September 23rd, 2013 | by ANDREA DAMEWOOD News | Posted In: Environment, Transportation, PDX News, Politics

Tolls on the Columbia River Crossing Will Max Out Interstate 205

New Public Records Unveil Massive Exodus from Interstate 5

news3_crc_3731The One-State Solution - SOURCE: CRC

Only about half as many cars would use the Columbia River Crossing than previously predicted, and far more will choke the Interstate 205 bridge as drivers try to avoid paying tolls, according to new information uncovered by Portland economist Joe Cortright.

Plans for tolling Interstate 5 at the CRC will cause Interstate 205 to reach capacity. Meanwhile, traffic on Interstate 5 will plummet to half that originally predicted by state officials. State officials were counting on higher traffic counts—and the tolls drivers would pay—to cover the costs of the $2.8 billion project.

The projections were made by CDM Smith—the company the CRC hired to perform an investment grade analysis on tolls—but were previously not disclosed by the CRC to state legislators or the media, despite a number of public records requests.

"Here’s what the world looks like after the new bridge opens: 87,000 cars a day are using the brand-new 12 lane bridge, while over 200,000 cars are using the I-205 bridge," says Cortright, who has long been an outspoken critic of the CRC. "The good news here, if people from Portland want to shop at Jantzen Beach, they should have no trouble getting there."

(The green line in the chart below shows the previous projection they've been using to convince federal officials; the red line are the new numbers Cortright uncovered): 

The numbers echo a point that many critics have been making for years: that tolling I-5 while keeping I-205 toll-free is foolhardy, especially since driving overall is on the decline. (The Portland Mercury reported in 2010 that one independent expert called the plan "stupid.")

Cortright released his 12-page analysis (PDF) today, just hours before Gov. John Kitzhaber officially announced a Sept. 30 special session for Oregon lawmakers. The $2.8 billion Oregon-only CRC wasn't on the list of topics for the session, but WW has reported it could be squeezed in.

In the past, CRC officials have characterized the projected traffic on the new bridge by giving estimated annual counts of trips—estimated in the millions.

The way the project gave its tolling and traffic predictions meant the new study couldn't be compared with the CRC's Final Environmental Impact Statement, which gave its predictions in average daily trips, Cortright says.

But the records Cortright turned up provide the average number of daily trips—the way CRC officials had presented it to federal officials in seeking approval for the project.

For example, the new numbers he uncovered show the new tolled CRC would see about 78,400 daily trips—far fewer than the more than 160,000 cars earlier predicted.

Meanwhile, the newly disclosed numbers say the I-205 will carry two and a half times as predicted earlier.

"Nobody really thinks in terms of millions of transactions per year," he tells WW. "But if you say there are 138,000 cars a day using I-205, and we’re going to add 50,000—that paints a pretty clear picture in people’s minds."

Maxing out I-205 (which reaches its saturation point at 210,000 daily trips; a point CDM Smith predicts it will hit in 2023) will jam up traffic to Portland International Airport, which Cortright argues is even more economically important and time-sensitive than I-5.

He also points out that CDM Smith has still not explained how the project will make the $1.3 billion in toll revenue it needs with such high levels of diversion.

His guess? Higher tolls.


 
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
comments powered by Disqus
 

Web Design for magazines

Close
Close
Close