Our downtown is a quickly-changing place with new investors, residents, businesses, and opportunities. VDA makes it our business to advocate for those things that will make our city center better. And, we also are careful to oppose/reshape anything that might bring undue pressure on our special place and its stakeholders. Yes, we are all about making good things happen.
Vancouver’s Downtown Association supports a safe, reliable and downtown-friendly I-5 Bridge and appreciates the efforts of legislators to restart conversations regarding its replacement. We will continue to focus on creating the kind of downtown that will be successful for the long haul. We will continue to work with property owners and their tenants. We will continue to lead projects to enhance the safety, appearance, walkability, and connectivity of our downtown. And, we will continue to promote our downtown as a place full of opportunity where everyone’s success is our goal.
As congestion continues to grow on the current I-5 Bridge, our downtown’s streets are frequently gridlocked as drivers try to hop off and on at consecutive ramps to ‘skip’ congestion, take side streets to avoid the packed I-5 corridor until the last possible moment, or sit at a standstill because of accidents that stop traffic altogether. This has a negative impact on downtown events, employees, residents, and businesses. Moving from place to place for motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians is difficult because of the city center traffic jams. Doing nothing will only produce more of the same and for even more extended periods.
Increased congestion on the I-5 corridor makes it more and more difficult for motorists to choose to visit our downtown. Many have said that the heavy traffic is choking off access and smothering our city center. Access must be made easier. If people cannot get to us, they will ignore us.
We invite you to continue to partner with us as we work toward our mutual vision of a modern, vital city center.
The information that follows can serve as background for why we support these efforts.
The original bridge was built in 1917. The second span was added in 1952. Both are built on wooden pilings that do not reach bedrock. Both were built without a clue what the traffic demands would be in our modern day. In fact, this 5-mile portion of Interstate 5 has the highest accident rate in Oregon and Washington. The antiquated drawbridge can stop traffic on the interstate corridor for something as simple as a bridge lift for a sailboat.
- An estimated 2.3 million trucks haul goods and freight in Clark County (2007). $26.4 billion in value of goods and freight move through Clark County each year. $3.2 billion is paid to employees who work in freight-generating business in Clark County alone.
- Freight generators employed 66,057 workers in 2007 (51% of the County’s employment) with an average wage 4% above the county average.
- The forecast for freight volumes is expected to double in 30 years.
- 45% of Clark County’s industrial employment is concentrated in the southwest area and uses I-5.
- Without a replacement bridge and other recommended regional investments, the six hours of daily congestion today currently will increase to 15 hours daily.
- Without the bridge, the number of accidents will increase as the congestion increases from 300 to 600 per year.
Vancouver’s Downtown Association will continue to monitor the bridge discussions and community outreach efforts. We will work to ensure mitigation for a variety of impacts, such as direct and temporary impacts related to property acquisition and loss of access as well as temporary construction impacts. VDA will continue to work with individual business owners to minimize any construction impacts.
Where VDA stands:
Having been at the table for planning and community discussion since the bridge replacement effort first began, VDA is committed to being part of the conversation moving forward.
- VDA will be a trusted conduit from the merchants for any project and vice versa.
- VDA will work to make sure that the contractor selection process puts a high priority on finding the contractor that has experience with delivering the project with a great deal of sensitivity to the project area. Our downtown businesses must be supported in their need for consideration, information, and respect.
- VDA will be an on-the-job partner for discussions as it progresses. Quick communication and problem solving will be top priorities.
- VDA will find creative solutions to keep customers coming and businesses doing what they do best.
- VDA will be accessible. We will form a merchant committee to help guide our decisions and inform project partners. And, VDA will be the advocate that our downtown stakeholders can count on.
Vancouver’s Downtown Association has been keeping a watchful eye on coal as a hot topic as it affects our downtown as it travels from the Dakotas through our area and eventually ending up at the Port of Longview. Here are two letters we have written to explain our point of view.
Our community is weighing in on a potential new tenant at the Port of Vancouver who would be moving oil produced in the Dakotas on rail to large tanks on the Columbia River. The oil would then be loaded onto oil tankers and shipped on the Columbia to final destinations. You can read VDA’s letter below.
Vancouver’s Downtown Association recently hosted a quarterly meeting that included some great information about the potential for a much-desired downtown grocer. One of our outstanding speakers on the topic was Brian Vanneman, a consultant with the Leland Consulting Group who has been hired by the City of Vancouver to bring the metrics together. What are grocers looking for in our downtown in terms of numbers of residents and their income? What kinds of competition already exist for them as they think about entering the market?
VDA knows that the downtowners are eager to bring this option to our city center. We know that more residents would come if they had the convenience of a walkable/easily accessed grocer. We know that a downtown grocer is vital to the full urban experience. And, we appreciate the grassroots work that has been done by many in our community along with the City of Vancouver to bring this to a reality.
- Here’s a look at what grassroots support looks like for bringing a grocer to our city center. Want to know more? Contact Heidi Owens, a downtown resident. Heidi and others have been working hard to be the ‘keeper of the story’ and gather information. Heidi.Owens@comcast.net or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Brian has generously shared his slides with us. See what you think!