Rogue’s gallery

Been a busy day on the transportation beat. Normally, at Portland Transport we like to focus on issues as opposed to personalities and such, but occasionally exceptions must be made–and today we have not one but two rogues in the dock. TriMet, fresh from a black eye over its handling of pay raises, today was given a bit of a fat lip in federal court, as a US District Court judge sanctioned the agency for failing to properly comply with discovery requests in a lawsuit related to the April 2010 incident in which a bus ran over a group of pedestrians, killing two.

And in unrelated mischief, a noted public-transit critic commits a rhetorical low-blow against another local transit agency. We’ll deal with TriMet, as that’s the bigger deal, first.
Oh, you mean those e-mails

It was not unexpected that the families of the victims of the tragic accident three years ago, would sue TriMet–the agency was at fault (whether through the negligence of bus driver Sandi Day, who made an illegal maneuver; or through inappropriate training and/or unsafe equipment, as both plaintiffs and the transit union claim), and the pedestrians (who were crossing with a walk signal when struck) were not. What was a bit unexpected was that the family members sued in federal court, alleging a civil rights action (wrongful death is not generally something you can sue for in federal court), in an apparent attempt to evade Oregon’s liability cap, which does not apply to federal causes of action. TriMet has asked for dismissal–usually (but not always) civil rights claims are filed in response to intentional misconduct as opposed to accidents–but the judge has indicated that this will not happen until after a parallel state lawsuit is adjudicated.

Unfortunately, TriMet likely did itself no favors by playing dumb in discovery. In the “discovery” phase of a civil trial, plaintiff and defendant have to turn over relevant documents and information to the other side when asked–or assert privilege over material that might be protected. Parties in lawsuits are not permitted to knowingly fail to comply with discovery requests, such as withholding relevant documents. TriMet, however, took the position that unless electronic documents were specifically requested by the plaintiffs (whose initial request did not specify any particular media), it need only produce material that it had on paper. This did not amuse the judge, who fined the agency $5000 (to cover plaintiff’s costs) and required GM Neil McFarlane to provide an affidavit (meaning he’s under oath) that all relevant documents had been delivered.

TriMet was actually lucky. Discovery abuse can produce serious consequences in court–including penalties such as “adverse inference” (meaning the judge assumes you’re hiding something, and will tell the jury that if things get to that point), or even summary judgment of a case. While the suggestion from some quarters that TriMet managers ought to go to jail is unlikely to occur (though now that Neil’s under oath, any further obfuscation and he’ll have some serious explaining to do), this doesn’t bode well for TriMet’s claims to new-found transparency. Given that at least TriMet’s lawyers ought to know better, it would be interesting to hear what corrective actions have been taken at the agency. And since TriMet is (likely) represented by outside counsel in this matter (which is common practice when lawsuits get filed), it would be interesting to hear what counsel’s take on all of this is.

Meanwhile, across the river…

…our good friends at Cascade Policy Institute engaged in a rhetorical foul of its own today, when it essentially accused C-TRAN staffers of lying in a report to the C-TRAN board, concerning a proposal to withdraw from the CRC project which will be discussed at Tuesday’s board meeting. While the article body itself avoids the L-word, and it may be the case that the headline (“Why Do Transit Officials Lie About Light Rail?”) was written by somebody else, this sort of rhetoric seems excessive and out of line–especially when applied to C-TRAN, which (unlike other agencies I can think of) doesn’t have a track record of (ahem) obfuscation. Obviously, private lobbying firms like CPI engaging in scurrilous behavior is a far less serious matter than public servants doing it, and I suspect that I actually agree with John Charles as to the specific question of whether the CRC should be built in its current form, but a facemask on the defense on one play doesn’t justify holding by the offense on another.

