The Worst Day of the Year Ride is February 11th

Anti-tax group, Americans for Prosperity, protests Sellwood Bridge funding plan – Updated

Posted by on November 26th, 2010 at 11:03 am

Sellwood Bridge Tour with Richard M.-3

The Sellwood Bridge.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Members of the Oregon chapter of Americans for Prosperity, an anti-tax and limited government interest group founded by David Koch and Koch Industries, showed up in force on Thursday when the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners shared their plan to raise funds to help pay for the Sellwood Bridge. In order to raise $22 million of the estimated $300 million to replace the ailing bridge, Clackamas County wants to pass a new ordinance that would create a $5 per year vehicle registration fee.

But members of AFP (150 of them according to the group’s website) sent a strong message to the Commissioners: they do not want to help pay for a bridge that’s in Multnomah County (although a traffic study revealed that 70 percent of bridge traffic is from Clackamas County). According to news reports, some protesters said the proposed fee isn’t fair because bicycle riders wouldn’t be required to pay it (an idea that has been thoroughly debunked). Here are excerpts from local media coverage of the hearing:

From The Oregonian:

“The proposed fee has especially stung with Clackamas County residents upset that their dollars might end up paying for a streetcar, light rail, bike paths or other features they view as Portland-centric.

“Why are Clackamas County residents being Multnomah County’s patsies?” asked Bob Karl, a West Linn resident. “Why aren’t Multnomah County bicyclists required to pay? It’s sneaky, it’s dangerous, and it’s corrupt.”

From KGW:

“If we’re going to register,” testified one critic, “Let’s do the bicycles as well.”

According to sources at the meeting, AFP members were organized and were holding signs that read “No Fee. No Taxes”. AFP’s website says almost 150 members were at the meeting to “tell Clackamas County Commissioners that enough is enough on tax and fee increases in the County.”

Koch Industries is one of the largest privately held companies in the U.S. and the two brothers behind the company, David and Charles Koch, have funneled over one million dollars into groups like AFP. These donations were subject of an article in The New Yorker back in August that characterized the Kochs as “billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama.”

Wednesday’s hearing was the first reading of the proposed ordinance, and it’s slated to come back to the Commission for a potential vote on December 9th. The Bicycle Transportation Alliance is urging their members to speak up in support of the new fee. Email your comments on the issue by December 8th to

— Learn more about the project at or read past coverage in our archives.

UPDATE, 11/29: According to Jeff Kropf, Director of Americans for Prosperity Oregon, the local chapters of the group do not receive funding from the national AFP and all their money is raised in Oregon. Read his full explanation here. The headline of this story originally claimed that the protesters at the Sellwood Bridge meeting were funded by the Koch Family (founders of AFP); but if Kropf’s claims are accurate, they are not. I have edited the headline to better reflect my knowledge of this issue.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Hart Noecker November 26, 2010 at 11:06 am

    Show the footage of that bridge in Minneapolis collapsing. Then show it again, and again, and again.

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  • Mindful Cyclist November 26, 2010 at 11:16 am

    Why am I not surprised by this?

    Dear AFP members: I paid my $22 extra dollars in July when I renewed my plates. I will, at best, use this bridge about every 3 years or so. Consider that my “contribution” to the bicycle lanes. Thanks!

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  • spare_wheel November 26, 2010 at 11:20 am

    perhaps it should be rebuilt as a bike/ped bridge at extensive cost savings…

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  • Jerry_W November 26, 2010 at 11:22 am

    If the fee is for a bridge, make it a weight tax, cars pay $250 and a bike $.50.

    Koch Industries make and sell Stainmaster carpet and Brawny paper towels. Don’t buy these, there are many alternatives that don’t funnel profits to extreme rightwing causes.

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    • Opus the Poet November 30, 2010 at 10:08 am

      Actually to make it proportional to the amount of damage by the AASHTO formula, charging $0.50 for a bike (which would pay to collect the toll, maybe) the toll for a Smart ForTwo would be $550 and for a Caddy SUV would be $1500. At that rate the bridge would be paid off in about 10 years and the inevitable replacement paid for in 30.

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  • Jim Lee November 26, 2010 at 11:25 am

    If anyone believes it would cost $330,000,000 to replace the Sellwood, I would sell them the rest of the bridges over the Willamette too.

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  • the "other" steph November 26, 2010 at 11:28 am

    Fascinated by the Koch Brothers. The first I had ever heard of them was when Terry Gross interviewed Mayer:

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  • mello yello November 26, 2010 at 11:48 am

    I’m all for paying 20 million to setup the bike registration system to collect 1 million in bike registration fees.

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  • fredlf November 26, 2010 at 11:49 am

    The Koch Brothers are, at best, intellectually dishonest. They simply favor government and tax policies that continue a status quo that has made them very wealthy and powerful. Their so-called Libertarianism is simply cover to paint a populist sheen on their ambitions.

    If there was a way to make bikes out of coal, you better believe AFP would be organizing pro-bike lane protests and writing white papers on the need for government policies to encourage cycling.

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  • Jim Lee November 26, 2010 at 11:54 am

    Kindly note that TriMet’s new bridge, for trains, busses, bikes, walkers is budgeted for about one-third the cost of ODOT’s Sellwood replacement. And it is bigger and heavier, for it must carry Max trains.

    ODOT wants to spent $134,000,000 for a motor interchange on the west side of Sellwood alone–more than the ENTIRE cost of TriMet’s structure.

