Harvest Century September 22nd

It can happen here: The normalization of highway expansions

Posted by on April 3rd, 2017 at 2:51 pm

Car traffic seen from Burnside Bridge-1

View of Portland via the Burnside Bridge in 2009. This problem needs better management, not more freedom to grow.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

We are living in a time of extremes: climate, politics and public opinion have all ceded the moderate middle in favor of the faraway edges. When it comes to policy debates, ideas that once seemed too extreme to be taken seriously have managed to crawl their way back into the mainstream.

This is the context for a troubling turn in our regional transportation conversation. Where we once prided ourselves on tearing out and opposing mega-highway projects that encouraged single-occupancy driving, we are now drafting plans and crafting laws to make them easier to build. Even organizations and leaders who should know better are supporting this extreme idea.

Back in February, TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane advocated for three freeway expansion projects in the Portland region during a speech in Washington County. After transportation activists turned up at a TriMet board meeting to express their disappointment in his stance, McFarlane accused the media who accurately covered his speech as being nothing more than “fake news” outlets.

Also last month, Oregon State Representative Rich Vial went public with his plans for a massive new highway on the west side he’s dubbed the “Northwest Passage”. Rep. Vial isn’t just sharing a pet project, he’s pushing House Bill 3231, which would give broad powers to local governments to build highways without the state’s support. That bill is being taken seriously enough to have earned a public hearing scheduled for this Wednesday (4/5).

At a panel last month Leah Treat, director of the Portland Bureau of Transportation said she supports the widening of I-5 through the Rose Quarter, as long as the project also builds new bikeways and other upgrades on adjacent surface streets. “There’s a need to address through-put,” she said, acknowledging that adding freeway capacity is the only way to get the “yes” votes needed for a transportation funding package.

On the heels of all this surprising support for freeway expansions, John Charles from the Cascade Policy Institute (a conservative/libertarian think tank) felt the time was right to publish a blog post titled, “Let’s build some highways.” Charles said the “philosophy” of transit investments instead of new highways and progressive land-use policies that discourage sprawl have “failed”. He wants to use HB 3231 to “jump-start the highway-building process”.

“Motorists deserve all the highways they are willing to pay for,” Charles wrote (as if cost — not death, destruction, pollution, social isolation, or negative public health outcomes — is the only consideration).

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Fortunately this sudden normalization of highway building has not gone unnoticed.

Two weeks ago a new coalition came together to demand that any freeway expansions come with equal funding for active transportation.

And on Thursday, 1000 Friends of Oregon encouraged their supporters to show up and testify against HB 3231. Deputy Director Mary Kyle McCurdy sent out an email with this message:

“… Although no route is described in the bill, HB 3231’s chief sponsor described a tollway extending from Woodland, WA, crossing to Highway 30 in Oregon at either Columbia City or Portland just west of the I-5 bridge (so on a new bridge) and then through Forest Park, both intersecting with Highway 26 at Cornelius Pass, then paving a swath across the Tualatin Valley west of the current UGB, Yamhill County, and French Prairie, and joining I-5 somewhere south of Donald in Marion County.

This proposal is a dinosaur road project – it would not have been a solution in the last century, much less in this century. It would be a colossal waste of taxpayer money, sucking every dollar of Oregon’s already shrinking transportation funding capacity and leaving the rest of the state’s roads even more underfunded for repairs and maintenance. It is time to stop dredging up these dinosaurs, and start talking about a transportation system that meets the needs of all Oregonians for the next century – and that mean serious investment in transit, walking, and bicycling.”

While McCurdy admits HB 3231 isn’t like to pass, she doesn’t want to take any chances. “A large turnout is important to ensure that this bill goes no further than a ‘courtesy” hearing,” she wrote.

Oregon’s environment and transportation advocacy groups seem to have learned a major lesson: Four years ago they sat on the sidelines as the Columbia River Crossing freeway expansion project nearly became a reality.

Highway expansion is an extreme idea that leads to incalculable negative externalities. If we are silent as it creeps back into the mainstream, it will become normalized. That’s a risk none of us should be willing to take.

Public Hearing for HB 3231
House Committee on Transportation Policy (link)
Wednesday, April 5th at 8:00 am
You can email testimony to htp.exhibits@oregonlegislature.gov and cc your local representative (find them here)

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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183 Comments
  • Avatar
    Tad April 3, 2017 at 3:08 pm

    “Motorists deserve all the highways they are willing to pay for,”

    EXACTLY this. But as it’s written – they deserve the highways THEY are willing to pay for. This is where motorists need to be willing to create a toll infrastructure as a usage charge to generate funding for such new projects. There are myriad examples in other areas of the country (and world) where new bridges and highways are funded completely by tolls, and not by taxes on EVERYONE.

    That way you factually are funding the road by the people who USE it, and not by people like us who have organized their lives around responsible transit use, bike use and carpooling.

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      Alex Reedin April 3, 2017 at 3:29 pm

      And this isn’t even counting all the land under roads and parking lots which is by and large unpaid-for by motor vehicle users. Yes, the land under parking lots are paid for by the landbuyer/developer – but local land-use regulations generally require large parking lots so that requirement is implicitly a cash transfer from landowners to parking users. And, a good share of the money put up by landowners is eventually paid for by increased prices on the customers of businesses that use the land – i.e., everyone. So, parking mandates end up as a cash transfer from everyone to users of motor vehicles.

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      mh April 3, 2017 at 3:31 pm

      Let’s see what costs they should be paying for: design, construction, and maintenance, obviously; patrol and enforcement; ongoing environmental impacts, and incalculable lost opportunity costs. And then you’d have to toll all major alternative routes, too, which is fine with me.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty April 3, 2017 at 3:35 pm

      Would you support schools be funded by the people who use it, not the people who have no children and (theoretically) derive no benefit from a functional education system?

      I believe that, like education, we all benefit from a functional road system, even if we do not use it for driving purposes.

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        BB April 3, 2017 at 3:49 pm

        Apples to oranges. Schools educate all children, not just those rich enough to buy cars. Highway projects don’t benefit everyone the way education does, regardless of what the freight lobby wants you to think.

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          9watts April 3, 2017 at 4:12 pm

          Thank you for saying that!

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty April 3, 2017 at 4:42 pm

          Most people are “rich” enough to own some sort of car in this country; but even if you are not, you probably still get the benefits of a good road system (yes, freight, but also taking the bus, getting rides with people, receiving emergency services, etc.), without paying for it (you aren’t paying gas tax or title fees, and, if you are that poor, you aren’t paying income tax either).

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            9watts April 3, 2017 at 4:45 pm

            Except the system we have now (cars, highways, cheap oil, etc.) is killing us. You are hung up on the fact that it provides some short term feel-good benefits (for those within), but these pale in comparison to the cumulative, world-wide disbenefits.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty April 3, 2017 at 4:50 pm

              Public transit doesn’t do too much better on the energy-efficiency front, and, given the condition of TriMet’s bus fleet, doesn’t seem to do too well on the air pollution front. We need to electrify our transportation system, and find more low-carbon ways of generating that electricity. Or cull the herd.

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              • Avatar
                9watts April 3, 2017 at 4:51 pm

                Did I ever suggest those were alternatives to the private auto?
                Well I didn’t.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty April 3, 2017 at 4:53 pm

                You did not. De-mechanizing our transportation system is probably not in the cards.

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                9watts April 3, 2017 at 5:04 pm

                Not in the cards…
                I see. You and Ivan Illich are clearly playing with different decks.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty April 3, 2017 at 5:07 pm

                That’s right. I play with the reality-based deck. I would be willing to listen to a realistic plan to get everyone to stop consuming energy. It would need to be more than just “we have to”. Because we don’t.

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              • Avatar
                9watts April 3, 2017 at 5:09 pm

                “Because we don’t.”

                Nature bats last.

                You and I will live to see it.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty April 3, 2017 at 5:11 pm

                You are right. There will be a price to pay, and pay we will.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty April 3, 2017 at 6:56 pm

                The problem with your argument is that you assume people will wake up and completely change their ways to avoid the consequences of environmental degradation, an assertion that has absolutely no evidence to support it.

                In fact, all evidence points in exactly the opposite direction.

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              • Avatar
                9watts April 3, 2017 at 9:46 pm

                “you assume people will wake up and completely change their ways to avoid the consequences of environmental degradation”

                I can see how you might conclude that but in fact it is not exactly what I am saying. The part you’re omitting is leadership, public debate, the opportunity for re-prioritization. At some point what we’re doing will cease to be tenable. The facade is already showing cracks. Many are receptive to doing things differently, but inertia, leadership vacuum, perverse incentives, etc. all work against what we know on some level needs to happen. There was a time when slavery seemed impossible to dislodge. And then it was brought down anyway. Most people here on bikeportland are on record saying a gas tax was a political impossibility in Portland only a few short years ago. And then we passed one. Or that the CRC juggernaut.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty April 3, 2017 at 10:20 pm

                I’m not omitting leadership, I’m just seeing very little of it. In fact, at the national level and at the state level (in many places moreso than Oregon), leadership and re-prioritization are accelerating in exactly the opposite direction.

                Things will not become untenable until it is too late to reverse course. A 10c gas tax is not exactly a huge win; in fact, it is laughably, pitifully small.

                So I still see no signs that the tide is turning, except in ways that serve our short-term interests (like Texas investing in wind energy).

                I have exactly zero hope that the world will wake up and make the radical changes you prescribe. You are more optimistic than I, and I hope you’re right… but the evidence strongly suggests you aren’t.

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              • Avatar
                Middle of the Road Guy April 4, 2017 at 8:26 am

                Let’s get back to horse and buggies. At least horses did not poop everywhere and cause public health concerns. Ah, things were so much easier in the Halcyon Days of Yesteryear!

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        • Avatar
          Kyle Banerjee April 3, 2017 at 4:53 pm

          BB
          Apples to oranges. Schools educate all children, not just those rich enough to buy cars. Highway projects don’t benefit everyone the way education does, regardless of what the freight lobby wants you to think.

