Bike Tires Direct Warehouse Sale

Gov. Brown calls for pause on I-5 Rose Quarter project

Posted by on December 16th, 2019 at 4:52 pm

Oregon Transportation Commission members at their meeting on Monday. (L to R: Sharon Smith, Alando Simpson (Vice Chair), Robert Van Brocklin (Chair), Martin Callery, Julie Brown)

There was a big surprise at the Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC) meeting on Monday: Governor Kate Brown finally weighed on the controversial I-5 Rose Quarter project via a letter that calls for a pause on a key decision and more analysis of congestion pricing.

“I request the commission table the decision on the environmental review path for a few months.”
— Governor Kate Brown

The OTC’s five members were set to make a decision on the $500 million project at day two of their meeting on Tuesday. As we’ve been reporting, the key issue right now is whether or not the Oregon Department of Transportation should move forward with their completed environmental assessment (EA) or whether they should complete a more robust environmental impact statement (EIS).

According to ODOT, their EA proved that their plans to add lanes and widen I-5 through Portland’s central city would improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions due to “improved traffic flow” and less idling. Those are just a few of the findings project critics think would change with the additional scrutiny of EIS.

The Governor-appointed OTC oversees ODOT and the decision about how to move forward was put squarely on their shoulders when ODOT staff didn’t make a recommendation on their own.

Eager to move forward into design and engineering of the project, ODOT has resisted calls to do an EIS even as pressure has been building since last winter to do more analysis. In April, Metro’s senior planner called ODOT’s EA, “inadequate and potentially misleading”. As the list of electeds and organizations calling for the EIS piled up, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, Metro Council President Lynn Peterson, and Multnomah County Commissioner joined the chorus in a letter released last Friday.

Advertisement

It appears that letter finally broke the dam for the Governor. Here’s the text of Governor Brown’s letter (first reported by The Oregonian, emphases mine):

Members of the Oregon Transportation Commission,

I signed HB 2017 into law with the intention that the Rose Quarter project would bring a vital infrastructure improvement to a transportation corridor that is of statewide significance. The current configuration of the interstates intersecting at the Rose Quarter is a safety hazard to Oregonians and those visiting our state.

Having key local partners who are focused on a successful project will be critical to its long-term success, as well as the success of other major regional transportation initiatives, including the I-5 bridge replacement and congestion pricing. Based on recent feedback from our local partners, specifically the local elected officials at Metro, the city of Portland and Multnomah County, I request the commission table the decision on the environmental review path for a few months and focus on completing work on developing a leadership policy, project decision-making structure and moving forward with a third-party independent study of development alternatives for the planned highway covers. These items were requested for completion over six months ago, and ODOT has not yet completed them. In order to move forward in partnership with the region, they must be completed before and environmental review path is chosen.

Advertisement

In addition, as you move toward a decision on an environmental review path I would like you to include a full review of congestion pricing and how its implementation would impact the Rose Quarter. The pricing plan should provide an incentive to utilize other transportation modes and enhance mobility options for low-income communities and communities of color, and it should also provide greater certainty for freight haulers. We cannot build our way out of congestion by inducing greater demand on the system. We must manage demand to reduce congestion while also reducing emissions consistent with our state’s greenhouse gas emissions goals. The planned improvements along with demand management is the strategy we should pursue, and this approach has been proven to be effective in many jurisdictions around the world.

Finally, the Rose Quarter project also needs to proceed in a matter that recognizes the past injustices to impacted communities. This must include aggressive usage of minority contracting for the construction of the project. If the Portland City Council moves forward on a new district plan for lower Albina, ODOT and the Rose Quarter project will need to be significant partners. Visions being generated are compelling and have the potential to address historical injustices. I support these efforts, and ODOT needs to be a partner in them.

Slide from ODOT presentation to OTC tomorrow.

This letter will burnish the Governor’s claims of being a climate leader as her silence on this project — and its potential to increase driving capacity — had become a political liability.

Governor Brown’s call for more study of congestion pricing will be music to the ears of many project critics (Portland Commissioner Chloe Eudaly took a similar stance way back in April). ODOT is currently studying congestion pricing, but the agency doesn’t appear to have any urgency to do it. In a video released last March they said tolls are, “Years away at best.”