    Good old highway department policy: AUTOS UBER ALLES!

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  • BURR November 26, 2010 at 11:54 am

    Let’s just build a cyclist-only bridge, I’m sure you could get cyclists on board with some sort of funding arrangement for that.

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    • suburban November 26, 2010 at 6:33 pm

      This deserves a study. I like it!

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  • Anna November 26, 2010 at 11:56 am

    Could we please put this issue to rest once and for all , ie “bikes not paying their fair share”, by taking a survey of regular bike commuters/users who also own cars, and, publicize it ? I think you’ll find that many, like myself, pay more than our “fair share” by not using the roads as much and therefore reducing the wear and tear, not to mention traffic congestion.
    Why should we have to pay twice, that’s insulting to say the least.

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    • are November 26, 2010 at 1:11 pm

      it is counterproductive to focus on the idea that many cyclists also own automobiles. the point is that roads are largely paid for from general funds, not so-called “road” taxes, and that widespread use of the private automobile is actually heavily subsidized by everyone. let fuel costs and insurance and other externals rise to their true economic costs, and then we can talk. a libertarian ought to understand this.

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  • Oh Word? November 26, 2010 at 11:57 am

    Maybe a toll can be charged to use the bridges unless you live in Multnomah County.

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  • cold worker November 26, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    i’m always curious how the ‘no fees, no taxes’ crowds think society works. really.

    i wish a place could be set up somewhere where all the backwards, regressive laws and tax policies and social norms they’d like to see set in place be allowed to come to life. i’d like to see how that scenario played out for them. take a dakota or nebraska or utah, and just let them go nuts. watch it implode. no federal aid for anything. no regulation for anything. a tea party everyday.

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    • q`Tzal November 26, 2010 at 12:47 pm

      Yeah, start an opt-in communist economy along side an opt-out pure captitalist(pay-no-taxes/get-no-services) economy and see how long it takes before some of them come begging for money. Of course the communist part won’t work with out some way to kick out the lazy moochers.
      Oh well, nothin` perfect.

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  • q`Tzal November 26, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    I’ll register my bike as soon as THEY pay an annual registration fee that is calculated based 1st on vehicle weight, 2nd on miles traveled and 3rd on enviromental discharge of said vehicle.
    Conversely we could charge a Clackamas only bridge toll. Real time sorting of vehicles by licences plate is doable. Either make them pull over and pay a person manually and slowly or just charge it straight to their annual registration fee.

    I think $5 per one way bridge trip is appropriate.

    If they don’t like Multnomah county so much they can give up those jobs and stop taking up the road space: stay in Clackamas.

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  • Keith Laughlin November 26, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    An earlier poster suggested that cyclists boycott Koch Industry products, such as Brawny paper towels and Stainmaster carpet. But a Wikipedia search reveals that Koch also owns Investa, which makes Lycra. Are cyclists really ready for a Lycra boycott?

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    • are November 26, 2010 at 1:25 pm

      koch doesn’t actually make anything. they are an investment group that owns bunch of companies, including georgia pacific and invista. unfortunately, if you want to buy something made of lycra (or cordura, or dacron, or certain kinds of nylon), you gonna have to send money to koch. but on the plus side, these guys can now buy elections, thanks to the roberts court.

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    • peejay November 29, 2010 at 9:37 am

      Lycra? Really? I don’t know if Koch Industries has done more against cycling by their ridiculous anti-logic tea party funding, or the marketing of that particular fabric.

      I kid, I kid. Sort of.

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  • Jerry_W November 26, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    No way, gotta have that!

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  • spare_wheel November 26, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    lycra is made exclusively by invista while spandex is made by dozens of companies.

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  • Tourbiker November 26, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    In 2010, Koch Industries was ranked 10th on the list of top US corporate air polluters, the “Toxic 100 Air Polluters,” by the Political Economic Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

    Big Suprise…Kotch can have a bike reg fee when he starts paying for my lung cancer therapy.

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  • Matt Evans November 26, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    I know facts aren’t really welcome here, but AFP’s Oregon Chapter – along with the Clackamas County Chapter – do not receive any funding from Koch Industries, or the Koch Bros. 100 percent of AFP-Oregon’s funding comes from Oregon.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) November 26, 2010 at 6:29 pm

      Hi Matt,

      Thanks for the comment. Facts are absolutely welcome here. Thanks for that information. Can you provide any evidence to show that the local chapters of AFP are not funded by Koch? I’ll look into it and consider editing the story if necessary.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) November 26, 2010 at 10:58 pm


      In AFP’s 2007 IRS filing, it shows $2.9 million as an expense for “state chapters”, and it lists Oregon as one of the chapters. So, by that fact it looks like AFP national does in fact spend money on the Oregon chapter… and since AFP is funded by the Koch Brothers, it would follow that AFP Oregon is funded by Koch Industries.

      I’m open to learning more. I’ve emailed Jeff Kropf, AFP Oregon State Director asking for more information about how they are funded and will update this thread if/when I hear back. Cheers.

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  • heather andrews November 26, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    I for one am a lifelong Clackamas County resident (almost 33 years!) who is happy to pay the proposed fee. Over the last 15 years I have been relying on the Sellwood Bridge to get me to school, work, volunteering, recreation, and more. As a driver, cyclist, and pedestrian, I have felt extremely unsafe on the bridge for years. Chipping in a few bucks is the very least I could do to improve a dangerous situation.

