of what can be done to improve the
I-5 crossing of the Columbia River.
(Photo © J. Maus)
Since a new era of planning for a new I-5 crossing of the Columbia River seems to be upon us, I thought I’d share a comment from last week that lays out several ways to move forward.
The comment was left by a reader named John Reinhold, who also happens to be a member of Metro’s Transportation Policy Alternatives Committee (TPAC). TPAC provides technical input to the Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation (JPACT) on “transportation planning and funding priorities for the Portland metropolitan region”. Read Reinhold’s ideas below:
Here is what we need to do (transportation related):
1. Toll both Columbia river crossings, now.
2. Significantly increase bus service to/from Vancouver.
3. Paint 24 hour HOV lanes in both directions and on both crossings, and enforce them.
Those are the easy and quick solutions. Now on to the more long term solutions.
4. Modify the railroad bridge to move its lift span, and reconfigure the Columbia channel to align it with the hump in the I5 bridge. By aligning the hump and the railroad lift, we get rid of the dangerous S turn for ships and barges to go under the hump, and we reduce the need for I5 bridge lifts to almost zero.
5. Restrict pleasure craft (sailboats and yachts) from having bridge lifts during peak periods.
6. Build a small local bridge to Hayden Island from Portland, including planning for Light Rail on it in the future. Close the I5 ramps to Hayden Island to all except emergency vehicles. This gets rid of the merging at Hayden Island, and also gives two bridges to the Island in the event of emergency.
7. Institute commuter rail between Portland and Vancouver on the existing railroad tracks.
8. Seismically retrofit the existing I5 bridges and while doing so increase the size of the pedestrian and bicycle paths (like the Hawthorne bridge).
Those 8 things would solve 95% of the problems. Once you do that – you can then start working on these:
9. Begin planning for a third bridge, preferably a non-interstate bridge.
10. Begin planning for Light-Rail or BRT access into Clark county.
Here is what we should be doing (starting NOW) from a regional standpoint to decrease the need for transportation solutions:
11. Begin work to increase supply of affordable and desirable housing in inner Portland, to reduce the need for people to move to Vancouver.
12. Begin work to increase quality of Portland schools to reduce the desirability of moving to Vancouver.
13. Begin work to increase the number of quality jobs in Vancouver to reduce the need for Vancouver residents to commute to Portland.
I contend that we could probably do all of that and more for less than $4 billion dollars.
Some pretty solid suggestions. It will be interesting to see what direction (if any) the project takes.
— For more CRC coverage, browse our archives.