Rep. Wylie, “Job is to Prevent The Ferret Brains”

by lewwaters

Still believe the ultimate goal isn’t to resurrect the failed and highly unpopular CRC?

Rep. Sharon Wylie speaking tonight, Mar 21, 2017 towards the closing of the 49th Tele Town Hall

8 Comments to “Rep. Wylie, “Job is to Prevent The Ferret Brains””

  1. Does this mean that you will consider only an I-5 crossing based on the old CRC project with the LR mass-transit component? Also, does this mean that the contract between C-Tran and Tri-Met is still in place?


  2. 1. WIth reasonable maintenance the existing I-5 bridge has another 50 years of safe service. It is considered “functionally obsolete.” That means the lane widths and shoulder widths (and possibly some other clearance criteria) do not meet current standards. The “functional obsolescence” can easily be cured by re-stripeing the bridge to have two lanes in each direction leaving room for a shoulder on either side of the roadway. Of course, this would result in EVEN WORSE traffic congestion.

    2. Politicians (and the crony capitalists who support them) are enamored with “light rail” transit systems. However, the claimed “highly successful” rail transit systems can only operate with significant taxpayer subsidies. For example, BART “The most successful rail transit system built in the past 50 years,” only gets 52% of its operating budget from the farebox. The remaining operating budget is made up from sales taxes and fuel taxes. The capital budget (pays for extensions, new rail cars, and other improvements) ONLY comes from the local taxpayers. In addition to sales and fuel tax, all property owners pay additional property tax to cover the “bonded indebtedness” of BART. I’m less familiar with Portland’s TriMet, but it probably only handles a fraction of the passenger count of BART (BART trains in busy times are 10 cars, TriMet only seems to run 2-car trains art all times.) Extending TriMet to Clark County is simply not reasonable. Currently busses serve the cross-river commuter travel. Add in a bus-rail transfer, and it simply lengthens the commute. (I know this from direct experience with BART and its connections with bus transit — it was quicker to simply take the bus the whole distance unless you were within walking distance of a BART station.)

    3. The “robust transit” (light rail) associated with a new I-5 bridge would be going into service (in perhaps 10 years considering the usual delays in large projects of this type) just about the time that self-driving automobiles will be quite common, including relatively low-cost services (like Uber’s commute) that picks up a “carpool” of passengers and takes them to their destination. The most expensive part of current Uber (and similar services) is the cost of the driver. Once the driver is out of the equation, then the cars can be scheduled very efficiently and can be kept busy all during the work day taking passengers where they need to go. The self-driving automobile is very likely to wipe out the public mass transit systems with their disruptive technology. (TriMet staff will be “out” but there’ll be new jobs servicing and maintaining the fleets of self-driving autos.)

    4. A replacement for the I-5 Bridge will not significantly improve traffic flow. The serious traffic problems are on the Portland side of the river, due to anti-car under investment in adequate highways. A new bridge, to the west of the current I-5 bridge with appropriate freeway connections could relieve the congestion currently making Portland’s highways impassible. The suggestion I’ve heard, that makes good sense is a crossing and connecting freeway via Hillsboro … which is extended to connect back to I-5 (perhaps) just north of Salem. That would move all through traffic off the I-5 bridge and the linking freeways on the Oregon side. Another bridge, perhaps near Camas, connecting to I-84 would divert through traffic onto less-crowded Clark County highways, rather than joining the congestion to the south. Note that the I-205 bridge and connection though the eastern side of Portland is now seriously congested due to the close proximity to Portland (and failure to add lanes to I-205 in a timely fashion). I note that crossing on 205 usually becomes congested in the area just past the Airport exit. Coming north, I’ve fought heavy traffic all the way from Wilsonville until passing the interchanges on the north side of the 205 bridge where traffic spreads out, with not particularly serious congestion on I-205 in Washington (that lightens considerably as you head north). Washington could do well to add lanes to I-205 in the near term.

    Note: I lived the majority of my working life in the San Francisco Bay Area… commuting to San Francisco from the East Bay, using automobiles, busses, and BART at different times and as my personal circumstances varied. The extremely well-developed anti-car crowd in the Bay Area had seriously managed to restrain the addition of freeway lanes and new connectors (with the mantra that “roads create traffic”).The real intent was to make traveling on the roads so miserable that people would give up and take BART — a process that has worked, but with the cost that “rush hour” in the SF region is now 24 hours per day. I would truly hate to see that happen here. By the way, roads do not “create traffic.” Economic growth is what creates traffic, which was truly noticeable during recessions when freeway congestion was considerably relieved.