    While I was unaware of the meeting until reading the Oregonian’s report, I look forward to submitting public comment. These people do not speak for all of us.

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  • Barney November 26, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    This is a no brainer, make it a toll bridge, all users pay! Figure out a fair rate schedule based on precedent in other areas and it should pay for itself in 20 years or so.
    By the way, why do these topics often end up as left vs. right arguments? This $#!+ must be paid for people, you can’talways just shift the cost to “others”. If you want infrastructure just shut up and pay, otherwise just shut up!

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    • KWW November 29, 2010 at 3:58 pm

      That would kill livability on the Sell wood side of the bridge.

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  • CaptainKarma November 26, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    Seriously, I’m going to have to give up drinking my tea; I wouldn’t want to be mistakenly mis-identified as one of those…well nevermind.

    Why are some folks so easily jerked around to respond in reactionary ways. I need to quit asking why.

    Anyway, I was all for the toll bridge idea, except that where I used to live in a ‘burb of Omaha, there was a toll bridge across the Missouri river, I used it mostly by bicycle, quickest way to get out of town for some open road riding. It was alllllllmost paid off, and then there was to be no tolls. An audit showed the funds had mysteriously eroded somewhere for the previous 30 years or so, and the bridge would now have to continue tolls probably forever, due to the sheisty financial insider abuses. Makes me want ta holler!
    Not only that, but they started charging bicyclists tolls too, like we were really putting potholes in the bridge! The worst part was that coming over from the Iowa side, after a seven mile lead-up with no where else to go, the cylists found AFTER they crossed the bridge that they had to now pay a toll. Weird.

    Anyway, Sellwood property values would be nowhere near what they are if it weren’t for that easy access across the river. They need to help out.

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  • joe adamski November 26, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    limit it to 1000 gvw. Everyone else must use another crossing. Cyclists and peds will be fine on it, antagonizing motorists. They will come to the most reasonable decision, when they are ready.
    %$@*! the Koch Brothers. Carpetbaggers.

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  • Dan Kaufman November 26, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    Want to shut ’em up? Just shut down the bridge.

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    • naess November 26, 2010 at 10:54 pm

      you would think with all the safety concerns and failed tests that the bridge would have been shut down years ago. sadly i’m not naive enough to be surprised that it hasn’t.

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      • matt picio November 29, 2010 at 3:27 pm

        naess, the county bought time for the bridge by banning large trucks and Tri-Met buses from using the bridge. It’s temporarily safe for car traffic, and the county department that maintains the bridges inspects the Sellwood on a much more frequent schedule. Much of the problem is in the expansion joints, where the bridge is pulling itself apart due to stress from the foundations moving in different directions. Multnomah County’s bridge department takes their job very seriously and if the bridge were an immediate danger, they would shut it down immediately.

        That said, we can’t wait until that point to start replacing it, and because of the timeframe, duration and expense of the project, these sort of discussions are inevitable.

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  • Chris November 26, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    Wait… we are talking $5 per year per extra on vehicle registration??? Is that it? That’s the price of a burrito! If Clackamas really does not want it, then I say slap on a $1 toll to cross the bridge one way, so that drivers crossing the bridge can pay @$250 a year going to and from work. How does that price sound?

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    • Ryan Good December 2, 2010 at 10:29 am

      But I get 53 miles per burrito! I have a sticker that says so. All kidding aside though, I agree with you.

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      • Opus the Poet December 2, 2010 at 11:51 pm

        You must be buying some huge burritos, then. Using the generally accepted figure of 37 Calories per mile I get 20 miles from the Taco Bell $0.99 burrito (using the nutrition figures from the 2006 menu). I was getting about 50 miles from the Chipotle $5.99 burrito (again using the nutrition figured from their 2006 menu). I haven’t checked recently to see what “mileage” I get from the 2010 menus.

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  • JR November 27, 2010 at 12:01 am

    We are clearly not in an age of reason when groups like the AFP can get 150 people to a meeting to avoid paying for an obviously well needed bridge replacement.

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  • David Parsons November 27, 2010 at 12:45 am

    Personally, I’d be delighted if Multnomah County decided to cater to the delicate sensibilities of the anti-streetcar anti-bicycle anti-tax-except-for-the-military,banking,and-foreign-tribute fringe in Clackamas County by setting up toll booths on the bridge. Free for Multnomah County residents, of course (since Multnomah County is paying for the bulk of this bridge), but some reasonable price for Clackamas County residents. $10, maybe?

    And this means that the elaborate interchange for the west side of the bridge won’t need to be built and Clackamas-bound traffic can go down Macadam and 43 to Oregon City instead of using Sellwood as a shortcut. It’s a win for everyone; the anti-trolley people get the crippling traffic on Macadam that they desire, Sellwood gets a new bridge that’s more suited for the size of the neighborhood, and the suburbs get a taste of what happens when the anti-tax crowd chokes off government revenue.

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  • Red Five November 27, 2010 at 7:52 am

    when did BikePortland get so heavy on censorship? This site has such a political slant and it seems pointless to offer a comments section. Unless your post is 100% progressive in nature it will deleted.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) November 29, 2010 at 9:10 am

      Red Five,

      this site isn’t “heavy on censorship”… it’s heavy on deleting comments that incite hate, include personal insults, and/or that are generally done without constructive dialogue in mind. Thanks.

