Category Archives: Media

Response to McDeavitt column

David McDevitt’s recent column in Clark County Today offers an interesting proposal. I always welcome new ideas, especially when they help inform citizens.

He suggests we should consider something like what New York and New Jersey did in forming their Port Authority almost a century ago. Governors from both states would appoint an equal number of members. This reminded me of Rep. Liz Pike’s proposal (HB 1222) to create a bi-state committee of legislators to lay groundwork to address future transportation issues. Sadly, it did not pass the legislature.

 

McDevitt mentioned my discussion of a “ring road” around the Portland area. This was from a 1970’s plan. The map shows what was supposed to be the completed road system for 1990.

#1 — here’s a map of the “ring road” that I was talking about at the RTC meeting.

http://johnley.us/…/2014/03/1990-PDX-Vancouver-Plan.jpg

We built the eastern half of the “ring”, I-205. It opened in Dec. 1982 and resulted in an immediate 18.5% reduction in the traffic on I-5. Sadly, our elected leaders chose to NOT build the western half.

You can view the 1979 Clark County transportation map for a connection to US 30 in Oregon and presumably a new bridge across the Columbia in the piece linked to above.

 

On the surface, it’s great to discuss and learn from the bistate Port Authority created by New York and New Jersey. It’s instructive.

That said, one HUGE concern for SW WA citizens is that “our” side would be appointed by a Washington Governor who sides with Portland’s liberal view of transportation.

This is evidenced by the fact that in the CRC debacle, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber demanded “no light rail, no bridge”. He chose to totally ignore the concerns of SW Washington citizens. Unbelievably, our own Governor, Jay Inslee, said “me too”. He chose to agree with Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber’s demand of “no light rail, no bridge”.

This kind of representation would leave SW WA citizen’s concerns and transportation needs totally unaddressed.

But for Kitzhaber’s light rail demand, and Governor Inslee agreeing, a new bridge would most like be under construction today.

This is one reason we are currently faced with the very sad reality of Oregon wanting to impose TOLLS “at the border” with Washington on both I-5 & I-205. They want SW WA citizens to pay for part of Oregon’s transportation system.

We learned from the CRC, and forensic accountant Tiffany LeMay Couch’s great analysis of the data, that SW WA citizens would be paying roughly $2 Billion of the $3.3 Billion in TOLLS collected by the proposed CRC plan. That was hugely unfair on many levels. You can view her report here.

http://www.acuityforensics.com/…/press/CRCA_Report_4.pdf

Any effort to move forward has to begin with MUTUAL respect. So far, we’ve witnessed far too little respect from Oregon. Oregon’s TOLLING plan seems to continue to disrespect SW WA citizens. They didn’t even inform our RTC, (if you believe what’s been made public so far), of the TOLLING discussions by the Oregon legislature.

Oregon already collects significant money from SW WA citizens. In 2016, over 72,000 Clark County residents paid $204 million in Oregon income taxes. Another 41,000 “other” Washington citizens paid an additional $88 million to Oregon. That’s $292 million last year.

http://johnley.us/…/Clark-County-citizen-taxes-paid-to…

We need cost effective transportation solutions. Oregon (and Portland specifically), has spent between $4 billion and $5 billion on light rail over the past 4 decades. They’re pushing for another $1 billion plus light rail extension into Tigard right now. Yet light rail has done next to nothing to reduce traffic congestion.

Sadly, yet believably, light rail INTO Clark County remains on the 20-year transportation plans of both JPACT and our own RTC.

We have no legitimate “need” for Portland’s financially bankrupt light rail. Last year, an average of 1,500 people per day rode CTran’s “express” bus service into downtown Portland.

Why spend $1 Billion or more, just to have a light rail line that takes these 1,500 people OFF busses, and puts them on a much more expensive light rail?

It makes no financial sense. Furthermore, it takes LONGER to ride the light rail to downtown Portland than it takes people to ride CTran’s express bus service.

Let’s continue the discussion. Let’s see “if” Oregon will respect the concerns of SW WA citizens, on the TOLLING “Policy Advisory Board” which will meet 6 times over the next year. We are a minority — 3 of the 24 seats on this board.

Will we be made an “unwilling piggy bank” for Oregon’s transportation projects? Or will they be respectful of the contribution SW WA citizens are already making to Oregon’s coffers?

Is Oregon willing to discuss a new, 3rd Bridge across the Columbia River? Or are they only willing to discuss a “light rail project, in search of a bridge”?

 

Is Oregon’s TOLLS about “congestion relief”?

ODOT say’s it’s not about the revenue

My comments to the Regional Transportation Council Board Nov. 7th, 2017.

http://www.cvtv.org/vid_link/24251?start=152&stop=354

RTC remarks – Nov 7th 2017

Let me begin by thanking ODOT for allowing Clark County to pick their representative on the “Value Pricing Policy committee. Eileen Quiring will do a superb job.

Last night the Vancouver City Council got briefed on Oregon’s “Value Pricing” and the Policy Advisory Committee. The stated purpose of “Value Pricing” was to REDUCE CONGESTION.

They were told that 72% of Oregon citizens say congestion is a very serious problem.

We agree!

The ODOT rep said the Oregon legislature took a “comprehensive approach to congestion relief.” Their version of comprehensive included 4 areas.

#1 – Bottleneck relief.

#2 – Transportation Options – specifically mass transit, bike & pedestrian travel.

#3 – Freight rail  – getting trucks off the road by putting more freight on trains.

#4 – Value Pricing.

IF the REAL GOAL is not “revenue generation” but reducing congestion, then I would suggest their “comprehensive” approach was not very comprehensive.