    If there are any “ferret brains” out there, I do believe that they are among our elected representatives.


  3. Stephanie, THe only way that masss choo choo train ever will tilt its horn is if someone pays for it. IF you watched the previous post of Lew’s watching HB 2095 that passed out of the state house transportation committee that Ed Orcutt proliferously was trying to kill the train and I-5 components.

    If you look further, I would call your elected officials and try to find out where they stand. Then talk to your husband and try to get them working together to put a web site or story boards around the county saying no more light rail.

    Friends of John Gault… I am going to answer this simply. That bridge has cracks in its metal infrastructure and with the over weight loads not allowed on Interstate 205 – Glen Jackson Bridge, it leaves the Interstate 5 bridge to take the parts out. I want to see more about the bridge and tell me more about what you think.

    There is no way that you are going to get 50 more years out of that bridge, due to flooding and undermining of that bridge. Please speak to ODOT and WashDOT engineers whom job it is to make sure that bridge is safe.


  4. Jeremy, Thanks for the info about cracks and undermining of the current I-5 bridge. My search of publicly available information about the bridge only found it listed on a report of “substandard” bridges in Washington State, with the indication that it was “functionally obsolete.” There were no indications in the report that the I-5 bridge had structural issues. (Though many other bridges on the list were shown as structurally deficient.) However, I’ll admit that the report I found may not be as current as I thought it was… and that more serious structural issues on the I-5 bridge may have been overlooked for that report.

    However, I stand by my comments that adding trolley cars on ANY bridge crossing from Oregon is a pointless exercise, since they are already “functionally obsolete” for efficient and cost-effective commuter transportation. And, it should be quite obvious to all who travel across that bridge (at almost any time of day) that it is the inadequate freeways and connectors on the Oregon side that contribute significantly to the slow commute. The southbound commute is poorly served by the SR-14 on-ramp right at the base of the bridge. In my years of driving, “last minute” on-ramps adjacent to other structures (bridges, tunnels) that seem constricting will create larger than normal traffic jams. If the SR-14 on-ramp was even just a 1/2 mile further north, some of the congestion would be alleviated. Note that on the Glenn Jackson bridge, a “last minute” on ramp (heading south) enters on a “new” lane that continues across the length of the bridge. Merging is a major contributor to traffic jams.

    I note that the I-5 bridge, due to it’s design, does cause a “tunnel effect” that always cause drivers to slow down. Modern highway bridge design avoids (when possible) superstructure above the roadway (see the Glenn Jackson Bridge) as there is a natural human tendency for drivers to slow down as they enter such structures. (I have many years experience traveling through the SF Bay Area’s Caldecott Tunnel, and no matter time of day or degree of traffic, everybody always takes their foot off the gas as they enter the tunnel, myself included. While less pronounced with bridges, I have observed that same tendency in the traffic as it enters the I-5 bridge — and on other bridges with seemingly “close in” structure.)


  5. The cracks are on a trunnion for one of the lift weights, not the bridge structure itself.

    Interstate 5 Bridge trunnion old, but still carrying weight

    Repairs to close part of I-5 Bridge in 2019

    An early morning bridge lift this morning followed by a wreck on the I-205 Bridge that had traffic on both freeways at a stand still shows once again the absolute need for additional crossings. How many times does it take for a crash on one bridge to cause both corridors to screech to a halt does it take for our “experts” to see this?


  6. Lew, thanks for the update. I now recall reading/hearing about the cracks in the trunnion in the lifting mechanism some while back, but had forgotten about it. Probably heard about it around when the second article appeared…

    Of course, that has no direct affect on the safety of the bridge to those using it to cross the river.


  7. John Galt…..

    Most of the traffic on Interstate 5 isn’t the cars its truck traffic to the Port of Portland and further south. If you take away the truck traffic it would take 15 percent of the trucks off the road heading south in the morning and north in the evening.

    Add in the inadequate shoulders of north and south bound SR 14 and Jantzen Beach, where one has to merge into already congested arterials. That is how the problems come into the interstate 5. Inadaquate weaving and people coming back and forth from those four interchanges blocks good traffic flow through the cooridor?

    Now if you look at adding another side flow from Interstate 5 to another crossing, think of it more throughly. The Coast Guard has eminenate domain over any bridge crossing and it would have to pass over the already busy air space.