And when you read what CPI is objecting to–ithe suggestion that C-TRAN employees are “lying” is baseless. (Unfortunately, no link to the specific claims that were allegedly erroneous was provided, so I’ll address CPI’s portrayal of the statements at issue). Specifically, CPI objections to the following statements that C-TRAN staffers have (allegedly) made in advice to the board:

  • “Light rail offers faster service (17 MPH) than bus rapid transit (14.5 MPH)”. The 17MPH average speed is more-or-less correct for the Yellow Line, and I’m not sure where the 14.5MPH comes from (the speed of BRT lines can vary greatly)–but CPI’s explanation as to why this is “wrong” is laughable: it claims that express bus services can average up to 45MPH. While this is true in places where express busses seldom meet congestion, express bus (point-to-point peak-hour service) and BRT are two different things. John Charles, I’m sure, knows better. Touting express bus as a substitute for rapid transit is a common CPI tactic, even though the two types of service have entirely different purposes.
  • “The extended Yellow MAX line will arrive in Vancouver every 7.5 minutes”. Charles claims this to be false because “TriMet is broke”. Incremental light rail service isn’t that expensive (much of the cost-per-hour is amortized system costs that don’t rise with additional trains in service), and standard TriMet practice is to run at shorter headways in the peaks, and reduce to longer headways outside the peaks. Of all the variables affecting TriMet’s budget, additional Yellow Line service to the ‘Couv is not one of the larger ones.
  • “Light rail will carry 6,100 people over the Columbia River during the peak period”. Here, the big question is: in one direction, or in both? LRT lines can easily do 6k pphpd (passengers per hour per direction) with appropriate headways and consist size, but 2-car trains at 8 per hour can’t handle this load. But they can handle half this load pretty easily–if you assume the trains are full in both directions, then yes, 6100 passengers per hour is doable. Charles underestimates–by quite a bit–the capacity of a MAX train, citing (what I suspect is) the average design capacity of the fleet, or 274 passengers per train. In practice, 2-car MAX trains handle crush-loads of 400 passengers pretty frequently, and I’ve seen ’em packed even fuller than that (though operational performance degrades significantly once you fill up a train to that level). 274 passengers is nothing.

Given all of that, we would suggest that lobbyists in glass houses ought not throw stones. If you are going to suggest someone is “lying”, it is generally necessary to demonstrate both a) they’re incorrect, and b) they know it and are acting in bad faith. CPI failed on both counts in this piece, which manages to make Randall O’Toole look good in comparison.


36 responses to “Rogue’s gallery”

  1. Wait a second. Let’s assume you have an evening rush-hour crush-loaded train crossing the Columbia. Now we might ask, where did these people get on the train? If the answer is, “mostly downtown” (which seems reasonable) then we have a problem. Because a pretty sizable proportion of the people getting on the train downtown are not actually going to Vancouver! Therefore, in order to get a crush load crossing the Columbia, the train would have to have been loaded beyond physical capacity downtown. Since this is impossible, it seems that (subject to my assumptions above) the trains are not actually crush-loaded while crossing the Columbia.

  2. The CPI headline is a bit strong, but I think you protest too much. Their claim is that express buses *currently* run at 31-40 mph in the morning and 20-30 mph in the evening. These would, presumably, be replaced with slower max trains. If you’re a 9-5er living across the river the CRC as it’s currently planned will make your transit commute worse in any conceivable way.

    As for frequency the last two rail projects (green line and streetcar expansion) have under-delivered in the frequency department.

    Thoughtful critiques and carefully reasoned discourse have their place (like here!), but when you’re trying to convince an apathetic audience that the CRC is a massively wasteful project it justifies a little intemperate rhetoric.

  3. My solution: Don’t live in Vancouver! I have little (or no) sympathy for anyone caught in a traffic jam trying to get across the Columbia.

  4. Scotty,


    “[they’ve] got some serious ‘splainin’ to do!”

    Thanx and a tip of the Hatlo Hat to Ricky Ricardo

  5. Scotty,

    You’re being too generous. Who cares if John Charles wrote the headline or not? He is one of the primary authors of their papers, so if he had strongly objected to the language he could have gotten the headline changed. He knew, and he agrees.

    Your take-down of the four trains per hour objection is well made, with one caveat: what about the Steel Bridge? It can carry about six more trains per hour in the peak direction, and who’s to say that the Yellow Line will get four of them by itself?

    Wouldn’t increasing frequency to eight trains per hour make the service more inviting within Portland itself, resulting in more development along Interstate Avenue and more diversion from the #4 and #44 lines? It’s much more tempting to give up a single-seat ride when one is transferring to an HCT vehicle coming every eight minutes than every sixteen.

    Plus, of course, more people will ride between Jantzen Beach and downtown Portland than currently bounce along on the circuitous #6.

    It would be ironic (and gratifying) if extending to Vancouver led to greater use within Portland. But it might mean that downtown Vancouver will not get even four trains’ net capacity for itself.