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  • Mike November 27, 2010 at 8:00 am

    The Koch brothers have become the George Soros of the right. Intellectually lazy left wingers try to use some connection to them in every argument because they are the boogeyman of the day.

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  • Jim Lee November 27, 2010 at 10:27 am

    Twenty years ago an associate in the engineering business informed me of the parlous state of the Sellwood Bridge, especially the fact that the west abutment was on an active landslide working its way into the river. The bridge should have been replaced long ago with a special design not sensitive to that sort of boundary condition.

    But mysteries abound! Why was the bridge to Sauvie Island, not nearly so vital and not nearly so decrepit, replaced first–for a paltry $38,000,000? The new Sauvie bridge is a good cost model for a new Sellwood, for it is the same width and two-thirds the length. But the new Sellwood is purported to be nearly ten times as costly.

    An explanation: Mike Pullen, Director of Public Relations for MultCo, who knows nothing about bridges, is leading the charge. Another explanation: Matt Garrett, Director of ODOT, seems determined to bloat every project to outrageous expense–vide Columbia River Crossing.

    Here is another “outside the box” solution: a ferry boat for cars! Maybe pedal powered scows for cyclists!

    Great thread, Jonathan! This is the sort of thing BikePortland.cog does so well!

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    • Opus the Poet November 27, 2010 at 12:18 pm

      OK my civil engineering classes were almost 35 years ago, but from what I remember the amount of material to cross a span (and therefore the cost) are exponentially related. It isn’t quite squared, but it definitely isn’t a linear relationship. There used to be a flash game that people would build bridges to a budget and drive a train across with your score being the amount of money you had left over from the budget. It must have been pretty accurate because the budget went up pretty much as the square of the unsupported span.

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  • David Parsons November 27, 2010 at 10:52 am

    The Sauvie island bridge is only a 360 foot main span with viaduct on each side. The Sellwood bridge would require *three* Sauvie island main spans (in deeper water==more expensive piers) plus viaducting, including whatever special mitigation is needed to deal with the slide zone on the west side of the river (and from the description of the new bridge, the construction includes new bridges over some of the small streams that come down the bluffside in that neighborhood.)

    It’s a substantially larger project.

    (And it’s not nearly as vital as the Sauvie Island bridge; if the Sellwood bridge fell into the river, Clackamas commuters still have the option of going south to the Glen Jackson bridge, but unless I’ve managed to miss something there’s only one bridge onto Sauvie Island.

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    • cold worker November 27, 2010 at 2:38 pm

      the glenn jackson bridge is the I-205 crossing from oregon to washington. i’m missing something somewhere i think.

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    • matt picio November 29, 2010 at 3:33 pm

      I think you mean south to the Abernethy Bridge. They also have the option to go north to the Ross Island bridge, though in both cases that’s not convenient for cyclists at all, and with the impending closure of the Oregon City Bridge for 2 years for repairs, a closure of the Sellwood Bridge would mean no legal river crossing for cyclists between the Ross Island Bridge and the Canby Ferry.

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  • abomb November 27, 2010 at 10:58 am

    I live in clackamas county and ride or drive over the Sellwood bridge everyday. As far as I’m concerned $5/yr is a killer deal.
    A little off topic but whats up with Riverview Cemetery blocking access at the top when the gate is closed. I thought we raised the $5000 so that bike route would stay open.

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  • jim November 27, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    Why not just do a toll? Then the people that use it, get the benifit for it pay for it. Set up a toll that includes all users, cars ,trucks, bikes, pedestrians. It is what washington state does with the ferries. It is fair. There are discounts for seniors, and disabled. Monthly passes are available. When the bridge is paid for the toll goes away. The registration idea is not enough to pay the interest on the loan.

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  • spare_wheel November 27, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    “Set up a toll that includes … pedestrians.”

    i think i payed a pedestrian toll when i crossed into tijuana (once).

    “It is fair. There are discounts for seniors, and disabled.”

    i guess the poor can swim.

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    • jim November 27, 2010 at 11:24 pm

      What about state parks? Do you think the poor should pay to use those aminities?
      Obviously you never rode a ferry (boat)- they all charge something, even poor pedestrians have to pay, or swim

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  • Jim Lee November 27, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    Sauvie Island had a ferry until the 1950s. As a kid on the way out to my uncle’s farm for Sunday dinner I watched the old bridge being built . It was good enough to get to the nice rides on Sauvie, or even to Kruger’s Crossing events.

    The current Sellwood is a hyperstatic continuous truss of four spans on five piers, one in the middle of the river: Gustav Lindenthal, no tyro, designed it to be as cheap and functional for 1920s traffic as possible. My understanding is that Lindenthal’s structure still is sound; the problems are with the east and west viaduct approaches, which are not his work. Of course, the whole thing is way too narrow, even without the lighting standards’ encroachment on the narrow sidepath.

    I have completed a design study that identifies a self-anchoring suspension bridge as the optimal solution. It “floats” over both problematic approaches, the landslide on the west, the encumbered easement over the buildings–how bizarre is that–on the east. No vertical forces on the abutments and only two piers in the river for the lightest and cheapest structure possible. In high strength structural steel.

    Less than the Multco/ODOT ORIGINAL ESTIMATE OF $80,000,000, and in line with TriMet’s $127,000,000 cable-stayed span of equal length for much heavier loads.

    If you want to talk bridges, guys, get out your design manuals for structural steel and your slide rules!

