Washington State Senate to put kibosh on CRC (for now)?

KOIN-TV is reporting that prospects for CRC funding being passed by the GOP-controlled Washington State Senate appear to be dimming, as two influential members of that body–Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, and Majority Leader Rodney Tom, D-Medina, have indicated they likely will not support the project. King is a longstanding critic of the CRC, particularly of light rail. Tom is one of two Democrats who, after last year’s election gave the Democrats a slim 26-23 lead in the 49-seat Senate, announced he would instead caucus with the GOP, giving them a 25-24 lead and control with the chamber–a maneuver he was able to parley into the Majority Leader’s gavel. (Tom previously had defected from the party line to assist Republicans in passing a budget slashing education and public services, though did not withdraw support from Senate leadership at that time. The state Democrats have essentially booted Tom from the party, and will surely seek his ouster come 2014, when his term expires; but for now, he’s one of the most powerful men in Olympia).

The Washington Senate leadership has also requested that governor Jay Inslee audit the project, and further requesting that auditors be independent of both WSDOT and of any transportation contractors. Governor Inslee had previously ordered an audit of the CRC and of the Big Pipe and SR520 Bridge projects, but state Republicans objected to the choice of auditor, noting that the named audit director is a former WSDOT administrator who is now acting as a consultant for the CRC, for which his conultancy has received over $2M.

Most of the objection from Washington Republicans comes from the inclusion of light rail, and of the bridge height issue. The two issues go hand-in-hand, as removal of the lower deck would be a partial solution to the bridge height issue, and raising the bridge might increase the approach grades to a slope that is undesirable for bikes and pedestrians and unsafe for trains.

The Senate’s term ends in roughly three weeks. Many supporters have long claimed that local financing for the project must be approved by this summer, or else federal funding for the project will disappear, a claim which is disputed by project critics. Governor Inslee, for his part, remains committed to the project. Political leaders in Oregon, including both Governor Kitzhaber and Portland mayor Charlie Hales, continue to support the project; and all three insist that light rail is a non-negotiable component of the Columbia River Crossing. The project’s proposed finance package depends heavily on $850 of New Starts funding from the FTA.

59 Comments

59 Responses to Washington State Senate to put kibosh on CRC (for now)?

  1. Anandakos
    April 14, 2013 at 12:28 am Link

    Scotty,

    Here’s the political situation, which I think we all know: Multnomah County (probably) has enough stroke in the Oregon Legislature to block any bridge without LRT. Clark County (probably) has enough stroke in the Washington Senate to block a bridge with LRT. So we have a “Mexican Standoff”.

    However, everyone in power both in Washington and Oregon — heck, even the Feds — says “It’s the freight, stupid”. It seems that improvement of interstate freight is the one thing everyone in both states can agree on. So, maybe what we need to do is build a truck-only tollway down the middle of I-205 in Washington, and then widen the Glenn Jackson and the freeway south of it in order to continue the tollway through Oregon.

    Maybe a “short-cut” for the tollway could be built. There is a plausible routing which diverges from the I-205 ROW just north of the 82nd Drive interchange, crosses the Clackamas River to the Heights Airstrip then heads pretty much due south along Edelwild, Golden and Waldow. From Thayer it could follow the BPA ROW southwest to where it turns west, swing more due south then southwest to bypass Canby and Aurora. It would then turn essentially straight west to I-5 around the Fowler Reservoir.

    In the meantime, just leave the Columbia River Crossing of I-5 alone for now, until the 1919 bridge rots and falls into the river. At that time, everyone in Clark County will suddenly remember how much they love to carpool and take the bus.

    Such a freight-oriented facility would divert almost all of the “through” trucks because, even though they’d have to pay a modest toll, truckers would also know exactly how long it will take to transit the Portland MSA. There will never be enough truck traffic to clog a two-lane, wide-shouldered commercial vehicles only tollway

    It would hurt my house values, since I live west of I-5 in Vancouver, and some the value in our neighborhoods today is speculation that there will soon be a bright shiny free new bridge on which the owners of the houses can commute to their jobs in Portland. I for one am willing to take a financial hit so that this huge structure is not slammed down in the narrow space between downtown Vancouver and Jantzen Beach.

    The truth is that the bridges will probably never get much more congested than they are now, especially with such a bypass facility to siphon off the trucks from both bridges’ general traffic lanes. The labor force participation is ever-shrinking; there are very few minorities in Clark County, and they’re the only demographics which are growing; and automation is steadily eviscerating the workforce regardless of what we seem able to do.

    So in the near future, Clark County is going to be filled up with ever more angry right-wingers resentful of the people in Portland who may only have barista employment, and may have to ride the Crime Train to get to it, but who are, at the very least, employed.

  2. Anandakos
    April 14, 2013 at 12:31 am Link

    P.S.

    The point of the new “bypass” is to allow trucks completely to avoid the serious congestion around the I-205/I-5 interchange and down through Wilsonville.

    I probably don’t have to spell this out, but (as Zen would say), “There it is.”

  3. R A Fontes
    April 14, 2013 at 7:02 am Link

    So, if Interstate were BRT instead of LRT then the CRC would be a done deal?

