No Light Rail for Clark County

by lewwaters

trimet-max-new-trainListening to local radio news, it appears that Mayors Royce Pollard and Tom Potter have decided we will have Light Rail, like it or not and totally ignoring that we Clark county voters said NO!

As can be expected, both the Columbian and C-Trans support the move to shove Light Rail down our throats and even tries to fool us by telling us polls show strong support for the idea, neglecting to mention that of the 540 respondents polled, only 104 were from Clark County.

This is our elected officials ignoring the clear statement of Clark County voters when the idea was rejected by a 2 to 1 margin.

Portland’s Max Line, which is what we will be tied to, has been beset with crime and delays, it is an expensive and inefficient system being forced on us. Outgoing County Commissioner, Betty Sue Morris admitted as much in her final State of the County speech this past February.

Still, we know we need to replace the aging I-5 Bridge to unsnarl the bottleneck seen on it twice daily. But, will the proposals accomplish that? Don’t bank on it.

The proposed replacement bridge will consist of 3-lanes in each direction, what we have now. Of course, Light Rail will be an additional lane, even though few people use public transportation into Portland now.

Estimated cost is over $4 Billion, including Light Rail. Eliminate Light Rail and that estimated cost is drastically reduced.

Once we have Light Rail along with a new bridge, we can expect tolls on the aging I-5 Bridge, the I-205 bridge and the new bridge once completed. Add to that taxes will undoubtedly go up as Light Rail will draw few riders and will require heavy subsidies by us, either in yet another sales tax increase or property tax increases.

Light Rail riders will pay as little as possible, to try to draw riders and we taxpayers will pay for it, just as we do now with nearly empty C-Trans buses in North County.

Once operating we can expect the criminal element that has been preying on Portland’s Max riders to make it into Clark Counties Light Rail and prey on our citizens too.

Portland politicians embrace proposed tolls as a means to discourage Clark County’s commuters from driving into Portland. That so many work there and pay Oregon taxes without any voice is ignored as Portland’s Mayor Tom Potter spoke to KPAM 860’s Bob Miller just this morning (downloadable MP3 at 06/25/08 – Mayor Potter endorses new I-5 bridge) and admitted it is a move to force people out of their cars.” (about 8:30 into the interview)

Did we elect these people to force us out or in to anything? Are we no longer the Land of the Free with freedom and liberty for all? Is this “representative government” when they intend to “force” us to do their bidding?

We aren’t being given a chance to reject this, as both Potter and Pollard know the voters don’t want it. The Mayors and Commissioners have rejected us voters as they have decided to shove this down our throats, like it or not.

We can’t reject it, but we can reject those forcing it upon us by voting them out of office next time up for reelection and calling, emailing or writing to them and telling them all where to shove their Light Rail proposals!

Let them know they work for us, not the other way around.

Tell them WE DON’T WANT THE LIGHT RAIL. We want a third bridge!


4 Responses to “No Light Rail for Clark County”

  1. I enjoyed your writing style and I’ve added you to my Reader. Keep these posts coming.

  2. Thank you, SEO, I appreciate your kind words.

    Keep an eye out, I am goingto write about Sam Adams tantrum over the bridge soon.

  3. “Light rail” sounds low cost. It is not. “Light Rail” simply means that it is designed to handle fewer passengers that “heavy rail” systems. Note that Portland’s Tri-Met trains consist of two articulated cars, with a maximum, packed standing capacity of, perhaps 350-400 passengers (a level of crowding that most people would avoid). In comparison the “heavy rail” BART of the San Francisco Bay area runs up to 10 car trains that can carry 1000 to 1200 passengers in “standing room only” conditions.

    Politicians love “light rail” projects. First they get to spend hundreds of millions (even billions) of tax-payer money on expensive contracts granted to “bidders” (who come from a limited group of crony capitalists). Next, they get a unionized workforce to run the transit system, where the unions pay-off with “political contributions.” (This is exactly the system that turned California into a “worker’s paradise” and a “taxpayer’s nightmare.” (Yeah, I escaped from California some years ago…)

    On average, EVERY “light rail” system built in the past 20 years has cost about double the initial estimates and has served about half the number of passengers in the estimates made to justify building the system(s). Note that over the past 30 years there have been massive cost “over-runs” with Tri-Met in construction, maintenance, and transit car acquisition.

    Light rail system are typically financed by issuing 30-year bonds. What they promoters never mention is that the average lifespan of a transit system is about 30 years. At that point, major renovation is required as tracks, electric power facilities, and passenger handling systems are worn out. (Interim maintenance, typically, in a government run transit system does not keep up with wear, causing systems to become more and more unreliable over the years.)

    While it is true that in a “full train” situation that transit systems are more efficient than privately financed automobiles, a “full service” transit system must run for most of a 24 hour day. (Often, depending on the city, “last” trains might operate at 2 AM with a pause in service until 4 or 4:30 AM — this allows some of the more disruptive maintenance to be performed.)

    The “success” of the Tri-Met has been created by the diversion of “highway funds” from building and maintaining highways to building and maintaining Tri-Met. This has caused considerable congestion on the highways/freeways serving Portland. Note that I-5 only has 2 lanes in each direction as it passes through central Portland. Only a bare minimum has been spent on highways/freeways and city streets in Portland since Tri-Met started sucking up all the highway funds. (Even the city streets in Portland have declined in quality since building Tri-Met.) The proposals (made in about 1979) for a western bridge and completion of a “ring” freeway (I-205 being the eastern part of the “ring”) around central Portland. It is sad that the “ring” freeway was never completed — I note that the proposal occurred just as a “revolt” agains freeway building occurred, particularly in San Francisco, California. Apparently some of that same misconstrued thinking rubbed off on Portland.

    Light rail transit was a technology that was very effective in the late 19th and early 20th century in the form of trolley cars and “interurban” trains. Starting in the 20s and 30s, rail transit systems started being ripped up — with a delay caused by WWII — but nearly every such system had been removed by the mid-1950s, with the exception of a few very truncated systems (such as Cable Cars in San Francisco and limited trolley systems there and in other larger cities). The municipal operators had discovered that busses were a far more efficient and flexible system of moving people. That remains the case today. Had Tri-Met been build out as a “bus rapid transit” system (with dedicated right of way as it now has) it would cost half as much to build and operate. It would also be more flexible, as busses can be routed over any street — while the least problem along the rail line shuts down the trains, causing major delays.

    You can add me to the list of the many who do not support extending Tri-Met trolley cars into Clark County.


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