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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 30, 2012 7:48 AM. The previous post in this blog was Breaking news: Taxes are lower now than under Carter. The next post in this blog is Adams-Ruiz weirdness ending as it began. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



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Friday, November 30, 2012

Breaking news: If you toll I-5, you'll have to toll I-205

Willy Week, which has run many an editorial disguised as a news article about the proposed I-5 Interstate Bridge replacement, shrieked yesterday that if a toll is placed on the new bridge, commuters will flock to the Glen Jackson Bridge, I-205, instead. Well, of course -- it's hard to imagine a reasonable person thinking otherwise. There would have to be tolls on both bridges.

The howler of the story is a quotation from the author of a recent study on the subject. (They needed a study?)

With so many drivers saying they'll divert their route, it's likely that I-205 would become congested.

"Become" congested? "Become"? Anybody who tries to commute on that span during weekday rush hours knows the irony of that word.

Comments (17)

The Glenn Jackson Bridge has sufficient capacity for the average daily commute. Unless there's an accident.

The bottlenecks on I-205 occur near the interchange with I-84, then in SE Portland (I believe it's near Powell), then in West Linn, west of the Willamette.

Similarly, the CRC isn't the worst bottleneck on I-5: the traffic frequently is moving much faster over the bridge than it is between the Fremont Bridge (merge with) I-5 North all the way to Jantzen Beach.

If they just replace the CRC without addressing the other bottlenecks in NE and NoPo, they've accomplished very little in terms of shortening the commute.

The article mentions tolls will cover only 1/3 of the cost of the project, but fails to mention 1/3 of the cost of the project is for 2 miles of light rail.

I suspect the people who did the "study" are locked in their windowless cubicles, do not drive, and live in cr-apartments.
And what Mister Tee said.

And if the PDOT dude would get off his awesome skateboard and do away with the carpool line for 3 miles on I-5 northbound, like Vancouver did when they realized just how much congestion it caused southbound I-5, maybe, just maybe we could move some traffic and really not need a new bridge.

I-205 will become (more) congested (for longer), as will I-84 and other east/west routes. Travelers with no alternative to I-205 will be screwed because they won't have the option of paying a toll when they are running late. They lose more than the toll-dodgers.

The winners here would be travelers from/to North Portland and NE; I-5 is going to look a lot better with a bridge toll. If I lived in NoPo, I'd be screaming for a toll on the bridge.

Mister Twee has some valid points. Part of the reason the CRC costs so much is it includes very expensive improvements to I-5 south of the bridge, which benefits NoPo tremendously. Fix those interchanges and things will look much smoother all the way back to 405. Toll the thing and it might look good through Broadway and 84.

But this poll is not news - people can SAY whatever they want to say, but most drivers will pony up and pay the toll when the alternative is a longer, more-congested slog through I-205.

Both routes will be very congested for much of the day in 20 years, but since no one wants to pay to widen roads (through taxes or tolls) and the days of roadway planners using eminent domain to build new roads are pretty much over -- nothing is going to get done about it. (Except making the high density 'cr-apartments' more attractive to young people.)

It's a problem all over this state. We get into petty arguments about bikes vs. cars and what color road lanes are painted, meanwhile the freeways are clogging up and businesses reliant on freight are going to move out (especially on I-5 south of PDX). When Intel sails away to Texas or Utah, it's going to be too late. Unless....

Why not toll both bridges now and put the receipts in a segregated account for new bridge construction? It would immediately reduce the number of bridge crossings and delay the need for a new bridge for at least five years (my estimate). Save up some money now for use in the future. What a novel concept.

Bill H, you dreamer, you. Segregation is raaaaacist! Also, you underestimate the schemers, highbinders, con men, crooked pols (but I repeat myself) the citizens and denizens of Portland have elected.

I've been on the 205 bridge, crawling along, stopping, moving a few feet, rinse, repeat...

