Splendid Cycles

Hillsboro Mayor pushing massive Westside freeway project

Posted by on November 16th, 2012 at 11:47 am

In a move that can be described as nothing less than audacious, Hillsboro Mayor Jerry Willey is leading an effort to receive a legislative mandate to move forward on studying a mega-project now being calling the “Westside Transportation Corridor.”

The project is a re-hash of the long-debated Westside Bypass that would create a new freeway system that would be an alternative to I-5 and I-205 and would stretch from Wilsonville in the south to Highway 30 at the Columbia River in the north. The freeways would run through significant swaths of key rural areas and farms in Washington and Yamhill counties.

The bypass project has been debated since the late 1980s, when it was vehemently opposed by land-use watchdogs 1000 Friends of Oregon and other groups. They ultimately won that battle, but it appears the fight is set to start again very soon. (Interestingly, a story just last May in The Oregonian wondered whether or not it was actually dead and Willey seemed dismissive of its chances at resurrection.)

Mayor Willey has commissioned a white paper (PDF) on the project detailing why he and his supporters feel the new freeways are necessary. In a nutshell, the project is being pitched as a crucial investment to combat congestion, create jobs, and to improve economic development in the region.

Here’s some of the language from the white paper:

“2010 afternoon peak hour traffic conditions in 2010 reflect high levels of congestion in the key Westside corridors… by 2035, these conditions are expected to become significantly worse… Significant traffic growth and higher levels of congestion are anticipated on the key Westside connections US 26 (Sylvan) and Highway 217. The period peak congestion spreads further into the mid-day hours (much more than it does today).

Many of the suburban and rural highways that link Hillsboro, Cornelius and Forest Grove with Beaverton, Tualatin, Tigard and Wilsonville, will experience heavy congestion. These routes were not designed and built to withstand the growth in urban commuter and freight mobility demand expected in the future. Traffic safety will be an obvious, key concern on these routes.”

Instead of going through the usual land use planning process for a project of this size, Willey is seeking a legislative mandate. He has already drafted bill language he intends to push through the 2013 legislative session that would mandate funding for a study of the project.

The bill reads:

“… directing the Oregon Department of Transportation to undertake and complete a planning and feasibility study of a potential, new transportation corridor to serve the long-term mobility and freight needs of northwest Oregon communities; and, allocating money.

… The Department of Transportation shall undertake a long-term planning and feasibility study of a new, alternative state highway corridor route, and associated, supporting state and regional highway projects, west of Oregon Route 217 running north and south through Washington County and portions of Multnomah and Clackamas Counties and connecting to US Interstate Highway 5 at its north terminus approximately at Highway 30 and at its south terminus near the City of Wilsonville.”

Willey has informed mayors and commissioners from throughout the region about his plans. In a letter dated November 7th, 2012 (PDF), he foresees the challenges of pushing such a controversial project:

“We know full well, that the concept of a Westside travel corridor, that can perform freight and mobility bypass functions similar to the I-205 corridor, will draw vehement (and sometimes harsh) opposition/criticism from some communities and various interest groups within and outside the Portland Region: Its costs and impacts on agriculture activists and natural resources/amenities located within/along such a corridor would be huge.

But, it will have equally strong support from other communities and business groups whose concerns about Westside freight movement delays and travel congestion along Hwy 26, Hwy 217, an I-5/99W travel shed and connecting State and regional arterials are already at a high level. Their concerns would reach crisis level if a steadily increasing potential of day-long traffic clogs and delays along these Westside freight and mobility routes is ever reached as forecasted population and economic growth throughout northwest Oregon over the next 20-30 years become reality.

The long-standing, recurring debate about the merits of the Westside corridor belies a simple truth — in our view: We’ve reached a time in this ongoing debate for the State/ODOT to honestly and empirically evaluate the need and economic, environmental, societal, and quality-of-life merits of eventually providing a Westside Corridor.”

This is a serious proposal that, as Willey rightly points out, will galvanize opposition. Has the political environment changed since this was fought back in the 1980s? It’s interesting to note that freeway projects have been gaining steam lately. Both Metro and PBOT have green-lighted freeway expansions of late. Also consider that the former mayor of Hillsboro, Tom Hughes, is now president of Metro and he has been touting a “jobs, jobs, jobs” and economic development focus from Day One.

This could get interesting. Stay tuned.