          So the food, clothing, and virtually every product and service you depend on does not get to you via motorized transport? And those who provide those products/services don’t also depend on motorized transport? And so on?

          Right.

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          • Avatar
            Jim April 3, 2017 at 9:24 pm

            We have oversupply of food, clothing, virtually everything. It would be a good thing if less of these products could get to us. And don’t give me the “jobs” argument. We could double wages and halve hours worked. The whole system is a construct. There is no economic need for the current level of goods.

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              9watts April 3, 2017 at 9:40 pm

              Another rarely heard but important point of view. Thank you.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty April 3, 2017 at 9:41 pm

              How do you allow the trucks carrying “needed” items to pass, but not those carrying “oversupply”? No offence, but I don’t trust you to tell me what I “need”.

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                Middle of the Road Guy April 4, 2017 at 8:27 am

                My sentiment exactly. Perhaps the state should tell us how to dress. Maybe like North Koreans?

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                Kyle Banerjee April 4, 2017 at 9:22 am

                That would simplify food choices and hairstyles too. Sounds like heaven on earth.

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                KTaylor April 4, 2017 at 2:10 pm

                The amount of choice we have and the degree of laziness and waste it spawns is actually getting kind of creepy. For example, those meal services where they ship you a refrigerated box of measured portions of foods that you can cook (Blue Apron, etc.) – just thinking about the environmental tab for that service itches me. It sounds handy, sure, but a box! With chemicals in it to keep your food cold – every week! Little plastic packages for your teaspoon of cayenne and your sprig of fresh thyme – all just to avoid having to google a recipe and go to the store.

                In general, people have things shipped way more often than they used to even just a few years ago. I’d be curious to know how much freight traffic that has added to our roads and skies and how much more weight all that flying, roadtripping, unnecessary crap has given the ‘need’ to prioritize more and more trucks on our roads and bigger and bigger cargo ships. Ports all over the world are having to spend billions of dollars expanding to handle these bloated behemoths. Past a certain ridiculous point we have now passed, humans no longer have the capacity to appreciate or benefit from choice. It takes up too much space in your head. It becomes a burden.

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                Jim April 4, 2017 at 3:07 pm

                I’m not telling you what you “need”. I have no idea what you “need”. There are all kinds of mechanisms that could be used here – even supposedly-free markets like now. Just create a pricing structure that reflects reality (meaning air and food and water and materials, not the “reality” of subsidized oil and subsidized rich people). Or use a mechanism using community input to decide upon social goals. Obviously nobody here has lived through war or real scarcity or other situations that highlight the fragile and arbitrary nature of our money/goods economy. You may argue that none of this is likely, but to suggest there are not alternatives is amazingly narrow sighted.

                And to the person bringing in North Korea – I think this qualifies for Godwin’s law, and I claim my $5.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty April 4, 2017 at 3:10 pm

                You mean we should internalize the externalities? If so, I agree wholeheartedly.

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              Kyle Banerjee April 4, 2017 at 6:02 am

              So all that needs to happen is people need to decide they don’t need the stuff they think they need, we only produce practical goods, and everyone works way less (presumably a lot more people don’t work at all)?

              You realize in such an idyllic world, bike blogs like this one wouldn’t exist?

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              • Avatar
                Jim April 4, 2017 at 3:20 pm

                I do indeed realize that. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to live in a world with no need to cover senseless road deaths, short-sighted infrastructure, etc.?

                I am not quite sure of the point you are trying to make.

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          • Avatar
            Chris I April 4, 2017 at 8:46 am

            The line of reasoning could be used to defend anything in society. Hey, don’t complain about that coal power plant they just build upwind from your house. After all, you use electricity. What’s that? You are concerned about oil trains rolling by your house? You can’t be critical; after all, you use oil too. The airport wants to expand and demolish your home? Well guess what, you’ve used airplanes at some point, so no complaining from you.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty April 4, 2017 at 11:26 am

              Those are all examples of NIMBY. I believe NIMBYism isn’t always a bad thing.

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        • Avatar
          Middle of the Road Guy April 4, 2017 at 8:24 am

          Except they don’t educate all children. People opt to send their kids to private schools for what they consider higher quality or more targeted education (at additional expense), or they home school. It’s a choice, for sure, just like taking transit or biking is a choice.

          Now, we can argue that in order to use roads one is required to own a car (or borrow/rent one)…but the statement that
          public schools teach all children is not factually correct.

          And We can also argue that even if you do not use roads and highways that you also benefit. How do your goods arrive – not by bike.

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            Chris I April 4, 2017 at 9:43 am

            And 100 years ago they arrived mostly by rail, horse, walking, etc. In 100 years they will mostly arrive by… ? Should the government be subsidizing one mode of travel over another, just because it is currently the most popular? That sounds like a good way to kill innovation.

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        • Avatar
          Mike April 4, 2017 at 11:25 am

          You can look at it another way. If the highways get so congested that the force people onto the side roads looking for a quicker way to travel it will negatively impact more non car users. It doesn’t take a person to be “rich” to buy a car.

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      • Avatar
        Alex Reedin April 3, 2017 at 3:55 pm

        I think the public education system is the lowest-cost, highest-benefit, fairest way of guaranteeing that everyone has access to a reasonably good education, which I see as a basic human right.

        I also see being allowed to get around as long as you don’t unduly harm others in doing so as a basic human right. However, I don’t think a road system built to meet the needs of motor vehicle use well, and other transport activities badly, and funded partially by the gas tax, but also in good measure by everyone through free road and parking lot land, general fund dollars to transportation, etc, is the lowest-cost, highest-benefit, fairest way of getting everyone the ability to get around to the appropriate extent. I think funding the transportation system through a high gas tax, with a hefty kickback for low-income folks, is a lot closer to the lowest-cost, highest-benefit, fairest way. Driving has a ton of negative externalities and other modes have much less, so it makes sense to have more user fees for driving and less for the other modes.

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    Beth H April 3, 2017 at 3:23 pm

    McFarlane’s support for highway expansion is either naive, stupid, or or it just smells. After all, most Trimet bus routes don’t use freeways very much or at all. So why would the head of a transit agency want highway expansion unless he’s planning far ahead for a post-transit career shift?

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      J_R April 3, 2017 at 8:47 pm

      There are some people in the metro area for whom neither public transit nor walking or bicycling is a realistic alternative. Think about those providing services physically in all parts of the community; those for whom the only affordable housing is far away; even families who have workers who have work in different parts of the metro area. The list goes on and on.

      I was one of the always-travel-by-bike advocates in my younger years. Life becomes more complex and travel needs change. Add children. My employer changes my work location. Spouse is laid off and takes a job in a more distant location. Increasing calls on me to transport an aging parent. I’m lots more accepting now of the need to use an automobile.

      McFarlane’s support for freeway expansion may simply be to allow TriMet to operate better on the surface streets and improve the transit service for customers for whom transit service is viable.

      I’ve certainly noticed that as freeways become congested, motorists choose arterials and collector streets. As those become congested, they seek out local neighborhood streets. I’d rather not have speeding, anxious motorists seeking out my neighborhood streets as a short-cut thus putting me and my kids at risk. I’m willing to support some modest highway expansion to keep that from happening so much.

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        rachel b April 3, 2017 at 9:56 pm

        But… doesn’t history show that it’ll all end up back at people cutting through on neighborhood streets anyway? I mean, we’re a very popular city with people apparently not yet sick of us, dammit. They’re pouring in.

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        Nick Falbo April 4, 2017 at 7:37 am

        More highway capacity brings more traffic into our city street network, not less. Say our freeway carries 100,000 vehicles per day, and we’re at capacity. If we widen the freeway to carry 150,000 vehicles per day, we may see temporary congestion relief, but it won’t last long. And once demand catches up, we’ll now have 50,000 more vehicles entering our city and using our city streets.

        Freeway congestion acts as a ramp-meter for the rest of the city. Rather than increasing capacity through freeway expansion, we should be increasing capacity through transit and bicycling and walkable land use. Giving people viable alternatives will free up freeway space for those people who really do need to drive.

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          Beeblebrox April 4, 2017 at 9:00 am

          Yup. In other words, you get what you build for. If you want more cars in your city, build more freeways. If you want more people riding transit, increase transit frequency and expand the network. If you want more people to ride bikes, build better bike infrastructure. People are remarkably responsive to their environment, especially on the margin. Look at San Francisco, where they tore down two freeway stubs and saw the traffic essentially “disappear” via mode shift, time shift, and dispersion into the grid of surface streets.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty April 4, 2017 at 11:31 am

            >>> dispersion into the grid of surface streets <<<

            AKA cut-through traffic, exactly what people everywhere want less of.

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              Dan A April 4, 2017 at 3:09 pm

              My neighborhood is surrounded by faster roads that provide a shorter travel time than cutting through the neighborhood, but people do it anyway because they know they can speed through and make up the difference.

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          wsbob April 4, 2017 at 9:07 am

          “…Giving people viable alternatives will free up freeway space for those people who really do need to drive.” falbo

          Probably not. Freeway space is at capacity, and likely will stay that way, unless the population were to dramatically decrease.

          Still, it is a good idea to spend much more serious thought than has occurred so far, into designing and investing in much better travel routes and supporting infrastructure for walking and biking; point to point pedestrian esplanades, cycle tracks, rather than simply adding modest bike lanes to existing roads and streets, and providing amenities mainly for recreational use.

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            Nick Falbo April 5, 2017 at 7:37 am

            I’m not suggesting that providing alternatives will decrease congestion or the number of cars on the road, rather, that people will be able to make better choices about which mode for which trip.

            We often hear people say “I need to drive for my job, daycare, etc.” … I don’t disagree. In fact, I want to make sure that everyone who doesn’t need to drive has an option, so that everyone who does need to drive, can.

