Opinion: Vancouver officials should be pushing ‘to begin planning for at least one, if not two, new transportation corridors across the Columbia River’

Clark County Today Editor Ken Vance offers his thoughts on efforts by Vancouver officials to develop the city’s long-term 20-year vision for its transportation system

You might have seen our story Thursday from the city of Vancouver about the upcoming City Council workshop on June 14 during which members will get an update from staff on the development of the city’s long-term 20-year vision for the city’s entire transportation system.

Over 70,000 Clark County residents work in Oregon. In 2018, 73,240 Clark County residents paid $236 million in Oregon income taxes according to the Oregon Treasurer. Photo by Mike Schultz
Over 70,000 Clark County residents work in Oregon. In 2018, 73,240 Clark County residents paid $236 million in Oregon income taxes according to the Oregon Treasurer. Photo by Mike Schultz

The city’s comprehensive transportation system planning project “examines travel conditions for all users of the city’s transportation system, including those who drive, walk, bicycle, use mobility aids, ride transit or deliver freight.’’

Editor Ken Vance

The news release from the city stated “at the workshop, city staff will establish how the updated Transportation System Plan will reflect the council’s core values of equity, safety, sustainability and climate action.’’ You see, as is usually the case, that’s exactly where government leaders and elected officials lose my support and trust. Issues as important as transportation should be established from a baseline of the citizens’ core values, not those of the council members and the staff.

Once updated, the Transportation System Plan will create a transportation vision in the city for 2040. It’s supposed to reflect the community’s values and needs but recent actions of Vancouver’s staff and elected officials don’t reflect my values and needs or those of virtually anyone I know. Here are examples that support my belief:

• Vancouver officials have consistently made the decision to not expand the city’s Urban Growth Boundary and add land for development. Their actions indicate they want “high density’’ housing, which ultimately raises the cost of housing and the demand for services.

• Vancouver leaders appear to be pushing for transit-oriented development, which is the “green’’ thing to do, but in reality, it makes for more traffic congestion for people who want to use their cars.

• The city has already reduced the number of parking spots required for many new apartment complexes, creating another issue for people with cars.

• The city has been pushing to eliminate parking spots in the downtown area in favor of bike lanes. This hurts area businesses rather than helping them attract customers.

Throughout the many discussions in recent years about transportation congestion issues in Clark County and the surrounding areas, I believe a majority of citizens have made it clear. They want to keep their cars and they want to have the ability to use them to get to where they need to go. 

A recently completed survey of area residents supports my claim, as shared in this previous Clark County Today story. As previously reported, an overwhelming majority (84 percent) of respondents said that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, they regularly drove alone. Twenty one percent rode bicycles and 27 percent rode public transit.

The city of Vancouver’s comprehensive transportation system planning project “examines travel conditions for all users of the city’s transportation system, including those who drive, walk, bicycle, use mobility aids, ride transit or deliver freight.’’ Photo by Mike Schultz
The city of Vancouver’s comprehensive transportation system planning project “examines travel conditions for all users of the city’s transportation system, including those who drive, walk, bicycle, use mobility aids, ride transit or deliver freight.’’ Photo by Mike Schultz

A 2018 survey by PEMCO of Oregon and Washington drivers indicated 94 percent of respondents preferred their cars. In 2012, a Metro survey indicated 84 percent of Portland-area drivers preferred using their cars.

Like it or not, it’s pretty clear the core values of the majority of citizens includes the preference to use our own vehicles for transportation, both locally or regionally. Therefore, members of the Vancouver City Council and city staff should not be progressing with plans to further their own core values over ours.

Remember, the reality is that over 70,000 Clark County residents work in Oregon. In 2018, 73,240 Clark County residents paid $236 million in Oregon income taxes according to the Oregon Treasurer.  It would seem logical to me to assume the majority of those people are Vancouver residents. Therefore the members of the Vancouver City Council should respond to the needs of their citizens who’s major concern is time lost in traffic congestion, while going to and from work in Oregon.

The city should be pushing the Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council to begin planning for at least one, if not two, new transportation corridors across the Columbia River.  

In support of my claim, consider that a 1980 Bi-State Study forecast 185,000 cross-river daily trips in 2000, as shared in this previous Clark County Today report. A 1988 study showed I-205 traffic had already exceeded the 200 forecast. WSDOT reports over 300,000 daily crossings were taking place prior to the pandemic. That 1988 study also discussed the benefits of two new bridge crossings, one west of I-5 and one east of I-205.

The 1988 study concluded the following: “A crossing west of I-5 would provide some traffic relief to I-5 and would provide direct access to the growth centers of Washington County and the port activities in Rivergate and Vancouver.” It also addressed an additional eastside transportation corridor.

How to get involved?

Project staff anticipates the updated plan will be completed by the end of 2022. The city claims that throughout this process, the city will offer a variety of opportunities for the community to get involved, provide input and help shape the plan.

Those interested can learn more about the Transportation System Plan update, stay up to date on the project, and find out how to get involved by visiting www.beheardvancouver.org/VancouverMoves. Community members can watch the June 14 workshop live or on demand at www.cvtv.org. Council workshops and meetings continue to be held remotely.

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Toni Terwilliger
Toni Terwilliger
8 days ago

I loooovveeee articles like this where non technical people try to give their opinion on subjects they have no education on. Even in a 20 year time span, getting one new corridor across the Columbia is a huge stretch (money, environmental impacts, right of way costs, planning, design, construction). Not to mention the fact that WA can’t even come to the acknowledgement that a form of transit is needed on the new I-5 bridge to get that funded and constructed, and ya’ll think we’re going to get a brand new corridor? You’re fooling yourselves.

jim
7 days ago

Transit is simple: Let buses share general purpose lanes with cars & trucks. And PAY ANY TOLL. There, problem solved with no additional cost.
Most people don’t know, but it the CRC had taken this approach we would be now building a toll free bridge. Toll free because it would be well under a billion and that 200 million wasted on planning could have provided 1/2 of the local match to federal highway funds. see http://www.nobridgetolls.com/index.html

BTW, the liars behind the CRC kept claiming that they could not get Federal money unless they build light rail. The truth is that they could get Federal Highway money, but without light rail they could not get rail money, which would have been well below its actual cost.