Learn more:
— From The Oregonian, May 31st, 2012: Washington County officials and others ponder whether the westside bypass is really dead
— “Transportation Infrastructure and Westside Economy” (A Westside Corridor Concept White Paper (PDF)
— Memo from Hillsboro Mayor Jerry Willey to regional leaders (PDF)

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  • encephalopath November 16, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    Ummm… no.

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  • 9watts November 16, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    What century are these people living in?

    Thanks for keeping tabs on this, Jonathan.

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  • Steve B. November 16, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    How would we pay for the study, let alone the actual freeway? How does this meet our region’s carbon emission reduction goals?

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  • Richard S November 16, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    I’d have no problem with this at all, as long as they put it all underground, and I didn’t have to pay for it.

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  • 9watts November 16, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    “The freeways would run through significant swaths of key rural areas and farms in Washington and Yamhill counties.”

    Food grown close to population centers will become far more valuable than asphalt in the near future. What a disaster this would be. The tide has turned away from freeway expansion in many places. How come Willey & Co. think they/we are different?

    For that matter what studies are they using that purport to show increased driving?

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  • was carless November 16, 2012 at 12:32 pm



    Like the state has money for this one!

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    • 9watts November 16, 2012 at 1:56 pm

      I hope you’re right, but sometimes I’m surprised what stupid things the state does seem to have money for. Rose Quarter freeway expansion?

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  • Trevor November 16, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Ah yes, Washington and Yamhill county, the 2nd and 3rd largest agricultural exporting counties in Oregon (c2010).
    I can’t imagine much money becoming available for a project that would servery hinder our states GDP in favor of freight transport through the state.

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  • davemess November 16, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    As a naive question, what freight is being moved to Western Washington County? Intel?

    As per congestion, shouldn’t the mayor of Hillsboro be trying to encourage more people to live in Hillsboro area that work out there? Wouldn’t that help alleviate congestion? The fact that many people choose to live in Portland, and commute (reverse commute) out to Hillsboro to work speaks volumes.

    So which is it? Do we need better housing in Hillsboro, or just keep more jobs in Portland?

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    • wsbob November 16, 2012 at 2:28 pm

      As you may be aware, in any rural area such as Washington County that has a large inventory of open, undeveloped land, that land is up for grabs if the case can be made strongly enough that more land is need for population and economic growth.

      For some people, the objective is to make that land low enough in price to compete with other communities across the area, state, or country, so that business and industry will choose to come here rather than elsewhere.

      It’s not especially the freight currently being moved that a bypass is sought for, but the growth, both economic and population, that this infrastructure would support.

      Rather than availability of housing resources, people often don’t live near to where they work for a host of familiar reasons: too expensive, not a single family dwelling, etc. It’s interesting to think about how the average Intel employee income may relate to choice of residence location. Here’s an excerpt from a year old Oregonian story:

      “…Intel paid its employees annual salaries, bonuses worth more than $117,000 on average. By comparison, ECONorthwest says that the average annual salary in Oregon was just under $40,000 in 2009. In Washington County, it was $52,200. …” oregonian http://www.oregonlive.com/silicon-forest/index.ssf/2011/10/intel_report_pegs_its_oregon_p.html

      With 100 thou a year, it’s not difficult to imagine people with that salary might choose to get the classic American style single family dwelling located far away from place of employment. If a Westside Bypass existed, they could and may well decide to use it to commute back and forth daily from Hillsboro to points south, instead of to Vancouver.

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  • Andrew K November 16, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    It scares me how many projects are being proposed all in the name of “jobs jobs jobs”. Or rather, it scares me how many projects AREN’T being considered all in the name of “jobs jobs jobs”.

    I’m not sure what a freeway like this would actually serve. People could get to their low wage jobs at the strip mall 40 miles away faster? Umm..yay!?

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  • Champs November 16, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    Some sort of freeway connection to the Mt. Hood Highway is something I might support, but this is a freeway to what end?

    I’m not aware of any need for an express route from Hillsboro to St. Helens through rural Washington County. On the other hand, it’s pretty ridiculous that the directions to Sandy are: 1) get on the interstate 2) drive through miles of East County surface streets.

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  • Joe November 16, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    bummer so they can spin this up from Wilsonville, but can’t create more bike friendly roads outta the place? interesting!

