All Politics is Local

Slip sliding over freeway congestion

Let’s concede the obvious: Government meetings can be slow, monotonous and painfully boring. When one of those rare moments of levity happens, it’s reason to take note, sort of a “Man bites dog” story.

Such was the case on Oct. 25 during the first meeting of the 16-member Washington-Oregon legislative committee to discuss replacing the Interstate 5 Bridge. Portland resident Dave Stauffer presented his plan to bypass freeway congestion between the two states using his patented “Mass transit rush hour traffic bottleneck uncorker water slide.”

Yes, you read that correctly, Stauffer has patented his invention. You can find it on the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s website by searching for its patent number: 10316536.

Perhaps the abstract on the patent office’s website describes his creation the best:

“Fabrication of about a 30-story parking structure where commuters will park and then take elevators to the (top) of the structure where they will embark on a skiff or small boat and travel down a water trough that goes over the tops of roads, freeways and bridges to the other side of normal traffic bottlenecks, to docking spaces about the third floor of downtown buildings where they will dock their skiffs or boats and disembark on the dock, and their vacated skiffs will go onto a conveyor belt that will take the vacated skiffs to the top of another 30-story building in the downtown area where commuters wanting to return to the original parking structure will embark on the skiffs going down a similar water slide back to the original parking structure from which they had departed earlier, to get their cars and trucks and drive back to their homes.”

Still having trouble with Stauffer’s concept? A sketch is worth a thousand words, and the outstanding people who manage the committee’s website through the Oregon Legislature placed one right here: olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2019I1/Downloads/CommitteeMeetingDocument/207342.

As a side note, the fuddy-duddies who manage the committee’s other website through the Washington Legislature, leg.wa.gov/JointCommittees/OWLAC/Pages/default.aspx, prefer a spartan approach, as in no useful, much less humorous, content at all.

There are numerous technical problems with Stauffer’s brainchild, including that it could be difficult to build a 30-story parking structure in downtown Vancouver with height restrictions due to Pearson Field.

When it comes to Stauffer’s invention, it might be best to remember what Mark Twain said: “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.”