After reading the Governor’s letter today, OTC Commissioner Martin Callery expressed concern about the potential delay. “I just don’t want to see this project linger for a year, or less,” he said. Callery said he (and others commissioners) think the project is part of a “big package” with the Interstate Bridge replacement project. “I’m sure I can live with a few months delay,” he said, “But I don’t want it to last much longer.”

The exact amount of delay the Governor’s letter will cause is a big unknown. It’s notable she didn’t call for an EIS, which might signal her intention to strike a compromise between those with concerns about the project and those who want to see it break ground.

This project was one of the marquee “congestion reduction” projects in the HB 2017 transportation funding package passed by the Oregon Legislature in 2017. It’s slated to receive $30 million per year (from gas tax revenue) starting in 2022. ODOT hopes to begin design on the project in 2020 and start construction in 2023.

A presentation on the project they’ll receive from ODOT staff tomorrow asks: “Does the Commission have specific direction for ODOT regarding the Project’s environmental review process?” and, “Does the Commission have any additional direction for the Department on the Rose Quarter Project?”

Governor Brown has somewhat pre-empted their answers and it’s unclear what will happen at tomorrow’s meeting. One thing we do know is that people will show up to testify against it.

No More Freeways Coalition and Sunrise Movement responded to the Governor’s letter on Monday night. “Her encouragement of further study and implementation of congestion pricing is commendable,” they wrote, “No More Freeways and Sunrise PDX look forward to testifying at the OTC hearing in Lebanon tomorrow to ask Commissioners to their faces what leadership action they intend to take to address ODOT’s institutional complicity in exacerbating the urgent climate emergency currently unfolding.”

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
— Get our headlines delivered to your inbox.
— Support this independent community media outlet with a one-time contribution or monthly subscription.

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

56 Comments
  • Avatar
    9watts December 16, 2019 at 5:20 pm

    ODOT is a rogue agency. Utterly out of step with the demands the 21st Century is making on us and those charged with leading us out of these catastrophes.

    Recommended Thumb up 25

    • Avatar
      David Hampsten December 16, 2019 at 6:37 pm

      Have they gone to the Dark Side under Darth Strickler?

      Recommended Thumb up 3

    • Avatar
      q December 16, 2019 at 8:54 pm

      I was thinking exactly that as I walked across the Sellwood Bridge today. Its west end is insane–acres of unrelieved concrete lanes and retaining walls, and freeway signage. It was a dinosaur from the day it opened, in terms of the 100% focus on moving cars quickly at the expense of every other consideration. Often during the project, when people protested various aspects of the design, the project team would say, “Sorry, ODOT” with some legitimacy.

      ODOT shouldn’t be driving street design in Portland.

      Recommended Thumb up 20

      • Avatar
        9watts December 16, 2019 at 9:39 pm

        ODOT Shouldn’t be allowed to do anything. When was the last time they accomplished something brilliant?
        Always good to call to mind that it was Sweden’s version of ODOT that (22 years ago!) came up with Vision Zero! Imagine a government agency that is so forward thinking, people focused, and expands political capital, builds coalitions to accomplish something innovative.

        Recommended Thumb up 15

        • Avatar
          Middle of the Road Guy December 17, 2019 at 12:24 am

          A whole lot of people think building the bridge would be good.

          Recommended Thumb up 9

          • Avatar
            9watts December 17, 2019 at 7:10 am

            A whole lot of people think or appear to think putting people in cages is good too, or that Obama was born in Kenya, or that global warming is a hoax. Just because a group of people thinks something is good or true does not make it so.

            But I am not sure if you meant for this to be a reply to my question?
            Are you saying ODOT’s spending $200 million we didn’t have to study the CRC was ‘brilliant’?

            Recommended Thumb up 14

            • Avatar
              Neil Banman December 17, 2019 at 9:13 am

              Sure, but it’s hard to call it a rogue agency if it prioritizes mainstream demand. We’re the outliers here. From the recent NTSB report: “Among the larger cities, Portland, Oregon, had the highest percentage of workers bicycling to work at 7%.” And of course, this is ODOT, not PBOT.

              I’m glad the project is put on hold. I’m glad environmentalists/cyclists hold outsize sway. But we should acknowledge it for what it is.

              Recommended Thumb up 15

              • Avatar
                Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) December 17, 2019 at 9:52 am

                Neil,

                Be careful with how you define “mainstream demand”. People are captive to their circumstances, which is a system that pretty much legally forces them to drive (see Greg Shill writings). When asked what they’d like to do, instead of what they currently do, I’m very confident we’d see 75-80% of the people say they’d rather walk, bike, and take transit… In other words, anything but drive.