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  • pdxtony November 16, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    There are a few facts to face here. Growth and expansion is a natural product of the population. People have to live somewhere. While a perfect world would say everyone is on a bike that is just simply not reality. The carbon foot print would be reduced by fewer cars idling on the freeway, transit times reduced etc. The real point is that everyone should get on board so that it doesnt get ramrod through when its a problem rather than a preventative solution. Ask for bike lanes and mass transit plans (like I205) etc if the community gets behind the inevitable then its more likely to get what it wants rather than trying to fight it and get nothing as a result of backlash. Plan it RIGHT now.

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    • 9watts November 16, 2012 at 3:23 pm

      “People have to live somewhere.”

      I don’t think anyone is discouraging building housing. And population growth itself isn’t something very many people feel like discussing anymore.

      “While a perfect world would say everyone is on a bike that is just simply not reality.”

      I’d like to get away from these extremes. The growth in driving on which the CRC and probably also this boondoggle rest is no longer evident. In fact it pretty much fizzled ten years ago, and not just here but nationwide. Will this rebound? Some smart people think not. In any case, assumptions about infrastructure expansion that rest on extrapolations of past driving trends need to be examined very closely. Trends toward more people biking are evident, and encouraging this is as many of us here probably would agree a more prudent and fiscally sound approach than building new freeways(!)

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      • wsbob November 17, 2012 at 1:56 pm

        “… The growth in driving on which the CRC and probably also this boondoggle rest is no longer evident. In fact it pretty much fizzled ten years ago, and not just here but nationwide. …” 9watts

        Interesting assumption. Haven’t heard that day to day I-5 rush hour traffic between Portland and Vancouver has subsided.

        I can say for a first hand observed fact, that day to day I-5 rush hour traffic on Hwy 217 from Hwy 26 south for several observable miles seen from the Polsky street overpass, is still jam packed, bumper to bumper, every day during rush hour. At the same time, it’s true that some news reports of late have been reporting that nationwide, some drops in overall vehicle miles traveled(VMT), for example, on the part of young people, seem to be occurring.

        For the Washington County-Yamhill County area, I haven’t read that (VMT) are dropping, though if they are, that may be good. Traffic in the Beaverton area seems to be increasing, and west of here, it’s what I hear to be happening in the Hillsboro area as well.

        I don’t doubt at all that there are plenty of people in positions of authority and power in Hillsboro that would love to see a bypass into planning and development, and will actively work to have it do exactly that, even though the consequences for average working people in terms of loss of area livability may be dire and irrevocable if a bypass should ever be brought about.

        People may not be enthusiastic in talking about population growth. To not do discuss it would be a big mistake. Population growth has to be discussed and planned for. There are different ways to accommodate population growth. In terms of housing and transportation, some are different and more expensive than the conventional single family dwelling, long commute between job and work model, but in the long run: essential and better.

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        • 9watts November 17, 2012 at 2:06 pm

          I’m delighted that we seem to be on the same page wsbob. But when I mentioned population growth my concern was different than yours.
          “Population growth has to be discussed and planned for.”

          My hope is that the point of talking (more than not at all) about population growth is to figure out how to end it, not accommodate it.

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          • wsbob November 18, 2012 at 12:34 am

            “…My hope is that the point of talking (more than not at all) about population growth is to figure out how to end it, not accommodate it. …” 9watts

            And quite a challenge that is. The idea that population growth must be accommodated, seems to be very prevalent. If the planet grew in size with each exponential increase in population, that would effectively provide an infinite supply of livable land. No sign the planet seems to be doing that.

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  • wsbob November 16, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    Gee how I wish guys like Jerry Wiley would just pack up and move to L.A. or Atlanta for that congested sprawl experience they seem to favor reproducing here.

    Washington County’s open and rural lands are beautiful and essential to quality of life for area residents, but they can’t continue to be so if people stand by and allow those lands to be carved up further and further. If we can’t arrive at better ways to create jobs and employment than by chopping up the very environment that provides for our sustenance and sanity, we’re in big trouble.

    Not that I have any clout, but even though I’m a long term Washington County resident, I never have and likely never will support the Westside Bypass idea. That idea is poison to the quality of living most of us are here for.

    Living next to a roaring freeway and adjacent strip mall developments isn’t great. Relatively close by rural lands and country roads offer a relief from this, and also from the suburb environment many people in Beaverton, Aloha, Hillsboro, Tigard and other Tualitin Valley cities live in.

    That’s a big part of what ‘quality of life’ in the county is. I think area residents really will need to consider the likely decline in quality of life that would gradually occur if a Westside Bypass were built.