  6. @Andrew,

    The direct express service from 99th and 134th street TC’s will still run. The only e-bus canceled will be the 105.

    So the commute to and from the big park and rides will still be the same. In fact, it will be at least somewhat improved, because once the bridge is expanded for auto traffic, Oregon will have to convert one lane southbound in the morning to HOV to incentivize higher ACO, as it is in the afternoon northbound.

    So the C-Tran expresses will have a big advantage over SOV’s then, at least for downtown Portland-bound trips.

    As an aside, I think the Clark College garage will be an big failure. Few people already driving on I-5 are going to exit the freeway at Fourth Plain, wind their way down to the garage through two stop lights and then sit on the train for twelve stops to downtown Portland.

    The little one at 13th and Washington, on the other hand, might be a surprising success, because it will attract ridership from the west side of inner Vancouver that currently has no decent commuter transit options (the #2 runs too infrequently and the #3 is a loop).

  7. “Light rail offers faster service (17 MPH) than bus rapid transit (14.5 MPH)”. The 17MPH average speed is more-or-less correct for the Yellow Line, and I’m not sure where the 14.5MPH comes from (the speed of BRT lines can vary greatly)–but CPI’s explanation as to why this is “wrong” is laughable: it claims that express bus services can average up to 45MPH. While this is true in places where express busses seldom meet congestion, express bus (point-to-point peak-hour service) and BRT are two different things. John Charles, I’m sure, knows better. Touting express bus as a substitute for rapid transit is a common CPI tactic, even though the two types of service have entirely different purposes.”

    I would think that express buses serving more far-flung communities could do just as well as light rail. For example, in Clark Co, express from Washougal, then Camas, then Fishers Landing, would be similar, since Hwy 14 would not be jammed. Or from Ridgefield to Vancouver and then to the Delta Park Station.

    Or, in Oregon, from St Helens, to Scappoose, to Linnton and then the Pearl District. Or my favorite: from Sherwood, to Tualatin and then to Tigard and then on Barbur Bv to Downtown.

    Do you see any reason why these would be slower? And, yet, to get light rail that far out in each case would be very expensive.

    Let’s think outside the box.

  8. @Ron,

    Express buses are faster than HCT for catchment area to CBD style commuting, especially in outlying areas with low congestion like those you enumerated. There’s no denying that.

    But nobody is advocating light rail to St. Helens or Camas. The question is about light rail to downtown Vancouver, the CBD of the second largest city in the metro area. Light rail is high-capacity all day, transit. It serves trips other than commuting and helps give bones to an otherwise shapeless and inefficient urban form.

    Express buses are a form of vanpools on steroids. They’re expensive to operate because they have about a 70% deadhead to revenue service ratio and they support — dare one say instigate — sprawl. From the point of view of riders with families, they’re very inconvenient because they don’t allow efficient travel home during the off-peak or after hours. If you need to go home at 2:00 to pick up a sick child at school, you’re out of luck or at a minimum face a two hour slow ride on the surface.

    Surely as long as you’ve been reading this blog you understand the difference. You’ve said yourself you’re not a fan of sprawl.

    Were it not for the complicating factor of that half mile wide, forty foot deep river, it would be an absolute, without doubt, why didn’t you do this years ago certainty that the Yellow Line should be extended to downtown Vancouver.

    But the river’s there, and the cost to cross it is close enough to a billion dollars that verbal avoidance of that number is a wimpy copout. Given that, LRT extension is not a slam-dunk. With the complication of the Steel Bridge issue and the dependence on P’n’R garages to meet expected ridership, the “LRT yes/no” question teeters.

    But again, nobody is advocating extending it farther than Clark College. There are plenty of things to evaluate without batting down straw men.

    Finally, we used to have that Washougal, Camas, downtown Vancouver, Delta Park express bus (the 41). Now it serves only Fisher’s Landing to downtown Vancouver.

    The Ridgefield and La Center Connectors come straight to the 99th Street TC where buses to anywhere in Clark County, plus fifteen-minute headway expresses to downtown Portland during the hours the Connector runs can be gotten. Not many people live in either town, so this is all their sales tax revenue supports.