                Also, it’s gov’t responsibility to encourage good behaviors (bike/walk/transit) and to discourage bad ones (driving cars).

                Recommended Thumb up 20

              • Avatar
                Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) December 19, 2019 at 11:30 am

                This is a small sample size, but a new research paper out of Portland State and TREC validates my argument that – given the choice – almost everyone wants to bike more, they also want gov’t to spend more to make biking better

                Recommended Thumb up 2

              • Avatar
                Neil K Banman December 17, 2019 at 11:58 am

                Jonathan,
                I agree to an extent, and good point, though I don’t think it invalidates anything I said. I’m don’t know what you mean by your 75-80% figure. It really depends on how you load up the question. People express their preferences by their behavior. Under our current incentive structure, only 7% of Portlanders want to bike to work. Presumably, the figure is significantly lower state-wide. But their behavior–and their preferences–respond to incentives. Presumably, with different incentives, more people would want to walk, bike, or take public transportation. I think it would be hard to get to 75-80% without a radical reimagining of land use and housing policy in addition to transportation policy. In the meantime, we have the status quo. As advocates, of course we want to change the status quo. But I don’t think that there’s a problem with depicting the status quo as mainstream, absent a widely-held belief that the status quo is bad. And I don’t think we are there. Of course people are frustrated by traffic, but they really like their cars.

                Recommended Thumb up 4

              • Avatar
                9watts December 17, 2019 at 12:16 pm

                “But I don’t think that there’s a problem with depicting the status quo as mainstream, absent a widely-held belief that the status quo is bad.”

                Maybe I am not understanding what you just wrote, but the status quo is not just bad but, arguably, suicidal. With such a significant disconnect between what we must avoid (climate catastrophe for starters) and what we do every day (drive solo most everywhere) relying on consumer preferences as a policy guide is, frankly, nuts.

                Recommended Thumb up 3

              • Avatar
                Neil K Banman December 17, 2019 at 12:28 pm

                I guess we’re just arguing semantics. In my book, a “rogue” agency is one that is “off the reservation,” i.e., effectuating its own priorities over that of overarching bureaucracies or consensus opinion. But if you just mean an agency that from yours and my perspective has the wrong priorities, I agree with you 100%. Even though I’m nowhere near as certain of environmental catastrophe as you are. Simply applying the precautionary principle calls for radical changes to GHG emissions.

                Recommended Thumb up 3

              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty December 17, 2019 at 1:18 pm

                >>> I’m very confident we’d see 75-80% of the people say they’d rather walk, bike, and take transit… In other words, anything but drive. <<<

                This could be tested by looking at what people do when they have alternatives available. Do 3/4 of people who live in the inner neighborhoods within 1/4 mile of a grocery store walk (or bike) there? Do 3/4 of people who have a high-quality transit ride to get to work take it (or bike or walk)? Do 3/4 of people who could take a single train to the airport do so?

                I think we know the answer to these questions is almost certainly "no". I believe a majority prefer driving even when they have good alternatives available, even if they might claim otherwise.

                Recommended Thumb up 7

              • Avatar
                Shuppatsu December 17, 2019 at 2:43 pm

                Hello, Kitty
                >>> I’m very confident we’d see 75-80% of the people say they’d rather walk, bike, and take transit… In other words, anything but drive. <<<This could be tested by looking at what people do when they have alternatives available. Do 3/4 of people who live in the inner neighborhoods within 1/4 mile of a grocery store walk (or bike) there? Do 3/4 of people who have a high-quality transit ride to get to work take it (or bike or walk)? Do 3/4 of people who could take a single train to the airport do so?I think we know the answer to these questions is almost certainly “no”. I believe a majority prefer driving even when they have good alternatives available, even if they might claim otherwise.Recommended 3

                I generally agree with this tack, but it does not address Jonathan’s point (made below) about policies that encourage car ownership. Plus, a person may fit one of those criteria while needing a car for different criteria. And the cost/benefit analysis on a per-trip basis is markedly different for someone who has already invested in car ownership vs. someone who has not.

                The question comes down to how much it should cost to own and operate a car, in terms of time and money. So long as it’s cheap, it will remain a compelling option.

