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MarkDaMan Jan 24, 2007 4:24 PM

Couv's mayor: "Let me say it again, light rail will come to Vancouver"
Vancouver mayor: Put light rail on new bridge
Transportation - Royce Pollard wants tolls to help pay for the new crossing and a vehicle tax for other needs
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
The Oregonian

VANCOUVER -- Royce Pollard rarely misses an opportunity to declare he is mayor of "America's Vancouver."

But on Tuesday, he almost sounded like he was mayor of Oregon's Portland.

Pollard, delivering his annual State of the City address, embraced light rail, saying he wouldn't support an Interstate 5 bridge replacement plan that didn't include it. He said vehicle tolls would be essential to pay for the new bridge. And he said that a $20-per-vehicle license tax would be needed for new transportation projects elsewhere in the city.

And then he talked at length about global warming, compact fluorescent light bulbs, hybrid vehicles, environmental building standards, increasing the city's tree canopy, and an imaginary conversation with an Alaska glacier.

Pollard, 67, usually takes his hourlong annual speech to review the past year's highlights, with only an occasional controversial remark. Perhaps the most memorable "State" remark came in 2003, when the retired Army lieutenant colonel invited city critics "to seek a warmer climate and move."

But on Tuesday, he forcefully endorsed light rail, one of the most controversial topics in Clark County.

"I've said it before, but it bears repeating," Pollard said. "Vancouver and Clark County residents have the cheapest buy-in to one of the most successful light-rail systems in the world, the MAX system. There is over $5 billion invested in light rail across the river. We can tap into that system at a very minimal cost. And believe me, we'd be foolish not to."

Most, but not all, of the 400 people in the downtown Hilton Vancouver Washington applauded his light-rail remarks.

Referring to the county's resounding 1995 defeat of a sales tax to support light rail, Pollard said the county has changed into "a different and more progressive community than we were back then. . . . Let me say it again, light rail will come to Vancouver."

But it likely won't happen without support from other Southwest Washington public officials.

And after his speech, Vancouver City Councilwoman Jeanne Harris and two members of the Clark County Board of Commissioners, Betty Sue Morris and Steve Stuart, said Pollard's light-rail remarks were off base.

"He doesn't speak for the entire City Council," said Harris, who also is a board member of C-Tran, the county's public transit agency.

The board is weighing the merits of light rail and a bus rapid transit system across a proposed Interstate Bridge replacement.

Pollard's next controversial topic was supporting tolls to help pay for an Interstate Bridge.

That might be a dangerous stance. An estimated 60,000 people commute from Clark County to Oregon for their jobs and pay Oregon income tax, and many think they pay enough already. Oregon received nearly 55,000 income tax returns from Clark County in 2004, totaling about $121 million in income taxes. Only seven of Oregon's 36 counties paid more.

No matter.

"I stand before you today firm in my resolve that there will be tolls on the crossing," Pollard said.

The mayor's four-year term expires in Dec. 31, 2009. He did not give a definitive yes or no when asked if he would run for another term.

About that glacier:

Pollard, who in 2005 was among 358 mayors to sign the U.S. Mayor's Climate Protection Agreement, attended a mayors summit on climate change in Alaska last year.

"I saw for myself the results of warmer temperatures on the glaciers," Pollard said. "I even communicated with a glacier. . . . I did put my hand on the glacier. And the glacier said to me, 'Mayor of America's Vancouver, I'm melting. I'm melting. I'm melting, help me. . . . It didn't really say that."

Allan Brettman: 360-896-5746 or 503-294-5900; allanbrettman@

mcbaby Jan 24, 2007 9:13 PM

funny, i just posted this in the portland transit link

PDXPaul Jan 25, 2007 5:29 AM


and two members of the Clark County Board of Commissioners, Betty Sue Morris and Steve Stuart, said Pollard's light-rail remarks were off base
Even more reason to be beefing with the county commissioners. Let's disband the annexation board, let's block light rail. Oy Vey.

PuyoPiyo Jan 29, 2007 6:13 AM

Vancouver WA- Pollard makes push for I-5 cap
Pollard makes push for I-5 cap

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Mayor Royce Pollard is turning up the volume on his proposal to cover Interstate 5 through the downtown Vancouver corridor.