Anthony: The article mentions tolls will cover only 1/3 of the cost of the project, but fails to mention 1/3 of the cost of the project is for 2 miles of light rail.
JK: That is just the tip of the iceberg.
* Without light rail, there is not urgent need to rebuild 4 interchanges in Vancouver tor ½ Billion. (Light rail was originally planned to go up I5, requiring widening of the overpasses.

* Without light rail, Hayden island gets simpler.

* Without light rail, ONLY ONE double deck bridge is required instead of two. Another alomst ½ Billion saved.

So, I believe that the real cos tof light rail is closer to 2 Billion.

A simple bridge, like the I205 bridge should come in at about ½ billion. Add another 1/4 for the on-off ramps.

The current plan calls for the two states to pay a bit under a billion - more than enough to pay the local match of just a bridge. See:


Bill H -
Tolling the I5 bridge won't reduce bridge crossings, it'll just extort money from commuters who have no choice about using the bridge to go to/from work. And no offense, but as Sam T said, the idea that the elected offal in this city/state will keep their paws off a pile of "segregated" cash is simply laughable.

The proposed budget for the I-5 Interstate Bridge replacement includes: $938M in new starts funding from the federal highway trust fund that pays for 100 percent of the capital costs for light rail (local funding for the highway portion of the project is considered to be the local match as per Washington State Senator Patty Murray); another projected $400M from the Federal Highway Trust fund for projects of National and Regional Significance (that helps pay for the separated bicycle deck on the bridge and all the connecting bicycle infrastructure that is being tacked on to the project); $450M each from ODOT & WashDOT (likely from gas taxes and other motorist paid fees); and $1.3 billion in highway user tolls.

Does anybody see anything missing? All the funding, 100 percent of the entire project costs are coming from drivers. Zero percent of the capital costs are coming from transit (light tail) paid user fees or bicyclist paid user fees. Financial equity of any kind is totally missing. The users of all transport modes will receive a benefit from a new bridge. Therefore, if the bridge is to be tolled, it also must be paid by the users of all transport modes.

I agree with Bill H. - if you're going to toll the bridges anyways, start now. If congestion is reduced as a result of the tolls (which seems likely) then perhaps the money can be spent on the more congested intersections, which as people have mentioned above would probably do more than a new bridge.

Somewhere in the not too distant past, maybe around 2006 or 2007, I attended a meeting where this very issue of the need to toll both or the drivers would be moving to 205 came up. What has taken so long for this to get someone's attention? How imbecilic are the people running this mess?

Why not toll both bridges now and put the receipts in a segregated account for new bridge construction?

Because it's against federal law.

Why not eliminate the most controversial aspect of the CRC, the light rail, reduce the price tag by 50%, and get the job done?

There's no requirement for light rail...

If I'm not mistaken, they can't toll the I-205 bridge without losing federal maintenance funding. Tolling can only be allowed on interstates if a) it's a pre-Eisenhower tollway that's been grandfathered (e.g. the Pennsylvania Turnpike), or b) the money from the tolling the interstate is going directly toward improvements on that particular stretch. Case B, if I recall correctly, was not allowed until the passage of SAFETEA-LU in 2005. Any other tolling on designated interstate highways means no federal funding can be used.

The simple fact is that the CRC doesn't make sense on any level. It's a Trojan Horse of a project, touted as a freeway "improvement", when in actuality, it's anything but.

One tolling study presented at a meeting a few years ago concluded that with tolls, the traffic would reduce enough to not require a new bridge.


Oregon's politicians are indebted for political contributions from the unions, contractors, and vendors for light rail construction.

They can't support the CRC without light rail because their transportation philosophy is (mostly) anti-automobile. They'll continue to ride around in cars, fly on jets, and take contributions from the unions, contractors, vendors, and real estate sharpies. But only if they can deliver more pork.

When the gravy train ends, likely followed by a US dollar crash, they'll look back on these times and wonder, "what were we thinking?"

Ditto for the convention center expansion, the convention center hotel, the streetcars, and Tri-Met's love affair with rail while they underfund buses.

JK was close: the I205 bridge cost $450 million (planning, design, permitting, construction) and includes bike/ped deck. It was also built with light rail in mind.


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