                Recommended Thumb up 4

              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty December 17, 2019 at 2:57 pm

                Well, of course, now you are talking about something completely different: would people still prefer to use their car if the parameters of doing so were (perhaps radically) transformed?

                I’m sure we could all trivially construct scenarios where no one would choose to drive, even if the alternatives were pretty bad.

                What it “should” cost is a policy decision that will need to have some level of public buy-in if we are going to radically change the status-quo (which I agree might be necessary).

                Recommended Thumb up 4

              • Avatar
                9watts December 17, 2019 at 11:32 pm

                “But if you just mean an agency that from yours and my perspective has the wrong priorities, I agree with you 100%.”

                Well, I think it is important to point out that this isn’t just you and me who think this. You make it sound like we are cranks who happen to have funny ideas about what is important. I’m pretty sure that most people know something is amiss if they ar honest with themselves (weather, climate, inequality, militarism, state violence, racism, etc). But limiting ourselves just to transportation, I would ask the question I already asked above – can anyone name a project that ODOT completed that demonstrates excellence, that is something everyone is proud of? That we could point to as a counter-example when feeling resentful of ODOT?

                if not, why not?

                Recommended Thumb up 1

              • Avatar
                Glenn II December 18, 2019 at 4:57 pm

                While I mostly agree that the “mainstream” is more in favor of transportation reform (not to mention further to the left politically) than it usually seems, I think it’s seductive and dangerous to adopt anything resembling this attitude: “My opponents seem to have some opinions, but they’re wrong, and in fact they would already agree with me, if only they knew what I know! If only they could be educated!”

                That’s the kind of talk that loses elections. If you’re to have any hope of reaching people, particularly people who disagree with you, you have to meet them where they are. Listen first.

                Or be tall. Nine times out of 10, people just vote for whoever’s taller. So actually never mind. Look around; human society doesn’t run on facts. Or virtue. And smart people are in the minority.

                Anyway, deceived or not, the mainstream drives. It’s messed-up for any number of reasons, but there it is.

                Recommended Thumb up 1

              • Avatar
                9watts December 18, 2019 at 5:22 pm

                “That’s the kind of talk that loses elections”

                Which is why it is good that I am not running for any office.
                As Bill McKibben famously put it, “you don’t negotiate with Physics.”

                Recommended Thumb up 0

              • Avatar
                Brian December 19, 2019 at 1:32 pm

                9watts, what is your opinion of the Hwy 26 improvement near the area of the Mirror Lake Trailhead/Ski Bowl?

                Recommended Thumb up 1

              • Avatar
                El Biciclero December 19, 2019 at 7:41 pm

                “mainstream demand”

                When in line at McDonald’s, what’s the demand like for the grilled salmon? It all depends on the menu. We have the McDonald’s of transportation options: cars, SUVs, trucks, or taking your life in your hands; you want fries with that?

                Recommended Thumb up 2

              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty December 19, 2019 at 7:43 pm

                It also depends on your budget. Someone has to pay for the salmon.

                Recommended Thumb up 0

              • Avatar
                9watts December 19, 2019 at 9:41 pm

                Brian
                9watts, what is your opinion of the Hwy 26 improvement near the area of the Mirror Lake Trailhead/Ski Bowl?Recommended 0

                I am not familiar with that stretch. Why do you ask?

                Recommended Thumb up 0

              • Avatar
                Brian December 20, 2019 at 5:59 am

                Above you asked if there are any ODOT projects worthy of praise, and that is the first project that came to mind.

                Recommended Thumb up 1

              • Avatar
                9watts December 20, 2019 at 6:23 am

                OK! I understand. I wonder if anyone else agrees.
                What made that project stand out for you?

                Recommended Thumb up 0

          • Avatar
            Chris I December 17, 2019 at 11:02 am

            And what percentage of those people think it’s a good idea with a $4 toll? How about an $8 toll?

            Recommended Thumb up 6

      • Avatar
        Brent December 17, 2019 at 11:46 am

        The west end of Sellwood bridge is not ideal for cars either. I see crashes there all the time. I think people don’t realize how steep it is coming down from the crest and can’t stop in time. The speed limit is 25 for a reason, even though it feels like you can go faster. Icy conditions are the worst. I’ve seen a dozen car at one time on the west end in various states of wreckage because the drivers were not being careful in the conditions. (Sometimes they go up on the sidewalk which is terrifying to a biker / walker like me.)