  9. ROGUE:
    1. An unprincipled, deceitful, and unreliable person; a scoundrel or rascal.
    2. One who is playfully mischievous; a scamp.
    3. A wandering beggar; a vagrant.
    4. A vicious and solitary animal, especially an elephant that has separated itself from its herd.
    5. An organism, especially a plant, that shows an undesirable variation from a standard.
    1. Vicious and solitary. Used of an animal, especially an elephant.
    2. Large, destructive, and anomalous or unpredictable: a rogue wave; a rogue tornado.
    3. Operating outside normal or desirable controls: “How could a single rogue trader bring down an otherwise profitable and well-regarded institution?” (Saul Hansell).
    v. rogued, rogu·ing, rogues
    1. To defraud.

  10. Al,

    How can you provide definitions for “rogue” and omit the fine local brewery? :)

  11. Al,

    How can you provide definitions for “rogue” and omit the fine local brewery? :)

  12. “But nobody is advocating light rail to St. Helens or Camas. The question is about light rail to downtown Vancouver, the CBD of the second largest city in the metro area.”

    The Portland Tribune has had some recent articles about growth on the west side of Portland. I think PortlandTransport should reprint the one on jobs locating to the burbs.

    In reference to express buses this would mean that, yes, the lines to those outlying towns may have been too much at one time. But those towns may have future growth spurts, and therefore an express service could be warranted. No, I’m not a fan of sprawl, but I’m not a big fan of growth, period. And I think there is good economic basis for that. For most people, their net worth is in their real estate holdings, usually a home. And it really doesn’t take all that much to do something to increase one’s value in that.

    I think we, as a society, put too much into those standard economic indicators, and ignore other measurements of a worthwhile life. And this view, in its economic aspects, is supported by conservative thinkers like Peter Schiff, as well as progressive types.

  13. @Ron,

    The Pampered Media Group loves to Hate on Portland. We all know that.

    The main reason that downtown Portland employment has dropped so drastically is that the two largest employers there — First Interstate and US Bank — got bought by out of town competitors. They lost the back office jobs that filled those two large towers.

    And the reason that so much greenfield development happens in Washington County is that there are greenfields avaialable there. There are very nearly none in Multnomah County.

    Nike was never going to move to the Riverfront; they were just using the threat to stick it to Beaverton again.

    It’s not that “Portland is hostile to business.”

  14. But the river’s there, and the cost to cross it is close enough to a billion dollars that verbal avoidance of that number is a wimpy copout. Given that, LRT extension is not a slam-dunk.

    Well, it’s only a billion dollars if you do it the CRC way. If you just build a light rail bridge with a hump in the middle and a drawbridge to line up with the one on the Interstate Bridge, it would be a hell of a lot cheaper. The Interstate Bridge is 3538 feet long per Wikipedia. The Caruthers Bridge (whatever it’s finally called) will be 1720 feet long, and is budgeted a $134.6 million. Even if you triple that cost (a bridge twice as long with a lift span included), extending LRT from Hayden Island to downtown Vancouver would be about $400 million just for the bridge.

    Yeah, that’s a lot of money, but I seriously doubt that even with the rest of it (surface track to about 7th Street, plus surface track on Hayden Island, plus another much shorter bridge for the south channel to hook up to Expo Center), there would be a billion dollar project if ODOT wasn’t trying to overbuild it as a way to get political support for the megabridge.

  15. Lost in this nights election news south of the Columbia–the C-TRAN board voted to punt on the subject of whether or not C-TRAN should withdraw from the CRC, pending resolution of the funding issues in Olympia. (Which to me sounds a bit like trying to have it both ways–it appears the C-TRAN board wants the project to get done, as the Fourth Plain BRT assumes the CRC is built, but is more than quite willing to show up and pound nails in the coffin and dance on the grave, should the Washington Legislature kill it…)

  16. @Douglas,

    What you’re proposing is a very sound idea, and you’re right about the much lower costs. But it has been rejected by both states (it’s a variant the “Common Sense Alternative”). I don’t know whey the rejected it, but they did.

    Certainly the Washington State Senate would never go for a project which is solely for the hated light rail. Oregon might like it now, though, with the much lower price tag.

  17. You can get over 6000 people per hour in one direction, based on the “design capacity” of a 2-car light rail train and 24 trains per hour: 274 x 24 = 274 * 24 = 6576. This is a perfectly reasonable capacity for light rail, though it would require building a new Willamette bridge to be practical. If we are talking about theoretical maximums, then it is fine to talk about it.

