The Zombie Westside Bypass Marries Godzilla

Mary Kyle McCurdy
Tue, 03/07/2017 - 9:45am

UPDATE:

As some of you might have heard, the mega Westside /French Prairie Bypass Tollway bill, HB 3231, has been scheduled for a hearing on WednesdayApril 5, at 8:00 am before the House Transportation Policy Committee.  Please send your message of opposition to the Committee (e-mail address below), and copy your own Representative.  We also need as many of you to come and testify in person as possible.  A large turnout is important to ensure that this bill goes no further than a "courtesy" hearing.

Below is a description of the bill. Please:

  • Send an e-mail to the Committee, at htp.exhibits@oregonlegislature.gov   and copy your own Representative.
  • Plan to come testify on April 5 at 8:00 am !
  • Spread the word to others to send in testimony and show up!

HB 3231 authorizes cities and counties to form a special taxing and revenue district to undertake everything involved with financing, designing, building, and operating a limited access tollway.  The bill authorizes the tollway district to use eminent domain to acquire land, and to establish, collect, and enforce tolls.  The tollway on which this idea was modeled is in the Denver area, and charges (according to the Oregonian) tolls up to $17.45 for cars and $69.80 for trucks.

HB 3231 also authorizes the district to override designation of rural reserves, thereby allowing this to pave over Washington and Clackamas County farm land.  Rural reserves have been agreed to by the three counties, Metro, and the state in Washington, Multnomah, and Clackamas counties. Rural reserves protect the best farm and forest lands and natural resources from development for 40-50 years.  Therefore, this toll district can pave farm, forest, and natural resource areas across the most resource-rich areas in the state, including the Tualatin Valley and French Prairie.  

Although no route is described in the bill, HB 3231’s chief sponsor described a tollway extending from Woodland, WA, crossing to Highway 30 in Oregon at either Columbia City or Portland just west of the I-5 bridge (so on a new bridge) and then through Forest Park, both intersecting with Highway 26 at Cornelius Pass, then paving a swath across the Tualatin Valley west of the current UGB, Yamhill County, and French Prairie, and joining I-5 somewhere south of Donald in Marion County.

This proposal is a dinosaur road project - it would not have been a solution in the last century, much less in this century.  It would be a colossal waste of taxpayer money, sucking every dollar of Oregon's already shrinking transportation funding capacity and leaving the rest of the state's roads even more underfunded for repairs and maintenance. It is time to stop dredging up these dinosaurs, and start talking about a transportation system that meets the needs of all Oregonians for the next century - and that mean serious investment in transit, walking, and bicycling

Thank you - a strong turnout now could end this idea for good!

ORIGINAL:

A new bill has been proposed to create a toll based highway, cutting north/south across Washington and Clackamas County.  

HB 3231 authorizes cities and counties to form a special taxing and revenue district to undertake everything involved with financing, designing, building, and operating a limited access tollway. The bill authorizes the tollway district to use eminent domain to acquire land, and to establish, collect, and enforce tolls. The tollway on which this idea was modeled is in the Denver area, and charges (according to the Oregonian) tolls up to $17.45 for cars and $69.80 for trucks.

HB 3231 also authorizes the district to override designation of rural reserves, thereby allowing this to pave over Washington and Clackamas County farm land. Rural reserves have been agreed to by the three counties, Metro, and the state in Washington, Multnomah, and Clackamas counties. Rural reserves protect the best farm and forest lands and natural resources from development for 40-50 years. Therefore, this toll district can pave farm, forest, and natural resource areas across the most resource-rich areas in the state, including the Tualatin Valley and French Prairie. 

Although no route is described in the bill, HB 3231’s chief sponsor unveiled a map showing a tollway extending from Woodland, WA, crossing to Highway 30 in Oregon at either Columbia City or Portland just west of the I-5 bridge and then through Forest Park, both intersecting with Highway 26 at Cornelius Pass, then paving a swath across the Tualatin Valley and French Prairie west of the current UGB and joining I-5 somewhere around Donald.

HB 3231 takes the long-dead Westside Bypass Freeway, which would have plowed pavement through the fertile Tualatin Valley, and extends it on through French Prairie, which has the most productive soils in the world, and tearing across natural areas and the Columbia River into Washington. Hence, the Zombie marries Godzilla.

HB 3231 has not been assigned to a committee yet.  Please contact your state Representative or Senator and express your opposition to this bill. Once the bill is assigned to a specific committee in the Legislature, we will provide additional information as to where concerned Oregonians can send their views. For more information on to support your objections, read Mary Kyle McCurdy's rebuttal to an op-ed from this summer suggesting that we revive the Westside Bypass idea.

Photo: Phoenix by William Kimmerle