The RTC pushes a $3.3 Billion replacement bridge (with light rail)

2019 Regional Transportation Plan includes no new bridges across the Columbia River; only a replacement I-5 bridge with light rail

My comments to the RTC Board, March 5th. You can watch here!

Later in the evening, I shared similar, slightly modified remarks to the Clark County Council. You can see them here.

No need for transit on bridge — We need a 3rd bridge before a replacement

This RTP includes $3.3 Billion for a replacement I-5 bridge. That’s outrageous, given that Clark County citizens rejected the CRC, with its ONE minute improvement in the morning commute.

Your own 2008 “Visioning Study” for 2050, identified the need for TWO additional bridge crossings, one west of I-5 and the other east of I-205. Why are there are no other bridges in your plan for 2040?

Spending $3.3 Billion indicates you’re including light rail with this project. Yet Clark County citizens reject light rail, every time they’re asked.

Is there a need for ANY transit component on a replacement Interstate Bridge?

We have 310,000 vehicles crossing the river on an average day. That’s nearly 3 times the 109,000 vehicles crossing in 1982, just prior to the opening of I-205 and the Glenn Jackson Bridge.

Portland now has the nation’s 10th worst traffic congestion.  Surely there is significant demand for mass transit, right?

In a word: “No!”

People prefer their cars. The recent PEMCO survey indicated 94% of people in the Pacific Northwest prefer their privately-owned vehicles.

CTran operates the only mass transit service to cross the river. It presently operates seven “express” bus routes into Portland. Five of them run the I-5 corridor and two run the I-205 corridor.

How many people ride these express buses a day? Have those numbers increased, as traffic gets more congested?

No. In fact, express bus ridership is declining. In 2018, just 1,422 people rode CTran “express” buses into Portland.

That 1,422 person figure represents a 13% decline from 2013.  Assuming one person per vehicle, the 1,422 people on the buses represents less than HALF of one percent, of the daily crossing traffic.

A 2010 CTran stakeholder survey indicated “improving service to Portland” is in the bottom HALF of CTran rider desires.

Total CTran bus ridership peaked in 1999 at 7.7 million riders.  We’re down to about 6.1 million bus riders annually — a 20% decline. Yet Clark County population increased 36% from 2000 to 2017.

And in case you’re wondering, TriMet’s bus ridership has declined by over 9 million riders, comparing the 2009 peak with 2018.

We need new bridges and new transportation corridors before replacing the Interstate Bridge. We need lanes, not trains. That $3.3 Billion could easily build two bridges without light rail, across the Columbia!