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  • cyclist November 27, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    I’m pretty sure that part of the reason why the interchange on the west side of the river costs so much is that they have to do a lot of work to prevent future slides. I know the city thinks that the cost of the interchange can be cut, they’re working with the county to find cost savings. Nevertheless, there are substantial complications with this project that make it more expensive than relatively simple projects like the Sauvie Island Bridge:the slide zone on the west side, property that needs to be purchased near the old and new bridge construction sites, the need to maintain two lanes of traffic during construction (much like 99e just north of the Ross Island Bridge). The costs are different because the challenges are different.

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  • cyclist November 27, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    Jim Lee: Isn’t the center span the old Burnside Bridge span, which was re-used because the county ran out of funds for bridge building? The encumbered easement on the east side was also due to lack of funds, the county couldn’t afford to buy the rights to the land under the bridge.

    Does the cost of your bridge include the cost of the interchanges on either end? Does it include the purchase of property on either end of the bridge? Does it include the cost of making the bridge ready for streetcar? What about stabilizing the hillside on the west side of the bridge?

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  • spare_wheel November 27, 2010 at 9:43 pm

    cyclist, you go. i haven’t driven my car for months (my better half’s vx died – 280K) and am perfectly willing to pay for this bridge.

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  • Allan November 28, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    I think a bunch of MultCo folks should go counterprotest that this bridge shouldn’t be built at all. If the current bridge fell into the river I’m sure the bridge would get rebuilt way faster than this crazy process. It kind of makes me think we should knock it down and then see if there is so much protest. Just spend the $$ already

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  • Brad November 29, 2010 at 8:39 am

    I’m with Allan. Condemn the Sellwood Bridge and remove it without a replacement bridge planned. Claim poverty and “hearing the people’s voices!” about reigning in government spending and taxation.

    Then watch the fuming and fun as Clackamas commuters have to find alternate routes that add time to their already terrible commutes.

    This would be an excellent object lesson.

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    • Eric in Seattle November 29, 2010 at 1:14 pm

      Amen, Brad!
      None of these folks say they don’t want the bridge, they just don’t want to pay for it.

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  • Geezer Guy November 29, 2010 at 9:37 am

    Maybe the county should just make everyone mad and close the bridge. Blow it up and be done with it. . . . That would be a great cost savings.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) November 29, 2010 at 9:44 am

    UPDATE on funding question (does local AFP chapter receive funding from National AFP?). Here’s a response explaining that the local chapters DO NOT receive national money from the Director of AFP Oregon Jeff Kropf:

    Jonathan, thanks for reaching out in an effort to be accurate. We appreciate the opportunity to set the record straight, as there is much misinformation out there about AFP and the Kochs. Matt Evans (AFP OR’s communications director) is quite correct as AFP OR receives no funding from the Koch’s, their foundations or any of their companies, even though they own Georgia Pacific, with several locations in Oregon. Believe me when I tell you how much I would like to receive funding from the Koch’s, their companies or other out of state donors, but AFP’s national policy does not allow it. If I could raise more money, I could promote grassroots politics at a much higher level by being able to better support the local efforts of our volunteers such as the efforts of our Clackamas chapter of AFP.

    Let me be clear, I can only spend money that we raise on behalf of AFP OR from Oregonians. I am not allowed to raise or spend money from outside of the state, period.

    Your review of the IRS filing for AFP is easily explained in the following manner and should shed light on how a national non profit organization works. All of the money that we raise in Oregon for our operations here is sent to our national headquarters in Virginia for accounting purposes, then redistributed to each state. This is logical in that it would be a accounting nightmare for each of our 31 states to have their own checking accounts, foundations ect. The expense you note in the filing for “state chapters” is money each of our chapters raised that gets sent back to us. Headquarters staff provide some support to the state AFP chapters such as accounting and research.

    Again, let me be clear, as much as I would love to have Koch funding, I get absolutely none, period.

    Evidence of this arrangement however, is not available as AFP does not disclose its donors, just as other non profits do not do such as the Sierra Club. You will have to take my word as being the truth and I might note that I am not known for being a liar, even amongst my former Democrat colleagues when I served in the Oregon House.

    Also, you should note AFP does not have PAC, nor do any of its state chapters as we don’t endorse candidates. Our mission is to build limited government grassroots capacity, which is what we focus on.

    No matter where the money comes from however, you should also consider this. AFP OR does not pay our volunteers to show up at hearings, like the one you accurately described in your article. These folks are led by a team of local, trained and motivated grassroots volunteers who do what they do because they believe in the standing up for limited government principles. You cant gin up that kind of volunteer effort by spending money. It comes from the heart.

    Even though we may have opposite views on this particular issue, AFP OR appreciates your willingness to be accurate.

    Feel free to reprint this email response in its entirety.

    Jeff Kropf

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    • matt picio November 29, 2010 at 3:44 pm

      This is possibly verifiable. Even though the AFP does not disclose individual contributor names, an examination of the tax filings for AFP should show the aggregate amount collected in the state. If it does not, that information might be required, provided it does not involve exposing contributor names. (I’m not positive on that – I haven’t administered a (c)(4) before, and I’m not fully up to speed on the depth of their reporting requirements.

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      • the "other" steph November 29, 2010 at 3:57 pm

        hi Matt,

        To my understanding, a (c)(4) does not have nearly as strict reporting requirements as, say, a 527, which I believe must disclose all their donors’ contributions monthly (I could be wrong; what the heck do I know?). One would be very hard-pressed to verify funding from a (c)(4) unless one had access to the national’s books. Mr. Priebe on this list is far more knowledgeable on this topic, of course.

