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Brought to you by John Sciarra, Bernard's Garage - AUTOMOTIVE INSIDER -

BERNARD'S GARAGE - John SciarraSummer's imminent arrival means your vehicle's air conditioning system will soon be under serious strain.

If your A/C isn't as frosty as it used to be, but it's still blowing cold, the system may need to be recharged.

Manufacturers used to use a type of refrigerant known as R-12, or Freon, until researchers found it caused ozone depletion. As such, it's illegal to use Freon in vehicles built after 1994. Now, manufacturers use R-134a to keep things cold in the cabin.

Working on an air conditioning system is about as much fun as sticking your hand in a blender. Twice.

Unless you are skilled in vehicle maintenance, it’s safest to take the job to a professional.

An AC compressor is usually driven by your vehicle's serpentine belt, and as it spins, it pressurizes the system's refrigerant. It's this change in pressure that cools the air coming into your cabin. The best way to keep your compressor from failing is to have your A/C system serviced once a year.

If your compressor needs replacement, most responsible shops will recommend swapping out a number of periphery components at the same time.

Why? The easy answer is working on an air conditioning system is about as fun as sticking your hand in a blender. Twice.

To avoid draining your refrigerant, removing your compressor, installing a new unit and refilling the system with new cool stuff — only to have you come back in a week and say it's still not cold enough — it makes sense to replace the necessary components.

Bernard’s Garage

2036 SE Washington St., Milwaukie



Brought to you by Mike Nielsen of Snap Fitness - FITNESS INSIDER -

SNAP FITNESS - Mike NielsenAs the inspirational saying goes, “Live less out of habit and more out of intent.”

While it’s true that starting a fitness routine can be difficult, I offer the following tips to get you in the gym door and on the road to good health.

Assessment — New SNAP Fitness clients receive a free jump-start session, including consultation with a trainer. The assessment determines the client’s baseline, helps us guide their first steps, and is an opportunity to discuss adding personal training.

Cardio — The national recommendation for exercise for all ages and fitness levels is to get to the gym at least three days per week, and to do a minimum of 30 minutes of cardio per visit. Working out with a friend will make it more fun, help you feel more accountable, help you stay at the gym for more months and achieve a higher level of success.

Strength training is key to replacing fat with muscle, becoming leaner, stronger and improving balance. Do two to three sessions of strength training per week.

Nutritional guidelines — Instead of eating three large meals per day, eat five to six small meals. This will fuel your energy throughout the day and avoid post-meal sluggishness. Also drink 96 ounces of water daily.

Online help — SNAP has a complete online nutritional program and training center. Free with membership, it provides a personalized workout plan, sample menus and a complete library of instruction videos.

Snap Fitness

Milwaukie: 4200 SE King Rd.



Oregon City: 19703 S. Hwy. 213, Ste. 170



Brought to you by Mike Nielsen - Snap Fitness - Fitness INSIDER

Mike Nielsen, Snap FitnessStrength training is an essential part of an exercise program, even for someone who hasn’t been active in a while.

Lifting weights, using weight machines and doing core work increases muscle mass and bone density.

As we age, our muscles deteriorate (called sarcopenia) and bone density decreases.

Research shows that seniors are more susceptible to bone breakage that younger adults. As people age, their metabolism slows down. We are seeing more and more seniors joining gyms.

If we take the average adult between the ages of 40 and 50 and do basic strength-training three to four times per week for 90 days, the outcome can be life-changing.

Here’s a myth-buster: Muscle does NOT weigh more than fat! A pound is a pound. 

Muscle is, however, more dense than body fat and takes up less area than fat. If you were to start an exercise program complete with strength training, you would increase your lean body mass and decrease body fat.

The body takes up less space and metabolism speeds up, resulting in a higher BMR (base metabolic rate, the amount of daily caloric intake needed to maintain LBM and weight.) This reverses sarcopenia and increases bone density.   

Not everyone walks into a gym and knows exactly what to do. Snap gives new members an opportunity to meet with a Certified Personal Trainer, who assesses their body and their goals. 

Let’s get started.

Snap Fitness

Milwaukie: 4200 SE King Rd.



Oregon City: 19703 S. Hwy. 213, Ste. 170



Brought to you by John Sciarra, Bernard's Garage - AUTO MAINTENANCE INSIDER

John Sciarra, Bernard's GarageRegular maintenance on your car is, quite simply, a good investment.

For example, when you bring your car in for a timing belt — typically needed at 90,000 to 100,000 miles— it costs in the range of $400 to $500. But if it breaks, it might be $1,800 to $2,000.

At our shop, when we do it, we do it right. With the timing belt, we also replace the timing belt tensioner, idler pulleys, camshaft seals, water pump and coolant.