Last edited 7 days ago by jim
David King
David King
7 days ago
Reply to  jim

Letting buses & freight share general purpose lanes with commuters in autos increases traffic congestion, wastes time and money. All of this is magnified by the Delta Park bottle neck where I- 5 goes down to 2 lanes southbound and addtl. bottleneck at Rosequarter. HOV/ Express lanes dedicated for freight, express buses and legit carpools would free up traffic flow for the rest of us. Or better yet a dedicated bridge for freight & Express buses west of I-5. I have only been commuting into DT PDX via I-205 & I-5 for 21+ years!

Lakeron
Lakeron
7 days ago

Vancouver doesn’t have sufficient sidewalks or bike lanes on most roads and we’re talking bridges?

Last edited 7 days ago by Lakeron
jim
7 days ago
Reply to  Lakeron

Why would any sane person promote getting more people killed on bikes? Bikes have a death rate of many times that of cars. http://www.debunkingportland.com/bicycles_kill_people.html

RCxyz
RCxyz
2 days ago
Reply to  jim

That web site debunkingportland.com reference is amusing. It even tries to associate environmental cost or walking or riding a bike. The problem is, I do not eat more when I walk or ride a bike. So, there is really no added cost to walking or riding a bike. But, I do agree that riding a bike for your commute is extremely unsafe. In the past, I considered cycling to work. But, since I had children to support, I had to abandon the idea.

Christopher Markarian
Christopher Markarian
7 days ago

Well done. I learned a lot.

Erik
Erik
7 days ago

Or Vancouver could do a better job of making the city appealing to higher paying jobs to keep those 70,000 residents on this side of the river.

Olivier
Olivier
7 days ago
Reply to  Erik

Building bridges is overrated anyway. I hear that walls are much cheaper than bridges these days 😉 No but seriously, I couldn’t agree more. Did we receive any of that $240 million given to Oregon through income taxes? Why should a toll be put on the bridge? It would be economically sound for Oregon to want to use WA commuter money to build the bridges themselves, guaranteeing future income by making Clark County commuters happy. They appear to be driving people away (pun intended) rather than retaining their income source. Their loss is SW WA reward. I personally think we should not think about building a third corridor across the river, the congestion would give commuters incentive to search for jobs here. Instead, Vancouver and the other cities in CC need to think long term at attracting businesses to create more local jobs. If we in CC want to retain any sense of conservative political ideology, it is not going to be done through getting closer economically with Portland. It will have to be done by charting a new path, one not taken by Portland.

pete
pete
7 days ago

Over the years, in several communities, I’ve seen local “experts” try to ram “solutions” down the throats of the local taxpayers. The basic problem is the “experts” have some sort of idealized plan that fits they basic notions of “how things SHOULD be.” They never think to look at “what are people doing now” and “what are people willing to change (if at all) to accomplish the goal” (in this case cross-river transportation).

Yes, “experts” can provide ideas that might be attractive, but (sadly) for a long time urban planners (so-called “experts”) have a particular viewpoint that simply does not correspond with how people want to live (choice: rabbit warrens and chicken coops, vs. single family homes with outside space for children to play) or how they want to travel (choice: crammed shoulder to shoulder into a stuffy, stinky transit car or riding in an automobile you already own).

So, the problem is the the “experts” think we should live, work, and move about our community one way (and we’ll “nudge you” by not building the facilities you want) while the people actually want something entirely different.

As noted elsewhere, the Portland “metro area” (which includes much of Clark County) is evolving into a “center-less city” (with multiple shopping and working locations) rather than a central city with ring of “bedroom” communities. This is a common development pattern throughout the US. In many cases, a 30 minute drive by automobile opens of 3 to 5 times the number of possible work locations vs. the restrictions of public transit systems (including busses and especially the inflexible trolly cars so popular with “experts” and free spending politicians).

I’m no expert in “urban planning” but I do have much expertise in looking at “marketing problems” and the “experts” are trying to sell a “solution” that actually does not serve the market. If the experts get their way, it will fail.

Dap
Dap
7 days ago

I agree that Vanc & the county need to do a much better job in Maintaining’ our roads , & planning for the future, in terms of traffic….
We have MAJOR Potholes & dangerous conditions All over the city & yet are paying over $100 each for Car Tabs each year, TO maintain ROADS & transp. w.in city limits! :
but those Millions of dollars are NOT Fixing current damage & crews are Not “mapping out” thr roads & highlighting where reoairs need to be done! ;

Yes plan for future bridges & get people involved who know How to get things DONE!
But Rt NOW Focus OUR MONEY On Fixing main & side streets that could Damage people’s Cars, before u get SUED & Waste it on lawyers…. ;

And for Gods Sake, Take Out some of the DIVIDERS That makes driving in this City A Nitemare!!!
those ignorant codes need to be changed Immediately.. that block off entrances to Schools… Stores… Businesses
and often dont allow Uturns to get into important places & services!!! its the Stupidest law or setup I’ve ever seen in my life! OPEN SECTIONS of middle lanes where entrance & exits are VITAL & Reduce the stress & potential Rage on drivers!
I guarantee you atleast 75 – 80% of local residents & tax payers Agree! ; )

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