I basically went to cover a community meeting in August and a year later wound up with this sprawling transportation piece that encompassed the Washington DC-like gridlock mentality that has recently seized the region.
The article prompted an editorial follow up, which can often happen after large enterprising stories, but the editorial ran in The Columbian, the newspaper in neighboring Clark County, not the Oregonian. Perhaps the O will write an editorial about Vancouver’s Bus Rapid Transit coverage. We’ll have to see.
Local freeway commuters know the spot where traffic grinds to a halt almost every day. It’s where Interstate 84 ends its 773-mile long journey from Echo, Utah, to Portland by slamming headlong into Interstate 5. And it’s where northbound and southbound I-5 travelers find three or four lanes of traffic slimmed down to two.
The city calls it The Gateway of Portland’s freeway system. Combined with the chokepoint a few miles north at the Interstate Bridge, it creates regular backups that can send gridlock deep into city streets.
During the past two years, as the region’s public officials, voters and activists have clamored over the fate of the $3.5 billion Columbia River Crossing, a plan to address Rose Quarter congestion has slowly inched forward like so much rush hour traffic.
The I-5 Broadway/Weidler Plan may be the biggest transportation project most people have never heard of. In December, the Oregon Transportation Commission approved a plan that aims to both alleviate I-5 traffic and remodel neighborhoods near the Rose Garden with new surface streets, a cap over the freeway with a possible park, and new bike- and pedestrian-friendly improvements.