We can do so much better

Leslie Carlson

Portlanders: we can do better than this.

If you think that there are smarter, more innovative ways to approach transportation in the 21st century--ways that will be better for all of us--then come join us at noon today.

We did it before. We can do it again.

  • (Show?)

    Oh, and I should have said "Greater Portland-Vancouver residents" rather than Portlanders. Everybody's welcome.

  • Brian C. (unverified)

    Of course reducing congestion/improving traffic flow serves to increase vehicle efficiency hence reducing vehicle emissions overall. That's a fact. Spare me the Field of Dreams "If you build it they will drive" hypotheses. Though there may be some validity to such arguments, reality cannot be completely ignored and replaced with green Utopian fantasies. What was the metro population when the existing bridge was constructed, what is it now and what are the forecasts? Agreed, we can & should do better but doing nothing to expand infrastructure is not a solution.

  • (Show?)

    I am very torn about the bridge discussion. On the one hand, I think we should do everything we can to build a 21st century infrastructure, with all that implies about fuel supplies, carbon emissions, transit alternatives, growth patterns. If this were a discussion about expanding a freeway, it would be a no-brainer decision: No way.

    But there is at least one factor that weighs in the opposite direction: it's a bridge. There is no other way over the river ( except the other bridge of course). Only two of the three factors in triple displacement apply.

    Yet another factor to consider for me is the fact that this bridge divides two states -- with dramatically different tax structures. Should Oregonians finance a bridge for Washingtonians who are basically tax refugees?

    Last thought: is this bridge really going to happen? Or is this just so much talk? Are the Feds really going to be making billions available in new highway funds for the region? Really?

  • rlw (unverified)

    Kari, I agree with the itch about tax refugees who come to Oregon daily to work Oregon jobs... not paying a dime for a new bridge to service their commute to and from work. This is an endeavour that MUST be paid for by both populations. I'd like to see all of those Oregon jobs held for Oregonians suffering from outrageous real estate and rental costs, special taxes and the like... plus a flat and failing employment picture lo these ten years.

  • (Show?)

    RLW-- Lets not overstate the situation. Both WA and OR residents will participate in the funding, as federal taxpayers as well as through the states. But the traffic on the bridge is disproportionately WA residents. But the funding plan is 50/50, which sounds fair but doesn't actually match the bridge's usage.

    In addition, WA residents who work in OR pay OR income tax. But "tax refugees" is more about WA shoppers who come to OR to avoid WA sales taxes.

  • Jonathan Radmacher (unverified)

    Oh, if only they had succeeded in building the Mt. Hood freeway a few decades back, we'd be in oh, so much better shape. Well, except that it would be packed. And the inner-SE taxbase would be a paltry shadow of what it is now. Of COURSE there's a cause and effect to the convenience of transportation.

  • (Show?)

    Jonathan The parallel between the MHF and the CRC just doesn't work for me. This is not about building a bridge or a freeway that is not there--the bridge is there, I-5 is there, the freight traffic is there.

    Like Kari, I have qualms, but I suspect fewer than he does. I think this is a good regional compromise solution that provides us the most flexibility for potential transportation alternatives in the future.

    I am highly skeptical of those who believe they know for sure how transportation will develop in 20 or 50 years (remember how just a year ago we were being told thatn $10 gas was just around the corner?).

    What struck me most about the story was how both Burkholder and Adams have both changed their opinions after a year or more of intensive negotiations and study. I trust their judgment.

  • (Show?)

    A couple of points:

    1] The "tax refugees" (interesting term that, I'd call them "tax evaders" or "tax scofflaws") aren't people who work in Oregon. WA residents who get salaries from OR businesses pay OR income tax - they're the MOST overtaxed residents. (In fact, I'd go so far as to advocate that a WA resident who pays OR income tax should get the same "no sales tax" rebate that OR residents do.)

    2] There continues to be this idea that infrastructure causes congestion, with little but anecdotal information to back it up. Let's be clear: OVERPOPULATION causes congestion. And there are plenty of places in the world (India, China) that became absurdly congested without much of any infrastructure.

