PPP planned for Oregon bypass through farmland

Link to article here.

It shouldn’t surprise that the pro-toll crowd sees farmland as fair game fro condemnation for toll roads and preferable to residential and commercial property. With this attitude, how will we feed America if we continue to pave over our country’s farmland to make way for urban “congestion relief”? The Trans Texas Corridor is a perfect case in point. Studies showed that a bypass through rural Texas would do NOTHING to relieve urban congestion.

It was too out of the way, plus the fact that people would have top pay a toll to access it, made traffic volumes too low to be toll viable. Yet to listen to this industry article, they live in a world of their own reality. One that promises rosy traffic projections but will likely end in massive taxpayer bailouts when the road goes belly-up as the South Bay Expressway PPP contract just did in San Diego.

Oregon businessman, engineer developing P3 for I-5 to 99W connector
Fri, 2010-04-09
Toll Road News

A group of local businessmen, engineers and roadbuilders in Oregon are developing an approximate 20km (12 mile) $350m to $400m tollroad project designed to improve connections between Portland and the coast. Called the Coastal Parkway the project would provide a high quality connection between I-5 and the 99W or Southwest Pacific Highway near Dayton. They hope to get a toll concession from the state under its Public Private Partnerships law of 2009.

Principals of the group Coastal Parkway LLC are Bob Youngman, a developer based in Newberg and Phil Martinson PE, a consulting engineer. Also involved are some local construction companies.

We had a long talk with Youngman this afternoon.He says the new P3 law in the state is a great improvement on previous law, and he has been encouraged by support offered for the project by state and local officials.

He says the project is sorely needed but state and local officials say there is no prospect for financing the project with tax revenues.

They also have no stomach for taking it on as a public toll project.

Oregon is one of the few states in the union without any toll road or crossing.

Previous studies

The 99W corridor has been studied several times in the past for upgrades.

It is currently a 4-lane surface arterial with little access control and no grade separations. Previous planning for upgrades has focussed on sticking close to the southwest-northeast axis of 99W and bypassing the towns of Tualatin, Sherwood, Newberg and Dundee. The bypasses have been studied right on their fringes, and sticking to the north side of the Williamette River.

This is a corridor about 40km (25 miles) long but quite heavily developed and the improvement to expressway standard was costed at close to $1 billion for the length of the corridor.

Concession with Macquarie only generated study

Macquarie and Bechtel competed for a toll concession for this route (and for two others around Portland area) in 2005 and Macquarie won.

But Macquarie concluded in 2007 the traffic and revenue wouldn’t support the cost of the 99W bypass upgrade. The project languished.

More economical than the fringe bypassing

Youngman says his group’s proposal is far more economical because rather than attempt the fringe bypasses along 99W, it makes use of some 22km (14 miles) of I-5 south to the Donald/Aurora area and involves a much shorter new east-west tolled link through rural land to meet 99W in Dayton.

That proposed east-west link is being called the Coastal Parkway.

Five alternative alignments are being shown at meetings. They range in length between 18km (11.3mi) and 23km (14mi). The longer alternates take off from I-5 further north but make for a slightly shorter run Portland to the coast, although because of the dogleg of using I-5 all are a few miles longer than the old plan for hugging the towns of the 99W corridor.

An advantage however is that they involve almost no resumption of residential or commercial properties like the fringe bypass plans, since the routes for the Coastal Parkway go through farmland.

Williamette River bridge

They do involve a decent sized bridge over the Williamette River. This has to have a span of around 180m (600ft) so it would probably be a cable-stay bridge. However the river is not used by major ships and the Coast Guard only requires a clearance of 15m (50ft).

Otherwise the Coastal Parkway involve three interchanges, one at each end, I-5 and 99W and another at River Road NE serving the small town of St Paul. They also propose a recreational bike/hike trail along the river.

With just one intermediate interchange there would be just two toll points and all-electronic tolling sounds the likely choice.

Youngman says they estimate project cost will be in the range $350m to $400m – less than half the cost of previous schemes in the 99W corridor itself.

The route should attract 99W car travelers between the Portland area and the coast plus a lot of lumber, chip, plant nursery, and produce trucks as well as motor coaches. Indian reservations at Grand Ronde to the southwest have tourism and casino activities swerved by coaches.

Traffic volume

As for traffic volume they are confident that the tollroad can attract more than the 24k vehicles/day they estimate is the break-even traffic for the project.

Youngman, who was born and raised and is still based in the Newberg area, says the congestion is so bad through the small towns along 99W that economic opportunities are limited. He says the project is gaining support with the promise of traffic relief and improved travel for the cities and towns of Newberg, Dundee, McMinnvile, Dayton, StPaul, Lafayette and Donald.

He is interested in partnering with larger companies.

pdf of a powerpoint presentation by Coastal Parkway LLC:

http://www.tollroadsnews.com/sites/default/files/PowerPt.pdf

Contacts Youngman royale_chinook@juno.com Martinson phil@pmeng.com

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