Transportation congestion it’s too important to ignore

One of my closest friends is one of the 70,000-plus Clark County residents who commute into Oregon for employment each week. He often doesn’t get off work until 7 p.m. or later and every once in a while he will call me on his way back to Vancouver to both catch up and also to occupy himself during the monotony of his drive home.

Thursday was one of those evenings that I got a call from my friend. It was after 8 p.m. on this night and he was on Interstate 5 in stop-and-go traffic. My friend is obviously no stranger to the transportation congestion problems we are faced with here in Southwest Washington and over the Columbia River in Oregon. Clark County commuters, such as these shown here in this file photo of traffic on I-205 in East Vancouver, are facing more and more transportation congestion issues. Editor Ken Vance encourages area residents to become more informed on the issue. Photo by Mike Schultz

My friend, who on at least five nights a week makes the drive from downtown Portland to Vancouver via I-5, kept exclaiming, “it’s after 8 p.m., why in the world is traffic still this bad?’’ He’s used to experiencing that level of congestion anytime before 7 p.m. on weekdays but by 8 p.m. his expectation is that he should be able to enjoy a relatively uneventful commute home. But, as many of you know, there is rarely such an experience to be had on I-5 or I-205 for that matter, regardless of the hour of the day.

As my friend and I continued to talk last night, I began sharing with him some of the information I have accumulated about the transportation congestion issues residents of the two states are experiencing. And sadly, the lack of any solutions that will be implemented any time in the near future.

I would consider my friend well above average when it comes to keeping himself informed on issues, political and otherwise. He’s more passionate about federal issues and politics than he is locally, but he takes more time than the average citizen to obtain a grasp of what is going on around him. That said, I was astonished at how little my friend knew about the area’s transportation issues, including Oregon’s effort to place tolls on I-5 and I-205.

Those of you who are regular readers of this space are likely aware there is no single topic I have written about more in the past year or more than transportation congestion. I’m blessed to be employed in Clark County, so I don’t have to commute into Oregon. Despite that, it’s still an issue that I’m very passionate about.

As a result of that passion, I’ve tried to do my part to share my insight and perspective with Clark County residents about what I believe they need to know when it comes to transportation congestion. Sure, I’ve also sprinkled in my personal opinion and commentary, which is appropriate because, after all, this space is designed for just that.

At times, I’ve asked myself if I’ve written too much on this topic. And, to be honest, I usually lean to the belief that I likely have written about as much as you’re willing to read. However, after my conversation with my friend last night, I’m not sure that’s the case.