An easy, no-cost “help” in reducing some congestion would be to eliminate the ONLY HOV lane in Oregon. Try it for one year and see if traffic flows faster on I-5 northbound.

Next – “comprehensive” would also include TWO extremely important areas.

#1 – ADDING new through lanes on I-5 in the congested area. Adding more capacity to respond to the increased “demand” is common sense.

#2 – creating a BYPASS, so that all car & truck traffic bound for Washington County & the coast doesn’t have to go thru downtown Portland and the 3-lane Vista Ridge Tunnel.

This option would help in THREE areas. It would reduce the number of vehicles on I-5; reduce vehicles on I-405, and reduce vehicles on Hwy 26. That’s a TRIPLE WIN.

Our region had a planned “ring road” to bypass the crowded inner Portland core back in the 1970’s. We built the eastern half of the ring, I-205. Sadly, we failed to build the western half of the ring road.

For real congestion relief, look at what I-205 did for I-5. We built a new transportation corridor. There was an immediate 18.5% reduction of traffic on I-5. It took a decade before vehicle levels using the Interstate Bridge reached pre-I-205 opening levels.

With the Portland area now congested over 12 hours a day, there is no realistic way drivers can “shift” their travel to the “other” 12 hours. There are no alternate transportation corridors.

Let’s get some real congestion relief going.

Finally, let’s not punish SW WA citizens who already are paying over $200 million per year in Oregon income taxes.

Don’t allow for TOLLS “at the border”.

Fix the congestion by adding legitimate vehicle capacity.

Supporting Kris Greene & Vancouver Energy

 

My letter in The Reflector in support of Kris Greene and Vancouver Energy. This was a small expansion of my testimony given to the EFSEC Board a year ago.

Supporting American energy independence and the Vancouver Energy facility at EFSEC’s final hearing.

As an airline captain, my Boeing 767 needs jet fuel refined from petroleum. Boeing is our state’s largest employer. They’d be out of business without jet fuel.

Access to jet fuel is so critical that my airline bought a refinery in the heart of Philadelphia, with much of the oil delivered by rail. Washington is the eighth or ninth largest consumer of jet fuel in the nation. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is expanding, a natural hub for global passenger and cargo flights.

Washington’s multi-billion-dollar aerospace industry is critically dependent not only on jet fuel, but lubricants and plastics and technology, all derived from or dependent on, the petroleum industry. The economies of the entire West Coast are tied together by refined oil products. Washington’s agricultural and manufacturing products are shipped worldwide.

Diesel fuel powers those ocean-going ships that frequent global ports. This includes our local ports of Camas-Washougal, Vancouver, Ridgefield, Kalama and Longview.

Two Washington Air Force bases use significant quantities of jet fuel for national security, not to mention diesel and gas used by the Army at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and naval facilities at Whidbey Island and Bremerton. The Coast Guard needs diesel fuel to patrol our state’s 3,000 miles of coastline. Our Washington state ferry system is the largest in the nation, and needs that low sulfur Bakken crude oil to be refined into clean diesel fuel.

For over three decades, the Port of Vancouver has safely handled all types of refined oil products with an impeccable safety record. Across the river, the Port of Portland presently has five to six times the storage capacity for refined oil products, as is being proposed for the Vancouver Energy facility.

We can and do handle oil products safely. Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway reports that 99.99 percent of all their hazardous materials products are delivered safely, without incident.

The Vancouver Energy facility will decrease America’s dependence on foreign oil. It could displace 30 percent of the crude oil currently imported from foreign countries for use on the West Coast. We need American energy independence. We need to keep our “petro dollars” here at home.

We need Kris Green as a commissioner for the Port of Vancouver, and we need the family wage jobs the Vancouver Energy facility will bring to our side of the Columbia River. The economy of the entire West Coast will benefit.

 

 

We shouldn’t pay for Oregon’s transportation package

SW Washington residents shouldn’t pay

for Oregon’s transportation projects

Here are my comments at the Sept. 26 Clark County Council meeting.

First and foremost I thank the County Council for taking a public position on Oregon’s plan to TOLL both I-5 and I-205.

Our citizens ought to have a way to get to and from their jobs in Oregon without paying tolls for something that does NOT benefit them or improve their commute.

http://www.cvtv.org/vid_link/20831?start=1818&stop=2015

We need new vehicle capacity & transportation corridors

It’s been 35 years since we added a new freeway lane

Since our last “new” bridge across the Columbia River, and the last new transportation corridor was built and opened in Dec. 1982, our “average daily crossings” of the Columbia River have risen from about 110,000 vehicles per day, to almost 300,000 vehicles per day.

 

Population has doubled from an estimated 1.3 million people in 1980 to 2.5 million today.

Yet regionally, we’ve added no new freeway lanes. We’ve added no new “capacity” for cars and trucks. We’ve created no new transportation corridors in 35 years. How sad and how frustrating. We now have the 12th worst traffic congestion in the nation, as a result of our refusal to add vehicle capacity and build new transportation corridors.

If you look at what I-205 did when it opened in Dec. 1982, it caused an immediate 18.5% drop in the number of vehicles on I-5. Now THAT is congestion relief! It took a decade before vehicle levels on I-5 reached 1981 levels.

We had a plan to build a “west side bypass“, similar to I-205. It only makes sense. Here’s the map.

We need more ways to cross the Columbia River. We need more transportation corridors.

And “yes”, we will at some point need to upgrade the I-5 bridge. But until Oregon truly “fixes” the Rose Quarter (and their current proposal offers no NEW through lanes to I-5), any money spent on the I-5 bridge will deliver negligible results when it comes to improving traffic congestion.