  4. Lenny Anderson
    April 14, 2013 at 9:39 am Link

    “Freight” is just a cover for more roadway capacity; the Governors’ I-5 Task Force did not consider a single freight movement data point! Freight traffic moves fine on I-5 90% of the time; only folks who flunked logistics 101 send trucks north at 4pm on weekdays.
    There is virtually no freight movement between ports? Why would there be. Vancouver ships no containers; Portland only 1% of westcoast containers, and most exported containers are empty. Traded sector is less and less about moving commodity goods. Wheat hardly sees a truck, nor bulk minerals; together our biggest exports.
    The obstacle to moving freight in the peak hours are too many SOVs in the peak direction; give those commuters some options…good HC Transit, a safe bikeway, HOV lanes and all’s good.
    So, why not reduce the bridge to 8 lanes with the 9th & 10th lanes given over to HCT and a decent bike/ped facility. You know my preference…why make folks transfer at Hayden Island from BRT to LRT? But whatever. Most commuters are going to jobs in N and NE PDX, not downtown or Wash Co.
    Portland, Metro, Oregon, Multnomah county have all made it clear, “No tolls, No LRT?…no Bridge!” And why would we want to depress N. Portland property values in order to make Clark county developers rich? That is all this big new freeway with bridge will do.

  5. EngineerScotty
    April 14, 2013 at 10:04 am Link

    Maybe a “short-cut” for the tollway could be built. There is a plausible routing which diverges from the I-205 ROW just north of the 82nd Drive interchange, crosses the Clackamas River to the Heights Airstrip then heads pretty much due south along Edelwild, Golden and Waldow. From Thayer it could follow the BPA ROW southwest to where it turns west, swing more due south then southwest to bypass Canby and Aurora. It would then turn essentially straight west to I-5 around the Fowler Reservoir.

    Anandakos,

    I can assure you that the city of Oregon City would not look kindly on that proposal, given that it slices through land that is the city’s prime target for future development. It also slices through the campus of Clackamas Community College, and very lies close to the campus of Oregon City High School. The route would also impose severe topographic challenges to roadbuilding–powerline corridors are not troubled by things like cliffs and ravines and slopes with 20% grades, but truck routes certainly are.

    I’ve actually thought of a similar proposal to re-route OR99E traffic from Canby away from the existing route along the Willamette River between New Era and Oregon City, to permit widening of the UPRR ROW (now a single-track alignment sandwiched between the river and the highway) for rail–the highway would essentially head east up to the vicinity of CCC, and then use the existing route of OR213 back down the hill. But that, too, would be expensive and politically difficult.

  6. al m
    April 14, 2013 at 10:48 am Link

    All the money wasted up to now, oh well, the insiders will find some other government pork to feast on.

  7. Anandakos
    April 14, 2013 at 4:04 pm Link

    @Scotty,

    But Clackamas County likes roads and rubber tired transport. These are not Crime Trains; they’re good Conservative trucks!

    Yes, you’d need a substantial bridge across the Clackamas River, but the rest of the route is pretty flat.

    And, anyway, the bypass is mostly to avoid the mess at the I-5/I-205 interchange and south to Wilsonville. The same thing could probably be accomplished more cheaply but at a six or eight mile penalty by putting the tollway in the medians of I-205 and I-5.

    The biggest problem going that way are the Willamette River bridges at Oregon City and just south of Wilsonville. They would both have to be widened or a parallel bridge built for the tollway. There’s plenty of room for that at Wilsonville, but not at Oregon City.

  8. Anandakos
    April 14, 2013 at 4:08 pm Link

    @Lenny,

    And why would we want to depress N. Portland property values in order to make Clark county developers rich?

    The people in Clark County would love to depress property values in North Portland simply to “make those damn Yuppies cry!” Well, not everyone in Clark County; the folks in the 17th and 18th LD’s.

  9. EngineerScotty
    April 14, 2013 at 4:31 pm Link

    But Clackamas County likes roads and rubber tired transport. These are not Crime Trains; they’re good Conservative trucks!

    Oregon City is actually quite progressive. And just because people like roads and highways in the abstract, doesn’t mean they are desired in their own environs…

    Yes, you’d need a substantial bridge across the Clackamas River, but the rest of the route is pretty flat.

    Uh, no it’s not. I grew up in Oregon City, and am rather familiar with the terrain. A good truck route it would not make. :) In particular, S Redland Road, which the proposed route crosses at a perpendicular angle, is located in a ravine–one too wide to span with a bridge or viaduct, but one steep enough that trucks aren’t going to be climbing it without a switchback or two. And many of the existing residents along the path are not poor people who can have a truck highway shoved down their throats without political consequences…

    The OR213 route I mentioned above? It requires a 2-mile, 6% grade to ascend from the level of the Clackamas and Willamette Rivers, up to the upper plateau where CCC is located. It uses an old railroad right-of-way, up the side of a Newell Creek Canyon, essentially, to do it. Your proposed route is nowhere as geographically convenient for freight.

    Of course, if you wanted to make a freight tollway on I-205, the easiest way to do that would be to convert existing auto lanes. But we all know how much chance THAT has.