  18. @Douglas K:” The Caruthers Bridge (whatever it’s finally called) will be 1720 feet long, and is budgeted a $134.6 million. Even if you triple that cost (a bridge twice as long with a lift span included), extending LRT from Hayden Island to downtown Vancouver would be about $400 million just for the bridge.”

    Which is why the Third Bridge concept (which would require 3 structures) could be cost effectively done, especially if done in conjunction with some other Columbia River crossing: my recommendation being Camas to Troutdale, since it is only 2300 feet.

    The construction of the Fremont Bridge showed that it is possible to fabricate a metal bridge OFF-SITE and then move it into place. Having a standard styled (metal arch) with standardized components would make the whole endeavor more similar to manufacturing than to custom construction.

    By comparison, building concrete structures over a large body of water is time consuming and labor intensive. For each pier, such as on the CRC project with dozens of them, a coffer dam has to be built in the water, new forms have to be place for each pier, and then removed later. And the concrete beams have to also be formed above the water, where carpenters run the risk of falling in, and the forms have to be placed, and then removed later. All of this being done in hazardous conditions with higher pay. Plus the over-the-water work has to be done in an environmentally sensitive time frame, whereas metal fabrication on land can go on around the clock.

    Based upon information from the PEER lab at Berkely, CA (which advises CalTrans projects) metal bridges can have better seismic protection, too. In short, the CRC is just a plainly dumb design. We need to go back to the drawing board, because there are far more cost effective proposals available. That would provide better transportation connections in our area, too.

  19. If you just build a light rail bridge with a hump in the middle and a drawbridge to line up with the one on the Interstate Bridge, it would be a hell of a lot cheaper. — Douglas K.

    Um, er, Ron, Douglas is proposing a Light Rail ONLY bridge, not two new highway bridges to nowhere like you are.

    Your comparison is rather like kiwis to kumquats. They both start with the same first letter (in the case of Douglas’ and yours, the letter “b”), but diverge rather rapidly from that point on.

  20. Building a rail bridge over the Columbia will NOT cost a billion dollars. The 22-lane CRC highway bridge iteration was expected to only cost $400 million. A double railway railroad bridge would probably only be a fraction of that – maybe $200 million.

    In fact, by comparison, the PMLR bridge, which is about a 1/4 mile long, is budgeted at $127 million. Double the length and cost would be ~$250 million.

    I have no idea what the rest of the $750 million would go towards – it seems like a lot of fluff. But then, the $1 billion “cost estimate” came from the CRC group, who managed to blow over $100 million in planning fees and 10 years and still failed to make the bridge tall enough…

  21. @Anandakos, “not two new highway bridges to nowhere like you are. ”

    Don’t you keep up on the news? The next big wave of Silicon Forest expansion is coming, which is why Washington County is now seriously looking for transportation answers, apart from METRO plans. And, yes, Oregon does like collecting tax revenue from you Washingtonians.

    And besides the connection to Silicon Forest jobs, I bet there is plenty of southbound I-5 traffic that wants to go out Hwy 30, Hwy 26, or Hwy 99w. Of course it is not in keeping with METRO’s agenda of forcing TOD to do any traffic counts to determine what is really taking place.

    Yesterday I testified to the CTRAN board that they could accomplish fairly much the same thing with express buses—as Community Transit in Everett is proving—for probably two percent of what a light rail system would cost. The CRC is bad enough—and only results in 1.5 mile light rail on Washington turf. How many billions more for one that would actually work?

  22. Ron,

    I think a majority of the readers here would be happy if WSDOT and ODOT converted one lane on the I-5 and I-205 bridges to HOV/Transit, enabling CTRAN to run successful express busses between Washington and Portland.

  23. @Ron,

    I’ve never argued against express buses. For commuters, while they’re expensive to operate because of the empty back-haul, they fit the need very well (except the problem with mid-day or late evening returns). People like the non-stop freeway run.

    And, if you had actually read my posts, instead of mentally making me yet another Kenyan Islamist, you’d see that I have real reservations about extending the Yellow Line.

    As I’ve also posted, I think the very best thing Oregon could do to solve the existing congestion is exactly what Chris suggested: a southbound AM HOV lane on I-5 to give the C-Tran expresses a big advantage over SOV’s. They could do it next week; it’s certainly within their legal authority. The problem is that it would worsen the diversion to surface streets and not sit well with the folks who live there.

