Monday, July 7, 2008

More on the Columbia River Crossing

I just read this morning that the Columbia River Crossing will only be effective for twenty years.

Umm. This is a four billion dollar bridge. For those of you who don't live in the D.C. beltway, that's a lot of money.

It's time to do a bit of arithmetic. Let's assume that the bridge carries the expected amount of 2030 traffic for its entire twenty years, with no reduction in frequency due to tolls.

That ends up being

$4.0e9 / (20 years) / (365 days/year) / (225000 trips / day) = 2.50 $/crossing

That's two and a half clams for every single crossing. Five dollars for a round trip.

However, the CRC people themselves acknowledge that if that charge a toll, fewer people will use the bridge. The new math:

$4.0e9 / (20 years) / (365 days/year) / (178000 trips / day) = $3.08

Surely they can't be smoking the whacky weed on both sides of the river. Why are people even considering this? The goal should be to efficiently move people, goods, and services across the river.

Why do people choose to haul 3500 pounds of polluting metal over the existing Interstate bridge twice a day? It's because they need it in order to conduct their business once they make it onto this side of the river.

Let's put this in terms we can all understand. Tri-Met's operating budget for the current fiscal year is about $300M. If we were to invest the CRC money directly into Tri-Met, it would increase our capitalization in mass transit by over fifty percent. over that same 20 year period.

I visualize cross-town links from Milwaukie to Tualatin, connecting Vancouver into the grid, and out lier support for areas such as Oregon City and Sherwood.

Even if we earmarked some of that money for improvements to the existing bridges (light rail crossing and needed repairs), the resulting infrastructure would be on an order to rival that of Manhattan, Tokyo, or any other major city in the world.

The CRC proposal is criminal (treasonous) thinking on the part of the terrorist-loving automobile pushers. I'll stop now.

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