Commuting to North Portland on Friday nights can take an hour because of Vancouver-bound traffic. Can we put a toll on the Interstate Bridge? That revenue would help, and might encourage the property-tax dodgers to carpool.
—Blocked by SUVs
After last week's column about filth on the MAX and the previous one on dog crap in Forest Park, a friend requested that, just once, I write a column with no poop. Your squeaky-clean bridge query, Blocked, shows promise in this regard.
However, like most readers with seemingly innocent public-policy questions about Washington, it seems clear what you really want to ask is, "Can we declare war on Vancouver?"
Portland has always been an uneasy fit with the larger Pacific Northwest. Depending who you ask, we're either a suppurating venereal cesspit besmirching an otherwise pristine vista of righteousness, or a beleaguered garrison of reason surrounded by the knuckle-dragging orcs of provincialism. (My take is that we're a cesspit surrounded by orcs, which I guess makes me a moderate.)
The point is, everyone knows that deep down you're just trying to get even with Vancouver for legalizing Republicans and sneering at your kale. Unfortunately, your hostile-tolling scheme won't work.
Modern toll bridges don't have toll booths—instead, compliant cars carry a chip that allows the driver's account to be decremented on each crossing. Folks who ignore the law aren't stopped, but they can get their vehicle registration yanked by their state.
If Washington doesn't like your toll plan, though, they can just refuse to punish Washington drivers, rendering your act of war moot.
This is not to say that we'll never see tolls on the Interstate Bridge.
In fact, many plans for the undead Columbia River Crossing call for them. But if tolling happens, it will be as a shining expression of interstate cooperation, understanding and mutual respect. For me to poop on.
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