The Rose Quarter conundrum: how to reduce I-5 congestion and get Clark County commuters to pay for it?
The solution seemed so obvious with the CRC – light rail and tolls.
1) Build humungous parking garages for Portland employers on the cheaper Vancouver real estate (paid for by the Clark County commuters who work in Portland; sort of a user fee) and build a light rail employee shuttle service from the Vancouver parking lots to the Downtown Portland office towers. Let’s see, with 2,900 parking spaces (provided we don’t let anyone else use them, like Clark College students, shoppers, or those new apartment dwellers) we can take 2% of the daily traffic off of I-5.
2) Make the light rail visible to the commuters. That way, when drivers are sitting in congested traffic watching their temperature gauges climb they’ll glance off to the side and see all those light rail passengers waiving their thanks for paying the tolls that paid for their own swift 1 hour commutes. You see, that is the current problem at the Rose Quarter – there is plenty of light rail there but it’s not visible. Make it visible people!
3) Tolls are a traffic management device. Only the rich are willing and able to pay them. The rest of us resent them and try to avoid them if we can. On average, 40% of drivers will choose a toll free alternative instead of paying even a modest $2.00 toll.
4) But, the Rose Quarter is not the Interstate Bridge. When Portland Mayor, Sam Adams, said “No tolls, no bridge” he meant no bridge unless it’s paid for by Clark County commuters who work in Portland.
This is known as the Adams Doctrine.
Tolling the Rose Quarter section of I-5 will only capture about 20% of the Clark County commuters and place an undue burden of the costs on actual Portlanders.
No, I’m out of ideas. I know the Mayor of Vancouver, Tim Leavitt, tossed around some pretty innovative ideas to avoid a public vote on light rail in Clark County. Perhaps ODOT could hire him as a consultant like Tri-Met did.