  10. Anandakos
    April 15, 2013 at 12:30 am Link

    OK, no freight tollway, and it’s not a good idea, even if possible to do. Your larger post makes that clear.

    Then nothing at all (“No-Build”) is the best option. Because, as obnoxious as the opponents to Max are and as deeply retrograde as their racist opposition is, they are right that it’s a huge waste of money. And, “No, it doesn’t matter if it’s ‘Federal’ money.”

    Given that Vancouver is a carbuncle on the body politic of “Cascadia”, keeping it as small as possible is a good strategy.

  11. John Powell
    April 15, 2013 at 7:14 am Link

    Enough with the sensible alternatives–if the CRC dies (for now) in the Washington legislature, what is actually likely to happen next?

  12. Douglas K
    April 15, 2013 at 8:46 am Link

    I HOPE the next step is that CRC opponents unite to put the Oregon funding component on the ballot via a repeal measure. My further hope is that a state-wide vote against the CRC will kill the project, or at least prevent another rubber-stamp cruise through the legislature.

  13. EngineerScotty
    April 15, 2013 at 4:02 pm Link

    Recent polling in Clark County appears to show that opposition to light rail isn’t as staunch as thought, and that a small plurality of residents may favor the CRC (46% in favor, 45% opposed, 9% unsure).

  14. Nathanael
    April 15, 2013 at 4:09 pm Link

    “However, everyone in power both in Washington and Oregon — heck, even the Feds — says “It’s the freight, stupid”. It seems that improvement of interstate freight is the one thing everyone in both states can agree on. ”

    But almost all the freight goes on the BNSF and UP railway lines. (This is an easy enough fact to look up).

    So there’s something incredibly fishy about this claim.

  15. Nathanael
    April 15, 2013 at 4:11 pm Link

    “However, everyone in power both in Washington and Oregon — heck, even the Feds — says “It’s the freight, stupid”. It seems that improvement of interstate freight is the one thing everyone in both states can agree on. ”

    But almost all the freight goes on the BNSF and UP railway lines. (This is an easy enough fact to look up).

    So there’s something incredibly fishy about this claim.

  16. Nathanael
    April 15, 2013 at 4:16 pm Link

    FWIW, this feels awfully like a repeat of the “Roads and Transit” vote in Seattle.

    At least a lesson was learned from that case: the political alignments in Seattle are no longer such that you can win popularity by building both freeways and railway lines. Perhaps the last such “roads and rails” success was in Denver, and even there the mood seems to be turning.

  17. Douglas K.
    April 15, 2013 at 4:28 pm Link

    The last “roads and rail” vote in Oregon was Measure 32 in 1996. It went down 47-53. I expect the CRC would do even worse than that. It has a minimal constituency beyond the insiders who stand to make a fortune from building it.

  18. Ron Swaren
    April 15, 2013 at 7:08 pm Link

    @Anandakos “Because, as obnoxious as the opponents to Max are and as deeply retrograde as their racist opposition is, they are right that it’s a huge waste of money. And, “No, it doesn’t matter if it’s ‘Federal’ money.”

    Did they say that is why they are opposed to the CRC? Because it doesn’t hurt their race?

    And, rigth now, the main political drivers of the CRC are the Democrats. It was only the Republicans in Salem, and mainly the same party in Olympia, who are opposing it.

    So…oppose government pork and you’re a racist?? This is about as sensible as your other screeds about how W. Hayden Island (which represents about one percent of the cottonwood stands around here) is critical, environmentally.

  19. Portland Laugher
    April 15, 2013 at 9:32 pm Link

    >

    I take the C-Tran 105 daily from downtown Vanc to 5th & Alder. If snailrail and the 105 were both available, It’s a no-brainer I’d use the 105. If snail rail was the only transit option, I’d drive my Prius. Why not be comfortable?

  20. Portland Laugher
    April 15, 2013 at 9:32 pm Link

    >

    I take the C-Tran 105 daily from downtown Vanc to 5th & Alder. If snailrail and the 105 were both available, It’s a no-brainer I’d use the 105. If snail rail was the only transit option, I’d drive my Prius. Why not be comfortable?

  21. Nick theoldurbanist
    April 15, 2013 at 9:56 pm Link

    “If snailrail and the 105 were both available, It’s a no-brainer I’d use the 105.”

    >>>> You can say that again. Every time I go up to Vancouver during weekdays, I pay $3.35 to ride C-Tran, even if it only runs once an hour midday. This despite the fact that I have an H pass for Trimet. I seem to avoid the MAX – CTran #4 option like the plague.

    And those 105 coaches are so nice!

  22. EngineerScotty
    April 15, 2013 at 11:38 pm Link

    Laugher,

    What is the main advantage for you of the 105 over MAX? Lack of a transfer from where you’re travelling (which I assume would still be the case even if MAX went across the CRC)? Nicer vehicle accomodations? Fewer stops en route? Better rider demographics?

  23. Anandakos
    April 15, 2013 at 11:59 pm Link

    @Ron Swaren,

    “Crime Train”….”Loot Rail”. These are of course not racist slurs. Clearly, they’re referring to all the white bank robbers using Max as a getaway vehicle.