        That said, I understand the design of the interchange on the west side was constrained in part by the geology of the area. There is a slow moving landslide at that location that immediately started buckling and breaking the old sellwood bridge as soon as it was constructed over 100 years ago because the slow moving landslide was not known about back then. They were also designing the bridge and interchange to withstand a strong earthquake (Sellwood is one to two bridges in the area expected to remain serviceable in a big cascadia quake. Some other bridges will survive, but their onramps won’t). Finally, they added some much improved bike infrastructure to the westside path in the area. That all takes “acre of concrete” to build safely.

        I’m no engineer and can’t speak to any specific design details that were or were not included in the new sellwood bridge, nor to alternatives that may have worked “better” or been more aesthetically pleasing to you. I also think some criticism of the design is valid. However, some criticism is not valid because it does not fully recognize all the constraints or the mandated goals that the engineers faced.

        Recommended Thumb up 5

        • Avatar
          q December 17, 2019 at 8:03 pm

          Yes, I’m aware of all that. My criticisms DID recognize those constraints.

          Your saying, “some criticism is not valid because it does not fully recognize all the constraints or the mandated goals that the engineers faced” gets EXACTLY at the heart of why I said ODOT shouldn’t be driving street design here. It’s also exactly why the same project engineers you mention were often so frustrated with ODOT–because some of the “constraints and mandated goals” were placed on the project by ODOT, and those made it much more difficult to address the other constraints.

          As one example, ODOT mandated certain speeds, for instance at the westside, northbound exit lane. ODOT’s unwillingness to accept a lower limit led to the project having to be reworked well into the design phase to move the access to the houseboats to the north. That alone cost millions of dollars.

          Lower speeds and narrower lanes and shoulders that ODOT would not accept could also have allowed the massive westside retaining walls to move closer to the river. A small change would have meant massive savings in excavation, concrete and therefore cost.

          The pedestrian and bike infrastructure could have been much better at the west end, and could have been paid for easily if ODOT had been more flexible.

          Here’s the result–basically a freeway several lanes wide. ODOT’s involvement was a central reason it looks this bad and cost so much: https://www.google.com/maps/@45.4670223,-122.6698091,3a,15y,166.37h,92.85t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1spPT07aRkPQok4qbSUYw8qA!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

          Recommended Thumb up 2

          • Avatar
            Brent December 18, 2019 at 9:43 am

            Ok. I’ll take your word for it. Like I said, I’m not completely aware of any alternative designs that could have worked better. Your points about ODOT mandating designs that would accommodate driving speeds that we’ve found are unsafe in that location certainly sounds like ODOT.

            Recommended Thumb up 0

          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty December 18, 2019 at 10:10 am

            I’ve haven’t that way in a car since the rebuild, and the design is less apparent from the bike path. I agree that it is highly overengineered, and that a cheaper, svelter design would have worked just as well, or perhaps even better.

            Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Avatar
    B. Carfree December 16, 2019 at 5:29 pm

    ***Comment deleted by moderator***

    Recommended Thumb up 15

    • Avatar
      D'Andre Muhammed December 17, 2019 at 6:53 am

      I dunno man no matter where you land on this topic, wishing someone was dead is not cool dude. Not cool at all.

      Recommended Thumb up 6

      • Avatar
        B. Carfree December 17, 2019 at 2:17 pm

        To be clear, I didn’t wish anyone dead. The commissioner himself was the one who said he couldn’t live with a delay of this project if it went on longer than a couple months. His statement struck me as so over-the-top that I went along with it to its logical conclusion.

        In fact, I wish him a long and healthy life, but I do wish he would resign his position on the OTC or at least listen to the youth and impartial engineers who are speaking out against what is being done.

        Recommended Thumb up 7

  • Avatar
    Mark Smith December 16, 2019 at 6:08 pm

    Everyone in odot knows congestion pricing will pretty much solve their congestion problems. But they don’t want that.. they want to build and satisfy Thier future employers who are no doubt waiting on billions of dollars plus change orders.

    Imagine a finely tuned i5 with dynamic pricing. It would run at speed pretty much all the time. Want proof? Look at any dynamic priced lane or road. Never, ever packed unless there is a crash.