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        Chris I April 4, 2017 at 8:48 am

        The only way to prevent neighborhood cut-through traffic is with diversion practices. Expanding the highways will not make things better. The CRC would have actually increased cut-through traffic in north Portland, because it would have shifted the bottleneck south. And where do you expand to reduce cut-through traffic in SE Portland? I-84 cannot be expanded without spending billions. Do you want to build the Mt. Hood freeway?

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          J_R April 4, 2017 at 9:22 am

          The CRC would not have shifted the bottleneck south. There are two bottlenecks: the bridge and the Rose Quarter. The CRC would have corrected one while simultaneously greatly improving transit access, bicycle access and pedestrian access across the river from what is now dismal for all three modes.

          If you had checked the traffic volumes on the CRC website, you would have seen that more than 1/4 of the southbound traffic crossing the river during the AM peak hours actually exited I-5 at one of the first three exits: Hayden Island, Marine Drive, or Interstate. Yet, as one continued south, the I-5 AM peak volumes continued to increase. That’s because traffic from north Portland (not Vancouver) was entering I-5 at Columbia, Lombard, Rosa Parks and Going. Too bad that doesn’t fit with the common narrative that Washingtonians are to blame.

          We’ll eventually see the Interstate Bridge replaced and you can bet that it will be an “auto bridge” with little done to accommodate transit, bicyclists, or pedestrians. Time will tell.

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            Chris I April 4, 2017 at 9:48 am

            You just made my point for me. I said it would shift south, which is correct. With the Rose Quarter as the new bottleneck, I-5 would back up through North Portland and an increasing number of Washington drivers would divert via those first exits and take local streets. Moreover, the increased overall capacity would drive further housing growth in Clark County, which would increase overall total traffic in North Portland.

            And, yes, something will need to be done about the bridges. But this is not the solution our region should be striving for:
            http://www.sightline.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/8590154093_ea7893e412.jpg

            That is a monstrosity, and has no place in our region.

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              J_R April 5, 2017 at 8:57 am

              Actually, there is lots of employment in the industrial zone along the south side of the Columbia River in north Portland. It’s known as the Columbia Corridor Industrial Area. Most of the Vancouver motorists exiting I-5 southbound during the AM peak hour are heading to these areas; very few are likely using local streets to get to downtown Portland. Living in Vancouver actually puts some of these Columbia Corridor employees closer to their work than if they lived in Portland. Check the employment data on Metro’s website.

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                Chris I April 5, 2017 at 12:24 pm

                I work in the Columbia Corridor, and many of my coworkers live north of the river. Many of them use Airport Way and Marine drive. I guess my point is that you can’t plop down a $4 billion dollar bridge expansion and not expect traffic patterns to shift. I do think it would help in the afternoons.

                Personally, I would like to see them re-purpose the existing spans for local access to Hayden Island from Vancouver on one of the bridges, and LRT/BRT on the other span. A new, simple, single deck bridge with 4 lanes in each direction (one HOV in each direction) would be built just upstream from the existing northbound span. The Hayden Island exists would be removed, and another simple local access/transit/bike/ped bridge would connect Hayden Island to Marine drive to the south. This would likely be half the cost of what had been proposed for the CRC. It would still require tolls, but it wouldn’t bankrupt our state DOT for years.

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  • Hello, Kitty
    Hello, Kitty April 3, 2017 at 3:31 pm

    Can it be that there are no worthy highway projects?

    I realize that 9watts will answer “yes!”, but I am less sure. I am totally opposed to wholesale highway expansion, and even more so for new highway construction, but fixing bottlenecks and other localized improvements may be worthwhile.

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      Alex Reedin April 3, 2017 at 3:40 pm

      Definitions:
      Worthy – having benefits that exceed the costs
      Worthiest – in a ranked list, having the benefits that MOST exceed the costs on a ratio basis.

      Under the above definitions, I suspect that there are some highway projects that are worthy. But, given our historic high investment in freeways and highways and very low investment in walk/bike and transit, I suspect that the ranked list of the worthiest projects within the Portland metro area from a cost-benefit perspective is almost all walk/bike and transit. The freeway/highway projects with the highest benefit/cost ratio have generally already been built. Few of the walk/bike and transit projects with the highest benefit/cost ratio have.

      Also, I think that Oregonians’ allergy to taxes (and the giant sucking sound that is the Federal military-industrial complex) means we will never feasibly have the state and local funds to construct all the transportation projects with a benefit/cost ratio greater than one. We have limited funds, and in order to make Oregon as healthy, wealthy, and happy as it can be, we should choose the worthiest ones – the ones with the very highest benefit/cost ratios. Which, in my best guess, are almost all bike, walk, and transit projects.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty April 3, 2017 at 4:45 pm

        I too like ranked lists, but they have problems. For example, if we ranked bike projects by the greatest benefit to the most users, we’d be building the majority of the projects in the inner city, and we’ll hear more cries of geographic discrimination.

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          Alex Reedin April 3, 2017 at 4:54 pm

          True – equity should be on the benefits list, and inequity on the costs list

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty April 3, 2017 at 5:00 pm

            Should we support less affluent people driving to work by car over projects that primarily benefit cyclists in the richer parts of the city?

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              9watts April 3, 2017 at 5:05 pm

              That is an absurd dichotomy, but it illuminates some more interesting ways to problematize our situation, how to move forward.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty April 3, 2017 at 5:10 pm

                It sets up one set of progressive values against another. It is an interesting question, I think.

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                9watts April 3, 2017 at 5:15 pm

                progressive?

                I think myopic would be more apt. Why pretend that our best shot is to pit two marginalized groups against each other, with putative solutions cancelling each other, suggesting it is a zero sum?

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty April 3, 2017 at 5:18 pm

                I’m suggesting no such thing.

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                9watts April 3, 2017 at 5:22 pm

                I guess I misunderstood.
                You said should we do X or Y, where X was poor people in cars and Y was wealthier cyclists. The ‘or’ in the middle of your sentence (reproduced below for analytic purposes) suggests to me at least that you not only think we much choose, but that there are the only or most obvious choices.

                Should we support less affluent people driving to work by car over projects that primarily benefit cyclists in the richer parts of the city?

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty April 3, 2017 at 5:24 pm

                I don’t necessarily know that we need to do either, or choose, or anything else. It was just an illustration to show how equity and progressive transportation can be at odds.

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              Alex Reedin April 3, 2017 at 5:13 pm

              If we’re talking letting 1000 low-income folks drop their trip time from an hour to half an hour, and it doesn’t induce anyone else to drive more, vs. moving 100 more-affluent folks to travel 2.5 miles by bike by making their route more comfortable, I am pretty sure the balance of benefits (including equity) is with the low-income folks and their driving assuming my value system. Projects with lower/higher benefits than those… well, that’s what benefit/cost analysis is for, right?

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              Justin M April 3, 2017 at 6:00 pm

              What we need to do is take a break from spending money on Clinton streets and start spending it in ways that will attract less affluent people to cycling. Cars are such a huge economic drain on their owners. I am always waiting to point out how these projects tend to favor the better-off. I’d love to see us spend some money helping bring people in from east of 82nd and the suburbs. If it would benefit people these people more than highway widening, i’d love to see it done.

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                9watts April 3, 2017 at 6:07 pm

                Sure, but, again, why are we suggesting that it can only be Clinton *or* somewhere East? We could have buy bikes and helmets and locks for every man, woman, and child if we skipped this freeway nonsense.

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                Kyle Banerjee April 3, 2017 at 6:35 pm

                You think people are driving cars because they’re unable to afford bikes, helmets, and locks?

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                9watts April 3, 2017 at 6:42 pm

                I do not think that nor did I say that.

                My point was that where we as a society choose to put our money, how we prioritize sends many messages. If we keep pouring it into highways that sends the message of what we think is most important. If we put it into bikes and helmets and locks, or skateboards for everyone that would send a different message. There are thousands of ways to invest in improved transportation (or access if you prefer). Doing the same old, same old, and expecting a different result is at this stage insane, never mind that it won’t solve the problem some pencilnecks seem to think it will or should.

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                Kyle Banerjee April 4, 2017 at 5:43 am

                Money does show priorities, but all the investment in the world can’t change reality.

                Active transit is only viable for people going shorter distances who don’t need to carry much. Even in an ideal world, not many people will ride more than a few miles. Most people who aren’t subsistence farmers rely on a massive mechanized transport for their needs to be met for them to get around only by active transport. No amount of prioritization will change that.

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                El Biciclero April 4, 2017 at 12:10 pm

                “Money does show priorities, but all the investment in the world can’t change reality.”

                It sure worked to give us the car-centered system we have today. One need only invest in the right politicians. The original “reality” was that most people couldn’t afford a car; now buying a car is considered a cover charge for entry into “productive” society.

                “Active transit is only viable for people going shorter distances who don’t need to carry much. Even in an ideal world, not many people will ride more than a few miles.”

                How many of those kinds of trips do you suppose are made by car every day? Even if only half of trips less than 3 miles were switched to walking or bicycling, don’t you think that would impact “reality” on the road?

                “Most people who aren’t subsistence farmers rely on a massive mechanized transport for their needs to be met for them to get around only by active transport. No amount of prioritization will change that.”

                How about de-prioritization and disinvestment? What if we quit building pipelines and going to war and providing tax breaks to keep oil cheap? What would folks do if the cost of fueling and operating their massive mechanized transport were to triple? Quadruple?

                Even just switching to electric vehicles could have an effect on reality, due to worries about range and the time it takes to re-charge. In an electric, one can’t just wantonly flit about on trivial “errands” and then stop for a 5-minute break at the gas station; I imagine that would make me more judicious in planning my car trips.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty April 4, 2017 at 12:27 pm

                The fact that we have a car-dominated transportation system, unfortunate as it is, is not the result of an organized conspiracy.

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                9watts April 4, 2017 at 12:31 pm

                all these binaries…

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      9watts April 3, 2017 at 4:04 pm

      I heard my name.

      Here!

      Thanks Jonathan for this article. Very important subject, excellently presented.

      One thing that merely got a passing mention in your piece is climate change. If we (and we are) on the hook to leave all the remaining fossil fuels in the ground, then the last thing we should be considering doing is building more highways. These people advocating this are the definition of myopic.