    And all the posts on PortlandTransport and The Columbian by you and your allies complaining about “the gangsta’s on Max” and “the types on C-Tran” are not racist either, are they?

    Why no, never. They’re only referring to the economic situation of the bus riders, right? And they don’t mean it as a slur. Oh HEAVEN FORBID! No, it’s with the deepest compassion for their economic vicissitudes with which they are referred to as “types”…..

  24. Anandakos
    April 16, 2013 at 12:28 am Link

    @Nathanael,

    But almost all the freight goes on the BNSF and UP railway lines. (This is an easy enough fact to look up).

    Perhaps in total tonnage moved in and out of the Portland SMSA, the rails have the majority. I would not doubt that. But if you’re talking about point-to-point shipments in the I-5 corridor passing through the SMSA, trucks are the overwhelmingly dominant mode.

    Have you ever seen a UP stack train south of the junction just south of the Steel Bridge? I never have and I’m a dedicated train-watcher. The only tables that run on the Deschutes line are the daily balancing train of empties between Seattle and LA. (More export containers move out through Seattle than inbound ones headed east, so the excess empty skeleton and tub cars are shuttled to LA).

    Yes, there’s certainly plenty of “freight-all-kinds” moving south of Portland on the UP, but it’s mostly timber and products, Alberta gypsum and potash, and some chemicals from Canada and Ferndale. The trucks carry everything else.

  25. Portland Laugher
    April 16, 2013 at 7:07 am Link

    “Laugher,

    “What is the main advantage for you of the 105 over MAX?”

    Time. Comfort. Peace.

    Time: If I catch the 6:59am 105 downtown Vanc, I’ll be on the Portland Transit Mall within 18-20 minutes. Of course going north in the PM takes longer but that’s where the comfort part compensates. The padded, hi-back reclining seats make for good naps or reading. Rail from Vanc would be ~35-40 minutes.

    Comfort: I think our rail cars are really uncomfortable, especially in the winter. I’m 6’2″ and hate riding MAX on the weekends to/from Delta. After experiencing the C-Tran Express buses, it made me more sensitive to the discomfort on MAX. Oddly, the Type 2 cars I think are the best with the Type4s the worst.

    I watched a TM 94 “express” bus travel south on 5th a few days ago. It was a 1400 vehicle. Those poor folks riding in that rig all the way to Sherwood after doing the right thing leaving their machinery at home or in a parking lot. Shameful.

    Peace: I readily admit there’s a strong elitist atmosphere on the C-Tran Express buses. With the higher fare, almost all the passengers on them are working commuters focused either on their jobs in the AM or pooped in the PM. it’s wonderfully quiet and civil. No disruptions from the diverse transit population. No food smells. No acting out and there’s an Operator in earshot if there’s trouble. Not so on LRT. Poor security on LRT is an element that LRT lovers comfortably deny.

    I wish Metro and TM had designed a heavy rail system with segments subterranean; downtown and Interstate.

    I state all this as a strong believer in public transport.

  26. Lenny Anderson
    April 16, 2013 at 3:43 pm Link

    Express buses are fine, but they do absolutely nothing for the thousands of riders coming and going from points in between. In that sense they are elitist and very costly even with extra fares.
    Anyone who thinks, on the other hand, that MAX is a poorer ride that the old #5 has never used either.

  27. Ron Swaren
    April 16, 2013 at 8:20 pm Link

    @Anandakos,
    I see you have unleashed your load of hate. Since when does my expressing of an opinion on policy make me an ally of those that are crying “crime train?”

    But maybe that is all you’ve got. Did you, for some reason, not like my calling out of your contrived views on environmental issues—–views which have practically no substance in reality? What exactly is the essence of your little tirade?

  28. Anandakos
    April 16, 2013 at 8:37 pm Link

    @Ron Swaren,

    When you dance with the devil you get singed. Far too often, you get a nasty dose of the clap, too.

    And, in all honesty, I prefer my friendship with the Brown Creepers and weasels who inhabit the shrinking mature cottonwood ecosystem to selfish human beings.

  29. Anandakos
    April 16, 2013 at 8:39 pm Link

    P.S.

    Don’t deny that when you post on The Columbian you’re just a emetic as most of them.

  30. EngineerScotty
    April 16, 2013 at 9:10 pm Link

    Civility, please.

  31. Chris Smith
    April 16, 2013 at 9:12 pm Link

    Indeed. Stop making this personal. Stick to policy.

  32. Ron Swaren
    April 16, 2013 at 9:17 pm Link

    I’ve never said that I thought the MAX in itself causes crime. Why don’t you check your facts first? And it wasn’t me who started the mud slinging; just because Anadakos (whoever that may be) can’t substantiate his claims with facts doesn’t give him the license to start attacking people.

  33. Ron Swaren
    April 17, 2013 at 8:45 am Link

    We can breathe easier great Cascadian Earthquake Preppers! Give greater scrutiny to that
    statewide seismic upgrading as proposed by Rep. Deborah Boone (D-Cannon Beach) or the $250 million proposal for the state capitol! USGS scientists say in their latest report that Rogue River to Cape Mendocino has a risk nearly twice as high as the Portland area.http://pubs.usgs.gov/pp/pp1661f/

    Thankfully the more vulnerable Alsea Bay bridge was replaced with an upgraded version in 1992—–for only $42 million dollars. But obviously the salt water, rain and high windy conditions, nor the four lane, 3000 ft long structure, wouldn’t have any resemblance to the Columbia River gorge area conditions, would ya think? It’s a good thing they got to the Alsea Bay bridge before it “fell in the water.”

