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Planning Commission to City Council: “We have serious concerns” about CRC project

Posted by on June 11th, 2008 at 10:17 am

“We will urge City Council not to write a blank check for a project that doesn’t meet the criteria we believe any new bridge should meet.”
–Planning Commission member Catherine Ciarlo

The nine-member Portland Planning Commission met last night to draw up their recommendations to Portland City Council on the $4.2 billion Columbia River Crossing project. City Council — one of eight agencies with veto power over the project — is set to vote on the project July 9th.

In a letter drafted by the Commission that is being sent to Mayor Potter and the Council, the Planning Commission says that while they believe a replacement bridge is necessary for safety, seismic, congestion mitigation and freight movement, they also have “serious concerns about the bridge design we have seen to date, and how it would impact the Portland metro area.”

In that letter they outline six “Essential elements of a new bridge”. The Planning Commission writes that the City Council should approve a replacement bridge but “ensure that it meets” the following “absolutely essential requirements”:

A. It should include light rail.
B. It should provide a… long-term solution to freight movement (as opposed to a temporary solution based on providing more capacity in the shorter term). That solution should give serious consideration to improving to the railroad bridge over the Columbia west of the proposed new bridge site.
C. It should include “world class” bicycle and pedestrian facilities that meet or exceed standards set by other projects in the Portland metro area and elsewhere.
…any new bridge should help Oregon achieve our stated greenhouse gas reduction goals by also reducing Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) in the region.
D. The project should be part of a comprehensive demand management strategy for the corridor, not simply a congestion management tool for the five miles of the Bridge Influence Area.
E. It should protect the health of the surrounding community, and promote equity in the city and the region.
F. It should be a fiscally responsible project that provides the lowest possible risk to the city and region — both in regard to actual bridge financing and to its “opportunity cost” impact on transportation projects over the next 30 years.

Tour of Tomorrow
The I-5 bridge.
(Photo © J. Maus)

The Planning Commission says steeply rising oil and fuel will bring “a significant potential change in driving behavior” and that the price assumptions made by the CRC back in 2005 — for the price of oil and gas in 2030 — have already been exceeded (and in some cases doubled).

“It would be imprudent,” they say, for the CRC to not consider long-term changes in driver behavior.

In an email to me after last night’s meeting, Planning Commission member (and former executive director of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance) Catherine Ciarlo wrote that they don’t support “the bridge we’ve seen so far,” and that they’ll “urge City Council NOT to write a blank check for a project that doesn’t meet the criteria we believe any new bridge should meet.”

The Planning Commissions concerns have obviously been influenced by what they heard from Metro last week. Metro voted 5-2 to recommend the 12-lane option, but they also passed a resolution with several explicit conditions — including the formation of an independent oversight committee, a phased-in tolling plan, a promise that the project will cut VMT (vehicle miles traveled), and others.

The Planning Commission will recommend to Council that they “insist” on an oversight committee that will “guide key decisions about the size, design, and funding for the bridge. This committee would also have “explicit say over the design of the bike and pedestrian facilities.”

Also in the letter, the Commission has listed several actions for City Council to take. The list includes making sure the design of a replacement bridge is “beautiful” and insisting on a written funding plan for the bridge saying, “the City and its citizens should clearly understand the proposed sources of money for the project.”

Anti-CRC sign-1.jpg
Spotted this sign in North Portland
last night.
(Photo © J. Maus)

While no official group has outright opposed a replacement bridge, the growing uneasiness with the direction of the project voiced by Metro and now with the Planning Commission makes me wonder about the upcoming City Council vote. If three Portland City Commissioners feel like the project is too far off track, it could derail the entire CRC effort.

So far, none of the commissioners has said much about how they’ll vote.

Commissioner and mayor-elect Sam Adams is in charge of the Office of Transportation and his commitment to sustainability and alternative transportation choices is well known. Would he be willing to risk the political backlash of a “no” vote just months from assuming leadership of the City? Or will he take a stance similar to Rex Burkholder (a Metro Councilor with a strong pro-environment record who ardently supports the project) and try to build a coalition of support around the controversial project?