      Let’s call them out on it. And not just on who pays for it as you rightly noted.

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      B. Carfree April 3, 2017 at 6:24 pm

      If we attempt to fix bottlenecks by building ever more lanes and highways, we are doomed to failure. Induced demand will gobble up those expensive lanes as fast as they are built. We’re going to have to eventually accept this fact, either before we have destroyed everything with miles of spaghetti overpasses or after. It makes more sense to accept up front, imo.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty April 3, 2017 at 6:27 pm

        How do you know that induced demand will affect this project? For that to be the case, there needs to be a number of people who want to travel but do not do so because of this bottleneck. Maybe a sufficient number of such people exist, maybe they don’t.

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        rachel b April 3, 2017 at 9:44 pm

        Not sure if HK’s being facetious. Are there any examples of freeway expansion not resulting in more cars and eventual clog again? Especially in wildly popular areas with strong immigration projected for the foreseeable future?

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty April 3, 2017 at 10:13 pm

          I wasn’t… I totally get the economic reasoning behind induced demand, but there has to be latent demand for it to occur, and it is not clear this will always be the case for a small project.

          I also get the idea that fixing one bottleneck just exposes another somewhere else.

          Not all highway work induces demand. That demand has to come from somewhere. Invoking “induced demand” as a blanket objection to any project that touches a highway is simplistic, and, I think, not helpful without at least some additional analysis.

          We are discussing a very complex issue, and anyone who offers a simple answer is almost certainly wrong.

          In a growing city, there will always be more cars, whether we add capacity or not. People who want to invite more in-migration are inherently at odds with reducing auto use. Though I often disagree with his prescriptions, at least 9watts is internally consistent on this point (as are you).

          Many here are not.

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            9watts April 3, 2017 at 10:36 pm

            “Not all highway work induces demand. That demand has to come from somewhere. Invoking ‘induced demand’ as a blanket objection to any project that touches a highway is simplistic, and, I think, not helpful without at least some additional analysis.”

            Let me try this for some off-the-cuff analysis:

            Cars (and the fossil fuels that power them) are a magic trick. They let us accomplish the once unthinkable by commanding an army of energy slaves to do the work we previously had to accomplish ourselves with the calories we ingested, or fed to our animals. This trick is tremendously powerful. It exudes an irresistible attraction. Any transportation task henceforth presents us with a highly lopsided ‘choice’ when it comes to physical effort.
            Interleaved with this individual view of things are the collective repercussions of the societal decisions that have consistently favored the car over other modes. Now the ‘choice’ becomes even less of a choice since the circumstances governing the feasibility of the two basic options (car, other) are themselves lopsided.
            Now back to the question of induced demand and what the latent demand that could be induced through a highway project might be.
            Thus, both from an energy density perspective and an infrastructure/subsidy perspective we are faced with a highly skewed ‘choice:’ If society continues to remove bottlenecks that manifest solely as such to (not to mention being generated by) people in cars, I see this as an unambiguous invitation (like raising the speed limit) to keep doing it, to signal that what matters is driver convenience, so conceived. I see this as operating at multiple levels, not the least of which is a public approval of Single Occupant Vehicledom.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty April 3, 2017 at 10:48 pm

              The opposite signal (increased congestion) is not working either, as the highways keep getting worse.

              By fixing the Rose Quarter, you are saying more people will drive than would do so otherwise. Perhaps. But I need more analysis before I accept that assertion uncritically.

              If you said building a new highway to Beaverton would generate new demand, I’d be more inclined to agree because I can more clearly see where the additional drivers might come from than in the Rose Quarter example.

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                9watts April 3, 2017 at 10:50 pm

                Doesn’t Waze (which I hear about but have never myself experienced) provide a case in point of what we’re talking about?

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty April 3, 2017 at 10:53 pm

                It directs people to faster routes; it does not, as far as I know, get people out on the roads who would otherwise be staying home. So no, I don’t think so.

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                9watts April 3, 2017 at 10:58 pm

                But traffic (good, bad, awful) is what people talk about, what the commercial radio chooses to emphasize all over the place. You really don’t think that a general sense of ‘traffic is bad; traffic got better; I found this route…’ is a factor in how people choose to commute? Bankerman just essentially said this upthread: bus too slow; so of course I drive instead.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty April 3, 2017 at 11:35 pm

                The bus is slow because of the way the system is designed, and people drive because it’s significantly faster. Waze is just a coping mechanism.

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                9watts April 4, 2017 at 9:13 pm

                “Waze is just a coping mechanism.”

                Can you explain why you consistently ignore the role that feedback plays/can play in all of these dynamics?

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty April 4, 2017 at 10:36 pm

                I just don’t think Waze is encouraging erstwhile tranisteers and cyclists to drive. I think it’s primary role is to increase the number of drivers short-cutting through neighborhoods rather than staying on arterials.

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                9watts April 4, 2017 at 10:38 pm

                I’m sure the folks who came up with the smartphone didn’t think it would be blamed for helping to dissuade Millennials from getting their licenses as early or at the rates previous generations did either.

                To assert that these technologies only do exactly what their designers intended is, well, silly.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty April 4, 2017 at 10:43 pm

                I don’t assert that — at all. I’m just looking at the same evidence you are (i.e. none) and drawing a different conclusion. Why do you believe that Waze is encouraging more people to drive? There may be a small number on the margin, but not enough to make a difference.

                It just doesn’t seem plausible that there are that many people teetering on the knife’s edge of whether to drive or not, such that Waze will push them in a different direction than they would otherwise go.

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        wsbob April 3, 2017 at 11:09 pm

        “If we attempt to fix bottlenecks by building ever more lanes and highways, we are doomed to failure. Induced demand will gobble up those expensive lanes as fast as they are built. …” b carfree

        Fixing bottlenecks, is not at all widening an entire freeway’s width by adding additional lanes to miles of its length, at least it isn’t for the widening projects being considered with this latest expansion budget. These projects won’t be able to double, triple, etc, the number of motor vehicles able to use the freeways during peak use hours.

        All they’ll be able to do, is improve flow somewhat. Instead of moving along at five to ten miles and hour, maybe traffic will be able to flow at twenty to thirty. Drive time hours aren’t that long though. What?…a couple hours in the morning and a couple in the late afternoon. The projects will help some, to ease the stress and agitation of people stuck in traffic, but not much more I don’t think.

        The freeways can hold only so many vehicles at one time, bumper to bumper. The major highways during peak use hours, have already for years, been at capacity in Portland and Beaverton. In terms of affecting congestion on these roads, it really doesn’t matter how many more people get personal motor vehicle, because there’s likely never going to be room for them in addition to those already in use on these roads.

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      Middle of the Road Guy April 4, 2017 at 8:33 am

      Agreed. Saying “no” to everything is easy and makes it for one to think they are morally superior in their thought. However, everything needs to be examined and analyzed on its own merits.

      An expansion in a bottleneck area may allow for other parts of the network to work more optimally (it also might not). But to discount any change simply because one considers it morally wrong is an intellectually dishonest approach.

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    Champs April 3, 2017 at 4:06 pm

    I don’t understand the Cascade Policy Institute’s post.

    Oregon isn’t building new highways (it’s adding capacity to its *existing* network), transit is in decline (density makes active transport more viable for ALL commute modes). It all adds up to an incoherent solution: a district that uses eminent domain to level neighborhoods on behalf of for-profit highway trusts.

    I could respect this as an ideological matter, but crony capitalism is not an ideology, and this is not libertarianism.

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      9watts April 3, 2017 at 4:08 pm

      John Charles is all over the map. He used to be the chief of the Oregon Environmental Council. Ha.

      Lately he can reliably be counted on to espouse anything that trashes land use and transportation planning ideas.

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    Mike Quigley April 3, 2017 at 4:10 pm

    One big problem. MONEY! The state’s broke. And, despite Trump’s talk, there is no walk, and there are no plans let alone funds for walk.

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      9watts April 3, 2017 at 4:13 pm

      walk? seems a dubious mixed metaphor in a conversation about highway spending.

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      David Hampsten April 4, 2017 at 3:56 pm

      People responding to this blog don’t like to talk about money. They prefer to wax about useless philosophies and liberal conspiracies instead.

      But you are right. By spending this last huge gob of money before it defaults like Illinois or Puerto Rico, Oregon will be left with thousands of miles of crumbling road and sidewalk infrastructure with no money to fix it. But look on the bright side, by having pavement everywhere that is broken, you’ll finally get car traffic to slow down to bicycle speeds!

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    Roland Klasen April 3, 2017 at 4:21 pm

    We need to improve every form of human mobility, including freeway expansion. Automobile drivers might be the devil to some people on this forum, but it’s still by far the quickest and most reliable mode of transportation for the vast majority of people. We should all absolutely live close to work and school, take public transportation, bike, walk, work from home, etc. as much as possible but there’s this thing called “life” that can throw a curve ball at you and limit your options to driving.

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      9watts April 3, 2017 at 4:23 pm

      No Can Do.

      As Amory Lovins put it so well: “A society cannot aspire to be both conspicuously consumptive and elegantly frugal. The hard and soft paths are culturally and institutionally antagonistic, and furthermore, compete for the same limited resources.” The Energy Controversy: Soft Path Questions & Answers p. 5

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        Middle of the Road Guy April 4, 2017 at 8:35 am

        So who says Mr. Lovins is correct? it might be what you want to hear because it supports your view, but that does not make it true. Granted, I am only reacting to your post. If there is more context, I could be persuaded.

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          9watts April 4, 2017 at 11:00 am

          Do you disagree with him? If so how about articulating your disagreement instead of doing this hypothetical thing you’re so fond of?