    Recommended Thumb up 17

  • Avatar
    Mark Smith December 16, 2019 at 6:08 pm

    B. Carfree
    OTC commissioner Martin Callery says he can live with a few months delay, but no more. I guess he’ll have to expire so that our young people can live.Rest in Peace, Martin, it’s been real.Recommended 0

    That’s a little dramatic.

    Recommended Thumb up 13

  • Avatar
    Doug Hecker December 17, 2019 at 8:05 am

    q
    I was thinking exactly that as I walked across the Sellwood Bridge today. Its west end is insane–acres of unrelieved concrete lanes and retaining walls, and freeway signage. It was a dinosaur from the day it opened, in terms of the 100% focus on moving cars quickly at the expense of every other consideration. Often during the project, when people protested various aspects of the design, the project team would say, “Sorry, ODOT” with some legitimacy.ODOT shouldn’t be driving street design in Portland.Recommended 3

    The upside is that the design brought free speed bumps to every street in close proximity to the bridge on the east side. Compliments of the city.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Avatar
      q December 17, 2019 at 11:52 am

      The project did have some major benefits. I avoided walking across the old one. (And I don’t think it was ODOT pushing for the wide sidewalks.)

      I was mainly referring to what looks like a freeway interchange on the west side, but actually the east side may have been harmed by that more than the west. By the time eastbound cars get on the bridge, drivers have been told by the design that they’re on a freeway, so they take that attitude across the bridge, where as you said, the City had to deal with the results.

      Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Avatar
    Fred December 17, 2019 at 8:11 am

    Here’s the fundamental problem ODOT faces:

    There are thousands of people in cars who say “We want to go faster.” ODOT says, Okay – we can move you faster by building more road capacity (which isn’t true, or is true only to the point where the larger road fills up with more cars).

    Instead, ODOT needs to be saying, Y’all need to get out of your cars and get on a bus, train, bike, scooter, or avoid the trip altogether. But they are not saying that.

    Recommended Thumb up 10

  • Avatar
    maxD December 17, 2019 at 9:54 am

    ODOT needs a bigger stake or more pointed mandate to focus on TRANSPORTATION and not only roads.

    Recommended Thumb up 7

  • Avatar
    Jeff Glanville December 17, 2019 at 10:03 am

    Do you honestly believe 80% of commuters would prefer NOT to drive their own cars? If that’s your honest perception, I believe it’s become extremely skewed.

    Recommended Thumb up 8

    • Avatar
      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) December 17, 2019 at 10:11 am

      Yeah. Driving sucks. People do it because they’ve been marketed to since they were babies and because the system subsidizes them to do it and makes it the easiest thing to do. If we priced driving what it actually costs, made other options more competitive, and discouraged people from living so far from where they work, I’m confident a large majority of people would rather not commute alone in an expensive vehicle that destroys the planet, can easily kill innocent people, and costs $thousands of dollars a year to maintain.

      Recommended Thumb up 17

      • Avatar
        maxD December 17, 2019 at 11:04 am

        We need to stop building our transit like second class transportation or rides for poor people. Compare the park and ride facilities to the furnishings a the stops- particularly at the airport or along the Orange Line. Look the pathetic bus stops, the junky buses, the lack of bus lanes, etc. Buses and trains need to be nice and clean and fast and efficient and always available. You should be able to take your bike, your stroller or your pet conveniently on a bus or train. The transit network needs to go where people want to go, not just home to work, but also integrated with parks and destinations.

        Recommended Thumb up 12

      • Avatar
        chris December 17, 2019 at 3:57 pm

        >Yeah. Driving sucks.

        Driving sucks in Portland, sure. Whenever I’m in Clark County, however, I’m struck by how remarkably easy breezy it is. If I lived and worked there, I would probably end up driving to work, given how easy it is. It’s not because the bike infrastructure isn’t bad. I find it easier to bike in Vancouver than here, namely because the auto congestion is less severe.

        I don’t think this motorist “false consciousness” narrative serves you well. The revealed preference of the general population is to drive. Sure, if incentives were structured differently, they might reveal different preferences in terms of behavior, but that can be said regarding any choice of behavior. As it stands, your faction presents itself as being blatantly paternalistic and condescending with respect to the desires of the general population. We cyclists are a minority, and I don’t think there’s much effort that the general population harbors any latent desire to ride a bike to work, while only refraining due to circumstance. I think you’ve cultivated ill-will by demonizing a mode of transport that the overwhelming majority of the population finds extremely useful. This is especially apparent in light of the fact that both bike and transit ridership have declined, in spite significant investment in both modes. People have clearly rebelled against it. I’m not sure that by doubling down on the stick is the best response, especially when the carrot isn’t very enticing.

