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Red Light Down the Pike:
Will Cargo Roll?

by Jonathan Nelson
The Columbian, December 13, 2006

A joint study by the ports of Vancouver and Portland and other groups forecasts that cargo volumes in the region will double by 2035.

The question now is how regional planners will use that information in making a host of decisions that will shape the region's transportation system.

Discussions and studies are already under way to replace the Interstate 5 Bridge that connects Washington and Oregon and to renovate major highways and arterials.

The two ports hope the numbers in the study make a case that the movement of cargo needs to be considered in any transportation decisions.

Details of the study, which cost approximately $110,000, are being presented to Port of Portland commissioners today and to Vancouver officials Thursday.

Key findings include:

This is the latest of several transportation studies that have examined the regional road, rail, air and water system.

The Portland Business Alliance, Metro and Port of Portland commissioned a report that found congestion is expected to cost businesses in Southwest Washington and Portland $844 million annually by 2025. The study concludes that if solutions aren't found soon, it will be difficult to attract new companies to the region and might force existing businesses to move.

Growing Asian economies are pushing the increased trade to the Pacific Northwest. In Southwest Washington, that traffic spills onto the confluence of major east-west and north-south rail lines as well as Interstate 5, the highway system that links the West Coast.

The simplest delay here can send shock waves across production lines on the other side of the globe.

Jonathan Nelson covers the Port of Vancouver
Red Light Down the Pike: Will Cargo Roll?
The Columbian, December 13, 2006

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