    Maybe the thing to do is to start the HOV lane at mid-river (where the road enters Portland) and continue it south to the Interstate Avenue off-ramp. That would push the back-up caused by autos exiting the middle lane into Washington and, by metering the traffic through the chokepoint, lessen the diversion onto city streets.

    And it would serve the “Loot Rail/Crime Train” chorus in Clark County right.

    ODOT, are you reading this?

    I’d certainly support one on the Glenn Jackson as well.

    What I don’t support is this proliferation of bridges to nowhere that you keep banging on about. Just building an auto bridge next to the BNSF rail bridge is STUPID! It leads to a few hundred jobs in the ports area, a nearly arterial-free residential area, a too-narrow high bridge across a canyon and a vertical hillside with two paths across it.

    One of those roads has nearly as many hairpin turns as Mount Tamalpaias, and the other one, while reasonably well engineered, requires almost as much “double-back” as going through downtown Portland.

    Your answer to this little hill problem is to bore a tunnel for cars through it, coming out north of the UGB in Washington County.

    If you haven’t been keeping up with the news in Seattle, car tunnels are lots more expensive than train tunnels. They have to be at a minimum twice the diameter because who wants a one-lane car tunnel and they require ventilation that transit tunnels don’t (because they’re electric).

    So you’re little “oh it only costs $150 million” fantasy immediately balloons back to about the same costs as the CRC when a replacement for the St. Johns Bridge and the tunnel are included.

    Plus it screws one of Portland’s nicer neighborhoods. But it’s not Tacoma Street so they don’t matter, right? Nice guy.

    Then there’s the 192nd Street proposal. Presumably it would be linked to 181st on the Oregon side. Neither 192nd nor 181st is a state highway, so it’s not clear how you’re going to get funds to pay for this SOV wet-dream. Portland sure ain’t going to pay for half of it. The M&M’s like the idea, but they’ve got no funds. Like all the anti-CRC chorus, they want someone — anyone — else to pay for their shiny new bridges.

    You sure do like to hang out with a disgusting crowd.

  24. The HOV lanes would need to extend all the way to the Washington side to be effective. The bridges would act as the chokepoint for SOV traffic, reducing surface street diversion to levels lower than they are currently.

    I work out near 181st and Sandy currently, and the SOV drivers here from Washington salivate over the idea of a third bridge for east county. It’s never going to happen, though. I can’t think of a good reason for Oregon to support it. It won’t help the companies in east county. It just makes it easier for people to avoid paying Multnomah county property taxes.

  25. A reminder that if you’re complaining about another commenter’s behavior by name, you’re probably straying past our guidelines.

    Keep to policy folks.

  26. If I hung out with the pro-CRC crowd most readers here would think that was disgusting too. But even if one supported only light rail to Clark County, serving the disparate and scattered population centers would be very expensive.

    Community Transit, I think is showing the way with their express bus system. You are welcome to go there and do your own observations. I’m not against light rail, if there is somewhere it can be placed where the land acquisition is really cheap. I think the Third Bridge route could fit that category. And yes, people are going to Wahington County for jobs. The myth that they are not and will not, and that any west side route means “the West Side Bypass” is just hysteria.

  27. @Chris I.,

    Well, you’re not going to get an HOV lane to the Washington bridgehead except with the current CRC design. Washington had an HOV when I-5 was widened north of the Main Street O/C, but Helicopter Don got the legislature to direct WADOT to erase it.

    That’s why I suggested starting it mid-span, at the Entering Oregon sign. Using the bridge’s SOV capacity as a meter is the way to lessen the diversion problem.

    Chris Smith,

    I apologize for being insulting. To help us hotheads avoid the temptation, you moderators could point out when posters use transit terms of art incorrectly.


    [ed. note: “BRT” is not synonymous with “Express Bus”]

    Perhaps they’ll hear it better from you.

  28. Anandakos,

    The article makes the point (that BRT and Express Bus) are not interchangeable, and feel free to make it again.

    Part of the confusion is that Community Transit runs both BRT and express services. The Swift BRT service runs between Everett and Shoreline; this line is an honest-to-goodness BRT (class C+/B-) with 12-minute service on weekdays, dedicated lanes in spots, off-board fare collection, articulated busses, and 1-mile average stop spacing. Swift is pretty swift, making a 17 mile journey in about 45 minutes (even in rush hour), giving it an average speed of over 20MPH–faster than many parts of MAX.