        I appreciate Mr. Kropf’s response to Jonathan, though I must say that administrative oversight, bookkeeping and (c)(4) conferrence to a local chapter is a huge benefit to any advocacy group. Regardless of direct funding to the local chapter, I find it hard to agree with Mr. Kropf’s premise that the local AFP receives no donated benefit from the national umbrella, even if that donation is purely in-kind.
        (That got pretty wonky pretty quickly! Oy, sorry)

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        • matt picio November 30, 2010 at 11:24 am

          Thanks for the detail, Steph. Looking at the 990 linked to up-thread, it says “financial statements available upon request”. I don’t know if they mean available to the general public, or available to the IRS. The only way to verify it authoritatively would be to look at their chart of accounts, and compare the incoming and outgoing accounts for the Oregon chapter – without that data, we’re all basically taking AFP-Oregon’s statement on faith.

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    • are November 29, 2010 at 5:22 pm

      we are talking about two entities here, the (c)(4) advocacy group and the (c)(3) foundation. the most recent filings for each are for calendar 2008.

      the AFP foundation, the (c)(3), took in $7.5 million, which it characterized as “contributions, gifts, and grants,” with no breakdown as to where it all came from. other filings indicate that $1 million came from the david h. koch foundation and another million or so came from the claude r. lambe foundation, both “koch family” foundations. david h. koch is chair of the AFP foundation.

      the foundation spent a little over $3 million out of the national office on “educating citizens,” and another $3.8 million through state chapters. the rest went to overhead, including a couple of salaries in the low six figures. one hundred percent of the foundation’s qualifying expenditures are in the form of “program services,” rather than grants.

      the AFP itself, the (c)(4) group, took in just over $7 million, again characterized as “contributions, gifts, and grants,” again with no breakdown, though the number closely matches the “revenue” figure against which the national spent close to $6.4 million on “state chapters and national office,” which would seem to match up with what jeff kropf is saying. pretty much the same roster of people are drawing salaries here as from the foundation, but in different amounts.

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  • Eric in Seattle November 29, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    “Americans for Prosperity”
    Just another example of the principal that a group’s name is pretty much the opposite of what they really want.

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  • Eric in Seattle November 29, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    Another option: Multnomah county pays the whole thing, and it becomes a toll bridge. All cars registered in Multnomah county cross for free. The other 70% pay a buck or two a pop. That’d probably pay the bridge off pretty quick.

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    • matt picio November 29, 2010 at 3:49 pm

      Possibly. It’s also possible it might change commuting patterns and put a lot more traffic on the Ross Island bridge. Or possibly push more people onto transit. It wouldn’t be cheap to implement, though, and something would have to be done to fill the gap between setting up the infrastructure to collect tolls and reaping the spoils. The county doesn’t have that kind of money right now, so either other county functions would suffer, bridge maintenance would be deferred, or a bond measure submitted to pay for the collection equipment, employees, etc. If the county already had tolls, these costs would be minimized by utilizing existing resources. This is one of the same reasons why bicycle licensing won’t work.

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  • Pete November 29, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    …these guys can now buy elections, thanks to the roberts court.

    That’s the first thing that popped into my mind when I read this. The American “freedom” crowd seems to get pissed off over so many silly little things (gay marriage, bicycle lanes, etc), but allow your government to uncap corporate donations and where’s the outcry?

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  • Ethan November 30, 2010 at 9:13 am

    how about everyone pays 1% of the value of their bike or car . . . if they want “fair” lets make it proportional.

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    • matt picio November 30, 2010 at 11:32 am

      Is that one-time or an annual thing? In my case, that’d be about $15, but for a new car, you’re talking $250-$500 for many people. I’d be all for that, but I doubt it’ll fly.

      These discussions will become more common as our infrastructure here continues to age. We need public initiatives at the federal level – as long as the financial elite control Congress, it’s doubtful that we’ll return to a progressive tax structure – and in the current economy we need a progressive tax structure. Many of those who need government services can’t pay for them, and many who CAN pay are making their money from those who can’t.

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    • Ryan Good December 2, 2010 at 10:45 am

      I think the value of your vehicle is somewhat irrelevant in this case. The fee would be better assessed based on the amount of wear and tear your vehicle causes. So perhaps charging by weight would be better. For example, a $70,000 porsche will cause much less damage than a $1,000 junker half-ton pickup. But then how is all that assessed- a scale like at the dump? That would be a traffic nightmare. I guess there would have to be a handful of classifications. If I lived there, and had the choice between a toll bridge and paying an extra $5 per year, I would beg for the latter.

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  • Fred November 30, 2010 at 9:47 am

    Since the new Max Line will run through the area and down into Clackamas County, let commuters ride the rail. Tear the Sellwood down once the line is open and don’t replace it. Lake Oswego residents will still have access to downtown on 30 and Clackamas County commuters can ride the Max which is already budgeted and under design.

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    • matt picio November 30, 2010 at 11:27 am

      That presumes the line will be built. That might have been a given at one time, but with the public backlash over Tri-Met’s recent ballot item, and the changes in Congress, funding for the project isn’t the slam-dunk it was a few years ago.

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  • Brad November 30, 2010 at 10:13 am

    Excellent idea, Fred!

