Full URS CRC Report

I haven’t had a chance to read through it yet, but here it is (PDF, 4.4M) for your reading pleasure.

10 responses to “Full URS CRC Report”

  1. The first thing I’m noticing from the summary chart on page 10 is most of the benefit seems to be in getting people out of Oregon faster.

    It almost seems like a waste of money to bother building this without considering what or if we’re going to do about the downtown loop and getting a real feel for the cost of addressing these problems.

  2. “most of the benefit seems to be in getting people out of Oregon faster.”

    I was driving back from WA the other day and experienced rush-hour on the I-5 bridge for the first time in several years. Heading south at 4 PM, traffic was not so bad. It was really backed up going north. All to be expected.

    But I had a thought – I believe the northbound (eastern) span is the original bridge built in the 1910s. The southbound (western) span was built in the 50s. Perhaps we could build a new northbound span, but leave southbound as-is (plus seismic retrofits).

    We could add additional capacity northbound, so people can actually leave Oregon faster. Keep southbound as-is to meter vehicles entering Portland preventing local gridlock on surface streets and at Rose Quarter.

    Wouldn’t this be much cheaper than replacing both lanes, and provide a good compromise for accommodating Clark County’s current population but without incentivizing additional growth? And also save significant money as we would be build only 5 or so new lanes, plus 1/2 as many interchanges?


  3. JHB –

    I think that is a good idea. In fact, its the way they ought to build most highways when they enter dense urban areas. Fewer lanes entering but more lanes leaving to clear out traffic. Unfortunately, it seems that, while they may widen a street through town, they quickly narrow it again on the other end, creating a backup into the denser area.

  4. @Dave H: It does seem incredible that, in this day and age, the bridge study area is/was so limited. And that Metro agreed to the CRC planners’ parameters. I don’t think *anything* should move forward with this crossing until the local freeway system is analyzed as a whole network, with a particular focus on the downtown loop and how we can come up with a plan that makes it possible to consider simply REMOVING the Eastbank Freeway (as opposed to the incredibly expensive proposition of burying it) and returning that valuable land to Portland. It’s depressing that, after waking up with such a brutal hangover from the 50’s and 60’s, and then having something of a renewal in the 70’s when additional freeway expansion was halted, we in 2010 are apparently operating with such a deficit of vision and imagination.

  5. @Andrew –

    Metro wasn’t in charge of this process, the states of Oregon and Washington are and they have delegated control to their highway departments.

    This is actually a classic battle between the local interests of Portland, the economic engine for the region, and the ideology of move more traffic as fast as possible that drives the highway agencies.

    If the agencies win that struggle, the Portland experiment of considering land use and transportation together will be over. You can’t have sprawling development on one side of the river and compact development on the other. The sprawling development’s transportation demands will eventually overwhelm the compact development. You can’t cut the baby in half.

  6. Removing I-5 from the East Side would likely be more difficult than getting funds to put it in a tunnel. The feds do no like to remove an Interstate for any reason. San Francisco got away with it because none of them were finished, but I-5 is already a through corridor. Our lack of military bases in the region makes it more likely, but still unlikely unless I-405 is to be widened.

    That’s even tougher than widening I-5. I-405 is pretty well at capacity for much of its route, and has nowhere to expand without taking out large properties.

    The downtown loop wasn’t an entirely terrible idea when it happened, but it left no room for future growth. Welcome to the future, we’re now in an uncomfortable position.

    For the price of the CRC, I’d hope we could find a way to do the following:

    1) New rail bridge from N Portland to Vancouver. Add 4 lanes (2×2) and peds/bikes on one deck, and rail/LRT on the lower. Make it a lift that matches the CRC, with LRT going to the Vancouver Amtrak station (future HSR) and the Expo Center (curent north end of the Yellow line). Circulate through Jantzen Beach/Boise-Cascade areas as needed.

    2) Second new bridge from NE 33rd (OR) to SE Columbia Way (WA) to help connect communities. New overpass & interchange at SR-14.

    3) New bridge over the Willamette from NW Kittridge to the west end of Swan Island. Going St would finally be useful, and freight could avoid the Fremont.

    4) If anything’s left, a connector bridge from NE 223rd Ave to SR-14 in WA. It would allow I-84 traffic to skip Portland and take SR-14, and would allow for better connections between eastern Clark County and the eastern edges of the Portland Metro area.

    We could make this work without wasting this much money on a pay per use solution we’re already paying for which is an overbuilt solution in the first place.

  7. @Dave H –

    I don’t think you are correct on the ability to add capacity to I-405. As I understand it, you can create a fair amount of additional capacity by removing access points to downtown. This frees both space and improves the operation of the freeway. With those changes, I-405 can handle the through traffic that uses the east bank portion of I-5.

  8. Some of the ramps could definitely be removed or improved, but that would have significant ripple effects on the downtown street grid also, mostly in negative ways. The overflow onto streets like NW 23rd and NW 25th would not be an improvement.

    Removing a few ramps isn’t going to replace anything near the capacity of two through lanes that I-5 has on the east side.

    We’ve kind of painted ourselves into a corner on this one.

  9. “Removing a few ramps isn’t going to replace anything near the capacity of two through lanes that I-5 has on the east side.”

    My understanding is that I-405 would not be the alternative for a lot of the traffic currently using those two lanes. Its important to remember traffic gets both on an off along that stretch of freeway.

    “that would have significant ripple effects on the downtown street grid also, mostly in negative ways.”

    That is definitely a concern, but I don’t think anyone has actually modeled it to find out what the impacts would be. I’m not convinced it will work but, before spending several billion dollars on a tunnel, its worth exploring as an alternative. And I suspect the talk about the tunnel is never going to be more than that. There are too many other transportation priorities.

  10. I live near the NW Industrial District, close to NW 25th and 23rd. When an accident happens between the US-30 and the US-26 ramps southbound in the afternoon, the traffic is terrible. To the point I barely leave my apartment because of people who can’t wait for a pedestrian at a stop sign.

    The idea of rerouting all I-5 south traffic onto I-405 makes me think of that every day. Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s the most visible effect I can envision from closing I-5.

    Considering my neighborhood gave a resounding “Hell No!” to Conway about the streetcar/redevelopment of their property, I can’t imagine how you’d get the support of those directly effected by shutting down I-5.

    Freeways aren’t the most desirable neighbor, but I’ll happily take a freeway over people running stop signs in my neighborhood. I’m not sure we can remove any more freeways without causing more neighborhood traffic.

    I haven’t owned a car since February 2009, and yet I’m still opposed to removing the east bank freeway. Don’t ruin my neighborhood just to open up new real estate to developers.

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