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        wsbob April 4, 2017 at 9:17 am

        “A society cannot aspire to be both conspicuously consumptive and elegantly frugal. The hard and soft paths are culturally and institutionally antagonistic, and furthermore, compete for the same limited resources.” lovins

        Those prosaic words don’t seem to have much to do with transportation issues being dealt with in the Willamette Valley, or any of the cities in it specifically. This region has a population with travel needs that people living here have to find ways to provide for. As it’s turned out, highways and freeways have been the best means to provide for those travel needs, for the most part, and limited resources have been used accordingly.

        We may have arrived at a maximum capacity for freeway expansion in the region. Not certainly, but possibly. If it turns out that more people than now, come to feel this to be the case, more thought may be turned to alternatives.

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          9watts April 4, 2017 at 11:02 am

          ” travel needs”

          Except that these are not fixed, notwithstanding your commitment to characterizing them that way. Travel needs, fuel prices,transportation priorities, land use policies, etc. are all interrelated. If we widen a freeway this sends myriad signals to everyone who commutes, might commute, lives far from their job, is considering moving further from/closer to their job, etc. Nothing is fixed when you look at it this way, and to postulate fixed travel needs as a reason *we must do X or else* fails to account for this, and consequently isn’t going to deliver the goods.

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      Jim April 3, 2017 at 9:31 pm

      Private automobile travel is neither quick nor reliable if seen from a society and generational scope. It only seems that way on a selfish and short-sighted level. The more we fall for that ruse now, the higher the price will be in the future.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty April 3, 2017 at 9:49 pm

        At the “society scope”, automobile travel is the answer, even if you (and I) don’t like it. Society has decided not to invest in alternatives. It is the only form of transport for a broad segment of society.

        At the “generational scope”, we have, for many generations, reinforced and entrenched that decision. I see signs that that may be finally changing, but it is too early to tell. An awful lot of people in their 20s who don’t strictly “need” a car have one, so I’m not even sure about that.

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          9watts April 3, 2017 at 9:52 pm

          “Society has decided not to invest in alternatives. ”

          Let’s unpack that first word a little, shall we?

          If by Society you mean Rex Tillerson and Charles Koch and their ilk you are of course correct, but why is our society willing to let the oil boys call the shots? Why have other societies managed to avoid this nonsense? And wouldn’t it behoove us to take a page from their playbook rather than just shrugging?

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty April 3, 2017 at 10:30 pm

            >>> why is our society willing to let the oil boys call the shots? <<<

            I wish I knew. I have lots of cynical answers, but I am finding it hard to choose right now.

            >>> Why have other societies managed to avoid this nonsense? <<<

            I don't believe they have. For historical reasons, Europe may have avoided a little of "this nonsense", but even there there is a high level of car use. I've seen German mothers drive their kids 200m to the school-bus stop, or 1km to soccer practice. Driving can still be cheaper and easier than the train for many inter-city trips.

            Iceland is, perhaps, the singular example of a society seriously attempting to decarbonize its energy production (though perhaps you could count France and Japan with their aging nuclear plants as well).

            And in other parts of the world, traffic congestion and associated pollution is at unbelievable levels. And yet people still drive.

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              9watts April 3, 2017 at 10:33 pm

              We were, I thought, talking about investing in alternatives, not trivial driving, which I agree is widespread. I think you’d agree that investing in alternatives (certainly when compared to what we have to show here in the US) is alive and well in pretty much the rest of the world.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty April 3, 2017 at 10:42 pm

                I agree that many wealthy countries have made a more serious effort at building trains. For intercity travel, we have chosen instead to focus on air travel (not a totally irrational choice given the distances involved).

                I would love a high-speed rail line connecting Seattle to San Francisco (despite what it would do to our housing prices), but I am not convinced that rail is a viable general solution to transportation outside of some fairly obvious corridors, and I am also not convinced that it would pencil out from an overall energy standpoint.

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          Jim April 4, 2017 at 3:17 pm

          You are right, it is the chosen answer. People decide to prioritize other areas of their life rather than seeking out transportation alternatives. But cars are still neither quick not reliable in the long term. You seem determined to argue against points that I am not making.

          Speaking about generations, motor cars have only been around for 5 generations, and seem unlikely to be around for 5 more. This is a mere blink of the eye, very few things that we do now should really be considered “normal”

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty April 4, 2017 at 3:20 pm

            I’d bet that cars will be around in 5 generations. They won’t be like today’s vehicles, but there will be point-to-point ground-based vehicles that run on roads, probably with 4 wheels (but conceivably 2 or 3).

            What would displace them?

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              9watts April 4, 2017 at 9:05 pm

              “I’d bet that cars will be around in 5 generations.”

              An understanding of energy density, or energy return on energy invested should disabuse you of this notion lickety split. The rise of automobility is inextricably linked to the fact that we found oil gushing out of the ground in Pennsylvania, and henceforth chose to do everything in our power to keep it cheap. Take away the cheap oil and automobility as we know it is finished. No amount of battery science and ever cheaper solar panels will change that.

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              Jim April 4, 2017 at 9:23 pm

              As 9watts said. In 5 generations’ time, we will travel around using the densest sources of energy available to us at the time. Just like now. But it will not be fossil fuel or batteries. On the off chance that we manage to stretch these things out that long, the side effects on the world around us (and on us) will be truly horrifying.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty April 4, 2017 at 10:33 pm

                He thinks we’ll be walking.

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                Jim April 5, 2017 at 9:49 am

                I think you’re trying to make fun of me. Which is fine and expected given the dominant paradigm. But the truly funny thing is to think that this current energy boom, this 200 year orgy of burning everything we can find on this planet, this brief and strange anomaly, is in any way normal or continuable. There have been absolutely no signs that we will find any safe and transportable fuel to power even half this number of vehicles as current materials become more scarce or more difficult to extract. Again, people make fun of this view, because “science” or “the future” or some such vain (in all senses) hope.

                Walking will always be an option (unless we are too sedentary/unhealthy). There are bicycles, though they require some materials. There are also less energy-dense sources, such as wind and animal (including human) power. There may be clever new low-energy-density transportation forms. Even if one has no imagination, there is history to study.

                I fully expect to be made fun of for all this, but really, what is there to prop up current popular thinking other than propaganda?

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty April 5, 2017 at 10:25 am

                Aside from propaganda, we can see actual, continual, rapid progress in developing new technologies, which is occurring at an ever accelerating pace. I think it is more likely that we will continue to improve batteries and means of generating power that do not emit large amounts of CO2 than it is that further progress will halt and humanity will abandon the benefits of plentiful energy, vastly reduce our population, and voluntarily return to modes of life we were all too eager to escape.

                It seems much harder to get to the future you described than the one you poo-poo.

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                9watts April 5, 2017 at 10:35 am

                “I think it is more likely”

                You and a lot of other people.

                The trouble is, wishful thinking does not get us around the problem of energy density—the unprecedented, and soon to be over bonanza of compressed ancient sunlight. For a while (1950s) nuclear fission seemed like another example, but with Westinghouse filing for bankruptcy last week I think that pipe dream may also finally be over.
                Hoping, trusting, anticipating are not the same thing as physics. We can wish all we want that smart people will figure this out for us. But smart people have been looking for a long time and though they’ve developed photo voltaics and a thousand other clever things, none of them come anywhere close to the legacy energy density of fossil fuels. Without that density it is much slower, more difficult, more expensive in all senses of that word to do what we’ve grown accustomed to doing—and think we’re entitled to keep doing.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty April 5, 2017 at 11:31 am

                Why do you say it’s wishful thinking? It’s an easy extrapolation from where we are today. It doesn’t mean it’s right, but a future that looks like an extension of today seems more likely than one that requires billions of people to radically change the way they live, and billions more to basically disappear.

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                9watts April 5, 2017 at 11:48 am

                “Why do you say it’s wishful thinking? It’s an easy extrapolation from where we are today.”
                That is exactly why. It is always fun to assume easy extrapolations but the moment we find ourselves in is interesting and challenging precisely because the looming end of cheap fossil fuels represents a decisive break with the past. Assuming a general continuation/extrapolation as we pass through this break is simply fantasy.

                “It doesn’t mean it’s right, but a future that looks like an extension of today seems more likely than one that requires billions of people to radically change the way they live, and billions more to basically disappear.”

                This is the crux of how you and I disagree. We are not privileged to get to negotiate with physics, with geology. Social change is trivial compared to the hubris of making the assumption that we can weather this transition beyond cheap fossil fuels with our technological system intact.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty April 5, 2017 at 11:58 am

                I don’t do it because it’s fun, but because it’s usually true, and the present is usually a good guide for the future.

                We always think “this time is different,” but usually it’s not. We are a long, long way from where physics and geology will force our hand. We’ll have to make big changes before they do, but there is a fairly clear and logical path for doing so, and we’re making at least some forward motion.

                Time will tell, but I just don’t see humanity waking up one morning and saying “ok, back to the farm!” But, if I’m wrong, I may want to borrow your hoe.

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                9watts April 5, 2017 at 12:09 pm

                “there is a fairly clear and logical path for doing so”

                Please elaborate.

                And if you use the words batteries and electric please keep the question of scale and fuel source in mind.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty April 5, 2017 at 12:28 pm

                Greater efficiency, improvements in low-carbon energy production, increased distributed energy production (solar panels, small scale urban wind, etc.), improvements in energy storage (i.e. batteries, but there are some innovative non-chemical storage mechanisms being developed), implementing a carbon tax, development of palatable lab-produced meat.

                These won’t get us all the way there, but they will be a big step, will buy us time, and none are revolutionary or require great societal change.

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                wsbob April 5, 2017 at 4:10 pm

                “He thinks we’ll be walking. ” h kitty… April 4, 2017 at 10:33 pm

                People don’t have to walk rather than drive, if their travel needs don’t involve the kind long distances that are common today. Better city, community, and neighborhood design can go a long way to reduce the distance people need to travel daily, and the amount of fuel needed to go that distance. Perhaps reduce fuel used by a half to two thirds.

