Two new bridges and corridors needed

RTC’s 2008 Visioning Study highlights the need for two new transportation corridors and bridges across the Columbia

My comments to the RTC Board meeting can be viewed on CVTV here. Their main agenda item was reviewing their 2008 “Visioning Study”, which identified the need for TWO new transportation corridors, one west of I-5 and one east of I-205. They also identified other needed Clark County transportation corridors.

“The Portland metro area has the nation’s 10th worst traffic congestion.  The main reason for that sad reality, is we have failed to add new transportation corridors in 40 years. The I-205 corridor and Glenn Jackson Bridge opened in 1982. Regional population has DOUBLED since then.

Last year’s PEMCO transportation survey indicates 94% of people prefer to use their cars. You need to respond to the reality on the ground, and actually serve the people.

Mass transit won’t solve the problem. In Seattle, Uber and Lyft carry over 17% MORE people each day than Sound Transit’s light rail. TriMet buses carry 9 million fewer passengers today, compared to 2009.

Your 2008 “Visioning Study” highlighted the need for TWO new bridges across the Columbia River, and the construction of two new transportation corridors – one WEST of I-5 and the other EAST of I-205.

Your goal AFTER today’s review of this 2008 study must be to not only plan for both 3rd and 4th bridges and transportation corridors, but actually be seeking funding and taking action!

In a 2003 Portland/Vancouver I-5 Transportation & Trade Partnership, ODOT Director Bruce Warner offered the following comparison of river crossings.

Portland had two highway crossings and one rail crossing.

Norfolk had 4 highway crossings & zero rail crossings. Cincinnati had SEVEN highway crossings and 2 rail crossings. Kansas City had TEN highway crossings and 3 rail crossings. Pittsburgh had over 30 highway crossings and 3 rail crossings. St. Louis had 8 highway crossings and 2 rail crossings.

By any measure, the Portland metro area was behind 16 years ago. We’re further behind today.

The CRC demonstrated why “focusing on I-5” will not solve traffic congestion problems. With Portland’s refusal to add new through lanes to I-5 at the Rose Quarter, the CRC provided only a ONE-minute improvement in the morning, southbound commute.  It simply got people to the traffic jam slightly faster.

I-5 is a FUNNEL. Widening the mouth of the funnel does nothing with only 2 through lanes at the Rose Quarter.

Washington County is BEGGING for a new transportation corridor. Commissioner Roy Rogers tells us Washington County is gridlocked. Here you will find eager partners in discussing a western bypass.

Several years ago, the Mayors of Troutdale, Fairview, and Wood Village signed a letter supporting an eastern bridge and crossing.

Portland doesn’t want more cars and trucks in the downtown area. It makes sense to build bypasses, allowing cars and trucks to go around the congestion.

When I-205 opened, it provided a DECADE of congestion relief to I-5. New corridors and bridges work!

Portland has a dozen bridges across the Willamette. We need more than two bridges across the Columbia!

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REFERENCES

The 2008 RTC “Visioning Study” identified the need for two new transportation corridors across the Columbia River, one WEST of I-5 and one EAST of I-205. It provided two options for each bridge and corridor. Here’s their map.

A new transportation corridor and bridge (I-205) created TEN years of traffic congestion relief on I-5. Here are the numbers.

In the fall of 2018, WSDOT Regional Manager Kris Strickler told the RTC we now have 310,000 vehicle crossings on an average day.

Uber & Lyft carry more people than Sound Transit’s light rail in Seattle. The Seattle Times reports the reality here.

PEMCO’s 2018 survey indicates 94% of people prefer their cars.

The 2003 Portland/Vancouver I-5 Transportation & Trade Partnership, ODOT Director Bruce Warner offered the following comparison of river crossings.

2015 letter from Mayors of Troutdale, Fairview, and Wood Village supporting an east county bridge.

TriMet ridership is down. Bus ridership peaked in 2009. From their 2018 annual report.

Transportation architect Kevin Peterson scrutinized all the CRC traffic projection data. He indicated more lanes on a replacement I-5 bridge would only be effective if 3-4 additional lanes were added to I-5 at the Rose Quarter.