    Ron frequently touts a different CT service, their 4xx express busses to Seattle, which use double-decker busses. These are classic express service which are limited-stop, peak-only services, and which spend most of their time running on the freeway. As I-5 in Seattle makes extensive use of HOV lanes, these bus lines can take advantage, but these routes are decidedly not BRT.

  29. “Big Bertha,” WDOT’s $80 million tunnel boring machine, will make a tunnel big enough for two lanes. Since it is a round hole. I’m assuming the two lanes is in the middle, allowing some smaller, additional paths at the bottom or top.

    For the Western Arterial route, a two lane tunnel, two way connecting Fruit Valley Rd to I-5 would be just fine. There is enough rise in the land to allow it: Hwy 500 can still feed in from the east via 39th street. And Fourth Plain and Mill Plain Bv. can connect on the surface, and maybe even Hwy 14, if it could go under the new down town area. This means it is a trunk route, i.e, a collector, not a bypass. This means that vehicles from those four above mentioned routes, plus from I-5 that are going to points west of the Portland hills would not have to go through downtown Portland, and thus would be the off of the I-5. Right now they all use the I-5, except for some which cut through St Johns.

    Well, my proposal to go under Skyline Bv, would require two holes. But this extra tunneling would allow bike paths and possibly a rail line, or BRT route. So then you would have plenty of opportunity for alternative transport; to get trucks off I-5 if they are going to the west side; and shorten the distance for commuters, plus it would come close to the West Side Trail.

    For the umpteenth time: at the Columbia River Crossings Alternative forum METRO’s retired planner said he like this concept best of the fourteen that he heard. Why do I keep having to defend it against accusations of being a mega freeway project, or something which no one would ever use? I’ve just stated that it isn’t a freeway, it has validation from veteran planner(s) and growth in the Beaverton Hillsboro area is THE big employment story of this time, which ultimately has to be accounted for in regional transportation decisions. This would be the simplest solution of the multitudinous, large concepts that are being considered now, although with three bridges it obviously is not cheap. However, as long as a company has set up to fabricate bridges, why not throw in a fourth, elsewhere in the metro region? Lastly, metal bridges can be fabricated on land and moved into place. Concrete structures are almost always built over the water, raising the labor costs immensely.

  30. @Scotty,

    I made the same correction about CT several weeks ago but the conflation keeps occurring.

    And I haven’t and I don’t think anyone else has said that “no one would use” a Westside Bypass, no matter what it is named. What I maintain is that to be useful it will cost more than the CRC as now constituted and serve only Clark County and St. Johns commuters.

    Very little of the Holy “freight” crossing the Columbia is traveling between Washington and the Port of Portland (we have five big ports of our own) or Washington County.

    Insofar as interstate trips which aren’t commuting, it might serve one in thirty or forty. This project is supposed to be an improvement to a beleaguered Interstate highway facility, not a commuter link. By the inclusion of MAX in it, planners are hoping to make the peak commuting a bit less of a burden on the Interstate users. Whether it will or not remains to be seen. But a Westside Bypass would omit the improvements to the Interstate system which is the primary cause for the replacement.

    Because of the economic leakage that commuting from Clark County causes, it’s bad for Oregon, so why should/would Oregon support it? Oregon has an effective veto over such wildcat schemes, so can you please embargo this topic of multiple bridges? It was rejected by the CRC staff and all sponsors several years ago. It’s a waste of time.

  31. I have no intention of participating in an “embargo” on discussions of multiple bridges. Sure, the CRC staff rejected it; it MADE SENSE. They wanted to build their all-eggs-in-one-basket megabridge and that meant they couldn’t even look at better alternatives.

    Now, I’m not a fan of the “Third Bridge” commuter link across Forest Park to Washington County. But adding a new rail bridge and freight bridge next to the existing rail bridge to improve connections between the Ports of Portland and Vancouver? I’m all for that. A new bridge in east county? If it can be paid for by tolls, why not? A separate arterial bridge with light rail or bus lanes on it? Hell yeah.

