bera would say “It’s Deja Vu all over again”. Last year when the city was told pick an option, advocates of every option and then some came out of the woodowrk and proposed their own idea. That is happening again. The retrofit crowd is not giving up, saying for just $1.2 Billion. Amazing, it now costs $1.2 Billion to fix up a viaduct that cost around $10 million new(1953 Dollars). We got lucky over the past 50 years. The foundations do not reach bedrock, and they are sitting on landfill.

  37. Dan Says:

    Terry says:

    “Motorists pay for the infrastructure costs of streets…”

    AMEN Dan!!! I also drive about 5 thousand miles a year and commute via bicycle. I have often read Terry’s diatribes and I must say, if bicyclists are freeloading on the backs of motorists, then why don’t more people ride their bikes? Something for free sounds like a great deal to me. I think Terry has it just the opposite, motorists are freeloading on the backs of society in general through externalities such as poor health, pollution, energy security, etc. Increased cycling is in fact a great bargain for society in general, too bad Terry P. doesn’t want to join the fun.

  38. just found this site today. i love the discussion. its good that there are antagonist here. gives on the right side someone to argue with. i as checking the weather on and stumbled upon a survey on the ‘pump patrol’ section that asked;
    Should companies help employees cope with the rising cost of commuting?
    Yes, companies should pick up part of the burden in some way.
    No, it’s not their responsibility.
    it was frightening to see that there were twice as many people who answered yes. it just goes to show you that how much someone has to pay for something like gas will trump all reasoning skills. no matter what. Mykle, i love you posts. very James Howard Kunstler -esque. as a bus driver, a bike rider, a “pedestrian” (whater the funk that is), and a “motorist”, i hope to contribute to these postings and gain insight out of them. keep caring guys and gals.

  39. “Should companies help employees cope with the rising cost of commuting?
    Yes, companies should pick up part of the burden in some way.
    No, it’s not their responsibility.”

    Well, many or most companies DO subsidize their employee’s commute. If you don’t pay for parking, your commute is subsidized. Same as if you get a free or discounted transit pass. Some companies pay for vanpools or give incentives for walking or cycling.

    Whether they SHOULD help their employees is another story. There are several federal and state tax incentives to encourage this. Typically, employers get more interested in this when the labor market gets tight. But, it can also be in their best economic interest, especially if their property is better used for something besides a parking lot.

  40. Hidelga – thank you for your comments. From my prospective, since motor vehicle users are the stakeholder financiers of transportation infrastructure, the point here is that bicyclists refuse to understand there is a threshold of miles driven to accumulate taxes paid on motor fuels that must be reached before the burden of payment for transportation system infrastructure is not shifted from an automobile owner to be subsidized by other people. Cars parked in driveways do not make payments to transportation infrastructure when a person is using another mode of transport. The dribble of fuel tax dollars most avid bicyclists claim they pay into the system does not even a pay for their use of the road while driving, let alone paying for the bicycle infrastructure being used when riding a bicycle. The same is true for transit riders that rarely drive as it relates to paying the subsidies for transit service. The hypocrisy is that both bicyclists and transit advocates continue to want to get people out of their cars, but always have their hand out for more money to subsidize their choice of transport from the people who remain in their cars. Social engineering occurs when taxes assessed on motor vehicles are used to encourage the use of and pay for or subsidize alternative mode infrastructure. The bottom line is that bicyclists and transit users should be paying their own way for the infrastructure and services they use.

    mykle said; “people move to Portland because it’s not like the rest of the country’’ and then goes on to suggest people who don’t like what is here should move elsewhere.

    In response to that kind of evocation – I go back to Former Governor Tom McCall’s attitude refereeing to people moving to Oregon: it is OK to visit, but don’t come to stay.

    I was born and raised in Portland. Both my dad and his mother were also both born and raised in Portland. Therefore, I am a third generation Portlander by birth and a fourth generation to live in Portland if you consider my great grandmother and her four sisters that came to Portland sometime in the 1800s. From my prospective, those people that have chosen to move here in the past few decades and want to change transport, densities, government or whatever are the real intruders. These new insiders are the people that have taken over the landscape, imposed expansive new development and are now attempting to force the rest of us to compromise or change the lifestyles for them moving here, and to meet their paradigm model. Therefore, if you are in that group of new insiders, want to force social engineering, and are not willing to pay your own way for the ideals you want such as bicycle infrastructure and expanded transit service, just like in business when downsizing, the last to arrive should be the first to move on.

  41. Honest to God Terry, I’ve seen many of your posts and the common theme seems to be that bicyclists and transit users freeload off of motor vehicle drivers for infrastructure. What you fail to acknowledge even though I’ve seen it pointed out to you ad naseum is most of the costs associated with driving motor vehicles are externalized on to the culture at large. I’m not going to bother listing them out because its been done many times. Everyone has the right to their opinion, but to not acknowledge the real costs of your transportation of choice is intellectually dishonest.

  42. Terry,
    And one more thing… your post listing your Portland heritage as indicating that you are more worthy of living here and having opinions is pointless. I don’t care if your grandmother arrived by covered wagon on the Oregon Trail, its not germaine to the discussion. Oh, and before you point your crooked finger at me, I’m third generation Oregonian too but again, who cares? I for one value the opinion of my fellow Portlanders, regardless of where they come from. But as for your anti-transit/cycling jihad, not so much.

  43. Gosh, I just can’t resist Terry… the irony of quoting Tom McCall in your last screed is terrific. After all, the City of Portland named a park after him that sits upon what was once a major arterial along the Willamette.

    [Personally directed remarks removed – let’s try to stick to policy folks.]

  44. I always love the “we removed a freeway..” line.

    Please do tell the whole story: That freeway (99W) was THE north-south highway that connected Mexico and Canada before the interstate program. After I5 and I405 were completed, there was little need for a third freeway through downtown, so it was removed. Yes, harbor drive was REPLACED by two interstate freeways.

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