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  • Jeff Bernards November 30, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    I can hardly contain myself, I ‘m ashamed of the selfishness of my generation. $5 really? Multnomah county supports many county services for the mentally ill & disadvantaged that most counties throughout the state don’t provide for on the scale that we do. Clackamas County should be jumping at the opportunity to help, $5? Clackamas county should be embarrassed, it’s 70% use by them is what wore out the current bridge. We should raise the gas tax to cover all road and bridge maintenance and replacement. Then you can drive anywhere you want knowing you helped pay for the infrastruture your using & that everyone enjoys. Remember your food comes down that road in a big heavy truck that needs a sturdy $300 million bridge. Until you grow your food at home, we need the bridge.

    Tolls are impractical & unenforceable just avoid the bridge. Clackamas County’s $22 million is only 6% of the costs, yet they use it 70% of the time. That’s a pretty good return on investment, just saying.

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  • memo November 30, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    “According to news reports, some protesters said the proposed fee isn’t fair because bicycle riders wouldn’t be required to pay it (an idea that has been thoroughly debunked).” I clicked on the link and it had no local numbers to support your assertion that the “idea [of bicyclists not paying for roads] was thoroughly debunked.” The linked mentioned this was untrue locally since it claims a large portion of the cost for roads comes from the “general tax fund.”

    However for the State of Oregon, only $10 million of the over $5 billion in revenue comes from the general fund (page 4)

    In Portland, none of the general fund expenses listed are for roads – (page 38)

    Please provide us with actual, usable, local information that shows how much bicyclist contribution to the roadways.

    Thank you,

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    • are November 30, 2010 at 5:50 pm

      the document you yourself link says that less than a third of ODOT’s state revenue comes from fuel taxes and registration fees. large chunks come from cigaret taxes, the lottery, and local matching funds, as well as general revenue. and from borrowing. plus, you know, there is a lot of expense motorists create that they do not pay for. if you want to have exactly zero infrastructure for nonmotorists, you better never get out of your car.

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      • Memo December 2, 2010 at 6:38 pm

        Page 4, which cover transportation revenues, makes no reference to cigaratte taxes and why would it? It is apparent you are looking at the wrong page.

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      • Memo December 2, 2010 at 7:55 pm

        I will correct myself, page 5 does state the ODOT does receive some other revenues from “tax revenues dedicated to elderly and disabled transit.” It also says that 19% fuel tax, 12% licenses and fees, and 12% weight mile tax adds up to users directly providing over 40 percent of the State’s ODOT funds. Plus the bonds you mentioned are typically revenue back bonds backed by future fuel tax receipts. Page 4 still specifically says the only “$10 million” of the more than $5 billion dollar budget comes from general funds. Could you please back up you “large chunks” comment.

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  • Duncan November 30, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    Are you really so ***personal insult deleted*** as to not realize the concept of conservation- ie that when a person bikes somewhere they are not using a car- and that by doing so the lessen the impact on the roadway?

    Also note that 90% of bike owners (like me) own cars. We already road taxes.

    Sorry to be so blunt but cmon….


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    • Memo December 2, 2010 at 7:07 pm

      I guess Jonathan is allowing personal attacks.

      My earlier posts were not against conservation in anyway. However conservation does not generate the cash flow for Oregon’s roads and I questioned Jonathan’s statement about their funding for clarities sake only. Relaying false information only does damage regardless of what view one holds.

      As for you statement of paying for a car equating to paying for biking, it does not add up for me. If I purchase a movie ticket, I do not expect free popcorn even though they are complimentart. Same thing if you buy a car, you do not assume a bike comes with it.



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      • El Biciclero December 3, 2010 at 12:45 pm

        BUT…If you pay full price for a movie ticket, and then end up having to sit in an overflow room and watch the movie on a TV screen because the main theater is too full, and you have people from the main theater come into the overflow room to smoke and walk around in front of the TV and carry on conversations that completely destroy your movie-viewing experience, wouldn’t you expect at least a free bucket o’ popcorn to make up for your lousy experience?

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  • memo November 30, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    Additionally, when you look over the Multnomah County budget it looks like no general funds are used for roads.

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  • aaronf December 1, 2010 at 3:40 am

    I get a kick out of reading that bikes not paying their way has been “thoroughly debunked” and then clicking the link and finding it is an Elly Blue “article” that links to another op ed piece which references a study conducted in 1995 in Seattle.

    For reals, that is a “thorough debunking” but you guys are all going to stop on a dime about Koch funding…

    I officially give up on you guys. :-/

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    • slow n' steady December 2, 2010 at 1:41 pm

      Elly also linked to a publicola article that stated “95 percent of Americans, in fact, are car owners” when roughly 7% of Americans are persons under 5 years old according to the Census Bureau –

      Doing some quick math for the article Elly cited, to be correct over 10 percent of Americans under five years old would have to own a car. Obviously Elly chose some bad sources.

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  • Jeff Bernards December 1, 2010 at 8:48 am

    I idea that bikes don’t pay may be true, but the food you eat, the road you drive on, the bus you ride and the airport you fly out of all don’t pay their way either. The missing bike money is but a drop of water in an ocean of deficit spending. There’s a $13 trillion national debt that tells me bikes not paying are the least of our problems.

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  • jim December 1, 2010 at 11:14 am

    If there is a toll then there won’t be a question if bikes don’t pay.