Commissioner Saltzman is in charge of the City’s Office of Sustainable Development. Will concern over the project from groups like the Planning Commission, Metro, and the environmental non-profit Coalition for a Livable Future make him think twice about voting in favor?

Commissioner Leonard has often sided with Commissioner Adams on transportation-related issues.

It’s highly unlikely that Mayor Potter would rock the boat and vote “no” on this issue. But then again, he was very concerned about fiscal responsibility and the opportunity costs (remember the sidewalks in East Portland?) involved with the defunct Sauvie Island Bridge Relocation project (a $5.5 million project versus the CRC’s $4.2 billion tab).

And then there’s newly sworn-in (as of yesterday) Commissioner Nick Fish. Fish has told the Portland Tribune that he will “seek to find common ground” with Adams.

It will be interesting to watch how the discussion around the project progresses in the weeks leading up to the July 9th City Council vote.

Stay tuned.

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Comments
  • DJ Hurricane June 11, 2008 at 10:26 am

    Now how is adding more lanes going to reduce VMT? It isn\’t. It\’s simply inconsistent with that goal. You obviously wouldn\’t need more lanes if there were fewer vehicles on the road!

    There\’s a clear choice here:

    Start living in the real world and make the sacrifices needed to address global warming or continue to live in the fantasy world where spending billions on more highway lanes will reduce congestion and decrease VMT.

    NO CRC!!

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  • Elliot June 11, 2008 at 10:39 am

    This is the most encouraging stance I\’ve heard so far from a governmental body regarding the CRC. It\’s nice to know that at least one group of people who we\’ve put our trust in has the integrity to think this all the way through.

    12 lanes is a silly amount. If they build that configuration, by the time construction is finished gasoline will be so expensive that congestion from commuter SOVs will be gone, and Metro, et al, will instead be clamoring for a new bridge with 12 rail lines to relieve massive freight congestion.

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  • Jeff June 11, 2008 at 11:02 am

    As a new person to the area, who is new to area and lives and works in East Vancouver, I support a new bridge only for the sake that it will probably be the only thing to force this grumpy, retirement community to adopt light rail in the next 15 years. I agree that 12 lanes is ridiculous. I would rather see the 8 lane option examined with a larger span for light rail, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic.

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  • ambrown June 11, 2008 at 11:04 am

    Good to hear.

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  • carbuster June 11, 2008 at 11:08 am

    Maybe a protest/demonstration is in order for the night that City Council votes on this.

    I imagine doing something to drive home the point that we don\’t want the increased cars and traffic that 12 lanes will bring.

    What about getting a bunch of cars and driving them up onto the plaza in front of City Hall and parking them there, and have signs like

    \”Do you really want more cars & traffic in Portland? NO CRC!\”

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  • JayS. June 11, 2008 at 11:23 am

    \”…any new bridge should help Oregon achieve our stated greenhouse gas reduction goals by also reducing Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) in the region….\”

    I don\’t get why this statement is in the Bicycle section (C.) when it also applies at the very least to Light rail (A.) and freight movement (B.) And in some peoples view D., E., and F..

    It should be an overarching statement and goal of the entire project not tucked in with the bike section. It provides fuel for those who see bikes as fringe transport, and makes it look like adding light rail wouldn\’t effect VMT and green house gasses.

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  • revphil June 11, 2008 at 11:24 am

    generally the city council is pretty responsive to the citizens opinions. If you feel strongly about it make your voice heard.

    Or is there going to be a public forum on this matter? It would be nice to tell the commissioners my feelings direct.

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  • Peter W June 11, 2008 at 11:32 am

    Any increase in lanes will result in an increase in driving (VMT).

    I wonder if the 12 lane thing is seriously what the Washington officials want or if they are asking for 12 and figuring we\’ll scale it down to 8 or 10 in a \’compromise\’.

    We need to realize that because Vancouver is so much more dependent on the bridge, the only thing they really *need* is for the existing bridge to not fall into the water (its not even close to that though). Real \’compromise\’, then, means having Portland help pay to keep the bridge from falling down.

    If Vancouver wants to expand the bridge, maybe a true compromise that is in-line with Portland\’s sustainability goals would be to allow them to expand the bridge up to 8 lanes, if:

    1) the new lanes are carpool/freight only.

