Thursday, December 11, 2014

Third Bridge is Self-Negating

There's a draft memo circulating of a funding analysis performed by ECONorthwest.

Just tolling solves all our congestion problems!
(Chart not in memo; all other clips here are from the memo)
The memo hasn't been finalized, and will be posted to the project website when it is finalized.

Draft memo on funding
But one very interesting result is clear: Based on their own, internal formulas and projections, there is no need for any measure on the bridges other than tolling!

More than this, the best way to fund a bridge removes the conditions that supposedly make it necessary.

A $1.00 toll reduces congestion so much that traffic counts won't reach projected untolled 2015 levels until 2030!

A $2.00 toll basically halves the traffic.

Here's the table from which the chart above was drawn. (The columns for $2.50 and $4.00 were omitted.)

Table of annual crossing traffic counts with various tolls
Another way of looking at it is that the Third Bridge is fundamentally self-negating, based on incoherent and contradictory assumptions.

The fairest way to raise funding is through a user fee. This also scales up and generates the right scale of funds. (It's much more difficult to generate the right amount of funding through property taxes, gas taxes, or licensing fees.)

Tolls are "fairest"; gas tax and licensing fees
don't generate enough funds
But as soon as you do that, congestion is reduced so much there's no need to build additional capacity.

It's a true dilemma.

Maybe this will push desperate bridge apologists towards the other three elements of property taxes, gas taxes, and licensing fees. It would be interesting to see a funding plan that goes this way.

But surely in that case, the land-use approvals for a bridge outside the urban growth boundary would be impossible - because there's a clear solution inside the urban growth boundary: Just add tolls.

(At the same time, little in this process has gone the way of logic or facts, so it would not be wise to place too much trust in the implications and consequences of a logical dilemma: Politicians, not logicians, rule the roost here!)


Mike D said...

I would also suggest that the State raise the parking fees in its employee parking lots by a significant amount and use the extra money to bring back subsidized bus passes. These two steps would help reduce driving downtown. A general reduction of off-street parking in downtown is a good idea.

I just read this piece on the Transport Politic:
It's a good article about how restricting downtown parking, even in more auto-dependent cities, will yield high rates of transit use.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

You are right about parking! - and the SRC even knows this. It's from a 2007 memo and this might be the best discussion here.

Susann Kaltwasser said...

So, you are suggesting that we toll the existing bridges, use some of the funds to do repairs and we won't need a 3rd bridge for at least 20 years?

According to what I was told, the cost of collecting a toll is about $1 per trip, so no toll could be levied for less than $2 a trip. People would come unglued at the thought of being required to pay a toll on a bridge that is already built and paid for.

Can the local government even put a toll on a bridge that is owned by the State?

I do like the idea of raising parking fees for state workers, and then putting in shuttle buses in several locations around the community.

Why are the cheapest solutions always so hard for people to accept?

Cory Poole said...

I have an easy solution. Contract the existing West Salem Urban growth boundary to the existing development. Enact development restrictions on the remaining land to limit new construction until a solution on a future bridge / tunnel / teleporter can be established. As urban congestion goes the existing bridge traffic is really not very bad. Since the voters are VERY unlikely to support any of the proposals I have seen lets not make the problem any worse.