  34. Ron Swaren
    April 17, 2013 at 1:48 pm Link

    “And, in all honesty, I prefer my friendship with the Brown Creepers and weasels who inhabit the shrinking mature cottonwood ecosystem to selfish human beings. ”

    Sounds like you would fit in well in Montana, then! So long, pardner!http://fieldguide.mt.gov/detail_ABPBA01010.aspx

  35. EngineerScotty
    April 17, 2013 at 2:08 pm Link

    C’mon, Anandakos. Every kid knows that creepers are green.

  36. EngineerScotty
    April 17, 2013 at 2:08 pm Link

    C’mon, Anandakos. Every kid knows that creepers are green.

  37. Erik H.
    April 18, 2013 at 12:52 pm Link

    Have you ever seen a UP stack train south of the junction just south of the Steel Bridge? I never have and I’m a dedicated train-watcher. The only tables that run on the Deschutes line are the daily balancing train of empties between Seattle and LA. (More export containers move out through Seattle than inbound ones headed east, so the excess empty skeleton and tub cars are shuttled to LA).

    Yes, there’s certainly plenty of “freight-all-kinds” moving south of Portland on the UP, but it’s mostly timber and products, Alberta gypsum and potash, and some chemicals from Canada and Ferndale. The trucks carry everything else.

    Clearly your “dedicated train watching” isn’t telling you the whole story about what moves in and out of Portland and on which routes.

    The former Southern Pacific Brooklyn Subdivision (a.k.a. Valley Main) from East Portland to Eugene and onward to Roseville and Los Angeles sees about a dozen or so through trains a day; this traffic is actually down from a few years ago primarily due to the loss of lumber traffic. But there are four intermodal trains a day that originate or terminate at UP’s Brooklyn Yard. That’s why you won’t see them at your vantage point at East Portland (the junction between the ex-SP, the UP Graham Line, the Albina Lead, and the Steel Bridge).

    The rest of the traffic is mixed manifest traffic – forest products, agricultural, some chemicals. Of course not much paper being shipped out of Oregon anymore – most of the paper traffic comes from Georgia Pacific Toledo or Camas, and thus doesn’t pass through Portland by rail. (But a lot of that gets trucked to GP’s various distribution centers in Portland.) The old Publishers Paper is dead (Oregon City, Newberg) and West Linn Paper doesn’t ship by rail, given that it’s on the wrong side of the river from the railroad tracks.

    The potash shipped from Canada moves via unit train to Terminal 5 and is transloaded into ships for Asia. You can tell them apart by the usually gray covered hoppers, and frequently has Canadian Pacific locomotives, or the red CEFX SD9043MAC lease units.

    Portland is primarly a breakbulk harbor and doesn’t have the container business that, say, Long Beach or Seattle, has. A lot of grain that moves from the midwest to Portland. Potash. Wheat. None of that traffic would move by truck; except for some small amounts from local (Willamette Valley) farms up to the train elevator at the east end of the Broadway Bridge in the Albina area. And there isn’t a great deal of north-south traffic – mostly lumber and steel moving from mill to distributor in California.

    There is, however, a ton of local traffic around our area – very little to none of it – that is suitable for rail. Think about all those trucks that move in and out of Clackamas headed to or from the Fred Meyer and Safeway distribution centers. Hundreds of trucks every single day, carrying product to and from the DCs…not one of them could realistically become a boxcar load.

    Worse yet – why did we all our regional planning to dictate that those facilities be located far away from rail centers – that means jobs located far away, and ultimately housing located far away. Freddy’s distribution center at one time was located east of Sullivan’s Gulch. Since we have decided to move industrial zoning away, now we are paying the price in far-flung housing developments and commercial zones, far removed from downtown.

  38. EngineerScotty
    April 18, 2013 at 1:32 pm Link

    More rumblings from Olympia: http://www.opb.org/news/article/crc-hits-troubled-waters-in-washington-senate/

  39. EngineerScotty
    April 18, 2013 at 1:33 pm Link

    More rumblings from Olympia: http://www.opb.org/news/article/crc-hits-troubled-waters-in-washington-senate/

  40. Allan
    April 18, 2013 at 1:37 pm Link

    Fingers crossed

  41. was carless
    April 18, 2013 at 1:59 pm Link

    You know, if you want to move freight from California to Seattle, or Portland to Seattle, we do have these things called “trains.”

    I believe over 50% of freight in the US is moved by trains. Of course, that counts coal, so its heavily skewed.

    It may be a good idea to earthquake-proof the train bridge which carries a massive amount of freight along the West Coast of the USA, as if it fails, there probably aren’t enough trucks in the USA to carry that freight.

