Category Archives: Media

“No light rail, no bridge” – Again!

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown officially resurrects the CRC, uttering it must include “public transit, particularly light rail”

In a primetime debate (Oct 9th) with challenger Knute Buehler, Oregon Governor Kate Brown echoed the demands of disgraced Gov. John Kitzhaber and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee. “Before we move forward on the Columbia River Crossing, I want to see Washington meeting two criteria.  That they are really serious about fixing the bridge and investing in that bridge.  Secondly, it includes public transit, particularly light rail.”

Here’s the Governor in her own words:

Lars Larson’s take!

I called the Lars Larson radio show on “1st Amendment Friday”!

I spoke about Oregon Gov. Kate Brown issuing a demand — “no light rail, no bridge”.

She was echoing John Kitzhaber and Jay Inslee on this, proving it was and is, a “light rail project in search of a bridge.”

Furthermore, Oregon wants to TOLL drivers on both I-5 and I-205 to help pay for this light rail extension.

Kate Brown’s statement is an affront to the citizens of SW Washington who do not want or need light rail.

Take a listen to Lars here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oregonlive reported the debate discussion this way.

I-5 Bridge: Both candidates said they support a new Interstate 5 bridge over the Columbia River. Buehler said he supports tolls to expand highway capacity but not to change driver behavior. Brown said she won’t move forward on the project until Washington, which scuttled the last coordinated attempt at an interstate bridge, commits to a funding mechanism for the project and accepts light rail as a component of the project.

Clark County Today reported it this way.

“Buehler said he supports tolls to expand highway capacity but not to change driver behavior,’’ OregonLive.com reported. “Brown said she won’t move forward on the project until Washington, which scuttled the last coordinated attempt at an interstate bridge, commits to a funding mechanism for the project and accepts light rail as a component of the project.’’

The comments, especially those by Brown, don’t come as a surprise. But, I’m glad the conversation has finally re-emerged enough that elected officials are participating and stating their positions on the subject publicly. That’s the only good news.

The bad news is there is a great divide between lawmakers in the two states, much wider than the Columbia River itself. As a result, efforts to replace the I-5 Bridge or to address the need for additional lane capacity or corridors are likely headed to the same inevitable conclusion of the failed Columbia River Crossing.

Each time we’ve been asked, a majority of Clark County citizens have said we don’t want light rail. Oregon’s governor just reminded us this week that she “won’t move forward on the project until Washington … accepts light rail as a component of the project.’’ There’s plenty of our elected officials who are prepared to ignore the fact that a majority of their constituents oppose light rail but thankfully enough of them will dutifully represent the will of the majority of us.”

So far, absolutely NO reporting on this by The Columbian.

Citizens understand that the real bottleneck on I-5 is NOT the Interstate Bridge, but the Rose Quarter. Sadly, Oregon refuses to add new, through lanes to I-5 at the Rose Quarter. Therefore any new Interstate Bridge will simply hurry people (momentarily) to the scene of the traffic jam. The main thing that has happened is traffic congestion and bottlenecks have gotten worse.

From ODOT – there are 35 bottlenecks in the region:

From the Federal Highway Administration, with my comments & ovals in RED.

Get rid of the only HOV lane in Oregon and evening northbound speeds improve overall!

Oregon’s #2 bottleneck

The #2 bottleneck in the Portland metro area is on I-5 southbound, beginning at Rosa Parks Way through the Rose Quarter. Oregonlive reports it in 2017 this way.

Federal Government should pay lion’s share

Pass “No Tolls” Resolution

My comments to the Clark County Council Oct. 8, 2018. You can watch the CVTV recording here.

 I want to encourage you to PASS the resolution you are considering later this week, indicating the County Council OPPOSES any tolls on a new Interstate 5 bridge. Bravo.

But first, I would like to thank Clark County Today for reporting this, so citizens could speak about this before you take action. But for their news report, we wouldn’t know about it.

Oregon is moving forward with their “congestion pricing” scheme, which will pick the pockets of all SW Washington residents, in one way or another. They know that the federal government has NOT approved tolling on any federal interstate that did not build “something” new. Therefore, the latest part of their scheme, is to push for their light rail project in search of a bridge. The bridge will be the “new” thing, to allow for TOLLS. But their goal is to get light rail into Clark County.