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                Jim April 6, 2017 at 8:48 am

                We really don’t see much change in how we power our transportation. Until we start considering things like EROI and embodied energy and the non-fungibility of dense energy sources, then these conversations don’t hold much meaning. Materials for batteries and solar panels have to be mined and processed, we can only do this using fossil fuels. The lifespan of batteries, solar panels etc. is very short. Until recently, a PV panel would last 20 years, and in that time only produce about the same amount of energy as was required to manufacture it. So in effect is was simply a way of storing fossil fuel energy. The technology has moved on, but not not changed these underlying conditions, and until we can manufacture eg. a solar panel using only solar energy and materials that will regenerate during the panel’s functional lifespan, then we are at best delaying our problems a couple of decades. There is no indication at all that we can break through this.

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                Hello, Kitty April 6, 2017 at 10:51 am

                It is true that our current means of resource extraction and material production rely heavily on fossil fuels. However, there is no reason why this need continue — as electric vehicles improve and our energy production shifts to cleaner sources, our means of production will shift in that direction as well. For example, many steel and aluminum smelters now run on electricity, so are disconnected from their ultimate energy source. As an example, several aluminum smelters are now located in Iceland, where they are powered by cheap geothermal electricity.

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                9watts April 6, 2017 at 11:01 am

                To energy density you can add scale. Iceland’s (or California’s) geothermal resources are great, but have no bearing on this question because they are by definition local resources that cannot be pursued in other places. And as Jim noted, solar and wind are heavily (hard to overemphasize this) dependent on fossil fuels for every step of the production process, transmission process, etc. So the fantasy that we are on the cusp of shifting away from fossil fuels is no more than wishful thinking. We cannot scale these lower density energy resources and if we wanted to the fossil fuel requirements of doing this would make our GHG emissions much much worse.

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                Hello, Kitty April 6, 2017 at 12:06 pm

                Not entirely true; energy intensive activities (like Al smelting) can be shifted to areas with high energy availability. Iceland is also exploring a power line to the UK to help export some of their power. There are plans for power lines sending power to Europe from solar farms in the Sahara. There are (more far out) ideas for shifting power from Iceland to New York via a ship full of Al batteries (basically converting the smelted Al back to bauxite, and capturing the significant amount of energy that would release, before shipping it back to Iceland to restart the cycle).

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                9watts April 6, 2017 at 12:13 pm

                Absolutely. We’re going to see much more of exactly what you are describing. But the fact that we’re scrambling to do this says more about looming constraints than anything about whether Saharan solar and Icelandic geothermal power can supply the energy to fuel our fossil-fuel whetted appetite for transportation in Oregon. Let’s not forget that there are a lot of people between here and those two places who also might want some of the renewable pie. And last time I checked populations in most countries (not sure about Iceland) were still growing.

                The point here isn’t that renewables or EVs or geothermal is a thing. They are. But the scalability question remains. Just because we can do what you describe says very little about those strategies’ ability to meet our vast and growing appetites.

                If we scaled back our appetites by 90% and did what you’re describing I’d be far more sanguine. But the premise of all the renewable hype I read is that *we don’t have to scale back our appetites* because, you know, solar PV is now so cheap, bla bla.

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                Hello, Kitty April 6, 2017 at 12:49 pm

                In many ways, we are scaling back our appetites, or at least not letting them grow. Per capita energy consumption (in the US, at least) has slowly fallen over the last 25 years, and will likely continue to do so into the future as we replace inefficient equipment with more efficient models.

                Now that’s nothing like the 90% you prescribe, but there is no realistic way to achieve that.

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                9watts April 6, 2017 at 8:06 pm

                “In many ways, we are scaling back our appetites, or at least not letting them grow.”

                Those are two rather different things, but neither are true. GHG emissions peaked in 2007 and after dropping since then (thank you recession) are heading back up.
                https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/us-greenhouse-gas-inventory-report-1990-2014

                “Per capita energy consumption (in the US, at least) has slowly fallen over the last 25 years,”

                Though familiar, per capita is not the relevant metric. The global climate couldn’t care less about it; the only relevant metric is total emissions.

                “and will likely continue to do so into the future as we replace inefficient equipment with more efficient models.”

                Au contraire. Energy efficiency is smoke and mirrors when it comes to climate. There is no energy efficiency-generated net decline that we can take to the climate bank.

                “Now that’s nothing like the 90% you prescribe, but there is no realistic way to achieve that.”

                Funny you should say this. This has been my chief project for the past twenty years. This is probably a topic for another time and place, but suffice it to say that many people currently use 90% or even 98% less than the average. If we wanted to figure out how to get to a ten-fold reduction we could ask those who already live at those levels. Just because we don’t know what they are doing doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

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                Hello, Kitty April 6, 2017 at 10:07 pm

                I can see how someone leading a subsistence or hunter/gatherer lifestyle can get by on 10% energy consumption, but what I am really curious about is how you manage to do it. Sure, you may not drive, but you do take the bus (I presume), you eat food from a store, and you (I hope) partake in an urban sewage treatment system. You also use a computer, and probably buy items with metal (cans, nails, bike parts) or glass. Perhaps you enjoy boiled water for coffee or tea, or perhaps beer. Very likely you operate a refrigerator, and maybe even a freezer. Perhaps you cook on a stove or in an oven. You might even use hot water for bathing from time to time.

                Those activities alone almost certainly put you well over 10%. Which do you propose everyone give up?

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                9watts April 6, 2017 at 10:12 pm

                I’ll invite you over some time and you can interrogate my data loggers.
                Yes, we have all of those things, and so do most of the folks I’ve interviewed who use 3% of the average—about what the 2050 goals spell out for the rest of us.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty April 6, 2017 at 10:18 pm

                How do your data loggers account for producing the food you eat, treating the sewage you generate, or any of the myriad other indirect forms of energy you consume? Those are where the really big ticket items are. The direct energy costs of using LED lighting won’t even register on the meter by comparison.

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                9watts April 6, 2017 at 10:29 pm

                They don’t. I figured we’d start with the first order (direct) usage. You’re of course right that those other categories figure, though the ratios of direct to indirect energy are going to vary depending on lots of things.
                Here would be one way to calculate all the rest:
                http://www.footprintnetwork.org/resources/footprint-calculator/

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        wsbob April 4, 2017 at 6:43 pm

        “Private automobile travel is neither quick nor reliable if seen from a society and generational scope. …” jim

        What, to you, is “…society and generational scope. …”, as it relates to how people decide upon what mode of travel can best meet their travel needs?

        Except in high usage commute hour stop and go traffic, travel by motor vehicle is generally very quick and reliable. And comfortable, and offers independence that mass transit can’t. Commute hour traffic, the majority of vehicles which are personal cars, often just one person, the person driving, may be the biggest contributor to roads being at capacity during commute hours. That particular type of traffic, likely is the biggest reason motivating a willingness to spend lots of money improving traffic flow at various infrastructure bottlenecks.

        For people not on the am/pm commute, or maybe not commuting at all, instead, driving during off-commute hours, including mid-day, or vacation driving…personal motor vehicles continue to be a great mode of travel in the U.S.

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          9watts April 4, 2017 at 10:28 pm

          You’re funny. Even though I’ve oft recommended him it is clear you’ve declined the invitation to read a bit of Ivan Illich. Thoreau pioneered this kind of accounting, but to my knowledge it was Illich who first made the case w/r/t the automobile:

          “The model American male devotes more than 1600 hours a year to his car. He sits in it while it goes and while it stands idling. He parks it and searches for it. He earns the money to put down on it and to meet the monthly installments. He works to pay for gasoline, tolls, insurance, taxes, and tickets. He spends four of his sixteen waking hours on the road or gathering his resources for it. And this figure does not take into account the time consumed by other activities dictated by transport: time spent in hospitals, traffic courts, and garages; time spent watching automobile commercials or attending consumer education meetings to improve the quality of the next buy. The model American puts in 1600 hours to get 7500 miles: less than five miles per hour. In countries deprived of a transportation industry, people manage to do the same, walking wherever they want to go, and they allocate only 3 to 8 percent of their society’s time budget to traffic instead of 28 percent. What distinguishes the traffic in rich countries from the traffic in poor countries is not more mileage per hour of lifetime for the majority, but more hours of compulsory consumption of high doses of energy, packaged and unequally distributed by the transportation industry.”
          http://ranprieur.com/readings/illichcars.html

          You’ll have to forgive the numbers – he wrote this more than forty years ago.

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          Jim April 5, 2017 at 10:03 am

          Societal scope – the cumulative effect of all of our driving on our population and the world around us. Crash injuries and deaths. Air pollution ill-health and deaths. Sedentary ill-health and deaths. Death and destruction of non-human lifeforms that we rely upon (“ecological services” if you wish). Paving over all the world around us. Our current population distribution and spacing. The economic cost of maintaining this system. The physical and material impacts of creating and maintaining this infrastructure. Even the psychological effect of being so removed from our bodies, the space around us, etc.

          Generational scope – whether all these things will be better or worse for future generations (which do you think?)

          Perhaps what you’re asking though, is how this relates to people making the decision about how to travel today, and you’re right, people choose not to consider most of this widespread knowledge. People make the choice that seems good to them as an individual and in the short term. But it is not helpful – not quick or reliable – if it is considered as part of a whole or through time.

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            wsbob April 5, 2017 at 11:13 am

            “…how this relates to people making the decision about how to travel today, …” jim

            How people make the decision to travel today, definitely has a major bearing on the choice of many of them to decide upon motor vehicles to meet their travel needs. Ideals and practicality are part of the decision making. In our civilization today, in the U.S., motor vehicle travel is a core structure of everyday life. Choosing the high ideal of travel by means other than a motor vehicle, may mean, no job. No practical way to get to the store, pick up the kids, go to school, etc. Choosing to travel by motor vehicle is not really much of a choice when faced with such realities.

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    rick April 3, 2017 at 4:23 pm

    Washington’s highway department is building a new highway in Spokane with an adjacent bike / walk path. It will “help” traffic on main streets, they say.

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    dwk April 3, 2017 at 4:32 pm

    In the information age, why are so many people still driving to work/school anyway?
    The “problem ” will take care of itself.
    A lot of companies are still old school, but times will change.
    A lot of work for a lot of business can be done at home or small satellite offices.
    Between that and smart cars and delivery trucks, we will have over capacity in 10 years….