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    • dmc November 16, 2012 at 4:00 pm

      “Gee how I wish guys like Jerry Wiley would just pack up and move to L.A. or Atlanta for that congested sprawl experience”

      Ahahaha. That is the first thing I thought of when reading the article. Suburb pops up, build a freeway that connects to another freeway at both ends. Rinse and repeat until a clusterf*** web of freeways dominates the landscape.

      Like mold on a piece of bread. If the mold needs more room to grow, give it more bread. *shivers*

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  • Rol November 16, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    Jeez, it’s so silly on so many levels, where do I even start?

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  • Hart Noecker November 16, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    I hope the farmers in the region are prepared for lower crop yields due to increased pollution. I don’t really hope that, but c’mon – what is this guy thinking?

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  • CaptainKarma November 16, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    Freight? Trains!

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  • Chris I November 16, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    Never going to happen. Let’s see:
    1. No money. Gas tax buying power continues to diminish. Raising it is politically unpopular. Basically, the people that would benefit from this project are not willing to pay for it. There is no local tax base, and the state will not pony up the money.
    2. NIMBYism. This project would have to bisect thousands of pieces of property. Big projects like this just don’t happen anymore. “Individual freedom” and “property rights” will win out.
    3. Environmental opposition. This will come both from farmers who see this as destroying their way of life (it would), and urban environmentalists who oppose all road expansion projects.

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  • art fuldodger November 16, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    hey, who needs all that crappy farmland? When i drive by they never seem to be growing anything i’d ever actually want to eat. Plus, the idea that we can “build are way out of it” has been time-tested over the last 50+ years, and the odds say it’s just bound to work eventually.

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    • Spiffy November 16, 2012 at 2:34 pm

      hehe! sarcasm noted…

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  • q`Tzal November 16, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    If Nate Silver’s success has taught us anything it is that you cannot refute a group’s emotional belief that they are right, you must use numbers.
    So to fight this plan we need not project on to our opponents that they are environment pillaging pirates but instead that their grip on reality is equivalent to that of an in-patient dementia sufferer.

    The mere quotation of their own biased “white paper” as proof that automotive demand will continue to rise similar to historic levels is begging to be refuted totally; at the very least it can be shown not to be a certainty and thus not a wise investment of taxpayer dollars regardless of your stance on the environment, private property rights, eminent domain or car culture.

    Attack the fake facts that make up their plan’s foundation and the house of cards will fall.

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  • john November 16, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    I’d be for it 😉 IF they then closed down I-5 and I-405 Freeways. Bring Minnesota Street back !

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  • Joe November 16, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    Its not hard riding outta the burbs if smart bike design is in place, as it stands rather nerve racking riding outside of PDX to burbs if you ask me.
    but I will never give up riding since its the future of transport, when mass gridlock hit on the HWY’s :))) ppl here like to shoot down country roads to avoid traffic.. * crazy * drivers

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  • Todd Boulanger November 16, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    How about a freight only toll road with few interchanges?

    Otherwise it would be a replay of the i205 in Clark and Multnomah counties circa 1980s and on.

    A project like this if it moves forward far enough would likely put a lot of pressure on changes to the highway portion of the CRC project…at a design level and politically.

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    • q`Tzal November 16, 2012 at 8:48 pm

      This trucker approves. It’s the cost of doing business. Plus, any mile not driven around inattentive 4 wheelers is cake.

      What would be better would be to double every freight rail line in the USA starting with main trunk lines.
      All too often we see Amtrak passenger rail sitting on sidings waiting for freight to pass. This is one mere facet of the scope of the problem. Anywhere there is rail traffic you will see miles of cargo sitting, waiting to get by. Every time I get near the Mexican border I will see the same train not move for over 12 hours, sometimes longer.

      If we are going to be serious about reducing road capacity demand and wear we need to get as many long haul truckers (like my self) off the long haul and on to short haul distribution from local rail yards.
      The only way that will happen is if we eliminate the 1800’s era scheduling paradigm/rut that our national rail system is stuck in.

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  • Jim Labbe November 16, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    I wouldn’t want to underestimate the proponents and the potential momentum for this and proposals like it given the political shifts happening at the national level. Advocates of balanced transportation systems need to take it seriously and act swiftly to organize opposition to the legislative.

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  • Carl November 16, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    I’ve got a better idea. How about if we pencil out what it would cost to build this project *and* maintain it for the first 5 years, take maybe 10% of that, and put it towards making the WES and Trimet buses viable transit options in the western suburbs.