Portland’s light rail serves just under 1 percent of daily trips, according to John Charles of the Cascade Policy Institute.

The CRC proved that simply replacing the Interstate Bridge offered only a ONE-minute improvement in the morning, southbound commute. That’s because the real bottleneck on I-5 begins at Rosa Parks Way and continues through the 2-lane Rose Quarter. Oregon refuses to add new through lanes to I-5 at the Rose Quarter.

A recent PEMCO survey indicates over 94 percent of people prefer to use their cars. Yet Portland refuses to serve the overwhelming majority of citizens.

Last week, I shared with you some facts from our own RTC. In the TIP package of transportation projects they approved, 6 of the 7 projects were getting OVER 50% federal funding. The low project got 26.5% federal funding. The other 6 projects got from 62 percent to 98 percent federal funding.

Interstate 5 IS a federal interstate. It’s a vital transportation corridor. The federal government paid 90 percent of the cost of building the I-205 Glen Jackson Bridge. They paid NOTHING for the original Interstate Bridge. As citizens have said for decades: “they owe us a bridge”.

Our Congresswoman and 2 Senators must fight for us and get the federal government to pay the lion’s share of any new Interstate Bridge, just like they did in those RTC approved projects.

Selling our souls for a few, small scraps of federal money to pay for Portland’s light rail extension offers NOTHING for the overwhelming majority of Clark County citizens who work in Oregon.

Please, say “no” to any TOLLS on a replacement I-5 bridge. Clark County residents paid $206 million in Oregon income taxes in 2016. We’re already paying more than our “fair share”, getting little in return. The federal government must pay their fair share for a new Interstate Bridge.

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REFERENCES

PEMCO survey report here– 94 percent of drivers want to stay in their cars.

Oregon’s #2 bottleneck begins at Rosa Parks Way and continues through the Rose Quarter.

From the Oregonian here:

Feds pay 90% of Glenn Jackson Bridge.

From Wikipedia here.

The finished project cost was $169.6 million: $155.7 million from Federal funds, $4 million from Washington state funds and $9.9 million from Oregon state funds

Oregon Income Taxes paid.

John Charles of the Cascade Policy Institute:

The CRC Plan for Light Rail: A Step Backwards for Transit Customers

Cascade in the Capitol: Light Rail to Vancouver vs. CTRAN Express Buses – Testimony on HB 2800

 

Ten years since RTC’s “Visioning Study”

RTC — Don’t waste scarce transportation dollars on something that won’t fix the traffic congestion problem

My comments to the Oct. 2, 2018 Regional Transportation Council Board.

Click here to watch via CVTV.

Ten years since RTC’s 2008 “Visioning Study”

Later today, this body will consider a resolution, calling for a replacement of the Interstate 5 bridge. With transportation dollars extremely scarce, this is a misplaced use of taxpayer money.

The Portland metro area has the 12th worst traffic congestion in the nation. ODOT reports there are 35 major bottlenecks in the region. If you truly want to solve traffic congestion problems, you would NOT spend scarce resources on replacing the existing bridge.

#1 – Both ODOT and WSDOT report the current bridges are SAFE.

#2 – the SECOND worst bottleneck in the region BEGINS at Rosa Parks Way on I-5 and continues through the Rose Quarter. #1 is Hwy 26 from the Vista Ridge Tunnel to Hwy 217.

The Interstate Bridge is not the problem – it’s the 2 mile, 2-lane section of I-5 at the Rose Quarter.

Oregon will waste HALF of the $450 million allocated in HB2017 for the Rose Quarter, to create real estate. They’ll build two concrete lids over I-5 and build a bike/pedestrian bridge. This will do nothing to improve traffic congestion nor vehicle safety.

Metro’s JPACT in their 2040 plan has $4.1 Billion indicated to replace the I-5 bridge, including $850 million to bring Portland’s light rail into Clark County. Yet mass transit serves less than 5% of daily trips regionally, and only 1,500 people use CTran’s express bus service to Portland.

What should YOU here at our RTC be doing? The answer is easy.

It’s been a DECADE since you produced an excellent product – the 2008 “Visioning Study”. It looked at population growth & transportation needs for both 2030 and 2050. You identified the need for TWO new bridges across the Columbia River. You provided TWO separate options for each of the proposed new bridges and transportation corridors.