Mileage interval maintenance, which is only done by shops, should be done at 30,000, 60,000 and 90,000 miles.

The ideal scenario is to get the car into the shop about three times per year for inspections, which will find things like rodent damage, which is more common than you might think. It’s mainly squirrels in this area.

An inspection will also uncover leaking coolant or oil, as well as plugged-up air filters. Once a year, you should get a brake inspection.

We do complete automotive repair, including pre-purchase inspections for $150. That’s a comprehensive inspection, which can detect unforeseen problems and save you from buying a compromised vehicle.

Our average cost for an oil change is $38; $58 for a brake inspection.

It’s a small investment. We do it properly and can save you a lot of trouble and expense down the road.

Bernard’s Garage

2036 SE Washington St., Milwaukie



Mike Nielsen - Snap Fitness - Fitness INSIDER

SNAP FITNESS - Mike Nielsen“We are a friendly, success-oriented fitness center,” says Mike Nielsen, vice president and co-owner of Snap Fitness locations in Oregon City, Milwaukie and Canby. “We’re like the ‘Cheers’ of the gym world, where everybody knows your name.”

Nielsen has been a certified fitness coach for 13 years and has been with Snap for eight years. He says being a fitness coach is all about helping individuals achieve the best version of themselves.

“It’s not just something that’s done at the gym, but it’s a lifestyle change,” he said of Snap. “We focus on not only the physical but also the mental and emotional aspects of everyday life, to make sure we are able to achieve long-term success.”

He says Snap gyms have a family feel and a personal touch.

The gyms are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with monitored access for safety. Snap has more than 1,500 locations nationwide.

The fitness centers offer cardio, personal training, weight-loss programs, a health center, strength training and Olympic lifting. An online web page for members offers nutrition counseling and an online training center.

“Our members are our greatest assets,” Nielsen added. “We do all we can to make sure they have not only the best facility and equipment, but a wonderful experience.”

Snap Fitness


Milwaukie: 4200 SE King Rd.


Oregon City: 19703 S. Hwy. 213, Ste. 170


Canby: 1109 SW 1st Ave.


Brought to you by John Sciarra - Bernard's Garage - AUTOMOTIVE INSIDER -

BERNARD'S GARAGE - John SciarraAfter nearly 100 years of providing excellent full-service automotive repair and maintenance, Bernard’s Garage is a classic Milwaukie institution trusted by generations of customers.

Founded in 1925, old timers and area residents still remember Joe Bernard Sr., who would design and build custom car parts when his customers’ vehicles needed it. Joe Bernard Jr., a former Milwaukie mayor, helped modernize Bernard’s and continued his father’s tradition of excellent customer service.

The current owner, Jim Bernard, another Milwaukie mayor and current Clackamas County commissioner, has computerized Bernard’s—turning his father’s mechanics into today’s technicians.

Besides providing free pickup and delivery, Bernard’s offers DEQ repair and adjustments, check-engine light diagnosis, manufacturer-scheduled maintenance, brakes, steering and suspension repair, timing belt tune-ups, radiator and water pump work, as well as engine, transmission and air conditioning service.

“We are straight shooters and will let you know what the problem is and what the cost is upfront,” Operations Manager John Sciarra says.

Sciarra, an 18 year veteran of Bernard’s, has attained numerous specialty vehicle class certifications. With 26 years in the industry overall, Sciarra is our INSIDER for automotive excellence.

Bernard’s Garage is a 17-year-long supporter of the Milwaukie Farmers Market, a Milwaukie First Friday participant and frequently donates to the Annie Ross House, Milwaukie Senior Center and other local schools and events.

A member of the Clackamas County Chamber of Commerce since 1955, Bernard’s has been named Business of the Year twice since 2000, and has received the BRAG award from the county for practicing responsible recycling and waste management.

Bernard's Garage 

2036 SE Washington St, Milwaukie, OR.

(503) 659-7722


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CRC tolls still would gridlock I-205


Oregon Department of Transportation Director Matt Garrett has written a letter and an Oct. 9 op-ed printed in this newspaper that responds to some of the points in my report “CRC Tolls Will Produce Gridlock on I-205.” Here is my response:

1. Garrett doesn’t deny the accuracy of the CDM Smith Interstate 5 and Interstate 205 data I cite. They show that traffic levels on I-5 will drop precipitously when it is tolled, and that traffic levels on I-205 will increase by about 50,000 vehicles per day.

ODOT and CRC officials did not release this information to the public, and but for my public information request, no one would know about it today. ODOT has not released information — necessarily assembled to build the CDM Smith estimates — on how this diversion would increase travel times on I-205 and other routes in the region.