    Multiple bridges are the superior (lower cost, better performance) alternative to the CRC. And if (crossing my fingers) the CRC collapses in Washington, let us hope the project supporters are serious about it being dead. That means intelligent alternatives might actually be on the table.

    No way I’m gonna drop the subject.

  32. @Douglas,

    Can you tell me exactly what great benefit a bridge between the two ports provides that I-5 doesn’t? I can understand that a container ship landing at Terminal 5 or 6 might have the odd TEU headed for a Vancouver destination. And some of the autos being unloaded on the Vancouver side will be headed for Oregon dealerships on car-carriers.

    But that’s about it, and it’s not much. The Port of Vancouver isn’t going to be trans-loading to some ship at the Port of Portland, that’s for sure.

    The Ports are competitors for Heaven’s sake! The only co-operation they evince is that they both agree that the river needs to be dredged periodically. And that the Federal government needs to pay for it……

    In that way they are singing from the same book as the anti-CRC chorus.

  33. “Insofar as interstate trips which aren’t commuting, it might serve one in thirty or forty.”

    So, why do you see more traffic coming from I-405 northbound in the afternoon rush, than is coming through on I-5? I’m not quibbling with your 1/40 calculation (although you state no basis for it) but it is the peak hour loads that are the problem.

    Furthermore, I have actually had travel load data, that shows US 26 is very heavily used, at least out to the 217 interchange. This is official data, man. And then, even though I stated this was not a bypass freeway (which I-205 is) you still insist on using the term.


    Further, there is nothing about it going “across Forest Park.” Forest Park ends at Newberry Rd. This is more propaganda….by those who won’t accept a reasonable solution, yet cave in to outrageously expensive plans that the powers that be pose as alternatives.

  34. @Ron,

    Of course it’s the peak hour loads that are the problem, and “Yes”, many people commute from Clark County to Washington County. And “Yes” 26 is heavily used; who said it wasn’t?

    What I said — and I can’t speak for others but some may agree — is that it’s bad policy for Oregon to support, yet alone subsidize, commuting from Clark County to jobs in Oregon.

    If the incumbent in one of the Clark County held-jobs has school age children, the economic leakage of having them take all their non-withheld money back to Washington is probably less than the cost of educating those children would be were the incumbent an Oregon resident. But these days that’s an ever-shrinking part of the workforce, so on balance, it’s to Oregon’s detriment to have the money go elsewhere.

    If your Westside-Whatever-You-Want-To-Call-It came to pass, you’d see an explosion of building in Scappoose and St. Helens, as well as in rural Clark County. The Oregon legislature knows that and is reluctant to see it happen. So it won’t. And while the road improvements would certainly divert some of the peak traffic away from I-5, they do nothing to remediate the age, opening or safety issues of the existing bridges.

    And, really, except for the relatively few people living west of the freeway and south of 99th bound for Washington County, just crossing I-5 on an expanded CRC bridge and then turning westward on Marine Drive, would actually be shorter and quicker than the Bypass Bridge.

    My “favored alternative” is adding a southbound HOV lane to meter the traffic, which would probably decrease the worth of my house over time, if Oregon stuck to their guns. That’s hardly a selfish position.

  35. I’m glad to see you opening up the real discussion.

    But you commute from Clark County. How do you explain that, since it would be inconsistent with your belief that it is significantly wrong? And if we asked other people who do the same, some would say it is wrong, others would defend it.

    Re: Commuting from Clark Co. I expect Vancouver to follow an infill policy, like Portland. The Waterfront Project, and NW area of downtown, plus riverfront along the Columbia, and possible higher ground north of the downtown (where the views are). These are within bicycling distance to the Rivergate area and Delta Park. And could be to Swan ISland, under some plans. Plus Interstate area is supposed to bloom, isn’t it?

    Now, to the broader policy question. The CRC is not a stand alone project. Since the MAX portion is only 1.5 miles, proponnets acknowledge that it is just a start. Even one MAX line returning to PDX would be a billion-plus. And since Clark Co. is growing fast, pop. 700,000, what about reaching other areas with MAX? How much does that cost? And since both Washington and Clark Co. are the two fastest growing I doubt that you actually can craft a policy that eliminates commuting between the two.

    So I think it is good that Washington County officials are recognizing that they have to craft transportation decisions, apart from what METRO wants. And whether the CRC and additional MAX routes are the best way for Clark Co. is actually a very good question for debate.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *