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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The next big "green, sustainable" thing

Toll booths.

Comments (42)

A toll booth, boy now that will really stop congestion. Great idea, maybe we need another 39 member committee to decide what color to paint the booth.

A toll booth, boy now that will really stop congestion. Great idea, maybe we need another 39 member committee to decide what color to paint the booth.

What a golden nugget of truth.

Both major facets of Metro's attitude towards the serfs, neatly encapsulated in one hilarious comment.

Congestion is the whole point of the region's master plan for transit and movement of goods. It's how they line their pockets via institutionalized corruption, and create the very problems they pretend to solve. It borders on Usury, the parasitism of our planner class does. Precious few are the callouses on the hands of those people...

As far as a 39 member committee to decide on the color of a revenuer's checkpoint, well, unfortunately, this is the City that Works, and that doesn't even seem like satire at this point.

What better way to pay for a costly piece of infrastructure than to charge those who use it? Who, other than them, should pay for it? California residents?

What better way to pay for a costly piece of infrastructure than to charge those who use it? Who, other than them, should pay for it? California residents?

the tolls don't "pay for the bridge", if i understand correctly--they'd pay for ongoing maintenance and administration and act as disincentive. so--taxpayers would bear the bulk of the cost.

Where's the information about "toll booths"? I thought these tolls would be electronically collected.

Congestion is the whole point of the region's master plan for transit and movement of goods.

They SAY that, but I dont think its so. The master plan is to get people out of cars. If they gave a crap about "congestion", they would have dealt with it long ago by spending the "transit" money on roads & highways.

"What better way to pay for a costly piece of infrastructure than to charge those who use it? Who, other than them, should pay for it? California residents?"

I understand by this comment and the response that ALLAN L. and echohuman now support requiring registration of bicycles, and licensing of bike riders, with the funds going toward the construction and / or maintainence of bike lanes?

I think $50.00 per year per bike (kids under 18 with non multi geared bikes exemped) and $ 25.00 per 5 year bike driver's license are fair.

Oh, and he washington plan forpartial state funding of the a new I 5 bridge seems to contmplate tolls fo payoff of construction bonds, not for maintainence. Wsahington seems to recogniz that even with their new gas taxe, there is ot enough oney in their gas tax account to pay for their share of the bidge, and that Wasington's total gas tax revenue will be declining over the near term future, despite rising rates and rising total miles driven, because the new federal mandates on CAFE standards will markedly reduce gallons used.

Never ceases to amaze me that the folks on the norh side of he Colmia actually look ahead, and Oregon and Portlan....well, we have Sam and Ted.

And honestly, how do they really think this is going to help congestion? The last design I heard about was the new bridge would have the same amount of auto lanes the current one has, the only difference was MAX lines and bike lanes.

Jon, I see you're wearing your irony filter again. I think Cabbie meant that the regional plan's purpose is to cause congestion, and get people out of cars. Ecohuman, I would assume that, like the Astoria-Megler bridge, the new Interstate would be funded by revenue bonds, with the revenue to come from tolls, at least in part. And Nonny, yes, I'd like to see a tax on cyclists (which would include me, as it happens) reasonably related to the burden they place on public infrastructure. It could help get some of the anti-cycling people off their soap boxes. It's not clear to me, though, why the license fee should be five times the license fee for a car, and I say that even knowing that it seems fair to you.

Tolls as low as $1.28 each way would be charged during off-peak hours when the proposed bridge opens in 2017, to encourage motorists to avoid rush hour and use transit. Peak-hour motorists would be charged $2.56 each way.


The project is intended to relieve congestion, improve safety and encourage transit use.


Some transit activists and environmentalists urged commitment to tolls as a way to encourage transit use and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

But of course the idea is to "relieve" congestion by causing it (sort of like killing the village to save it, I guess?)

I wrote about this attitude a year and a half ago -- a segment of the planning community believes that the most effective way to get people to use transit is to make the driving experience more painful, not to make the transit experience more pleasant/convenient.

Consider for a moment -- tolls at $1.28 or $2.56 -- why such odd numbers? To increase the delay of going through the toll booths. You can't just toss 5 quarters in the bin, you've gotta come up with correct change, or a booth attendant has to make change. Or you've got to have some place at the bridge itself for people to buy tokens.

And even electronic collection is going to cause a delay -- cars and trucks have to pass through some security system so that those who don't have the card aren't able to cross -- and there has to be some place at the bridge itself (well, two places actually, one for each direction) where first-timers can get their cards.

The idea of fee-for-use may have some merit in terms of equitable distribution of the economic costs of infrastructure -- but using it explicitly for social engineering (even as a secondary goal) is just a bad, bad idea.

Nice to see that so called Member Committee in lock-step on adding another billion to the bridge for light rail. Lord knows you sure wouldn't want someone to transfer to a bus at the Expo Center. Can you imagine the horror?

If ya'll would like to see some proposed renderings, go here:

All of which include the toy train.

But what do you expect from the likes of Sam the Tram, Jeff Cogen, Fred Hansen and Rex Bikeholder?

What better way to pay for a costly piece of infrastructure than to charge those who use it?

Good idea!

Too bad they didn't think of that for Tri-Met, MAX, the hallowed streetcar, the tram and on, and on.

When we're talking about CARS, though, there's a different standard.

With or without a new bridge, I'm all for tolls. There are lots of people who live in Vancouver and work in Portland, having moved to Vancouver to avoid the tax burden of Portland and Oregon. So they reap the benefits of the Portland roads they use and clog (oftimes without signaling), and don't pay for it. While it is unconstitutional to discriminate, a two way tax -- hitting people going both directions -- is perfectly legal. So I would say, get the best technology for speedy tolls, and put it into place now.

Don't forget your history! The bridge was originally constructed with a toll as a cost supplement and paid off early due to higher usage than anticipated.

"So they reap the benefits of the Portland roads they use and clog (oftimes without signaling), and don't pay for it. While it is unconstitutional to discriminate, a two way tax "

Don't Washington residents who work in Oregon pay Oregon State taxes? And isn't this 'taxation without representation'?

But it's true they don't signal!

I-5 bridge replacement is the wrong solution. The Metro area needs an entirely new westside, city of Portland bypass highway, ala 205. This would reduce congestion and pollution over North Portland as many trips are between Vancouver and Portland's west side suburbs. The highway's construction and maintenance costs could be repaid via tolls. In fact, we could put it out for competitive bid to a soverign wealth fund or someone like Goldman Sachs who are competing for infrastructure investments. It would spur an Oregon-Washington economic boom potentially at very little taxpayer expense. Oregon manufacturing could see its competitive position vis-a-vis other locations improve substantially with faster shipping times.

cc, car drivers don't pay for what they use. Not even close. David Wright, you must not get out much. Tossing coins in the basket is over. Long since. Those numbers are chosen to give the appearance of precision.

", car drivers don't pay for what they use. Not even close."

Ahem, care to provide a reputable cite for that?

cc, car drivers don't pay for what they use.

That's nice. I must have missed the comment where I said they did?

You mean, of course, that "car drivers" don't pay for ALL of what they use. I'd wager, however, that they pay, directly and indirectly, a vastly greater percentage of the costs of "what they use" than the users of the other infrastructures I mentioned.


Seems to me you forget the local registration fee that Wheeler wants to impose on all motor vehicles registered in Mult. County.

Add that to the state fee and you'll find that my suggestion regarding bicycle registration fees is cheaper, per annum, than car registration fees after Wheeler and the county bandits are done.

But since you are willing to pay it, heck, I'll go down on bike registration fees to $ 50.00 every two years.

Thanks for your support!

I thought these tolls would be electronically collected.

Do you honestly think that would ever be possible?

Does anyone remember just a few years back when the Republican/Libertarian solution for new highway construction was was bridge and freeway use tolls. Does anyone find it ironic that now that the "greens" have seized on tolls as a way to reduce congestion the Republicans think it is the stupidist idea they have ever heard.

Ah politics. Who needs comedy writers.

Greg C

We need this at the Oregon-California border. Charge each person $100K if they are in a U-Hual truck headed into the state.

car drivers don't pay for what they use.

Of course. All the money car drivers pay goes to bike lanes & "transit-oriented development."

If you toll the I-5 bridge,folks and especially freight will use 205. Now that will be a traffic jam.Doesn't it make common sense that you will have to toll 205 also.

The peak hour toll is too low. And extra $1.28 isn't going to get many people to wait until after rush hour. Should be more like $4 per crossing at peak hours.

It would be good to reduce the toll for car pools. I guess this would require a human toll taker, though.

Perhaps a wise, recent transplant from NYC could elaborate on how tolls are done there, but I seem to recall that commuters have a sticker/chip on the window that is scanned as the car goes through, with relatively short delay. Non-commuters would still have to take more time, certainly. But it's not like we're having to reinvent the wheel (and OK, bring on the cracks about the solar parking meters downtown).

I use the new Narrows Bridge by Tacoma to visit my parents all the time, the electronic tolls work great, you have a sticker on your windshield and drive right through at full speed, the plan is new tolls created throughout WA will all use the same sysetm, I'm sure this bridge would be the same.

Lets face it our infrastructure has been poorly maintained for decades, and tolls to pay for updates are inevitable.

But it's not like we're having to reinvent the wheel...

I think Randy's almost ready to unveil his reinvented wheel. Word is it's square. That, of course, will cut down on congestion - and obviously it'll be much safer.

Saltzman's new wheel rolled away without waking him.

Adams' wheel can be seen in SoWhat and Sten's taking his wheel with him when he leaves.

Potter hasn't yet figured out what to rename his wheel...


How about Troll Booths on the information super highway? Talk about a money maker!

the electronic tolls work great, you have a sticker on your windshield and drive right through at full speed,

If you don't have the sticker, you will queue up in a line and pay the toll in cash at a booth. Many will do so. If their number is great enough, everyone will have to wait.

"Full speed" on I-5 at rush hour is currently about 15 mph, anyway...

A friend of mine owns a company in Australia that developed the technology that will automatically charge a designated credit card as you go through a toll booth or say on your way out of a restaurant. It was being tested on a couple of toll bridges last year. I believe it might have gone live already or will be going live soon.

Per wiki:

In 1958 a $14.5 million upgrade created a southbound span and doubled the capacity of the bridge. The new bridge was built with a "humpback" that provides 72 ft (22 m) of vertical clearance and minimizes bridge openings. At the time the new bridge was opened, the old one closed to give it the matching humpback. When both bridges were opened in 1960, tolls were reinstated at $.20 for cars, $.40 for light trucks, and $.60 for heavy trucks and buses, before being permanently removed in 1966.
( )

So, the current Interstate Bridge opened in 1960 with a toll and that toll lasted six years. That was after the bridge had not had a toll since 1929. And, yes, the toll was removed early because of unexpected levels of usage and consequent payment of whatever costs were covered by the newly implemented.

Toll roads and toll bridges are old news.

Certainly, there must be extant empirical evidence to show that they work as asserted.

And, yes, I agree that bicycles should be registered and pay into the cost of road maintenance. It would probably help to reduce the extent of bicycle theft. Plus, it would provide a better means of enforcing appropriate behavior on the roads by bicyclists (which, given the dumbassed things I see bicyclists do, is desperately needed). Licensing the bicycles would be helpful, as well.

In 1978, I authored an in-house whitepaper at a Portland organization that recommended a westside freeway with a new bridge crossing the Columbia north of Sauvie Island. It was ignored then. I-5 nor I-84 should never have been built through the center of the metropolitan area.

Jack it doesn't work that way, there aren't automated toll booths, there are through lanes that don't have toll booths at all, only people who need to pay a toll divert to the right to stop, think of it more like weigh stations for trucks, if you have a pass you don't wait for them at all, the system reads the transponder on your car.

Sure the bumber to bumper traffic on I-5 at rush hour won't improve if they don't add lanes, presumably the idea here is to add lanes.

I don't get it.

Every mass transit idea is a lightning rod for criticism here, commonly with remarks about how transit riders are freeloaders and what we really need are more roads.

So now an idea for tolls to help pay for a new bridge, criticism about how this is unworkable and unreasonable.

How about a counter-proposal for paying for that new bridge?

By the way, a big chunk of the bridge cost (toll or no toll) would come from Uncle Sam. Now that's an approacn every hard-nosed "pay your own way" libertarian ought to hate.

the system reads the transponder on your car.

What about all those trucks?

presumably the idea here is to add lanes.

I thought that was heresy in Earl the Pearl World.

The freeway should be free. Call off the Iraq War two weeks early and build the stupid bridge.

[Y]ou must not get out much. Tossing coins in the basket is over. Long since.

Thankfully, it's true that I don't "get out much", if by that you mean that I don't have much experience with toll roads/bridges/etc. ;-) I can't remember a time in my life that I've ever used such a beast. So my understanding of the mechanics of paying tolls is limited to what I've seen in the media.

So, OK, those who have more direct experience -- I would like to be educated on this point. How exactly does the toll payment generally work? If there is automatic electronic collection of the toll, what sort of enforcement mechanism is in place to make sure that vehicles without the transponder pull in to the "weigh stations"? I can certainly see how commuters who use the road/bridge every day and have a transponder sticker would be able to move along fairly quickly, but what about those who are not regular users of the system? Are they completely removed from the normal flow of traffic so as not to delay others? And how much of a delay is created for those occasional users who must divert to the side to purchase the toll?