In a letter last week to the Columbia River Crossing, Pollard - he's Vancouver's representative on the task force - suggested capping the freeway from the bridge touchdown point in Vancouver north to Evergreen Boulevard, creating a tunnel of perhaps a few hundred yards.

Pollard said the cap would make room for a park or some other kind of public space, connect downtown more fully with the Fort Vancouver Historic Reserve and unite Vancouver's divided downtown.

"There's a scar there we have an opportunity to heal," Pollard said. "Why not do it?"

Columbia River Crossing is the task force empaneled by Oregon and Washington to look at building a new Interstate 5 bridge across the Columbia River. Next month, the group is set to launch a draft environmental impact statement, the most important bureaucratic step in the process so far. The report will look at building a new five- or six-lane bridge with room for light rail or bus rapid transit.

Pollard wants his proposal considered after the draft EIS is under way, as part of the process of looking at the finer bridge details, like alignment, lanes and interchanges.

The idea remains in the formative stage. Pollard said he realizes such a plan would be expensive but would be only a small part of the bridge project, which could total $6 billion, according to recent estimates from the Columbia River Crossing staff.

"Nothing's cheap anymore," he said. "But what is the value of correcting downtown?"

Capping a freeway isn't a new idea. In Seattle, the Washington State Convention & Trade Center crosses Interstate 5, as does Freeway Park, just a few blocks south of there.

Less successfully, a decade ago Portland Mayor Vera Katz proposed capping Interstate 405 along downtown Portland's west and south sides, a far more ambitious project than Pollard's modest plan. A large model of how it would look sat outside the Portland City Council chambers for years but was removed when Katz left office in 2005. Portland has not revisited the proposal.

Pollard hopes to have a cap proposal included as part of the bridge project but if rejected, the city could still make the proposal happen on its own.

The Vancouver City Council has not taken a position on his plan. Pollard said he expects to have the support of the business community.

As a member of the Crossing task force, Pollard will have his chance to present ideas to the 39-member panel in the months ahead, said Danielle Cogan, spokeswoman for the group.

Don Hamilton can be reached at 360-759-8010 and

Article from

bvpcvm Jan 29, 2007 7:10 AM

I'd love to see this happen. But 405 needs to be capped as well, and there are long stretches of I-5 in 'NoPo' which oughta be capped also.

PuyoPiyo Jan 29, 2007 11:05 AM

Yupp it would be cool to have capped freeways in Vancouver. I agree the I-405 need to be capped too.

sirsimon Jan 30, 2007 1:49 AM

Sounds like a good plan for the 'couv.

mcbaby Jan 30, 2007 3:53 AM

I-5 really tore up vancouver when it was built. sounds like a great idea. maybe capping 405 will be reignited.

sirsimon Jan 31, 2007 12:36 AM

"maybe capping 405 will be reignited."

^ My thoughts exactly! :)

GreenCity Jan 31, 2007 11:27 AM

Does anyone know if there are pictures of the 405 model floating around out there? Or really any type of representation. I'm just wondering about the aesthetics of it all.

MarkDaMan Jan 31, 2007 4:31 PM

Capping of I-405 awaits citizens' considerable input
Portland Business Journal - June 26, 1998
by Brian K. Miller

As Mayor Vera Katz and the American Society of Landscape Architects prepare for the "Bridge the Divide, Cap I-405" open house at Pioneer Courthouse Square on July 2, a few more probabilities are known.

First, it's unlikely that the ASLA will recommend capping the entire stretch of the I-405 ditch between Northwest Hoyt Street and Southwest Fourth Avenue. The mayor and lead landscape architect Paul Morris of Portland-based McKeever/Morris Inc. instead expect there will be a number of smaller projects at different points along the route--nodes, the mayor calls them.

Second, Morris and the ASLA are looking at the ditch as having three distinct segments. The first segment is between Hoyt and Burnside, the second between Burnside and Highway 26, and the third between Highway 26 and Fourth Avenue.

Finally, Morris and the mayor are convinced that just about any idea for what to put on top of the capped portions is, if not probable, plausible. Anything from partial caps, like adding "wings" onto existing bridges for bicycle and pedestrian traffic, to full caps with high-tech campuses on top can be done--for a price, they said.

