My question concerning the Interstate Bridge Replacement Program: Why haven’t all possible transit alternatives been reviewed by the IBR staff? Just one mile away from the I-5 Bridge, railroad tracks take passengers from Vancouver to Portland in 15 minutes. A regional passenger rail system could be built for one-sixth of the cost of the IBR bridge proposal. Such a transit system could easily move as many as 25% or more Southwest Washington citizens that cross the I-5 Bridge. If 25% of the daily 144,000 auto trips were removed from I-5, the I-5 Bridge and the Rose Quarter freeway expansion would not be necessary. Regional rail transportation is a climate improvement solution. Stadler battery-powered passenger rail cars are being used in Germany now for that purpose. Stadler could build these rail cars in their Utah manufacturing facilities.
Regional passenger rail vehicles are different than light rail vehicles since they can travel on existing freight rail tracks. One 17-foot wide railroad track built alongside the existing freight rail tracks could be used for passenger trains during the day. Freight trains could use the same tracks during off peak hours at night. This transit system would have less environmental impact to build, cost less than freeways and could be built faster.
As a start, one track could be laid from Ridgefield to Vancouver, Battle Ground to Vancouver and Camas to Vancouver. These tracks would allow passenger trains traveling to Portland to cut travel time in half compared to automobiles. In the future, the tracks could be extended to Longview to the north. And later if railroad tracks were added to the Hood River crossing bridge, excursion trains could travel up and down the Columbia Gorge as a wonderful scenic tourist attraction.
a commuter from Battle Ground to Lake Oswego