    2) congestion pricing is used, and

    3) a MAX line is put in along with world class bike/pedestrian facilities.

    Portland holds the cards on this project; since we don\’t need the bridge nearly as much as Vancouver does, we should only allow an increased bridge if Washington[1] & tolls mostly pay for it and if MAX & bike/ped facilities are added.

    1: if you think of opportunity costs, even getting federal money for the project is taking away from money that could be used in Oregon or elsewhere for bike/ped/transit projects. Actually, even if the state of Washington pays, that is taking away from possible bike/ped/transit projects in that state. Really then, the only source of funds should be tolls.

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  • lance p June 11, 2008 at 11:37 am

    can someone provide the phone number we should call to voicepur opposition before Sam and the rest of the counsel votes??

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  • Jason P. June 11, 2008 at 11:43 am

    If it doesn\’t reduce the bridge\’s carbon footprint to 1950\’s levels, we are doing ourselves and the planet a disservice.

    Start charging $8 for a noncommercial vehicle to travel in either direction on the bridge, allocate on of the lanes for commercial traffic only, and use the $$$ for improvements (esp. bike lanes and repairs).

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  • Dennis June 11, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    Replace the bridge, it has to be done. But keep three automobile lanes each way, add Light rail, and extensive pedestrian and bicycle support.

    I\’ve noticed a significant decrease in traffic problems, since the fuel prices have risen so high. We don\’t need to accommodate more automobile traffic, as it will continue to decrease.

    as for freight, It\’s simple, rebuild the rail bridge, just to the west of the existing I-5 bridge, for more traffic.

    Attn: CRC, as a resident of Vancouver, and an employee in Portland, three lanes are fine for cars. Just make sure light rail and bicycles get priority.

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  • Andy June 11, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    While we\’d like to point the finger of bridge congestion on all the SOV\’s out there, a lot of commercial traffic goes across the river every day. Trucks could easily take up 4 or more lanes by themselves at certain times of the day. To that end, I think it\’d be a disservice to spend all this money on a smaller bridge only to say \”oops, we\’re jammed up again\” a few years down the road.

    Don\’t get me wrong. I think 12 lanes is a bit much, but we need this bridge, too. Because traffic jammed up from Vancouver ripples all the way through downtown – this affects everyone\’s ability to get through town, even if you live right here in Portland. Most importantly, this bridge is our leverage to get Clark County to connect the last pieces of the puzzle and interconnect our mass transit and bikeways and make some real improvement with ways to get across the river without taking a car.

    To that end, I\’m not sure 8 lanes is enough. We want it to be, we wish it were, but I\’m just not sure. It might work if we used both lanes in a flexible manner, so that *both* are SB in the mornings for trucks/buses, and switched to NB in the afternoons.

    It\’d take some tricky connections at both ends of the bridge, and a whole lot of barricades to prevent idjits from going the wrong way, but it\’d be a way to make the most out of limited bridgespace.

    Otherwise 10 might be a better compromise, our give for their take with ponying up the cash, and getting MAX into Vancouver. Yellow line would have to get much longer trains then. ;)

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  • Graham June 11, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    So much of this bridge project seems driven by the assumption – born out of 1950\’s post-war attitudes toward planning – that development, sprawl, and interstate commerce are inevitable, unstoppable, and will not be denied. Like forces of nature, but all for the good.

    Portland is the one place I\’ve lived that has refuted this assumption, specifically with the Urban Growth Boundary. The UGB takes the stand that sprawling bigger isn\’t better. It\’s a stand that has been proven right: Portland is all the more livable for it, and because of it our property values have not tanked as badly as they have in other cities. (The UGB – along with bike-friendliness and walkable neighborhoods – is a big reason I bought a house and made my home in Portland.)

    While I automatically reject many of the the pro-CRC arguments – particularly the inevitability of sprawl – I still find myself going along with the argument that truck traffic needs to flow freely up and down I-5. That free flow of commerce would seem to be the most important thing a CRC can offer. Then I have second thoughts on even that point. I mean, what of the stuff that\’s in those trucks do we really *need*? And how much of it is just Wal-Mart crap that we don\’t need, but buy anyway? As in: http://www.storyofstuff.com/.