  42. Douglas K.
    April 18, 2013 at 6:55 pm Link

    Well, they’re supposed to adjourn by the end of this month, so if they can avoid making any last-minute deals over the next ten days…

    I can only hope federal funding really will vanish if the Washington legislature won’t pony up its share. Sadly, I doubt the CRC’s supporters are any more honest about disappearing federal funding than they’ve been about any other facet of the project.

  43. EngineerScotty
    April 19, 2013 at 2:13 pm Link

    More from Olympia: A CRC funding deal has made it out of committee, but still faces an uncertain vote in the full Senate. Compromise proposal conditions Washington funding on Coast Guard approval of 116′ bridge height. A few anti-CRC legislators seem to support the committee compromise; whether they will continue to support a bill at a final vote is uncertain.

    http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2020811400_apwaxgrcolumbiarivercrossing1stldwritethru.html

  44. EngineerScotty
    April 19, 2013 at 2:14 pm Link

    More from Olympia: A CRC funding deal has made it out of committee, but still faces an uncertain vote in the full Senate. Compromise proposal conditions Washington funding on Coast Guard approval of 116′ bridge height. A few anti-CRC legislators seem to support the committee compromise; whether they will continue to support a bill at a final vote is uncertain.

    http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2020811400_apwaxgrcolumbiarivercrossing1stldwritethru.html

  45. chrisw443
    April 20, 2013 at 1:13 pm Link

    As someone who loves taking the yellow line, the crc would make my life a breeze from where Im moving to in Vancouver. I love light rail, and it’s faster and cheaper than the express busses. I dont go downtown since my college is off killings worth anyway.

    The low income people who take the number 4 from the couve with the cheaper trimet passes will love this line, and I don’t know anyone who enjoys sitting in traffic on the bridge. Do you?

    Why do so many people hate max so much, if it wasnt for max, I’d of never moved here. I cant afford a car, and the bus is too slow for my commutes.

    Common sense is something overlooked in certain times. Like when we ripped out the rail in the 50’s that really helped didnt it? jeepers.

    Do we have to have a bridge collapse to prove we need a new bridge? it’s a century old, it needs to be replaced. whats wrong with that? I really wanna know. As for a bunch of right wingers in clark county, I don’t see that, I see the minimum wage folks who have to live there because north portland is too high in rent. like me.

  46. Ron Swaren
    April 20, 2013 at 2:02 pm Link

    @chrisw443:”As someone who loves taking the yellow line, the crc would make my life a breeze from where Im moving to in Vancouver. I love light rail, and it’s faster and cheaper than the express busses. I dont go downtown since my college is off killings worth anyway.

    Probably the best answer to your question is that a ‘workable’ light rail line, i.e through Vancouver and back to PDX, would cost in the billions. And that is still not connecting to Camas or Washougal or northward to La Center. However, as Everett WA is proving out, connecting such far flung communities to urban centers is also possible with express, high capacity buses, simply using the existing highways. Everett’s are working so well, that after barely two years of operation there are plans to expand the service. Their initial cost was $23 million for 26 vehicles. Such a service need not make a high number of stops to be economically successful.

  47. Anandakos
    April 20, 2013 at 6:26 pm Link

    @Ron,

    As I replied to your post on Streetsblog, the “double talls” are not used in Swift service. They are reserved — as in never used for anything else — for Seattle CBD peak hour expresses.

    The Swift service uses nice articulated buses, rather like the RapidRides Metro has bought. I don’t know the per-vehicle cost but they’re probably about a million each also.

    However, you have completely omitted the cost of the stop improvements, the political battle to get a BAT lane in each direction reserved on Highway 99. Those aren’t enormous battles, but they aren’t included in your magic number, either.

    Anyway, C-Tran has already proposed BRT on Fourth Plain and has run into a buzz-saw of the same exact objections — about the “types” who ride it — as does the Yellow Line portion of the CRC.

    Basically BRT is popular with Republicans only as a straw-man to object to LRT projects. As soon as the LRT dies, the BRT is forgotten or some horrible flaw in alternative “plan” is “discovered”.

  48. Ron Swaren
    April 20, 2013 at 8:21 pm Link

    I’ve seen the Double-Talls operating on the I-5 in rush hour. They seemed to be doing fine, thank you, and at least when I saw them none of them were stalled in traffic. That could be a different story on I-405 or on Hwy 99. But apparently the system has the confidence of the Washington legislature, enough to indicate a rather immediate expansion. What is your point?

    “Basically BRT is popular with Republicans only as a straw-man to object to LRT projects.”

    Are we having a discussion of practicalities, or engaging in some political, below the belt tactics? I was trying to answer the question to the best of my knowledge. And I certainly didn’t intend to suggest that Community Transit’s budget was only $23 million. And I don’t think that anyone thinks C-Trans proposed budget is contained solely in the MAX expansion.

    But, here’s a little task for you. Come up with a figure for what the complete cost of getting the MAX— not just the 1.5 miles into Vancouver— but also all the way back to PDX. Plus other extensions in Clark Co. MAX proponents would think appropriate. Then we can really compare apples to oranges.

  49. EngineerScotty
    April 20, 2013 at 10:04 pm Link

    I should point out that the Seattle area–particularly I-5 north of town, has a lengthy reversible express/carpool carriageway, and plenty of “bus exits” off thereof, to support a fairly robust “freeway BRT” system. It’s not a completely exclusive-lane BRT, but it frequently can move faster than the SOVs stuck in the freeway mainline.

