Clackamas County Commissioners Demand I-205 Diversion Estimates from Columbia River Crossing

The Clackamas County Board of Commissioners wrote Gov. John Kitzhaber today with a warning: If they don't get good estimates on how tolling the Columbia River Crossing might affect Interstate 205, they'll officially oppose the project.

The letter (PDF), dated today, says the commissioners have asked Kitzhaber three times in five years for how tolling Interstate 5 would affect I-205 and "have failed to release satisfactory answers."

As WW reported, consultants CDM Smith have been preparing an investment grade analysis for tolling the $2.7 billion CRC. Emails obtained by WW show that state officials have long known that tolls on I5 would fill I-205 to capacity

"Clackamas County believes that tolling the CRC will create unmanageable congestion along I-205, a lifeline for Clackamas County businesses," says the letter, signed by Chairman John Ludlow on behalf of the board.

The letter says that Oregon Department of Transportation officials have said the CDM Smith study was not intended to answer questions about I-205 traffic, rather to conservatively estimate tolling predictions. (The cost of crossing may be more than $5 each way.)

"If the CDM Smith numbers are inaccurate, or overly conservative, what are the likely trip diversion numbers, and when are they likely to occur?" Ludlow writes.

The Oregonian reported last week that the commissioners were likely to send a "letter with teeth" regarding the proposed Oregon-only Interstate 5 project to replace bridges into Washington state, expand interchanges on both sides of the river and extend MAX lines to Vancouver.

The county commission says they believe ODOT has accurate numbers, and asks that the agency deliver them by Nov. 11. 

"Without this information, and without a reasonable accommodation for the influx of increased traffic, Clackamas County will likely oppose the CRC as currently proposed," Ludlow concludes.

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