    So often in conversations like this one, conversations about growth and transportation, people conflate \”needs\” with \”wants\”.

    Of course there\’s the argument that commerce – even commerce of useless, landfill-clogging crap – keeps our economy going, that we all depend on our American consumer\’s voracious, and ever-expanding appetites to stay afloat (after all, it was Americans going out and shopping that was one of our major responses to 9/11, right?). Even if we take this (somewhat depressing) argument at face value, how many lanes of traffic does the commerce of useful and useless items alike require? The vast majority of I-5 is four lanes, so that should do it, right?

    So what is the purpose of the other 8 or so lanes of the big-bridge CRC option? From what I saw at the Metro meeting, they\’re for local interchanges. There\’s a huge cluster of on- and off-ramps in that stretch of highway.

    Basically, it seems to me a case of local sprawl feeding off of, and clogging up what should, at best, be a free-flowing Interstate conduit.

    Why should we feed this sprawl more capacity, when there is, as far as I know, no strategies in place to keep that capacity from just being gobbled up in the future?

    Which reminds me, I\’ve been wondering: does Vancouver have an urban growth boundary?

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  • BURR June 11, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    freight should mostly be crossing the river by rail, not by road

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  • Peter W June 11, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    re:#13
    >So what is the purpose of the other 8 or so lanes of the big-bridge CRC option? From what I saw at the Metro meeting, they\’re for local interchanges. There\’s a huge cluster of on- and off-ramps in that stretch of highway.

    That brings up the point – if interstate highways are for long distance interstate traffic, why do they need so many interchanges?

    I think the answer is obvious: the I-5 bridge is not being designed for long distance travel and for freight; it is being designed as if it were a high-access commuter arterial, primarily intended to server sprawling Clark County.

    re: #12
    >Most importantly, this bridge is our leverage to get Clark County to connect the last pieces of the puzzle and interconnect our mass transit

    Except that by building the huge bridge, we\’ll be allowing sprawl to increase so much that by then there will be so many pieces of the [sprawl] puzzle for mass transit to connect to, it\’ll be impossible to do so.

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  • ralph June 11, 2008 at 1:07 pm

    Then where are the plans for more rail lines in/around/through Portland?

    Wait until you hear the uproar on that one. NIMBY, NIMBY, NIMBY!!!

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  • Cøyøte June 11, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    The CRC is hopelessly flawed. I applaud the Planning Commission for clearly defining a position. I like the fact they linked CRC to the existing rail bridge. Ideally a second set of tracks to give Amtrak a little boost.

    By the time vote comes around we could be staring a $5.00 gallon, and the commission ideas may get more traction.

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  • Chris June 11, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    It needs to be built for seismic reasons alone. It also needs a place to put broken down or crashed cars… rather than a travel lane (what is it about bridges that encourage car problems? Same thin in NYC…)

    How much more will a 12 lane span cost rather than an 8 or 10? Is it better to just build the whole thing rather than realizing it was built too small in 10 years? What happens if more fuel efficient cars do become a reality? More bridge traffic again. If you build it, and if its empty, we\’ll have some really great bike lanes in the future.

    Who really wants more freight trains going through downtown Portland? Do you live near the tracks? I find highway noise much preferable to train traffic.

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  • a.O June 11, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    \”While we\’d like to point the finger of bridge congestion on all the SOV\’s out there, a lot of commercial traffic goes across the river every day.\”

    Commercial traffic makes up 7% of all traffic. I\’m comfortable that we\’re capturing fault in that ~93%.

    \”Because traffic jammed up from Vancouver ripples all the way through downtown – this affects everyone\’s ability to get through town, even if you live right here in Portland.\”

    You mean everyone who\’s not riding a bike or the Max, right? In other words, it affects only people using automobiles. What better way to achieve reduction in VMT than to make it more difficult, rather than less difficult, to use a SOV to get around?

    \”Then where are the plans for more rail lines in/around/through Portland?\”

    They\’re on Metro\’s website, right here:

    http://www.oregonmetro.gov/index.cfm/go/by.web/id=118

    The South Corridor II max line is going just a few blocks away from my house – IMBY!! IMBY!!