    3] As I've said before, the Green strategy of "Starve the Infrastructure" (pretending that underfunding infrastructure will actually make the effects of population increases go away) is just as disingenuous as the Republican strategy of "Starve the Beast" (pretending that massive tax cuts will actually cut wasteful spending). Immoral too, because they both just make a bad situation worse.

    4] If you really want people to drive less, make major increases in gas and other carbon taxes. That's the only thing that will work. It won't happen though, because people don't like it. And they don't like it because it makes them drive less. And how are you going to enjoy a date without a clean shiny car?

    Really, I hope peak oil hits before we flood Florida and roast ourselves off the planet. The majority of humans aren't set up to think about long term consequences (they can barely think about anything other than their own sex-organs), and get angry at the merest hint of shared sacrifice to save ourselves from anything.

  • Bill Holmer (unverified)

    The solution that nobody is talking about is to build a new bridge at Kalama and divert all the Seattle-California traffic down the west side of the Portland region with a new freeway connecting Kalama, Hillsboro, and Newberg. The idea continue to force the Seattle-California traffic through either the I5 or I205 bottlenecks is absurd.

  • andy (unverified)

    I agree with that. If I was with the DOT or the feds that is exactly what I'd recommend. Move the main North-South freeway west and let the crybabies in Portland worry about the old bridges themselves.

    If the feds are paying the bill the feds should own the project not some idiots in Portland who think they know something about traffic flow.

  • mara (unverified)

    The analogy between the Mount Hood Freeway and the CRC is not that they're identical, but that they're expensive road capacity increases that lead to poorly planned land uses. Both would lead to development that eats up farm and forestland, and both would lead to car-dependent lifestyles - bad for health, bad for families, bad for the environment.

    Like with the CRC, the public was told that the Mount Hood Freeway was a done deal, but it never came into existence. The public understood what many of the elected officials didn't, that the so-called solution would create more problems than it solves.

    Of the $4+ Billion price tag, project planners have penciled in Oregon taxpayers for $600 million. Economist Joe Cortright estimates that we would need to borrow 80% of that money. The current economic crisis is rooted significantly in mortgages people couldn't afford, and it seems that maybe, just maybe, there's a lesson to be learned there.

    Backing up a bit, Leslie's post was about the rally, which was a huge success. Many hundreds of people were in attendance, and the forward momentum was palpable. Elected officials and others from both Oregon and Washington spoke eloquently about why we need a better alternative. Over 400 people signed postcards and petitions asking elected officials to only support a greener, more affordable alternative. And it was a gorgeous spring day.

  • Urban Planning Overlord (unverified)
    1. The bridge opponents completely discount and ignore the issue of freight travel and the economic drain its impedance has on our well-being.

    2. The growth inducing aspect of the bridge re: new cars is mitigated by tolling. And if inducing growth to flood Vancouver is the issue, why would we even put in a light rail bridge, since that will also induce more growth (albeit in central Vancouver rather than farther out).

    3. Aren't the Portland bridge opponents just a little bit uneasy that they are allied with right-wing Clark County Republicans whose solution is a new auto-only bridge in Troutdale, or Sauvie Island, or wherever?

    4. Another economic impact beneficial to Oregonians - the tax differences entirely benefit Oregon's businesses, as the "power centers" on Hayden Island and east of the Airport testify to. Impeding bridge traffic impedes Washington shoppers taking advantage of a tax arbitrage to benefit Oregon's economy.

  • (Show?)

    I didn't see any coverage of this rally or a follow-up post. Would be nice to know what happened.

    As for the bridge - Portland area residents will be driving their cars across some form of bridge in 30 years. Obviously the vast majority of those cars will be electric/fuel cell technology. But we, as a people and a region are not going to simply stop driving. I certainly think that smart tolling and great public transit will help reduce car trips but we are living in a fantasy world if we think we are getting folks out of their vehicles. We also know that a new bridge is needed. The question is - how do we replace the bridge in a forward thinking manner that makes it usable in 5 years as well as 50.

connect with blueoregon