A decade has passed. Clark County has grown by 50,000 people, with SW WA adding even more new residents. Regional population has DOUBLED since the I-205 bridge and transportation corridor opened in December 1982.

Most importantly, you should be focusing on the number of vehicles crossing the Columbia River. In 1982 there were 109,000 vehicles on an average day. By building I-205, the number on I-5 dropped 18.6% the next year, as over 20,000 vehicles switched to the new corridor.

Today, we have 310,000 vehicles crossing the Columbia River on an average day. That’s almost TRIPLE the number from 1982. Clearly, a new bridge and new transportation corridor is needed.

Just because Oregon demands a new light rail project in search of a bridge, doesn’t mean you should spend our transportation dollars on something that doesn’t fix the problem.

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Addressing the Clark County Council on the same topic.

Following the RTC meeting, I attended the County Council meeting. My remarks to the Councilors are here.

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REFERENCES:

A recent Columbian news story highlighted the fact that 94% of citizens will NOT use mass transit. They prefer their cars. The news story indicated that there are 310,000 people crossing the Columbia River on an average day.

Therefore the government should be spending our scarce transportation dollars on improving traffic congestion by ADDING new lanes and building new transportation corridors. Here’s the story.

 

The RTC in their 2008 “Visioning Study” identified the need for TWO new bridges across the Columbia River. They provided two “options” for each new bridge crossing. Here’s their map.

Only 1,500 Clark County residents use CTran’s Express bus service to Portland on an average day. This number has been declining for years. (No numbers released for 2017).

Portland Metro’s JPACT has in their 2040 Plan, identified $4.1 Billion to replace the Interstate Bridge AND includes $850 million to extend Portland’s light rail into Vancouver. Here are the graphics with the numbers, taken from the Metro 2040 Transportation Plan.

There’s $3.1 Billion to replace the bridge.

There’s $850 million for light rail, hidden as “transit”.

There’s another $80 million to build a new bridge from the Expo Center (terminus of the Yellow Line of MAX light rail), to Hayden Island.

Both ODOT and WSDOT indicate the current Interstate Bridge is safe. I wrote a piece in Clark County Today that lays out the details — here.

Here’s the ODOT graphic showing the various parts of their Rose Quarter upgrade. The two concrete “lids” over I-5 are shown in yellow.

Historical traffic crossing the Columbia River.

The drop in I-5 bridge traffic as a result of I-205 opening.

ODOT says there are 35 major bottlenecks in the Portland Metro area.

From this Aug. 2017 Oregonian news report. (here). It shows that the real “southbound” problem on I-5 is NOT the Interstate Bridge, but from Rosa Parks Way through the Rose Quarter. It was #2 of the 9 bottlenecks in the region.

Vancouver Mayor’s apology an outrage

Letter: Mayor’s apology is offensive

By John Ley, Camas

Published The Columbian: September 22, 2018

Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle thinks it appropriate to apologize to Oregon because Washington killed the Columbia River Crossing. That’s an outrage.

Do you apologize to someone who’s trying to pick your pocket? Or to someone who wants to use you as their piggy bank to pay for their transportation projects? Heck, no!

The CRC was an overpriced, mismanaged, pork-barrel-laden transportation project. An Oregon Supreme Court justice stated it was “a light rail project in search of a bridge.” Current talks about replacing the Interstate 5 Bridge are completely designed to bring light rail to Vancouver.

Included in the CRC was us paying for a new TriMet headquarters in Portland and an upgrade to their Steel Bridge. There was $50 million for TriMet’s Gresham maintenance facility, and even something for Hood River.

The initial contract with David Evans & Associates was “$50 million maximum,” which WSDOT somehow allowed to balloon to $200 million taxpayer dollars.

It was estimated that 60 percent of tolls (paying for borrowed money), would be borne by Southwest Washington residents. That’s $2 billion over 30 years. Finally, had Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber not demanded “no light rail, no bridge,” it might be under construction today.

An apology is an outrage.

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Lars Larson and I had a discussion on this topic on his Sept 14, 2018 radio show. Lars adds a great deal of perspective on the CRC boondoggle.

I started by asking Lars a question: “Do you apologize to someone trying to pick your pocket?”. There’s 4 1/2 minutes of discussion and relevant information!