    For that kind of money you could run trains every 5-10 minutes, all day long and on weekends and still have millions left over. Seems like that’d do more to reduce traffic pressure on existing roads than a massive highway project that will destroy valuable agricultural land, attract more driving and promote sprawl.

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  • Racer X November 16, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    Carl you are likely right on…I just wish WES had a better operations record. It often seems to be its worst enemy.

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    • Carl November 18, 2012 at 11:51 am

      Exactly right — I have a couple of friends who’ve tried diligently to use WES for their commute, and been frustrated by its infrequency and unreliability. Obviously, commuter rail *can* work (witness Metro North in greater NYC or London’s vast and rapid network) but it has to be funded and run like a real transit option, not a cute side project with only 16 trips a day.

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  • Tom Clocker November 16, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    Thanks,Mayor for your foresight and daring. Let the naysayers sit in traffic.

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    • Fred November 16, 2012 at 10:59 pm

      I don’t sit in traffic. I ride my bike.

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    • Chris I November 18, 2012 at 8:15 am

      Perhaps you should visit many of the cities in these great United States that opted to build more and more roads to solve congestion. They sit in traffic just as much as we do, if not more. If this bypass is built, it will just lead to more sprawling development, and more traffic.

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  • kittens November 16, 2012 at 9:48 pm

    No way in hell. No money, no support. Maybe it is a play to his base?

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  • Daniel R. Miller November 16, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    Wow. What a truly horrible idea.

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  • Peter November 17, 2012 at 8:41 am

    If he tries to go near Forest Park with a freeway I’ll be spending a lot of my time and money fighting him.

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  • dwainedibbly November 17, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    As long as there is no money, it’s DOA.

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  • Barbara November 17, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    Great idea, why don’t we send all suburbian car drivers out west and then transform I-5 into a super bike trail!
    Kidding aside, I’m sure it’s much cheaper and uses much less land to build Max-lines out to the western suburbs. People drive because of lack of alternatives!

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  • Rabia Yeaman November 17, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    My son was involved in an accident on his bike the Morning of Friday, November 16th around 8 am in the morning on 7th near morrison. A vehicle pulled out of a driveway stopping in his path in the bike lane. His helmet saved his life. if you were a witness or have advice please email me at rabiapdx@gmail.com. Thank you!

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    • oregon111 November 13, 2013 at 12:46 am

      he should have stopped when the vehicle pulled out — instead he sped up to hit the car – stupid

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  • Jake November 17, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    why would this be an idea anyone has?
    Like already noted above. Trains for freight. Max and Trimet for commuters. And then more walking/ biking options and some focus on a vibrant city life in Hillsboro.

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    • q`Tzal November 18, 2012 at 5:49 pm

      There is no public transportation for freight and commerce. On some unconscious level I suspect there is a jealousy on the part of businesses that have to pay their way no matter what.

      Since politicians equate votes with jobs and jobs with old fashioned heavy industry (sitting behind a desk isn’t real work because nothing is made) they draw the conclusion that roads filled with freight mean they will get reelected.

      I honestly think this is a bad thing.
      Not that we (the nation) need to pay for most of freight movement but imagine if we had a freight container network that:
      () handled the current standard sizes,
      () moved individual containers free of any need of human supervision like data packets on the net
      () only stopped at major cities and ports
      () and did so at European high speed rail rates.

      Businesses would pay in to a United States Phreight Service (USPS for big freight containers) as a way to defray the USDOT’s general fund expenditures on road resurfacing; it would also be the shipping fee.
      The trucking industry would still exist because some things are just too large and local delivery must still occur.

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  • was carless November 18, 2012 at 2:00 am

    Looks like they will have to flatten a 1-mile wide swath of forest park to build it. They would have to carve a 1,000 foot deep swath through the mountains – Nice! Can’t wait for the city of Portland to give away our largest urban park in North America so that Hillsboro can have a freeway to the ‘Couve. Would make Robert Moses proud!

    Also ditto for Bybee Lake, Kelly Point Park, Hayden Island, and the Port of Portland, ALL of which are in the path of a freeway like this and are owned by competing interests. I’m sure that the Port of Portland wouldn’t mind sacrificing a few hundred (thousand?) acres of its prime Columbia River real estate to ODOT!