Garrett doesn’t deny any of the points I raise about the inaccuracy of the FEIS forecasts.

2. The CDM Smith projections completely contradict FEIS traffic projections.

The CRC FEIS claims that in 2030, traffic on a tolled I-5 will be 178,000 vehicles per day. CDM Smith says: In 2030, traffic on a tolled I-5 will be between 87,100 and 129,400 vehicles per day.

Garrett claims that because CDM Smith hasn’t settled on a final number (a “base case”), and is still working with a range, that somehow you can’t compare these estimates. Well, 178,000 is not a number between 87,100 and 129,400. It doesn’t matter where in its range CDM Smith ends up, the number is nowhere near the number published in the FEIS.

What this comparison really shows is that the figure in the FEIS is far beyond the wildest imaginings of CDM Smith. For the record, note that the high estimate of 129,400 vehicles per day in CDM Smith is lower than the number of vehicles that the FEIS claims are traveling on I-5 today (FEIS says 134,000 — in fact, it’s never been that high).

CRC has never corrected the factual errors in the FEIS, never added any pos-2005 traffic data, and never has updated its projections to reflect actual conditions. Also, ODOT has repeated the sophistry that they have two different forecasts “for different purposes.”

The falsehood here is that the federal government (or good practices or something) requires them to use a “high estimate” to measure environmental impacts. Actually, there is no such federal regulation or policy: The forecasts are supposed to be accurate, not high.

Moreover, the high travel forecast has the effect of misleadingly making the impacts of the CRC look smaller than they really would be — that is, the FEIS says that 184,000 cars will drive across the existing six-lane I-5 bridge in 2030 if nothing is done, but if we build the 12-lane CRC, the combination of tolls and transit will lower that (ever so slightly) to 178,000 vehicles per day.

This fictitiously high baseline allows CRC to claim that the giant CRC bridge will have smaller environmental impacts than doing nothing (which is on its face absurd).

CRC’s fictitiously high FEIS forecast hides the project’s environmental effects — it doesn’t reveal them. Also, FTA regulations require that the CRC officials certify that they are using one consistent set of travel projections to justify the project — which they clearly aren’t doing. And if CDM Smith’s forecasts of I-5 and I-205 traffic are significantly accurate as Garrett claims, then the environmental impacts of building the CRC are very, very different from those portrayed in the FEIS.

3. Garrett contradicts himself. If CDM Smith is “accurate” the FEIS is wrong.

Also, note what Garret claims about CDM Smith: He regards their forecasts as having “a significant degree of accuracy.” Not low, not high, in his own words, accurate. You can’t claim that CDM Smith is accurate and also claim that the FEIS forecasts are accurate. If the CDM Smith forecasts are, per Garrett, significantly accurate (usually within 5 percent and as likely to be under as over, then the numbers of the FEIS are simply wrong.

4. Garrett apparently does not understand what his agency hired CDM Smith to do.

Garrett is profoundly incorrect when he claims that CDM Smith work “is not designed to estimate traffic diversion to I-205.”

As a practical matter, there is no way for CDM Smith to estimate traffic levels and toll revenues on I-5 unless it estimated how much cross-Columbia River traffic would use the I-205 bridge. This specific task was arguably the entire reason that CDM Smith was hired.

Smith was asked to prepare a “Stated Preference Survey” to compute the value travelers attach to travel time savings, and use that information to compute how many travelers would pay the toll vs. choose alternative routes or destinations.

The “value add” that Smith brought to the project was its proprietary knowledge and model for computing toll-related diversion. But please don’t take my word for it. CDM Smith said as much in the report that Garrett’s ODOT provided to the Legislature in February.

Smith folks point out that their “value add” in the traffic modeling process consists of a “CDM Smith” model of “route diversion.” They use a four-step modeling process; three steps are cribbed from the Metro model, and CDM Smith uses its own model for “trip assignment” — i.e., deciding what route travelers use to travel between origins and destinations.

5. CDM Smith regularly overestimates traffic and toll levels

CDM Smith has an uncanny knack for overestimating traffic. CDM Smith (in its previous incarnation as Wilbur Smith & Associates), has either prepared or endorsed toll and traffic projections that have turned out to be massively overstated, and which have preceded bankruptcy or financial disaster for the projects involved.

This is so bad that two of the major rating agencies (Fitch and Moody’s) have called out the inadequacy of toll forecasts in the past year.

Fitch’s report highlights as deeply problematic a series of U.S. toll projects, most of them based on toll revenue forecasts either prepared or endorsed by Wilbur Smith & Associates.

Joe Cortright is an economist based in Portland.