Sunday, August 30, 2009

Surveying the Messes

A friend saw the link to the CRC's Tolling Survey and was motivated to share his feelings:

1. Bridge Expansion is Assumed to be a Settled Decision

The existence of a toll is taken for granted by the entire survey. The reality that expanding the bridge, as well as applying a bridge toll, are matters that are still in question is never made plain. Nowhere does the survey ask whether the person being surveyed supports or does not support a bridge toll.

2. Variable-Rate Tolling May Not Serve the Traveler

Variable-rate tolling may be used to create the illusion of lowering costs for the traveler, while actually increasing profits for toll collectors. The base toll rate may be set at a level that guarantees a profit during off-peak hours, and an excess of profit during peak hours. It can become a means to collect more money at the times when people find it most necessary to cross the bridge.

Variable-rate tolling also discriminates against people who cannot vary their travel schedules (which is most people who work set hours).

3. Possible Implications of Electronic Tolling

Electronic tolling. Does that mean electronic enforcement and fining through the use of photographic traffic enforcement technology?

More cameras monitoring citizen activity?

4. Inaccurate/Potentially Misleading Information

Question 12 states:

“Tolling both the I-5 and I-205 bridges over the Columbia River, instead of tolling just the I-5 Columbia River bridge, could result in lower toll rates, more traffic improvements, and less traffic congestion on both the I-5 and I-205 highways. Knowing this, how supportive of tolling both the I-5 and I-205 bridges are you?”

If the tolling is split between the two bridges so that the cost of an individual toll is lowered, how will this result in more traffic improvements? The only way there could be more traffic improvements is if the original toll fee being split were inflated. For example, if a toll on the I-5 bridge were originally $4, and that amount was shared by the I-205 bridge, then each bridge would then have a toll of $2. The net result would be the identical $4. However, if the idea is only to create the illusion of a reduced toll fee, while making the net income from both bridges $5 or $6, then of course there would be more profits generated for more traffic “improvements.”

As for the claim that tolls on both bridges will create less traffic congestion, I see no logical correlation between the two factors.

Friday, August 21, 2009

How bad do you want it?

The Columbia River Crossing has many different players and affects many groups and as such is getting lots of interesting cross talk.

Sometimes they talk about freight and the poor, pathetic semi-truck drivers who for whatever reason are not bright enough to use the I-205 crossing (when in fact professional drivers have access to technology that helps them avoid traffic by not driving in cities during rush hour, amazing!).

Other times they talk about safety. Usually about the condition of the current bridge itself and specifically the timber pylons. "Did you know we are trusting our lives to wood?!?" But they don't bring up that nearly every other bridge in Portland has a lower safety rating according to their own investigations.

Then sometimes they talk about the river boat captains who run the risk of hitting the I-5 bridge because the opening does not line us up the railroad bridge just to the west. Alas, they never mention how the railroad bridge actually does need to be replaced, and could be done so for 1/400th of the cost of the current CRC proposal.

But today good reader we are all about the Tolling!

The pro CRC people have created a survey that is pretty interesting. I hope that everyone take 5 min to fill it out.

They dance around the issue of tolling like a pro bowl quarterback dancing around defensive linemen. What a study in framing the discussion! The survey is awe inspiring in its ability to pacify the otherwise rabid opposition. I think, however that we can greatly simplify the matter for the majority of people:

Would you be in favor of a replacement I-5 bridge if it had a $4.00 toll?

This is the blunt question the CRC does not want to ask (especially the "build it now!" - type dittoheads in Vancouver). Even though the CRC folk haven't been forthcoming with all the information they have gotten the hint from Obamma that the federal government wouldn't pay for it outright, and since they are only a few billion dollars short... hey with a $8 toll (adjusted to $10.50 by 2017) we could pay for this bridge by 2050.

So would you be in favor of replacing the I-5 Bridge if it means paying a $4.00 toll to cross it?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Southeast Sunday Parkway

There are a number of people on either side of this CRC debate. Both will be out in force trying to win you over.

This weekend come out and ask your questions.

Sunday Parkways is a great time to meet people in the streets. No fear of being hit by a car cause the streets are car free!

Bring kids, bring ideas, bring questions... BRING IT!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

third bridge option

The CRC moves on despite calls and emails and letters to the editor. We believe that since the 20-30 person task force was able to think of their options as

  1. 10-lane bridge
  2. 12-lane bridge
  3. no build. leave it as it stands.
As the 1st two options are pathetically close to each other we feel it is our duty to bring some new ideas to the table.

Another alternative to the "one bridge to fix them all" thinking. This one advocates for leaving the existing bridge and adding more capacity to the west.

We hope to hear more from these cats about the prospect of digging a tunnel from swan island to the Columbia.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

spanging 4 billions

Yes we are stil in the heat of Joe Cortright days.

"With an estimated price tag of $4 billion, this proposed five-mile, 12-lane freeway would be the most expensive public works project in the region's history. The cost works out to more than $8,000 for each four-person household in the region or roughly the equivalent of 80 OHSU trams." - Joe Cortright
In this Oregonian article Cortright proposes a simple question. "who is gonna pay for all this?"

The sound of everyone not raising their hands is pretty apparent.