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  • wsbob November 18, 2012 at 11:05 am

    An indirectly related but sobering news item reporting a prediction about global car usage by 2035, from Yahoo news:

    “Wrap your head around this. By 2035, the number of vehicles on the road worldwide will double to 1.7 billion. Yes, that’s billion with a “B”. That’s the latest forecast from the International Energy Agency.

    In case you’re keeping score those 1.7 billion vehicles will double the number of vehicles currently on the road around the world. Not surprisingly most of the growth behind that number will happen in China. …”


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    • 9watts November 18, 2012 at 12:42 pm

      These kinds of extrapolations of past trends are worse than useless. The IEA, unfortunately, has not shown itself to be very perspicacious about these sorts of things, admitting just a few years ago via a leaked memo that the US had long successfully pressured the IEA not to talk about Peak Oil in its official communications. The politicization of that particular dimension of energy forecasting at the IEA fortunately ended, but it has quite evidently not put an end to wishful prognoses. Maddening, really.

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      • wsbob November 19, 2012 at 1:08 am

        Around the world, increase in car ownership and use on the road isn’t a past trend: It’s what’s been happening and is happening as we speak.

        The writer of Yahoo’s news article refers to the IEA’s recent work, as a forecast. Many things could of course occur, resulting in a smaller number of cars on the road than the IEA forecasts at present. Dismissing that forecast outright would be very ill advised, far more so than it would be to assume various individuals, groups, factions and so on, would never have much of a chance to realize the construction of a westside bypass.

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      • 9watts November 19, 2012 at 7:30 am

        In the early 1970s, pretty much all the U.S. forecasts of electricity usage predicted a continuation of the doubling-in-8-years growth that had been observed during the 1960s due to unprecedented power plant construction, load building efforts, etc. Not only did this not occur, it was physically and institutionally impossible for exponential growth at that rate to persist decade after decade. I don’t care how prestigious the IEA or anyone else is who makes forecasts like this. Given where we stand today, I will counter-assert that it is nonsense.

        Your second point about the danger of ignoring the Westside Freeway boosters, I agree with. That is a local phenomenon and it is entirely possible to imagine it being pursued/happening, quite apart from the veracity of the yahoo/IEA forecasting flights of fancy (see CRC).

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        • wsbob November 20, 2012 at 10:54 am

          “…I don’t care how prestigious the IEA or anyone else is who makes forecasts like this. Given where we stand today, I will counter-assert that it is nonsense. …” 9watts

          What the Yahoo article reports about the IEA’s forecast, is that the agency predicts that by 2035, there could be a major increase in the number of cars on the road.

          Doesn’t offer any predictions about increase or decrease in number of vehicle miles traveled, or increase or decrease in amount of time people may or may not be spending in their cars on the road.

          There are probably a number of scenarios that could possibly come to bear in the future. One, is that it could turn out to be that many more people will come to own and drive their motor vehicles on the road, traveling fewer miles per person per year than do drivers today. This could produce situations, in which, within available fuel resources, there would be more cars on the road. Shorter trips made, but increases in congestion within the travel radius that people drive.

          Though traditional fuel resources produced from petroleum are diminishing, human beings seem to be highly motivated to seek out and develop new sources of fuel. Published in the O a couple days ago, a scary AP story about a grass/reed, Arundo Donax, renewable fuels industry people are exploring the use of:


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          • Mark Robinowitz December 23, 2014 at 1:44 pm

            Traffic levels peaked in Multnomah and Washington counties in 2002, as did traffic in Oregon.

            The Alaska Pipeline, which powers the motors of Oregon, peaked in 1988 and has declined three fourths since, it’s now just above the “low flow” shutdown level (the real reason for oil trains into Portland).

            Sure, it’s possible to rig up “alternative” fuels to power motors, but all of the alternatives are less energy dense than petroleum (the reason we use oil).

            We will probably have energy rationing before highway expansion proposals are all canceled. I hope to be wrong.


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    • 9watts November 18, 2012 at 1:16 pm

      To clarify, IEA doesn’t do constraints well at all. They can’t bring themselves to utter language that draws any sobering conclusions from the limits they discuss in other parts of their reports.

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      • was carless November 18, 2012 at 6:08 pm

        What are you blabbering about? The Earth has unlimited resources, as obviously espoused by Classical Economics. Just as Reagan!