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    • matt picio December 1, 2010 at 12:10 pm

      Bikes won’t pay anyway – a bicycle is an inanimate object. If a motorist bikes, do you intend to charge them twice? (by the way, most cyclists own and use a car) Do you support an exemption for cyclists who own cars and pay gas taxes and/or tolls? What about pedestrians? Do you charge them too? If a pedestrian carries a bicycle over the bridge on a sidewalk – do they get tolled? What if the bike has two flat tires, and it’s being carried from the west side over to Sellwood Cycle?

      Human-powered vehicles put zero wear on the bridge. (they wear, but at rates less than normal weathering – which means it can’t be measured)

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      • slow n' steady December 1, 2010 at 1:06 pm

        Agreed, especially since any justifiable fee for walkers and cyclists would most likely be lower than the cost of collecting the fee. Still “some protesters said the proposed fee isn’t fair because bicycle riders wouldn’t be required to pay it (an idea that has been thoroughly debunked)” does not seem to hold water, and I wish Jonathan would back that assertion up or remove it. The linked to article has no Oregon numbers and therefore should not be used when talking about Oregon projects.

        As to your cyclists owning cars comment: the user fees they pay as part of owning, maintaining and using a vehicle goes to support the vehicle and should not be seen as applicable to other uses. Would the invasive species fee on 10′ or longer watercraft also go towards fixing up trails and day areas at local lakes and rivers? No, it should be used to protect against invasive species just like other user fees should go towards their intended uses.

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      • jim December 1, 2010 at 5:36 pm

        I used the comparison to the washington state ferries above somewhere. Everybody pays, no free rides, even bikes have to pay (even if they have 2 flat tires and your carrying it). This way they collect money from the people who benifit from the large cost of having built a bridge so they don’t have to go way around. Someday the bridge will be paid for and no more tolls. The weight arguement dosen’t work here because maintenance is a different categorie. The advantage to riding a bike on a toll bridge is a lower toll than if you drive. The fair thing is if you live in eugene you aren’t paying for a bridge you don’t use.

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        • resopmok December 2, 2010 at 10:05 am

          The pay to play mentality is ridiculous, and the comparisons of ferries to bridges is like so many things, apples and oranges. Ferries are very expensive to operate and maintain, and despite their outrageous user fees they still also receive support from the state of Washington in order to keep operating, and yet they _still_ don’t even turn a profit. Furthermore, they serve places already reachable by road (except Vashon Island, where residents voted against having a bridge multiple times) and bridge, though travel times around the sound are general a few orders of magnitude larger then by ferry.

          In the case that locally, roads are in fact mostly supported by gas taxes and fees is of little relevance, since the benefit to everybody from those who ride bikes is the sort of payment you are looking for. These benefits include reduced traffic, reduced pollution, better public health, noise control, better safety for pedestrians, and so on. Most new road construction is paid for as capital expenditures which generally includes some manner of matching federal funds (federal income tax which we pay). Bikes don’t damage the roads in a way that require the massive amounts of money needed to maintain them. So my question is, why _should_ bikes pay for the roads. Our payment is by riding our bikes and endangering our health for your benefit everyday that we go out there and suck down the pollution of the thousands of cars.

          And btw, pedestrians don’t pay to maintain their sidewalks, maybe it’s time to require registration to allow people to walk around.

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          • resopmok December 4, 2010 at 9:58 am

            Just one other point, the taxes I do pay go to support a lot of public services I don’t use, but I don’t whine and point at a group of people to say they should pay more and I should pay less. For example, I have no children, but my property taxes pay for our schools. I very rarely use Trimet, but my property taxes go to support that. I didn’t vote for wars in the middle east, but my income taxes pay for their continuation. My house hasn’t burned down, but I pay for the fire department. I feel no guilt in not owning a car and “not paying for the roads.”

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        • Duncan December 5, 2010 at 9:51 am

          the weight of a vehicle directly impacts the damage it does to the road. Therefore vehicle weight is a relevant factor in the cost of a toll. On the ferries it is a major factor, and on the toll roads in the east they charge per axle.

          I am OK with paying a toll as long as it is based on vehicle weight- so my bike and I are say 250lbs= 1$, so a 5000lb suv would be 20$

          sounds great lets do that…

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  • wsbob December 2, 2010 at 11:16 am

    “…So my question is, why _should_ bikes pay for the roads. …” resopmok 2010 at 10:05 am

    If the percentages of people traveling the road by motor vehicle and by bike were reversed (what’s the often cited ratio? 80/20 and 90/10?), there would a good rationale for having people directly pay a fee to travel the roads with their bikes.

    If people traveling the road by riding bikes represented the primary, user group it would logically follow that they should probably pay directly in some way for use the roads, otherwise…the roads might not get built and maintained. Well, at least not to the degree they have been at this point in time (and if bike travel had represented a larger travel mode ratio, that equation would probably have been different than it is today too).

    As things have stood for decades, measures are desperately needed to dissuade people from relying so exclusively on their motor vehicle for every conceivable travel need, and shift some of those needs to foot or bike travel.

    A fee for use of bikes on roads and bridges could be contrived and implemented, but it’s short sighted and counterproductive to do so wherever there exists an excessive and inefficient or unjustified use of motors vehicle for travel.

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    • Opus the Poet December 3, 2010 at 12:00 am

      If the percentages were reversed then nobody would need to build roads for at least another century, with the roads we have now lasting almost indefinitely. We would have so much excess capacity with a 92% bike share that building to reduce congestion would just stop…

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