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.

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.