And is a credit card required to obtain the transponder device? Otherwise, how can the system charge the driver an appropriate amount? What if you've got a transponder but there's no money to deduct from your account?

In any event, to respond to Lin Qiao's remark -- I'm not personally opposed to the basic idea of paying for infrastructure through user fees/tolls, though much depends on the implementation details.

I'm opposed to the basic idea of using tolls not so much for cost recovery as for behavior modification. If it was a simple matter of cost recovery, the toll cost could be calculated equally for each vehicle trip expected over the life of the toll. But the two-tier pricing structure is explicitly designed (according to the article) to "encourage" people to use transit or just not drive during rush hour.

Now, since people who are out and about during rush hour aren't generally making a discretionary trip (they are typically commuters, after all, and don't have much choice but to go to and from work), obviously the main drive is to push people who need to get from point A to point B into the mode of transport preferred by the planners.

Public transit is great, I wholeheartedly support it. I'm not interested in running down Tri-Met because the busses get in the way of my single-occupant massive SUV while I drive a block to Starbucks. Obviously, if more people used transit then congestion would be relieved.

My problem is with people who take the negative approach to encouraging transit use. Instead of making transit a more attractive option for drivers to entice them to switch, they figure it's easier to make driving a less attractive option until they're forced to switch. Is it any wonder that people resent such tactics?

"How about a counter-proposal for paying for that new bridge?"

Dump the light rail part. Dump Milwaukie light raill too.

Fire Sam Adams, Fred Hansen and the Metro councilors.

Start using our state and federal gas taxes for new roads and new bridges.


I'm sure that trucking companies who drive over the bridge all the time will be buying the prepaid transponders as well. The way it works is you get a discount for using the prepaid transponder system. In the case of the Narrow's it is $3 for a standard toll but only $1.75 if you have the prepaid system.

Rather than continually guessing about all this why don't you take a side trip soemtime when you are going to Seattle and check out how the Narrows Bridge works. Or at the very least check out WA State Department of Transportation's web site to read about it.

Toll technology has changed a lot they don't work like the Jersey turnpike in the 70's:-)

"By the way, a big chunk of the bridge cost (toll or no toll) would come from Uncle Sam.''"

Amazing how people still use that canard as if that's going to make everything better. Oregon pays a one to one ratio to Uncle Sam in federal taxes. Meaning, for every dollar we send DC, we got one back (actually it averages to about $.98 over the past 10 years). So to claim that federal taxes are paying for this thing is totally bogus. Our state taxes are directly funding this bridge.

Compounding the fact that our gas taxes have been diverted to light rail is even more insulting.

Chris McMullen sez: Compounding the fact that our gas taxes have been diverted to light rail is even more insulting.

It seems to me that such was approved by the voters. Of course, they were voting to remove all those other drivers from the road and put them on mass transit, so they'd be taken out of the way of the auto drivers who voted for it.

Of course, once more drivers were removed from the roads, other drivers determined that...hey, it's not too bad...I'll just continue to drive. AND, more immigrants move into the area from places where mass transit was poor or just not available and they get in our way, too.

Build more roads, and they'll fill up and have more congestion. It's what happened here...what happened in Seattle...what has happened everywhere they expand the road and freeway surfaces.

Sara....How do you feel about that new freeway being built across the street from your house? Y'know, so you can look down into the gridlocked lanes?

Or...Are you willing to lose your front parking strip and twenty feet of your front yard so you can have an arterial street just steps from your front door.

Get a grip auto drivers... It's already been shown that more roads don't result in less congestion. It's bogus. The price of petroleum products continues to go up and, except for transient soft markets, it will continue to do so. Allow people to adapt and provide publicly subsidized alternates....after all, the current surface transportation got there with plenty of subsidization, including from the US Department of "Defense".

It's already been shown that more roads don't result in less congestion. It's bogus.

Now, I happen to make an OK living off of Portlanders who naively gave up their automobiles, but I won't let that stop me from playing devil's advocate here.

Are you aware of any hard data not from Tri-Met itself that even remotely suggests that MAX has reduced congestion in Portland by any significant amount whatsoever ?


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Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
Timothy Egan - The Big Burn
Deborah Eisenberg - Transactions in a Foreign Currency
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
Jack Walker - The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria
Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
Brian Selznick - The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Sharon Creech - Walk Two Moons
Keith Richards - Life
F. Sionil Jose - Dusk
Natalie Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting
Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 113
At this date last year: 155
Total run in 2016: 155
In 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
In 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269

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