"Anything you want to envision has been done somewhere," said Morris, whose team has been researching success stories from other cities for the past six weeks.

One of the cities researched was Duluth, Minn. In 1992, the city completed construction of a freeway extension through its downtown waterfront, but did so with four tunnels that added 13 blocks to the city's downtown--most of which are utilized as open space.

Morris' research will be displayed at the open house Thursday at Pioneer Court House Square, where citizens will be asked to put in writing what they would like to see on top of the byway. The event will be set up for lunch (11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.) and right after work (4:30-6 p.m.).

The open house will be repeated at different locations July 9, 16 and 20, and will feature a 17-foot model of the project area as well as six educational exhibits. The exhibits will include what the areas looked like before I-405 was dug out, how the capping effort got started and capping projects from elsewhere around the globe.

The idea of capping the I-405--thought of by many, no doubt, but brought to life by Mayor Katz in her 1998 State of City address--is to reconnect the areas split from downtown when the freeway was installed.

Getting in my two cents worth, if reconnecting the area is the objective, then don't replace a hole with a wall of buildings. Keep it simple. Keep it public. Make it a park-like setting with sport courts and open space, gardens and amphitheaters. It's what we're known for; it's what we do best.

Drmyeyes Jan 31, 2007 7:24 PM

Nice research work DaMan. I wish the illustration would have shown more of the area north of Jefferson, also, ground level views. It might really help to get this project rolling if such views were more readily available so the public could better visualize the range of potential in such a project. With so many square feet of land created this way, there'd be room for parks and buildings. If the engineering part could be managed cost effectively, this project would really be a huge aesthetic benefit to the city.

65MAX Jan 31, 2007 7:28 PM

There were illustrations of the blocks all the way up to Glisan. Plus many perspective renderings.

MarkDaMan? Anything?

MarkDaMan Jan 31, 2007 8:17 PM

^I'm still looking. It appears both the PDC and Portland Online have buried documents related to the full cap study. I can find lots of mentions, but no plan. Everytime you click on the Northwest District Plan, where the cap mentions come up most, it takes you to the NW parking plan. I did find an untitled PDF on the Freeway Loop study. There is a lot of interesting information here with a master plan shown to be emerging in mid 2009.

This link below, on the last page of the PDF, does have a rendering of what was to be the first project, a parking garage with sports fields on top, but again, it isn't the project summary.

sirsimon Feb 1, 2007 1:23 AM

^ Wow - that looks like a cool project!

pdxman Feb 1, 2007 1:25 AM

This project seems like a NO BRAINER to me...anyone else feel this way?

der Reisender Feb 1, 2007 1:58 AM

it does seem like a no-brainer, but i wonder how much it would cost to cap the blocks and put parks on top of them. i do think it'd be a great way to reconnect the cut off areas by creating a destination area and could allow PSU some expansion room

zilfondel Feb 1, 2007 6:13 AM


Originally Posted by pdxman (Post 2602787)
This project seems like a NO BRAINER to me...anyone else feel this way?

I can't believe how extensive the cap was going to be... the only images that I ever saw were part of the Burnside couplet plan, and that only included a small plaza on the block over 405 directly n or s of burnside.

However, if they tunnel I-5 under the river, apparently they will have to tunnel I-5 and 405 west til the 6th onramp, and south halfway down Macadam... so perhaps they are waiting on this one until they can make some bigger stuff happen?

I'm all for it, though. Getting rid of the blight of 405 and the 5 through the central city would immediately make land values skyrocket... I don't think anyone can underestimate the impact it would have. The only problem is that the railroad is pretty much impossible to move from the central eastside, since the grade change to get it back up to the surface in the NOPO railyards would be too great.

65MAX Feb 1, 2007 9:46 AM

Actually, it is possible to tunnel the rail line as well. The grade would not be steep at all. Cost is the only limiting factor.

PuyoPiyo Feb 1, 2007 2:22 PM

Portland and Vancouver both plan to cap the I-5, imagine driving from Vancouver to Portland, you will have a greatest tunnel trip!

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