Letter to the editor: Interstate Bridge replacement does not give people what they want

The Interstate Bridge Replacement (IBR) team has revealed its “solution” for a new Interstate 5 bridge. It is less than what the failed Columbia River Crossing (CRC) had a decade ago, with only four total vehicle lanes in each direction.

The project will spend $5 billion of the people’s money, including over $1.1 billion of Washington state funds. After spending that huge amount of money, freight haulers and the 75,000 Clark County residents who commute to work in Oregon, will be stuck in congested traffic twice as long as they are today.

The IBR team reports 78% of Southwest Washington citizens’ top priority is reducing traffic congestion and saving time in their travels. This proposal fails to deliver what the people want. The IBR says the top priority for transit is faster service. This proposal fails transit riders as well.

The IBR reports that presently 28% of people are stuck in stop and go traffic, traveling zero to 20 miles per hour during rush hour.

By 2045, and after spending $5 billion, half the rush hour traffic will be traveling zero to 20 miles per hour.

You heard that right. Things get twice as bad after making the largest transportation expenditure in regional history.

Morning commute times double as well — from 29 minutes to 60 minutes from Interstate 205 to Interstate 405. WSU’s Lynn Valenter, co-chair of the IBR’s Community Advisory Group, said she was overwhelmed at the “less than stellar improvement” in morning commute times . “Disappointment is the mildest word I can use,” she said.

They propose light rail as a transit solution. Portland’s TriMet Yellow Line travels an average of 14 miles per hour. Nobody wants to travel that slowly. MAX light rail ridership peaked a decade ago. Transit carries 1.7% of people over the Interstate Bridge today.

The IBR says light rail is cheaper to operate than bus rapid transit. That is not true for this project. TriMet reports their cost per boarding rider is $8.24. That is 51% more expensive than C-Tran’s bus rapid transit (BRT) cost per rider of $5.44. Oregon Rep. Boshart-Davis’ questioned IBR staff who allegedly didn’t know the answer.

C-Tran’s BRT is significantly cheaper and much more flexible in the number and location of people it can serve. Vancouver Mayor Ann McEnerny-Ogle supports Portland’s light rail over Clark County’s C-Tran BRT system, in spite of C-Tran planning for five BRT lines in the future.

TriMet only operates MAX at 15 minute headways and is limited to just two cars on a train. They can move just over 1,000 people per hour. During rush hour, their light rail trains slow to 10 miles per hour as they cross the Willamette River on the 110-year-old Steel Bridge. One train every 90 seconds. They cannot expand light rail service because of the Steel Bridge choke point.

There will be “variable” double tolls: one for the bridge and more for driving I-5 in Oregon.

This does not give the people what they want — time saved and reduced traffic congestion. Where’s the value?

john ley,

Battle Ground