    And as has been noted, there’s plenty of priority bus enhancements on SR99 north of Seattle as well.

    In either case, far more than just a bus running on the freeway.

  50. EngineerScotty
    April 20, 2013 at 11:19 pm Link

    Jim Howell adds his two cents.

  51. Anandakos
    April 20, 2013 at 11:56 pm Link

    @Ron,

    You don’t even know that the Swift service is the BRT in Snohomish County, do you?

    The “400’s”, which are the service that the double talls serve are one- or non-stop service from wherever they access I-5 to the Stewart/Howell ramps in downtown Seattle. A couple of them serving towns north of Everett make a stop in downtown Everett and then at the Lynnwood Transit Center. But none of them stop anywhere in north King County.

    Scotty is correct that Metro Transit U-district buses that access the reversible lanes at 42nd are a high quality of service have been called “freeway BRT”, because they skip about two and a half miles of slow running along Eastlake that the evening and weekend versions of the same routes take. There are also routes which access the reversible lanes at the 103rd off-ramp to Northgate and the general lanes at 145th. But nobody thinks of them as anything except “expresses” when they describe them. They are certainly nothing like “Bus Rapid Transit” as generally defined.

    Metro buses which go farther north than the 145th Street also stop at the “flyer stops” on the south side of the interchange there as do the “ST” (Sound Transit) expresses that serve Snohomish County. But none of those services use “double talls” nor are they at all related to the Swift service.

    If you’re going to tout BRT as a valid replacement for LRT — and it certainly can be and is in several places (the LA Orange Line and Boston Silver Line projects considered LRT and chose high quality BRT instead) — please understand that it is not express buses running in freeways, in HOV or lanes or not.

    The general definition in common usage is buses running in reserved lanes on shared streets or dedicated busway, through an area with sufficient density to require frequent service, but insufficient density to support grade separation, generally with stop spacing in the half- to three-quarter-mile range. Ideally it has off-board payment, level boarding, and relatively little interaction between passengers and the operator.

    So far as the budgetary issue, you surely did not make any caveats either here on or Streetsblog about “this just being the vehicle costs, but of course the full system cost more” in your $23 million citation. The implication was that for just a little more than a million dollars per coach one could have the same sort of service that the Yellow Line would provide to Clark County.

    You can’t; you can have what we already have, thanks to Senator Murray: very nice express buses running in mixed traffic, subject to the same delays that cars suffer, but offering work or contemplation time to the rider, instead of the hassle of selfish drivers cutting them off or flipping them off. I’ve always thought it was worth the $3.25 once they opened the 99th Street TC.

    If Oregon provided a southbound HOV lane you’d have what Snohomish County has for the double-talls: express buses running in HOV lanes. That’s the crucial difference why the double talls aren’t stalled in traffic; there are unbroken HOV lanes in both directions from the end of the reversible lanes at Northgate to Marysville, complete with separate HOV-only exits at three (I believe) Park’n’Rides in Snohomish County.

    They do get stuck in traffic in the southbound direction in the afternoon south of Northgate, along with all the other traffic. There are no HOV lanes outside the reversibles there, and the reversibles are headed north in the afternoon.

    And how in the world did the CRC project get expanded into the Clark County LRT Loop that exists only on some PowerPoint slide? It’s long since been dropped as even a concept, let alone a plan.

    C-Tran has evaluated BRT on Mill Plain, Fourth Plain, and Highway 99 and settled only on a BRT project along Fourth Plain. Now that the Clark County Loop (which was a stupid plan, since it ran right alongside the freeways everywhere) has been well and permanently turned into ground beef, the guns have been turned on BRT.

    Mill Plain and Highway 99 have been found to be too expensive for the potential benefits, mostly because of the lack of lane capacity around the Med Center and through Midtown. So now that those possibilities have been dispatched, the skinflints are hammering the Fourth Plain plan because of the “types” who would ride it. “BRT”, for Republicans, means “Bait, Ream, and Twist” (the knife).

  52. Anandakos
    April 21, 2013 at 12:33 am Link

    Jim Howell’s idea has many merits.

    However four things stand out: by going upstream of the existing bridges, you would wipe out the surviving hotel and the Safeway on Hayden Island. Sure, they could be rebuilt somewhere west of the freeway, but most of the residents on the island are on the east side; I think that’s a good part of the reason that the planners chose the more complex downstream location.

    Also, I do think that it has a potential flaw in placing the only Vancouver station at Fourth and Columbia. There’s no “there” there and not much opportunity to grow any. The railroad ROW is just south of that block, and the downtown access to the freeways just north of it. That can’t be changed much given that there will have to be access to both the westernmost local access bridge and the new easternmost bridge from the same area of town. You might use different north/south streets for access, but the east-west location would still have to be around Fifth.

    Grant that the new “Alcoa” development would be in walking distance of such a station location.

    Third, the transit station at Jantzen Beach would have to be between the freeway and the local access roadway, which would rather isolate it.