LISTEN HERE!

For the entire show, click on the SoundCloud below.

 

Resurrecting the CRC continues

New bridges, vehicle capacity and transportation corridors needed

Clark County Today published this letter.

The Vancouver City Council recently passed a resolution supporting a replacement of the Interstate Bridge. The Clark County Council is considering a similar resolution. This effort is simply a means to resurrect the flawed Columbia River Crossing (CRC). Bringing Portland’s bankrupt light rail into Clark County remains part of the Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Commission’s (RTC) 20-year transportation plan, and Portland Metro Area Joint Policy Advisory Committee’s (JPACT) regional transportation plan.

John Ley
John Ley

The current “focus on I-5” discussions are triggered by Oregon’s outrageous efforts to toll both I-5 and I-205. Southwest Washington leaders know part of people’s outrage is “we’re getting nothing in exchange for the tolls we’ll pay.” These leaders are hoping to piggyback on Oregon’s efforts, by tying a replacement I-5 bridge to Oregon’s tolls. “For just a little higher toll, you’ll get a new bridge” is what they’ll ultimately claim. Their replacement bridge will be light rail ready – “high capacity transit” is what they’ll say.

The real “bottleneck” on I-5 is the 2-mile, 2-lane section of I-5 at the Rose Quarter. It has the highest accident rate of any section of road in Oregon – three times the accident rate of the Terwilliger curves. Even after Oregon spends $450 million on the Rose Quarter under HB 2017, (half of which will be wasted building two concrete “lids” over I-5), the Rose Quarter will continue to have the highest accident rate in Oregon.

What is needed are new through lanes at the Rose Quarter. What is needed is a new transportation corridor, reducing traffic on I-5. The creation of the I-205 corridor reduced I-5 traffic by 18.5 percent (1982 vs. 1983).

Until the Rose Quarter is fixed by adding new through lanes, any money spent on a replacement Interstate Bridge will be wasted, delivering negligible results. The CRC’s $3.5 billion “fix” provided only a 1-minute improvement in the morning, southbound commute.

Some will say the Interstate Bridge is “unsafe.” That’s not true, as both WSDOT and ODOT report the bridge is safe. See article here.

Again, this effort is simply a means to resurrect the flawed CRC, including bringing Portland’s bankrupt light rail into Clark County. Mass transit is not a solution to resolving traffic congestion on I-5. Presently only 1,499 people ride C-TRAN’s “express” bus service to Portland. That’s a rounding error of the 300,000 average daily Columbia River crossings. Light rail would merely take some of the 1,499 people off buses, putting them on light rail. It will attract no new riders.

Portland has the 12th worst traffic congestion in the nation because its leaders and officials have refused to add vehicle capacity for nearly four decades. They have refused to build new transportation corridors.

We need new 3rd and 4th bridges across the Columbia River. The southwest Washington RTC’s 2008 “Visioning Study” identified this a decade ago. Oregon Representative Rich Vial has courageously proposed a much-needed western bypass. Something similar was part of a 1970s regional transportation plan.

Regional population has doubled since I-205 opened. Another 750,000 people will be here in 20 years including a half million new jobs and cars. Adding new vehicle capacity and new transportation corridors is the only solution that will solve traffic congestion problems.

John Ley

Camas

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REFERENCES

1 – our RTC’s plan for 2035 includes bringing Portland’s light rail into Clark County.

Here’s the map from their website. The YELLOW on the map is the extension of MAX light rail into Vancouver.

The RTC describes the RTP this way on their web site:

The current RTP was adopted by the RTC Board of Directors in December 2014. The RTP is part of the required federal metropolitan transportation planning process. The 2014 RTP has 2035 as its horizon year 

2 – The Portland Metro JPACT plan includes bringing light rail into Clark County.

Their website states: “Transportation shapes our communities and our everyday lives. From summer 2015 to fall 2018, Metro will work with local, regional and state partners and the public to update our region’s shared transportation vision and priorities for the next 25 years.”

The “draft” 2018 plan is here.

More importantly, not easily found but embedded in the Portland Metro JPACT plan are the following graphics. They show that by 2040, they propose spending $3.1 Billion on a new bridge across the Columbia River. On top of that, they plan to spend $850 million for some form of “mass transit” that can only be light rail. And then the plan is to spend another $80 million on a new bridge from the Expo Center area of north Portland connecting to Hayden Island. See graphics below.