        BTW, Clark County is an example of how it is possible for a metro area to build its way out of automobile congestion. If you turn on the traffic layer in Google Maps during rush hour, all its main arteries are green (which the exception of the i5 and 205 bridges, of course). It has built so much roadway relative to population that it hasn’t induced sufficient demand for congestion.

        I recognize that Portland doesn’t have the space to build sufficient roadway to accommodate all would-be Portland metro traffic, and that you don’t want Portland to be like Clark County, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City or any other area that has built more roadway than their population is capable of filling up. At this point, even if i5 were widened to ten lanes, it would fill up due to latent demand. It’s going to be an extremely congested city at this point forward, and I don’t see it being fixed. People will keep driving here, even though it’s not fun in Portland, because they still see it preferable to biking and taking transit (unless they’re going downtown and want to avoid the hassle of parking). Cycling will continue to become dicier as a result of people driving opportunistically and unpredictably in response to congestion, and no amount of new bike infrastructure will be sufficient to compensate for this dynamic. Public transit still won’t take people to where they want to go using a direct route most of the time.

        Recommended Thumb up 7

        • Avatar
          Chris I December 18, 2019 at 10:07 am

          Sr-14, SR-500, and many local streets do get quite congested up in Vancouver on a regular basis. While congestion can be annoying, it really is the wrong thing to track. How long does it take the average citizen to get to work? How long does it take them to get to the grocery store? How long to school with their kids? This is what we should be measuring. It doesn’t matter if you are driving 5mph or 60mph. If it takes you an hour to get to work, it is detrimental to your well-being. Especially if you are sitting on your rear end the entire time.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      Shuppatsu December 17, 2019 at 1:22 pm

      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
      If we priced driving what it actually costs, made other options more competitive, and discouraged people from living so far from where they work, I’m confident…Recommended 6

      There’s the rub. All those things are unpopular, alas.

      Recommended Thumb up 3

  • Avatar
    Johnny Bye Carter December 17, 2019 at 10:21 am

    Maybe she doesn’t call for an EIS because that will prove that freeway expansion is a bad idea and then it will be used against ODOT to kill every road widening project, and then her political career.

    Recommended Thumb up 4

  • Avatar
    mh December 17, 2019 at 10:28 am

    I cheered the Governor’s letter when I first read it last night, but rereading from this article made me see ” The planned improvements along with demand management is the strategy we should pursue.” Ouch. “Planned improvements” (as in, the expansion as currently planned) first, and nothing specific on “demand management” does not sound like much if any improvement.

    Recommended Thumb up 8

  • Avatar
    Kent December 17, 2019 at 10:31 am

    Is this not a democracy? Seriously, who does ODOT answer to if not Governor Brown? Can she not order an EIS and start replacing ODOT leaders until she finds ones that will actually follow her lead?

    To the extent that none of that happens suggests this is on Governor Brown and not ODOT bureaucrats.

    Recommended Thumb up 6

    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty December 17, 2019 at 1:27 pm

      I believe ODOT does not answer to Gov. Brown; they are overseen by a 5 person commission (OTC), whose members are appointed by the governor, but are also somewhat independent.

      https://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/Get-Involved/Pages/OTC_Main.aspx

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      Fred December 18, 2019 at 6:30 am

      I don’t think you’d want a governor who can pick and choose the projects she wants. Imagine a governor like the current occupant of the White House: you’d have pet projects being done all over the state that would have to be un-done when that person left the governor’s office. The fact that most gov’ts in the US have carefully balanced separation of powers is what keeps us from being ruled by an autocrat.

      All of this is aside from the issue of whether ODOT truly represents the will of the people, which is a separate problem.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Avatar
    9watts December 17, 2019 at 11:02 am

    Neil Banman
    Sure, but it’s hard to call it a rogue agency if it prioritizes mainstream demand.

    Road widening is easy to mistake for mainstream demand because our society is so screwed up, so biased toward automobility, so impoverished when it comes to grasping the pleasures of a full complement of transportation alternatives.

    Neil Banman
    I’m glad environmentalists/cyclists hold outsize sway. Recommended 6

    I think that was an attempt at humor?