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      Hello, Kitty April 3, 2017 at 4:35 pm

      A lot of people are moving to Portland for the cheap housing, and telecommuting to their jobs in the Bay Area. The problem (of cheaper-than-Bay Area housing) is taking care of itself.

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        dwk April 3, 2017 at 4:40 pm

        And people will move out of Portland to telecommute when it becomes too expensive.
        We still will not need new freeways…

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          Middle of the Road Guy April 4, 2017 at 8:37 am

          And schools will eventually all be online! Let’s not fund them. Same for libraries.

          If we only wait, all the problems go away!

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        dwk April 3, 2017 at 4:47 pm

        Robotics is also going to eliminate the need for manpower in designated locations.
        For instance, there will be no commuting to the Amazon warehouses.
        What those people who lose those jobs will do in for another discussion..

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        eddie April 4, 2017 at 7:22 pm

        Portland no longer offers cheap housing.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty April 4, 2017 at 7:42 pm

          We demolish it.

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      Kyle Banerjee April 4, 2017 at 9:42 am

      Questioning the cost/benefits

      dwk
      In the information age, why are so many people still driving to work/school anyway?
      The “problem ” will take care of itself.

      In the case of school, it’s often because they are required to. Active transport by kids, especially unaccompanied transport is regarded as dangerous now despite the fact that’s how kids got around until relatively recently.

      In the case of work, it has to do with responsibilities at work/home, physicality of things, and capabilities of riders. Some jobs can be done mostly via telecommuting, a greater number can be done telecommuting occasionally, and many just don’t work that way.

      That more of the economy is about information does not mean a very large chunk of it isn’t. Robotics will mitigate that situation, but it certainly won’t solve it.

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    rachel b April 3, 2017 at 4:47 pm

    Thanks for the reporting, Jonathan. I find myself numbing out more and more as I live here–not something I’m proud of. But I do feel like I’m getting closer and closer to not caring at all what happens to Portland anymore.

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      rachel b April 3, 2017 at 9:35 pm

      P.s…It took me an hour and a quarter for a bus to go three miles Friday, midday. I with I’d walked or biked. Waited for the 10 and then gave up after 20 minutes and walked to the 4. Waited 40 minutes before one came down Division. Then I had a 3/4 mile walk from my stop to my final destination. I was, needless to say, late for my appointment.

      This isn’t a unique experience. I’m so upset that a Bus Only lane wasn’t made mandatory on Powell for BRT (before they moved it to, of all things, Division—!!!). You can’t get people out of their cars without consistent, reliable options. Since I have no car, I deal with the vagaries of TriMet (frequent light rail breakdowns, crowded cars and buses, filth, stench, a Wild West “you’re on your own” approach to passenger safety (and comfort). But I’m not the norm.

      Most people aren’t willing to wait next to a noisy, busy, stenchful street with semis roaring by and belching exhaust.. for upwards, sometimes, of AN HOUR. To catch a bus THAT’S FULL, standing room only, body-to-body, and reeking because someone took a dump in it, for example (have actually been there when it happened), or is simply ingesting their odiferous meal with no regard for their fellow humans.

      We have to do way better at making mass transit and biking and walking way more comfortable and appealing before anyone’s ever going to even entertain the idea of giving up their car. I know I’m just echoing what many others have said here (incl. me). The frustrating thing is, I know it can be done. We just, apparently, lack the will to do it. Or, the City does, I mean.

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        rachel b April 3, 2017 at 9:36 pm

        That should have read “It took me an hour and a quarter wait for a bus…

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          rachel b April 3, 2017 at 9:37 pm

          And “I wish.” Not “I with.” Jeez. I with I proofread better… 😉

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        Bankerman April 3, 2017 at 10:50 pm

        Interesting to see NO replies to this post. Number one reason I drive my SOV to work every day (and park downtown at my employer’s expense).

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        Kyle Banerjee April 4, 2017 at 6:15 am

        rachel b
        P.s…It took me an hour and a quarter for a bus to go three miles Friday, midday…
        Most people aren’t willing to wait next to a noisy, busy, stenchful street with semis roaring by and belching exhaust..

        Transit in PDX is hopelessly slow and unreliable. It should be the most efficient way around, but except in a few select routes such as the Banfield or Sunset at rush hour, it’s the least.

        And that’s when it’s operating the way it’s supposed to. If there’s weather, a protest downtown, or a bunch of other normal things going on, it gets hosed.

        The people that drive make total sense to me. Even for people for whom cars are much slower than alternatives, they at least get a much more enjoyable environment.

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          Middle of the Road Guy April 4, 2017 at 8:38 am

          and we can trip chain.

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          rachel b April 4, 2017 at 10:34 am

          The sad thing is, it (TriMet) once was much much better. I didn’t ride so much in the old days but my sis says it was light years superior to the service we get now. More routes, more frequency, regularly cleaned buses, more oversight (fare checkers, safety officers).

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        wsbob April 4, 2017 at 9:23 am

        “…We have to do way better at making mass transit and biking and walking way more comfortable and appealing before anyone’s ever going to even entertain the idea of giving up their car. …” rachael b

        Exactly. When sitting in the car in stop and go traffic on the major freeways during commute hours, or on the major thoroughfares…is more comfortable and appealing than riding Max, the bus, or WES, that should to most people, be an obvious clue that those latter cited modes of transportation aren’t sufficiently providing what people need or want for travel.

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          rachel b April 4, 2017 at 10:40 am

          If I have a good place to wait (NOT at the side of Division or SE 26th), I’ll still take really inconvenient mass transit over the awfulness of driving in Portland nowadays–at least, if I’m headed downtown. I try to avoid bringing a car downtown for all I’m worth. But it’s amazing what an ordeal it can be. Light rail (if it’s operational) is generally much more reliably comfortable, but it is “conveniently” located about 3/4 of a mile from my house. Fine for me, but not for older folks or people with disabilities. The light rail stops in the Clinton neighborhood are not all that convenient for most of Richmond/Hosford-Abernethy. I wish they’d put more overhead ped road & track crossings in.

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            Phil Richman April 4, 2017 at 11:57 am

            BikeTown would be faster from 26th & Division. Have you tried it?

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              rachel b April 4, 2017 at 11:43 pm

              I was headed to a business meeting–had decided on the bus for reasons of hygiene and clothing. I have a bike and have commuted to work and around town for years. I planned ahead and was waiting at the 10 stop 10 minutes before the bus was scheduled to arrive. It just never came. By that time I knew I was late and knew the 4 ran fairly frequently, so I hightailed it over to that stop (and waited…and waited…). If I’d had the prescience to know neither bus would come, yes, I would’ve ridden my bike or an orange bike (if it hadn’t been vandalized). Or walked! 🙂

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    Justin M April 3, 2017 at 5:10 pm

    I love the idea of matching funding for highway projects to active transportation. I mean, I’d love to see a new lane in the Rose quarter but I’d also love new striping on Barbur near my apartment.

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      Justin M April 3, 2017 at 5:28 pm

      I should say an extra lane on the I-5. Actually, it’s not just an extra lane. That whole area of the highway right up to Killingsworth is just horribly designed and seems very unsafe. Would love to see a redesign. But again, I’d love to see improved bike infrastructure as well. Actually, could they maybe just fix the potholes everywhere first?

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      X April 3, 2017 at 5:29 pm

      That’s not exactly matching funding. There’s something like a 1000 to one ratio there. Maybe 10,000 to one.

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    wsbob April 3, 2017 at 9:52 pm

    “… Although no route is described in the bill, HB 3231’s chief sponsor described a tollway extending from Woodland, WA, crossing to Highway 30 in Oregon at either Columbia City or Portland just west of the I-5 bridge (so on a new bridge) and then through Forest Park, both intersecting with Highway 26 at Cornelius Pass, then paving a swath across the Tualatin Valley west of the current UGB, Yamhill County, and French Prairie, and joining I-5 somewhere south of Donald in Marion County. …” 1000 friends of Oregon

    For years there have been people dreaming about such a north-south route through the Tualitan Mtn (location of Forest Park), and through open land of the counties. There’s big money to be made if that dream is realized…nightmare really. A desecration of the mountain, and the open land beyond. Cornelius Pass road across the mountain, is bad enough. Down in the valley adjacent to the freeway route, think of urban sprawl virtually unrestrained. An effect similar to what can be seen driving Hwy 217 from Beaverton to Wilsonville.

    Imagine though, the increase in opportunity such a highway route would provide for people to spend more time in their cars on long daily commutes between cities, just like they do on already existing freeways, I-5, I-205, Hwy 26 and Hwy 217.

    Not everyone in this state is willing to allow themselves to be overwhelmed by sprawl, to allow it spoil open land surrounding already existing urban and suburban communities. The UGB has helped restrain sprawl, but the UGB’s control over it, isn’t absolute. It represents a boundary on growth that’s movable outward, and likely would be if a Westside Bypass were brought to be.

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    Mike Quigley April 4, 2017 at 6:12 am

    The Big One. The only solution to Portland’s transportation/housing/growth problem.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty April 4, 2017 at 11:19 am

      I used to think that as well until I realized destruction will be partial and uneven. We won’t change where the roads are or how space is allocated just because a large number of structures are destroyed or damaged.

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      David Hampsten April 4, 2017 at 4:01 pm

      The chances of Portland getting nuked by a rogue nation is far higher than a 9.5 earthquake, and far more lasting, alas.

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    RobotGirl April 4, 2017 at 6:28 am

    Jim
    We have oversupply of food, clothing, virtually everything. It would be a good thing if less of these products could get to us. And don’t give me the “jobs” argument. We could double wages and halve hours worked. The whole system is a construct. There is no economic need for the current level of goods.
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    Agree… it’s a whole cycle of needing people to want things to sustain itself and it can’t expand endlessly- we will indeed one day have more than too much ‘stuff’ and not enough job.