The time period is 2028 to 2040. The estimated cost (2016 dollars) is $3.169 Billion.

The “transit” project cost is $850 million. The time period is 2028 to 2040. Only one form of “transit” can cost $850 million — and that’s light rail.

A new bridge is proposed connecting the Expo Center at the Marine Dr. area of north Portland with Hayden Island. The time frame is 2028 to 2040, and the estimated cost is $80 million.

#3 – a recent meeting at the Red Lion, hosted by Identity Clark County and several other special interest groups highlights the “focus on I-5” mantra.

Two separate news reports of the event and presentations. It’s worthy to note that many elected leaders from SW WA were in attendance, but specifically NOT invited were Representatives Vicki Kraft and Liz Pike.

“Business leaders push for I-5 bridge replacement” from the Portland Tribune. (here).

“The I-5 bridge is an aging bottleneck,” Ron Arp, president of Identity Clark County said at the beginning of the summit. Identity Clark County is a business organization whose number one priority is the replacement of the I-5 bridge.

And “Summit sounds alarm on I-5 bridge, traffic congestion” from the Columbian. (here).

#4 – my original piece “Resurrecting the CRC” was published in the Reflector.

(here).

#5 – the RTC 2008 “Visioning Study” map.

The RTC identified the need for TWO new bridges and transportation corridors across the Columbia River. One corridor west of I-5, and one corridor east of I-205. They offered two separate options for each new transportation corridor.

#6 – The Rose Quarter’s “highest accident rate” in Oregon.

#7 – Only 1,499 people use CTran’s mass transit into Portland.

Portland’s TriMet does NOT offer bus service on ANY Interstate freeway. Nor does it offer service to Clark County. CTran offers the only mass transit service across the Columbia River.

#8 – Portland building two concrete lids at the Rose Quarter.

#9 – I-205 reduced I-5 traffic by 18.5% the first year.

Here’s a column from Clark County Today (here). This graphic showing the details including traffic data from 1981 to 1995.

#10 – Portland has the 12th worst traffic congestion in the nation.

The Oregonian in Feb. 2018 (here), says:

“Portland traffic got worse in 2017, leaving the average driver stuck in congestion another three hours a year. 

A new report from the Kirkland, Washington, data firm Inrix found the average Portland driver spent 50 hours in rush-hour crawl in 2017, compared with 47 a year earlier. About 20 percent of driving commute times are spent in congestion during peak hours, the company said.

That would make Portland traffic the 12th worst in the nation, and Inrix says the resulting delays collectively cost $3.9 billion in fuel, lost time and freight delays. That comes out to $1,648 a year per metro resident.”

#11 – The 1970’s regional plan for a “ring road” around I-5 in the downtown Portland area.

Oregon and Washington officials built the eastern half of the “ring”, I-205, which opened in Dec. 1982. Sadly, they abandoned efforts to build the western half of the “ring”. No new transportation corridors have been built and almost no new vehicle capacity has been added in over 35 years.

#12 – The real I-5 problem is the Rose Quarter. “Rush hour no more”.

From this Aug. 2017 Oregonian news report. (here). It shows that the real “southbound” problem on I-5 is NOT the Interstate Bridge, but from Rosa Parks Way through the Rose Quarter. It was #2 of the 9 bottlenecks in the region.

Furthermore, sending all traffic through the 3-lane Vista Ridge Tunnel in downtown Portland causes the #1 bottleneck in the region on Hwy 26. It’s congested 13 1/2 hours a day.

2. Interstate 5 Southbound 

Rush hour: 7:45 to 9:45 a.m. and 11 a.m. to 6:15 p.m.

The 3 miles from the Rosa Parks Way to the Rose Quarter mimics a parking lot much of the day, when you calculate for the morning and evening commute, for a grand total of 9 hours, 15 minutes. That means prime drive time has grown two full hours, or 27.5 percent, since 2013. 

Furthermore, the biggest bottleneck in the region is Hwy 26 eastbound. Again demonstrating there are much more important areas to spend transportation dollars to solve congestion. Oregon’s HB2017 allocated ZERO transportation dollars to fixing Hwy 26 from the Vista Ridge Tunnel to the Hwy 217.