    That means another Interstate bridge that is low to the water spit and no bumps for water trafic and no bumps for the new bridge for over flights of air traffic that the fly over salmon creek south south and fly right into landing at pearson, hillsboro or PDX.

    Then you add in the interstate travel of I-5, where is everyone going? Most of it is inner downtown or dinner places or central portland.

    Most of this came out during the CRC hearing in Olympia, Vancouver, Portland and Salem over 8 years and hundreds of millions wasted. If you want call ODOT or WashDOT and see if they still have a copy of the CRC video from Metro CIty and CVTV or paper work from the conversations typed outed out.

    I don’t blame Sharon Nasset any more. Blame needs to be shared because there is not enough heat to fix the bridges just yet.

    ANd the uber model isn’t sustainable enough to make sure it pays well. The computers in the car aren’t good yet and the mapping of unincorporated clark county and rural counties along Interstate 5 arn’t mapped yet, so some may be in for an awakening to walk part of the way.

    Running a car part time isn’t sustainable. 1 dollar a mile is fair. Any thing less means the IRS tax of 62 cents per mile reimbursement for travel isn’t fair yet. Some one is paying for that ride from one point to another. I would like to see the uber car ride expanded…


  8. Jeremy, please realize that a 15% reduction in traffic is very substantial. In my years and years of commuting in the San Francisco Bay Area (and a few years in Sacramento), I got rather well educated on how traffic flows. (It actually follows the rules of fluid dynamics.) It was notable that on certain “holidays” (such as Columbus Day) that are observed by most government workers, but are mostly NOT observed by private employers — it was like the roads opened up with double the space (but government workers did not even create 15% of the traffic in the SF Bay Area, though with the state government and the heavy Federal job count it may have been even more than 15% in the Sacramento area.)

    If a new bridge were built to the west of the current 1-5 bridge, there is nothing to stop it from being far enough west to avoid (or, at least reduce) the interference with the PDX and Pearson, and Hillsboro. (Note I used to have a pilot’s license and I flew in/out of Pearson some years ago…) I note that the lift-towers on the I-5 bridge currently reach into the height necessary for shipping traffic and thus must “interfere” with Pearson/PDX air traffic. I also note that the FAA/Coast Guard tend to be highly bureaucratic and would like to restrict everything and anything that has the least impact on nearby airports. I have no doubt that a practical and build able route from near (and probably north of) the current I-5/I-205 split, passing north of Vancouver Lake, then crossing the river near Frenchman’s Bar might well be able to avoid serious conflict with any of the local airports.

    As for the traffic destined to Portland “dinners, shows, and so-on,” I previously stated that Portland has under-invested in its freeway system (just like the San Francisco region) likely due to some “anti-car” attitude. Portland, and those who work there or wish to enjoy the amenities the city has to offer, will have to deal with it until such time that Portland decides to re-engineer the multiple bad decisions they’ve made about their arterials, highways, and freeways over the past 50 years.

    I have no sympathy (at all) for the City of San Francisco’s “freeway revolt” that occurred back in the 1970s (so that almost no further freeways were built in the city). More recently, San Francisco removed the Embarcadero Freeway — that allowed the surface street to have additional lanes added and did improve traffic flow … but access to the city has been and continues to be poor via the bridges that funnel all traffic making the distribution system inadequate. I’m also very aware of the likelihood of delaying lawsuits — where, for example, Interstate 80 through Contra Costa County had a proposed additional lane (to go from 3 to 4 in each direction) that spent more than a decade tied up in lawsuits filed by “environmental” groups. When the lane was finally built, it was actually time to increase the capacity by year ANOTHER lane, which may never be sought …

    Likewise, I have no sympathy for the City of Portland and its similar attitude toward moving traffic in, out, and through their city. I note that I have visited a few places where more amenable cultural and political attitudes have allowed highway construction to better keep up with traffic.

    Finally, while Uber _today_ is not a viable competitor with mass transit, in a decade (or more) before any “bridge solution” is built, the self-driving technology and costs of operating true _driverless_ vehicles may well significantly impact the cost of even bus transit solutions, to say nothing of inflexible rail solutions.

    If Oregon demands that “no trolley cars, then no bridge,” then I respond, so be it… and eventually you will strangle the economy that allows you to waste so much money on overpriced and under productive assets, such as Tri-Met.


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