    Recommended Thumb up 3

    • Avatar
      Shuppatsu December 17, 2019 at 12:44 pm

      This is Neil. I prefer not to use my real name but I messed up since the site requires that I enter my name every time. Not trying to sockpuppet.

      Mainstream demand can absolutely be screwed up, biased, impoverished, etc. That makes it wrong, but it doesn’t prevent it from being mainstream.

      No attempts at humor here. I think that environmentalists and cyclists do hold outsize sway over policy decisions. Partly because they are a special interest group, and special interest groups care much more about those issues than the average person (see the NRA). I think I understand your incredulity because environmentalists and cyclists have not been successful in their ultimate objectives. Be that as it may, proportional to their numbers I think they have been very successful advocates. Particularly with respect to transportation policy in Portland.

      Recommended Thumb up 2

      • Avatar
        B. Carfree December 17, 2019 at 2:30 pm

        Sure, since the fossil fool companies took total control of every aspect of transportation to severely restrict choice to driving, taking 5X as long to use transit, or riding on substandard facilities that feel deadly, the overwhelming “choice” people make is to drive. However, since it’s estimated that each household pays $14k/yr in extra taxes to facilitate all that car use as well as the average annual $9k/car cost, would they still choose driving if they could designate other places for that money to go? When someone visits a city that isn’t designed for cars only, do they return home and comment on how those people in NL have totally ruined their cities, or do they wish we would go down that (bike)path?

        I guess I’m saying that both you and Jonathon can be right on this and that transportation choices aren’t made in a vacuum.

        Recommended Thumb up 2

        • Avatar
          Shuppatsu December 17, 2019 at 2:59 pm

          B. Carfree
          I guess I’m saying that both you and Jonathon can be right on this and that transportation choices aren’t made in a vacuum.

          Yes, I think I’ve said that repeatedly both in response to Jonathan and 9watts. Also, see my reply to Hello, Kitty above where I bring up the fact that you have to consider how car ownership is subsidized in addition to the availability of adequate alternatives.

          That $14k/yr estimate sounds high to me, but I’m not educated on this. Do you have a source on that? Also consider that our roads and highways are not used solely for private vehicle travel, so presumably much of that infrastructure spend would have to be used for whatever alternate business/shipping/public transport we prefer.

          Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Avatar
    X December 17, 2019 at 3:40 pm

    Shuppatsu:.

    “The question comes down to how much it should cost to own and operate a car, in terms of time and money. So long as it’s cheap, it will remain a compelling option.”

    For most car owners the cost of ownership is mainly an investment in prestige. Everything we pay before turning on the engine is a sunk cost, so the marginal (additional) cost of driving to the airport may be less than taking the Max. Also, a car trip doesn’t involve six or eight station stops along the way.

    Many new vehicles are conspicuous consumptions pure and simple. A new vehicle can cost an amount of money that I once paid for a house. There are already leading indications that lots of this year’s land yachts will be flying a For Sale sign soon enough.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      Shuppatsu December 17, 2019 at 4:48 pm

      For most car owners the cost of ownership is mainly an investment in prestige.

      I disagree, though I doubt that it could be proved to the satisfaction of both of us. Certainly prestige pays a role and results in more expensive cars. I’m not convinced that, absent that effect, car ownership would be significantly lower. We’d just have a bunch more Civics and Accords, and much fewer Ford F-Thunderdromes and Cannonball Run Mercs.

      Everything we pay before turning on the engine is a sunk cost, so the marginal (additional) cost of driving to the airport may be less than taking the Max.

      I believe I made this point? If not, I certainly intended to.

      Many new vehicles are conspicuous consumptions pure and simple. A new vehicle can cost an amount of money that I once paid for a house. There are already leading indications that lots of this year’s land yachts will be flying a For Sale sign soon enough.

      I don’t think I follow. But it does put me to mind another potential roadblock, in that people think that riding bikes and taking public transport is something that only poor people do, and they do not want to associate themselves with that image. Perhaps that’s why people buy fancy bicycles?

      Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Avatar
    Peter W December 17, 2019 at 5:57 pm

    Given that Brown hasn’t called for the EIS, it seems she’s giving the freeway building lobby a few more months to build pressure on Mayor Wheeler et al.

    But it would also give No More Freeways et al more time to organize.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Avatar