    And finally, but very most importantly, the 10% of lifts which won’t fit under the hump would have to do a “reverse wiggle” to get to the new center of the river railroad lift span. Would the Coast Guard go for that? Or would you plan to have two opening spans on the rail bridge, with the swing span used only for high traffic?

    These problems would need serious investigation, but overall it is an excellent plan; it’s the right size of bridge — Mr. Howell doesn’t specify three general traffic lanes and one HOV lane in each direction, but given that he’s the planning director of AORTA, I expect he’s assuming that. It keeps the existing bridges to minimize construction impacts and leverage an existing asset, and it’s much more affordable. The LRT portion falls from 3/4 of a billion to something like $300 million (you still have to get across the Hayden Channel and build a nice station for Jantzen Beach). Actually, having it between the freeway and local access streets might lower the costs, because it would have to be much less elevated; more like Delta Park than TIB.

    So far as “no tolls” at all, I doubt that, but they would certainly be lower.

  53. Ron Swaren
    April 21, 2013 at 12:07 pm Link

    @little Jim:”The bridge…. could have a long, 72-foot-high fixed span aligned with the hump of the existing bridges and a double-leaf-bascule draw span aligned with the existing lift spans, which would pose no height limitation to shipping. A bascule bridge opens and closes faster than the old lift spans, and the number of openings could be reduced by about 90 percent if the previously approved modification is made to the downstream railroad bridge.”

    However, as I pointed out to him several months ago, he overlooks the problem of placing the bridge piers RIGHT IN THE NAVIGATION CHANNEL which is already a mere 600 ft width. Hellooooo! How many times does this have to be raised: This crossing is the interface of several modes. And various groups—- like bad acne—- doggedly persist in presenting their little version of what they think could help, oblivious to the complete context. Portland commenters seem to have the six blind men and the elephant routine down, very well.

    Brown creepers, bascule bridges, MAX trains, oh my!!

  54. Ron SWaren
    April 21, 2013 at 12:29 pm Link

    @ES, “I should point out that the Seattle area–particularly I-5 north of town, has a lengthy reversible express/carpool carriageway, and plenty of “bus exits” off thereof, to support a fairly robust “freeway BRT” system. It’s not a completely exclusive-lane BRT, but it frequently can move faster than the SOVs stuck in the freeway mainline. ”

    Every city will have its unique equation of what works or can work. Which is not to say that a signficant population change in this area might not leave us with an entirely new equation to work from. But every metropolitan area has its own unique characteristics of how the population is distributed that can produce a different solution from some other city.

  55. Anandakos
    April 22, 2013 at 12:40 am Link

    About the Howell proposal. Crossing the existing bridge today, I was struck by how flimsy the pair of long spans between the hump and the lift span on each structure appear. Is the span on the 1919 structure strong enough to support the LRT trackway and a pair of meeting trains?

    The span in question itself is not from 1919; one can see that it has the same rolled, perforated girders that the 1958 bridge has throughout, instead of the fabricated ones with thousands of rivets in the older structure. I believe it was added as a retrofit to create the to match the 1958 span, so it’s only a half century old.

    However, though the original spans were designed for interurban cars (were the trains?), the interurban had long since ceased at the time of the renewal. Was the greater length of this span than the others possible because there would be no trains crossing the bridges? Would the long span be able do the job if there were?

    I ask this with no snark at all. A full double-track LRT structure is fairly heavy itself, and when it’s also supporting two two-car trains, which I believe would both fit within the length of that span, that’s a real load.

    Ron, what you say in your latest post is absolutely true. That doesn’t mean they can’t learn from one-another, but it does mean that they shouldn’t slavishly copy one another. We need the best solution for Portland/Vancouver.

  56. EngineerScotty
    April 25, 2013 at 12:00 pm Link

    Kitzhaber reiterates: “No light rail. No bridge”.

  57. EngineerScotty
    April 25, 2013 at 12:00 pm Link

    Kitzhaber reiterates: “No light rail. No bridge”.

  58. Douglas K.
    April 25, 2013 at 1:03 pm Link

    Yes, please stay dug in to your respective positions, if that’s what it takes to kill the project.

    Sadly, I’m afraid the “now or never” bluster is just bluster. If Washington doesn’t hold up its end, the Oregon legislature and other project proponents will find a way to keep it going.

    That said, I still hope to see a repeal vote on Oregon funding on the next ballot. A decisive statewide “no” vote on CRC funding will go a long way to preventing future revivals.

  59. Anandakos
    April 29, 2013 at 12:21 am Link

    @Eric H.

    You know, I’ve been thinking about your post above in which you state (doubtless accurately) that UP runs two I/M trains a day to and from Brooklyn.

    And I realized that — in the context of this thread, which has to do with the CRC and the sub-thread which was about truck versus rail traffic — for an I/M train running on UP to matter it must pass through the junction at the east end of the Steel Bridge. Otherwise any trailers which originated in Washington or B.C. along the I-5 corridor crossed the river already. Either on the CRC or the Glenn Jackson.

    So it does matter that UP doesn’t run I/M trains from Seattle to California, or at least does so quite infrequently. Trains originating or terminating in Brooklyn keep trucks off I-5 south of Portland, but do nothing to remove congestion from the CRC.

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