Category Archives: Media

Letters: Rose Quarter ‘fix’ won’t improve safety

Spending half a billion dollars doesn’t fix the problem

Safety is supposedly the overwhelming first priority of transportation officials

The Portland Tribune printed my letter here.

Thursday, April 04, 2019

Safety is supposedly the overwhelming first priority of transportation officials and politicians. We’re discussing the most unsafe site to drive in Oregon. The 2-mile, two-lane section of Interstate 5 at the Rose Quarter has three times the accident rate of the Terwilliger Curves.

ODOT says it’s also the region’s No. 1 bottleneck.

Yet half the transportation money proposed for the I-5 Rose Quarter project has absolutely nothing to do with improving safety. It has nothing to do with adding new through lanes to reduce traffic congestion; nothing to do with adding shoulders for safety.

After spending a half-billion taxpayer transportation dollars, the Rose Quarter will still have the highest accident rate in Oregon. That’s an outrage.

Let’s do some math. Rose Quarter accidents are 300 percent of the Terwilliger Curves. ODOT “experts” hope the improvements will provide a 30 percent to 50 percent reduction in crashes.

Even if they achieve the 50 percent reduction, the Rose Quarter will still have 150 percent of the crashes and accidents of the Terwilliger Curves.

Why spend scarce taxpayer dollars if you’re not going to fix the safety problem? Clearly, safety isn’t ODOT’s top priority here.

Dan Saltzman bragged about this project being “community redevelopment.” It’s creating real estate by building two concrete lids over I-5. The lids and a bike-pedestrian bridge will consume half the money.

Out of the 10 items listed on ODOT’s website describing the Rose Quarter project, only three relate to improvements on I-5 for traffic and vehicle safety. That demonstrates this is not about improving traffic safety and reducing vehicle congestion. It makes Saltzman’s point — it’s “community redevelopment.”

Transportation dollars are supposed to be “protected,” not for community redevelopment. Taxpayers should demand a more appropriate fix. It’s a safety issue.

ODOT also reports this is the No. 1 bottleneck in Oregon. Why aren’t new through lanes being added to Interstate 5?

While the auxiliary lane extensions will reduce accidents and slightly improve traffic speeds, it won’t be as effective as adding new through lanes to I-5. ODOT reports: “the auxiliary lanes will not provide long-term capacity relief to congestion problems.”

Furthermore, ODOT says: “In the NB direction, between the Marquam Bridge and the Interstate Bridge, there are four recurring bottlenecks … from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.” Will any of those four northbound bottlenecks be eliminated after spending a half-billion dollars?

In the southbound direction, ODOT reports: “the most significant recurring bottleneck is at the Rose Quarter (Broadway) with congestion extending back to Rosa Parks Way.” There are nine hours of congestion, which poses significant problems for freight.

Question: After spending $500 million on the proposed improvements, will the Rose Quarter section of I-5 no longer be the “No. 1 bottleneck in Oregon”? Unless the answer is “yes,” this project is a huge waste of taxpayer transportation dollars.

Stop this wasteful spending of scarce transportation dollars until a proper expansion of through lanes on I-5 at the Rose Quarter can be agreed upon and the safety problems truly fixed.

John Ley

Camas, Washington

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REFERENCES

The 2012 City of Portland report shows the I-5 Rose Quarter has the highest accident rate in Oregon.

HALF the $450 million (now $500 million) allocated for the Rose Quarter will pay for “community redevelopment” according to Dan Salzman. It will create real estate by building two concrete lids over I-5, and spending $30-$50 million on a bike/pedestrian only bridge. Here’s the graphic from ODOT. The two “lids” and the bike/pedestrian only bridge are in yellow.

The congestion at the Rose Quarter and bottlenecks in the region.

NO income tax in Washington

The Washington Policy Center video shows why we should not want a capital gains tax in Washington state

My thanks to the Washington Policy Center (WPC) for this video. Their article offers further information and perspective (here).

And “yes”, a capital gains tax IS an income tax, which is not permitted in our state constitution. Here’s an excerpt from the WPC.

