Upper Left Coast

Thoughts on politics, faith, sports and other random topics from a red state sympathizer in indigo-blue Portland, Oregon.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Confusion on the Interstate Bridge

James Mayer of the Oregonian writes today about a new poll showing a huge jump in Clark County support for extending light rail north of the Columbia River. The poll, to be released today, shows more than two-thirds of Clark County residents favor the extension, a big change since those voters defeated light rail 11 years ago by a 2-to-1 margin.


There are a couple of problems with the story, some with the reporting and some with the data:

The first problem reflects, in my opinion, either reporter bias or bias by his source. The story leads with increased Clark County support for light rail, but nine paragraphs later you learn that those polled prefer to add vehicle capacity first (35 percent), followed by adding vehicle capacity together with a mass transit option (28 percent), followed by extending light rail (19 percent).

In other words, the poll may show support for light rail to Vancouver, but not if it doesn't include expansion for vehicle capacity. Sorry, Rex Burkholder, but most people don't share your disdain for people who drive and the vehicles they own -- they think money spent on vehicle transportation is critical.

The second problem is in the polling itself, as well as the Columbia River Crossing Project that commissioned the poll. As the story said in paragraph 4 (emphasis mine), the CRCP:
. . . proposed removing the existing bridge and replacing it with a new bridge that would include three freeway lanes in each direction and either light rail or a dedicated bus lane.
The poll found that 76 percent of those polled "favored adding a third lane to I-5," implying that the lane would be added to the Interstate Bridge or a replacement bridge.

What's wrong with those things? The Interstate Bridge already has three lanes in each direction!

Yes, portions of I-5 narrow to two lanes elsewhere in Portland, and that needs to be addressed.
But that wasn't the question. So the question essentially framed to ask if voters wanted to keep the bridge at the status quo for vehicle traffic and add a mass transit option. Those polled may have thought they were indicating support for more vehicle traffic, but it sounds like they were really tricked into giving the thumbs up for extending Burkholder's bicycle utopia into Washington.

(One caveat: the actual poll is not available online, so once I see the questions, I reserve the right to revise my story about the last issue. It may have been that the poll was broader than simply the I-5 route over the Columbia River, but at this point it doesn't sound that way, considering that the group specifically proposes a new six-lane bridge.)

Now, watch the CRCP use this data to proclaim public support to spend tax dollars on a light rail bridge without doing a thing to improve vehicle traffic. As a spokeswoman for the project said in the final paragraph of the story:
. . . the survey results confirm that the public generally supports their efforts and that critics who charge officials from Olympia and Salem are trying to force a solution that residents don't want are wrong.
No, really. They have the data to "prove" it.

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  • At 12/14/2006 11:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    So what IS your point? There simply is no way North PDX is going to sacrifice itself to increase capacity too 4 lanes so Clark County Home Builders can build more housing. Communities will not kill themselves just to save some time for distance commuters. THe Hwy building era is OVER. So your half right, it really was about Olympia and Salem pushing policy down peoples communities...they called that policy Hwys. Its over get used to it. New ideas like dedicated freight crossings, transit, Ferry, working from home are the future, not your white trash failed policies

  • At 12/14/2006 12:27 PM, Blogger Ken said…

    My point is not about North Portland "sacrificing itself" for four lanes. The poll was talking about the Interstate Bridge and whether to expand it, replace it or add transit to it. It's currently three lanes and the group is asking if people want another three-lane bridge -- which will do exactly nothing for traffic, despite the way the poll makes it sound.

    The highway building era cannot be over when hundreds of thousands of people will be coming to Portland in the next 30 years. Those "new" ideas you mention are important, but they will not alleviate the transportation issues of the region -- issues that are already a challenge today, never mind when you throw in half a million additional people.

    BTW: thanks for simultaneously misunderstanding the issue while throwing out labels (white trash?) that are unhelpful and, frankly, show a remarkable inability to contribute intelligently to the discussion.

  • At 12/18/2006 11:50 PM, Blogger Chris McMullen said…

    Anon 11:08:

    Standard liberal neo-progessive statements from and anonymous Metro/PDC shill. Too bad you don't have the cojones to print your real name; your elitist comments might carry a tad more weight.

    Cars are never going away, Pal. Whether they run on petrol, hydrogen, electricity or camel dung, they will ALWAYS be the preferred form of transportation.

    What we really need is innovative approaches toward alternative fuels and vehicle management. Not more toy trains that carry 1% of commuters.

  • At 12/19/2006 7:06 AM, Blogger I am Coyote said…

    Interesting how a toll bridge receives twice as much public support than light rail yet that does not make the headline?

    Even though the price for toll roads was mentioned in the poll.


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