    My take on the larger issue…
    1. If we had to live near where my husband can find work in his industry, we would not be happy- and probably couldn’t afford it. Luckily, he can use tri-met.
    2. Being self employed saves me a daily commute by any method but the trade-off is the consulting work I do requires me to go all different directions and thus be available by various transportation methods.
    3. While I choose to live near as many services as I can, there are some that simply aren’t in walking/biking distance and some things that are difficult by bus. Example, my cats eat a prescription diet that is found only at pet stores in the suburbs.
    4. School… I live in an area where less than 50% of the kids go to the neighborhood school and I’m not going to send my son to a school just because it’s close by if there are reasons not to (which there are). Nor am I willing to move just for that reason, even if I could affordably. Thus, like many others in my area, we shop for alternatives- private, charter- and even with some restrictions on commute, we find ourselves on I-5 every day.
    I’m not one to believe people are stuck in traffic as a choice… we can’t all live where we want and we can’t all have what we need right by where we live. My commitment is to a one-car house; we all take turns being the one on the bus.

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      Chris I April 4, 2017 at 8:56 am

      It is about choice, but people often feel that they only have one choice: a 2 car family with long commutes for both. You are an example of a household that makes a different choice. Many people sitting in traffic with you every day could ride an express bus, or WES/MAX, but the choose to drive because it is easier and/or takes less time. Imagine if every household that could reduce their dependency to just one car did so. Traffic in the region would be greatly reduced.

      We are also a one car household, with two small children. It isn’t always easy, but we do it because it saves money and forces us to find alternatives. I don’t want to feel like I am part of the problem (regional traffic, pollution, etc). If more people tried a little bit harder, we would have a healthier, more economically prosperous region.

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        J_R April 4, 2017 at 9:27 am

        I’ll be interested to see how long you can retain your one-car orientation as your children develop their own interests, demands, and expectations. And how long it will take until you make a different trade-off between time and money.

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          Chris I April 4, 2017 at 9:49 am

          I think you might be lost. This is the BikePortland blog. The Oregonlive comment section is over that way.

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            dwk April 4, 2017 at 10:34 am

            Since I have no car and you have one, I think you might be lost…
            Or just self righteous.

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          Alex Reedin April 4, 2017 at 9:59 am

          As someone with two small children who recently went from one car to two (despite being personally very invested in non-car transportation – I helped found BikeLoudPDX), I think J_R probably has a point. Exhorting people to sacrifice for the good of the whole only goes so far. If we as a society want less travel by car (and we should… for our health, wealth, and climate, among other reasons), the most effective way to get it is by making it easier and more convenient to travel without a car, and to begin removing the myriad publicly-funded/enforced benefits that we’ve been giving to car travel. Lecturing is not renowned as a behavior-change method.

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            9watts April 4, 2017 at 11:09 am

            “Exhorting people to sacrifice for the good of the whole only goes so far. […] Lecturing is not renowned as a behavior-change method.”

            I find it interesting how either/or people get here. Why must it be only one? Why couldn’t a serious conversation about responsibility accompany, or even complement, the kinds of policy and infrastructure changes you celebrate?

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              Alex Reedin April 4, 2017 at 12:30 pm

              It could… if Americans were wired differently. The environmental movement has tried personal responsibility, motivated by guilt for environmental impact, for decades, and gotten very little in the way of results (I would argue we’ve gone considerably backwards by most quantitative metrics). There’s a social science literature about how people respond to new information… if they perceive the consequence of that information as a threat (“I’ll have to give up my car! How will I get around?”) then they are MUCH less likely to accept the information (“Global climate change must be a hoax / not caused by humans.”)

              I’m not sure what a winning political strategy is… demonizing fossil fuel companies? Presenting an optimistic view of a new clean economy? But I am quite sure that encouraging Americans to individually change their behavior dramatically around something as central to their lives as transportation in order to help the country or the globe collectively a tiny bit, is a losing strategy.

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          9watts April 4, 2017 at 11:06 am

          “how long you can retain your one-car orientation as your children”

          Are you suggesting some law, some natural relationship that helps us understand the number of cars owned as a function of the number of children produced?
          Because the fact that families with children get by without a car in our town should suggest something else to you. Seems kind of unfortunate to take such a dependent view of transportation.

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            J_R April 4, 2017 at 11:54 am

            No. I’m not saying it is inevitable that having children results in higher car ownership, just that there appears to be a fairly high correlation between them. The fact that some families are able to do without a car or with only one is great.

            It’s just that life becomes increasingly complex as family size increases. We all make trade-offs among time, money, activities for ourselves, activities for our family members, opportunities, etc. The same trade-offs that occur with regard to transportation also occur with other activities such as grocery shopping, cooking, and eating at home versus dining out. Same with organic versus non-organic products. Locally-sourced products versus those made in a more distant location.

            As I’ve explained before, I used to be a ride-my-bike-all-the-time individual, but as my life became more complex (children, aging parent, spouse’s job change, new work location, etc.), I found my transportation choices changed. I simply suggested others like Chris I might want to observe how or whether his/her family choices change over time. Alex Reedin commented above that his family did.

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              Chris I April 4, 2017 at 2:22 pm

              Choices do change over time, and that is why we need to be very careful about highway expansion in the city. Vehicle congestion is getting bad enough at times that MAX or cycling are often faster for many people. If we dump billions of dollars into highway expansion, relieving congestion, more people will switch to driving. More people will buy houses in the suburbs and exurbs because they have “an easy commute”. Eventually, the roads will be just as congested as they are now, but we will have more cars spewing pollution in our city.

              I merely provided my household as an example, and I didn’t intend to come off as self-righteous. I like the low-car lifestyle, and I think that other people would like it if they tried it. People are free to make their own personal decisions. But I will continue to advocate against highway expansion, because I believe my tax dollars can be better spent elsewhere.

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            Kyle Banerjee April 4, 2017 at 12:13 pm

            That someone does something that’s physically possible for others doesn’t it make a good idea for everyone.

            A lot of things must be balanced, and things get more complicated when others depend on you.

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        OregonJelly April 4, 2017 at 6:04 pm

        Great speech bro. If you tried a little harder, maybe you wouldn’t own a car.
        See how easy it is to spew sanctimonious BS? Did my condemnation of your behavior make you want to change, even if I said you’d be a better person for doing so?

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      wsbob April 4, 2017 at 9:31 am

      “…4. School… I live in an area where less than 50% of the kids go to the neighborhood school and I’m not going to send my son to a school just because it’s close by if there are reasons not to (which there are). …” robotgirl

      Just 50 percent? Amazing. That alone is a major problem contributing to excessive driving or other travel. And yet we have people wanting and expecting public support for charter schools rather than strengthening and improving public schools. The U.S. should have the best public grade school and high school education in the world, to which everyone can walk or ride to safely, from their home. So far, the nation continues to drop the ball on that one.

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      Jim April 4, 2017 at 9:44 pm

      Thank you for sharing. The choices you make are understandable given the challenges that you describe. However, when you write “I’m not one to believe people are stuck in traffic as a choice” I think this is just not true. Most of this is choice. There may be good reasons, there may be large disadvantages to choosing something else, but it is a choice. “We can’t all have what we need right by where we live” – this is true. But “need” is not defined here. I have a cat that I love dearly, but nobody “needs” to have a cat, medicated food or not. I am not telling anyone to change, but we need to acknowledge the consequences of our actions. The whole point here is that our choices now may be boxing us into a corner where we actually can’t choose certain things in the future, because they will no longer be possible. “My commitment is to a one-car house; we all take turns being the one on the bus” – that’s already choosing to give up more than most people are willing to. I don’t mean this post to sound too moralistic, but am trying to be realistic about what we are doing.

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    Jason Skelton April 4, 2017 at 12:24 pm

    Preach! Negative externalities must be accounted for.

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      Hello, Kitty April 4, 2017 at 12:31 pm

      Amen!

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    mikeybikey April 4, 2017 at 12:29 pm

    I would argue that the opportunity cost of sinking that much money into highway expansion vs. alternatives is just too great at this point. How much longer can we accept the ballooning opportunity cost of continuing to ignore the maintenance backlog, allowing the regional transit system to, as I would describe, flounder and implement a bike plan that at current funding levels will take lifetimes to complete. To summarize Enrique Peñalosa.. no city on the planet has solved mobility issues with the private car. We should instead congestion price now and if after a couple of decades of strong investment and development in transit, cycling, land use that favors proximity and the adoption of autonomous vehicles+car/ride sharing, we finally decide that the opportunity cost of a further delay to a highway expansion is too great.. so be it. Now is absolutely not the time.

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      David Hampsten April 4, 2017 at 4:32 pm

      Because maintenance is never sexy, while “fixing” a bottleneck to Blazer games is.

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      OregonJelly April 4, 2017 at 5:54 pm

      You cannot congestion charge a city with three dozen equity departments looking for something to do.

      Well, on second thought you can. It’s a program where the rich (who pay) and the poor (who don’t) drive, which is fitting, since Portland will soon be a town where only the rich (who pay) and the poor (who don’t) live.

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        Chris I April 4, 2017 at 8:45 pm

        Sour grapes.

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    eddie April 4, 2017 at 7:34 pm

    Something no one seems to have mentioned – or I missed it – is that Portland’s population is growing and this growth is not expected to slow down, at least not for a while. The people moving here are mostly adults, and about 90 percent of American adults, from what I can tell, use cars as their primary if not sole means of transportation. So infrastructure on the whole is going to reflect this. More cars = more roads.

    I don’t drive, I decided long ago to live a car free life. But I think I know only a handful of non drivers in the USA (Opposite in Europe). Even on this, a bike advocacy web site’s comment section, people are defending use of the automobile. When I bike around Portland I see proportionally very few fellow cyclists. I doubt we’re even at five percent.

    The sad reality is, there will only be more cars, more pollution, more gridlock, more automobile related deaths, and more roads in the future, and aside from a few bike lanes here and there and some hard fought for policy tweaks nothing can be done about it.

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