“A proposal that would introduce an income tax in Washington state is currently being debated in Olympia. Advocates have called it an “excise tax,” a “sales tax,” and even “an excessive profits tax,” but it is an income tax on capital gains.  Spend 6 minutes reading the linked op-eds here and watching our new video, and you’ll have everything you need to prove to friends and family that Washington faces the prospect of an income tax and why that tax would be bad policy for our state.”

What will the RTC spend $3.3 Billion on?

Our RTC proposes to spend $3.3 Billion on a replacement Interstate Bridge. What will we, the taxpayers, be paying for?

These are my comments to the April 2019 Regional Transportation Council Board of Directors. The video link can be viewed here.

Last month I asked you a question, that I would still love an answer to. The RTC’s 2008 “Visioning Study” identified the need for TWO new transportation corridors and bridges across the Columbia River. WHEN will you put one or two new bridges and corridors into your future transportation plans?

Instead, you seem to resurrect the CRC. Your RTP includes $3.3 Billion for a replacement I-5 bridge. Can any of you tell the citizens of SW Washington what the details are of the $3.3 Billion price tag?

How many lanes are you proposing for that replacement I-5 bridge? Transportation architect Kevin Peterson told us an Interstate Bridge would need SIX lanes in each direction by 2030 and 9 lanes by 2060.

Will your proposal offer more than a ONE MINUTE improvement in the morning, southbound commute? That’s all the CRC offered.

If your proposal is NOT a resurrection of the CRC, you should be able to tell citizens and taxpayers what we would be paying for. Will it include light rail? Will it include an upgrade to Portland’s Steel Bridge? Will it include a new TriMet HQ in Portland? Will it include an oversized upgrade to TriMet’s Gresham maintenance facility? Will it include money for a “curation facility” in Vancouver? Those were all pork-barrel projects included in the CRC.

How much of that $3.3 Billion will go to a replacement bridge? WSDOT briefed the Bistate Bridge Replacement Committee the bridge was just $1.2 billion. Tiffany Couch’s analysis indicated the bridge would cost $791 million. So why are you listing your proposal as $3.3 Billion?

How much will be spent on road improvements on the Washington side of the river? What is the price tag for those improvements? How much of the $3.3 Billion will go to road improvements in Oregon?

What are you proposing to be a fair sharing of the $3.3 Billion in costs? Is this a 50/50 Oregon-Washington split?  In the CRC, almost 60% of road improvements were on the Oregon side of the river. How much will SW WA citizens pay? How many federal dollars are you expecting to get? Will the federal government pay for any part of the new bridge, as opposed to mainly funding light rail like the CRC proposed?

Will TOLLS be part of the funding for your proposed $3.3 Billion project? If so, how much will be covered by TOLLS?

When will you inform citizens of the details of your proposal? Can Matt Ransom provide us an overview today?

The citizens and taxpayers deserve to know the answers to these and many more questions surrounding your $3.3 billion RTP proposal. Please provide all of us the details and answers.

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REFERENCES

From transportation architect Kevin Peterson — the I-5 corridor would need SIX lanes in each direction by 2030 and 9 lanes by 2060. But that would only solve traffic congestion problems if 3 to 4 additional lanes were added into downtown Portland (the Rose Quarter).

Forensic accountant Tiffany Couch (Acuity Forensics) did an analysis of the costs of the various CRC components. From her CRC Budget Discrepancies report.

And more specifically – cost discrepancies on the CRC’s replacement bridge.

The Acuity Forensics analysis highlighted problems and discrepancies in both the Oregon and Washington interchange costs.

For Jay Inslee and the carbon tax lovers

Even the democrats in Congress vote “present” over AOC’s “new Green Deal”

As we witnessed the utter failure of Congresswoman AOC’s “Green New Deal” in the press, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and others push for carbon taxes and anything that will raise the cost of energy. Here’s a liberal news report on the democrat’s failure to support it.

Here’s the reality — “green” energy isn’t very “green”.