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  • q`Tzal November 18, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    I started digging through that PDF to find the suggested routing for the Hillsboro to Port-of-Portland segment.
    The map has little details but it seems to follow and existing rail alignment that, north of Hwy26, starts in North Plains, is interrupted only by Plumper Pumpkin Patch & Tree Farm and continues likely through an industrialized ravine just NW of the existing Sauvie Island bridge.

    While it wouldn’t pass through Forest Park Google Earth shows a lot of high value homes and properties. Those that don’t get eminent domained will find that their idyllic hideaway is now the new diesel choked slum. Loss of property taxes, flight of the wealthy a new ghetto – all poison to an elected official.

    Get selfish rich people riled up about this and the plan will die before anyone gets their hopes up.

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    • wsbob November 19, 2012 at 11:35 am

      A westside bypass would create opportunities even if Hwy 26 were its northernmost endpoint. It wouldn’t have to cross over or under the Tualitan Mtns to have constructing one be an objective some people.

      Hwy 217 has been choked up for years…it’s reached capacity, so for some people, a bypass would definitely hold some hope of increasing area motor vehicle travel capacity. While 217 and the general by the compass directional route of the bypass are roughly similar, the bypass would be 10-15 miles west of 217, enabling it to more readily serve the area it would be located amidst, than is 217.

      Westside Bypass proposals aren’t something to laugh off and forget about as if they have no chance of being developed.

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      • GDorn November 21, 2012 at 11:54 pm

        Bypasses don’t create opportunities, they create wastelands.

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  • Redhippie November 19, 2012 at 9:31 am

    Yeah, I was trying to figure out the routing also.

    First the key is a CRC. With out it what is the point.

    Second is the West Hills. Defiantly would need a pretty substantial tunnel to have the appropriate grade. The only pass is Cornelius Pass that is too far north and too steep and curvy.

    So, with out these two multi billion dollar projects, this whole thing will just be a parallel adjunct of 217. Maybe that is all they are really after.

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  • Cheney119 November 19, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    If this project cost $3 billion it would be 20% of Oregon’s $15 billion state budget. Nobody would seriously consider that.

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  • GlowBoy November 19, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    I think the real impetus behind this is to open up an easier route for people to commute from vancouver to westside employers who desperately want a larger worker pool to draw from. Right now there really aren’t very many Vancouverites that work on the westside, because fighting both I-5 AND Hwy 26 traffic is just too much. If you’ve got to get across the river you’re going to mostly look for work at home or in Portland, not Beaverton/Hillsboro.

    But there’s no way will this happen. Too much opposition will develop from too many directions. It’s a completely exurban route that would massively promote sprawl. It won’t reduce congestion because of latent demand and because the westside is challenged for surface street capacity, not freeway capacity. As pointed out by 9watts it takes out precious near-urban-center farmland, which will be a key to Portland’s future economic success. It won’t be cost justifiable because driving in the Portland metro is leveling off, and with $8 gas in our future we can expect it to stay level even as our population will grow. And even a low-budget freeway through this proposed corridor would cost billions.

    If those aren’t enough reasons it will fail, here’s another oh-so-Portland one: although it wouldn’t go through Forest Park, it would still hurt the park by decapitating the critical wildlife corridor connecting it to the Coast Range … that is, unless it either goes through an exceedingly expensive tunnel or over a merely extremely extensive viaduct to allow wildlife passage. So add at least another billion or three to the cost, depending.

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    • GDorn November 21, 2012 at 11:51 pm

      Maybe the westside employers should realize they’re not saving money building offices in areas nobody wants to live near.

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  • 9watts November 20, 2012 at 9:58 am

    FWIW, the West Salem Neighborhood Association met last night (Monday) and voted “decisively for the No Bridge option.” The Statesman Journal should have a report on the meeting and vote today.

    All you Washington Co. bikeportland readers & leaders take note.

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  • ABE Link November 20, 2012 at 7:20 pm

    Well, if we had a population say about the size of Los Angeles… and the growth rate of India or China, then perhaps we could think about it. And if this was the Eisenhower era.. we might be able to get this done.

    But, on the other hand is reality.

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  • oregon111 November 13, 2013 at 12:49 am

    portland will soon be the size of los angeles and america wil be the size of India — we will need more freeways — our freeways are parking lots right now — our immigration will continue as if we have no borders — and most of those immigrants (98%) will want to drive

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  • Anthony December 4, 2015 at 8:18 pm

    Is this project officially dead? Only to be re-hashed 20 years from now when it takes 3 hours to get to/from work?

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