Vantucky Suffers Vantucky Traffic, but So Does Portland, Maybe Provide a Fix?

Get em’ trained. We know one thing about the many morning commutes in the Portland metro. The worst one is from Vancouver, Washington over the I-5 Bridge into Portland. Traffic is always backed up for miles adding 20-40 minutes depending on where people commute from. Currently this is three lanes of packed interstate roadway. There is no way around it in a car without taking a 20-60 minute detour. Of course, that detour also depends heavily on how the traffic congestion is.

Except… there could be an easy fix for thousands of the commuters…

One lane should be made a toll road or “congestion” based lane for transit, taxis, and related high capacity vehicles. However, Vancouver has failed to enable something like that to be setup. They’ve also failed to get any other reasonable options started, such as true BRT or otherwise. Simply put, everybody suffers because of the selfishness of the SOV motorist.

The current SOV motorist can’t blame freight, because freight has shifted most of their movements outside of the morning rush hour on this route. Aside from that, freight isn’t a significant cause of congestion at all, but their business sure suffers from it. The SOV motorist can’t blame transit, there’s not enough buses traveling over the bridge to block a single lane let alone block all those greedy SOV motorists. If anything the few buses going over the I-5 Bridge average about 10-20 people, which is 10x to 20x the capacity of the same space used for 1-2 SOV that a motorist might drive. You can’t blame cyclists, there isn’t even any dedicated cycling infrastructure on the I-5 Bridge at all. Maybe it’s the pedestrians. There are sidewalks, maybe if we converted the sidewalks to car lanes for 2 foot wide cars? Oh, nope, that’s not the point of blame either. So who’s the blame? It’s all down to one root cause; suburbanite SOV motorists. They are the vast majority clogging up the interstate every morning going into Portland. They are their own curse, and everyone else’s curse too. I could go on, but I think the point is fairly evident for anybody with a small amount of functional gray matter in their brain.

So why let them keep messing it up for everybody? Why let their selfishness delay and clog up all the others that are willing to take alternate routes or modes? Here’s a real prospective solution.

Get a true, honest to goodness, BRT that runs from the Community College (i.e. what is going to be The Vine, except make it REAL BRT) to the Yellow Line at the least. A better scenario would be an HOV lane from the Community College in Vancouver directly to the heart of at least downtown to the bus mall. That would be highly ideal. Implementation cost would be for stops and getting 60 foot buses and running them every 5-10 minutes throughout most of the day. Having a dedicated lane from the Clark Community College to downtown Portland wouldn’t be an added cost, it’d just delay those that refuse to take alternate modes.

After that build out whatever else needs to be built out. Until we make strides on some real transporation option, all the (theoretically) tax-evading suburbanites in Vancouver are just going to continue to pollute, kill, maim, injure, and clog up the roads through irresponsible motor-car usage required by their auto-dependency. Something ought to be done to alleviate the suffering of those who would do right by others and jump on the bus instead. It’s really unfair to them, and even in some odd way, to the SOV motorist.

Simply put, everybody would win if we had some serious and dedicated transit options across I-5 from Vancouver to Portland.

References: SOV stands for Single Occupant Vehicle, an automobile that only has one occupant in the vehicle.

I-5 Bridge Collapse, Update From Amtrak Cascades #516 North Bound

UPDATES 10:24pm

We’ve left our spot and are pulling into the station of Mount Vernon.
There has been a report of no fatalities!  Yaaa!
The Amtrak Crew has been absolutely great, they’ve even brought us extra snacks to tide us over.
ETA into Vancouver is now about 12:30… but being the railroad is practically shut down we’ll see.

UPDATES 1:02am

We finally arrived at Pacific Union Station in Vancouver. That was a trip and a half!  o_O

As it stands now the I-5 Bridge over the Skagit River has collapsed with vehicles, people and the bridge plunging into the river. No news or anything on fatalities, injuries or the like. However one thing is very clear for this train riding individual.

Amtrak Cascades #516 is sitting about a mile south of Mount Vernon with about 200 passengers that can’t get on or off the train (because of laws & such) and can’t get off at Mount Vernon. From what I gather and have been informed of by the Amtrak staff (they’ve been great) is that the railroad bridge is being inspected. Through other means, passengers calling other connected people and via contacts of my own I’ve collected this much information.

  • The Governor is en route (Why I have no idea, it’s not like he’ll hold the bridge up – i.e. that’s a waste of his time)
  • The NTSB I have been informed is on the way.
  • BNSF Dispatch (that thing in Texas) has held us here while the railroad bridge is inspected.
  • Nobody seems to know who is actually inspecting the railroad bridge.
  • WSDOT thinks a truck – oversized load (probably something that should have been on the railroad) hit the bridge and caused it to collapse. However this is not entirely confirmed.
  • No reported fatalities.
  • People & cars are in the river.
  • Boats & rescue is underway.

Here’s how far away from the railroad bridge the Interstate Bridge is…

Distance between I-5 Collapsed Bridge and BNSF Railroad Bridge

Distance between I-5 Collapsed Bridge and BNSF Railroad Bridge

…and here’s where they (BNSF/WSDOT??) forced the train to stop.

Where Amtrak Cascades 516 has been forced to stop.

Where Amtrak Cascades 516 has been forced to stop.

Love how the passenger rail, as always gets creamed while they’re re-routing cars onto redundant infrastructure. It’s a good thing they provide all those massive hand outs to auto drivers and stop the trains so nobody gets confused about where the US’s priorities are.  :-/