Oregonian Finally Notices Illogic of CRC

While the Editorial Board continues to tell us that the Columbia River Crossing must be built, at least over on the news side they managed to read the toll analysis and figure out that:

1) Traffic is not growing at the rates that were used to justify the project

2) Tolling I-5 without tolling I-205 is going to screw up east county

10 responses to “Oregonian Finally Notices Illogic of CRC”

  1. Build it, and they will drive around!

    The numbers seem particularly bleak from the point of view of finances. The more drivers decide to move to the 205, the higher tolls will need to be to raise the same revenue on I-5,
    and that, in turn, will push more drivers to 205.

    What’s the ruling on tolling 205? Can it be done, legally? My understanding was that tolling could only be implemented on new construction, not existing interstate.

    • Igor,

      You are assuming that the people here in Clark County are too stupid to value their time. Now, I admit that’s a pretty good gamble given their bilious inanity over this project, but as in all such hypothetical situations, people are mostly blowing ideological smoke. If the bridge is built with $2.50 tolls per direction, for the first several weeks, maybe even months, people WILL drive around on I-205. But let’s be very clear that the experience with I-90 and SR 520 is NOT transferable. Look at the placement of downtown Seattle; it’s pretty close to midway between the bridges, which means that a diversion from 520 to I-5 for folks originating or terminating north of downtown Bellevue is only half what it would be if downtown Seattle were located at the SR520/I-5 interchange. Since the bridges are about six miles apart a person coming from Kirkland goes as far south as the south end of downtown Bellevue (Main Street) before she or he starts clicking up extra miles. The total deviation is only between five and six miles. Were DT Seattle at Eastlake and Roanoke the deviation would be the full eleven miles.

      But downtown Portland IS located at the equivalent of the I-5/520 interchange. So someone coming from along or west of the I-5 corridor (actually, given the lousy cross-county roads up here, probably actually St. Johns) is going to go 11 miles out of the way not five and a half.

      That may not seem like much, but when those 11 miles include the Banfield Parking Lot — which will be much more stationary then than now — it will doubtless feel like it.

      I expect it will take between 30 and 45 minutes longer per trip to make the deviation instead of paying the toll or one to one-and-a-half hours per day. Most people will eventually stop and say, well damn; my time is worth more than $6/hour! That’s especially true given that the people who cross the river to work by car are normally either technical specialists or union members; both groups typically make north of $15 to $20 per hour.

      Yes, it will mean less disposable income for Clark County residents. But huff-and-puff as they might, within six months a significant percentage of the righteously indignant will get that Good2Go and will be using it.

      • Hey, there’s no need to insult the entire population of Clark County. Let’s keep things civil.

        I believe that to toll I-205, we’d need a Federal waiver. I’m not sure if that can be accomplished administratively, or if it would require legislation by Congress.

        It might also require an amendment of the project’s Purpose and Need statement, which is deliberately (and perhaps unwisely) confined to a narrow boundary around the I-5 corridor.

        • Chris,

          Well, I’m insulting myself, since I live here. Seems like that gives me a little privilege.

          So far as tolling 205, it is expressly forbidden by Federal law. No toll can be added to an existing un-tolled Interstate facility except to cover an increase in capacity, replace an obsolete structure, or as a part of a FHWA approved capacity management pilot project.

          Those pilot projects are I believe limited to twenty in number and all currently allocated. So it would certainly take legislative approval by Congress to increase the number allowable, and that ain’t gonna’ happen with a Republican House.

          • And, you probably don’t read the bilious inanity on the project posted in The Columbian, sometimes on completely unrelated issues. It is the epitome of un-informed “opinionism”.

          • It can be de-designated as an Interstate. No states have been willing to call for that, but that’s a permissable way to toll formerly-untolled routes.

  2. I read the article when it was published and, frankly, I couldn’t believe that I was seeing it published by the Oregonian.

    I’d like to see some analysis on how the diversion of traffic to the 205 bridge will affect I-84.

    • That analysis has been made by forecasting the 45,000 car increase over I-205: it will be a nightmare on I-84. Drivers diverting from I-5 are almost guaranteed to be headed for points west of Gateway, otherwise they’d take the shorter — and at least at this time generally faster — route via I-205. So nearly every one of those 45,000 cars will try to use the Banfield or, failing that, Lombard, Killingsworth, or Burnside.

      Basically, further development in Clark County means that some part of North Portland gets invaded. The current freeway system can not handle it now, so cars divert to surface streets.

      That’s why you folks in Oregon need to stand shoulder-to-shoulder against it in every way you can.

    • Bingo. Think of the existing bridges as water pipes. If they double the diameter of one of the pipes, it is going to flood north Portland with Clark County drivers. I currently live near Providence Portland, so I enjoy quick freeway access that is generally traffic free, at least in the reverse direction. Increased congestion on I-84 and on the surface streets around my home will occur during CRC construction, and likely after with the tolling diversions. My state representative is one of the good ones that voted against the CRC. She understands how it will impact her constituents.

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