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  • a.O June 11, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    \”Who really wants more freight trains going through downtown Portland?\”

    Me.

    \”Do you live near the tracks?\”

    Yes.

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  • jonno June 11, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    I went to the Metro meeting and picked up an interesting handout confirming what we already knew: that the vast majority of congestion on the bridge is morning southbound and evening northbound Clark County commuters. Freight is not clogging up the current 6-lane bridge; it\’s being clogged by SOV Washingtonians taking advantage of a favorable tax situation and what used to be cheap, easy driving conditions. At any time of day other than the southbound/northbound rush hours, traffic moves smoothly and quickly.

    I\’ll be damned if I\’m going to pay out of my pocket to support the anachronistic car-dependent lifestyles of Clark County deadbeats. I say toll the existing span and build light rail right away. Tolling will reduce traffic load immediately, something which is already happening due to high gas prices. Why should all of Oregon\’s hard work be sabotaged by our shortsighted neighbors to the north?

    And as to tolls — you\’d only have to toll southbound morning traffic to have a noticeable impact. Right off the bat this will reduce SOV congestion, save billions on a new bridge and start making commuters pay their fair share for unsustainable transportation choices.

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  • Evan June 11, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    What is the favorable tax situation???

    If you work in Oregon you pay Oregon income tax. So without those \”anachronistic car-dependent…Clark County deadbeats\” coming to work in Portland you\’d have a lot less tax money to spend on your \”Multnomah county, lefty liberal, tree hugging, bark eating\” transportation infrastructure.

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  • a.O June 11, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    \”[W]ithout those \’anachronistic car-dependent…Clark County deadbeats\’ coming to work in Portland you\’d have a lot less tax money to spend on your Multnomah county … transportation infrastructure.\”

    Fine by me! Don\’t let the Max train hit you in the a$$ on your way out!!

    And the Clark County deadbeats would have, what? That\’s right, no job. So don\’t expect us to provide you with employment *and* facilite your continued destruction of the planet and our fair City\’s liveability at our expense.

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  • jonno June 11, 2008 at 2:41 pm

    \”…your \”Multnomah county, lefty liberal, tree hugging, bark eating transportation infrastructure.\”

    You mean the kind that hasn\’t resulted in the need for a $4.2 billion bridge?

    We\’re all part of the same region, yet Portland has been making choices for decades that reduce car dependency and create viable transportation choices. Clark County has not; in fact they\’ve laughed at, ignored and repeatedly voted down proposals that might have actually reduced the need for solo driving. Sometimes it seems like Clark County planners think it\’s still 1955 and gas only costs a shiny quarter a gallon. And now we\’re all expected to pay for those foolish choices? It reminds me of the story of the ant and the grasshopper.

    I\’ll take the lefty infrastructure down here and save a couple billion, thanks much.

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  • 2GOAT June 11, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    The I 5 CRC is not the only route in Portland accross the river. All commercial vehicles that have no intention of stopping in Portland should be routed via I 205. There should never be a double or triple rig traveling thru the narrow and winding Terwilliger curves and or managing any the other interchanges thru the city just to stay on the I 5 route North or South.
    What is the expense for new signage at the I 5/205 Interchanges immediately south of Portland and North in Vancouver?
    Update the I5 CRC just enough for earthquake standards any new additions should be for Lightrail/mass transit and Ped/bike traffic.
    12 lanes for motorvehicle traffic is shortsighted and will just move the current bottle necks right into the heart of Portland at the I5/84, I5/405 and I405/26 interchanges.

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  • Graham June 11, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    I don\’t know from tax law, but I know this: The interstate highway system introduced in the 1950\’s a situation in which people felt like they could work in a city, but live waaaay out in the burbs where the air was clean and – most importantly – the land was cheap. Then they\’d do their shopping waaaaay out somewhere else, in shopping centers where land was also cheap, making the prices cheap, and simultaneously undercutting urban centers.

    This all seemed like a win as long as: 1) gas was cheap, and 2) the government kept building highway infrastructure.

    Because, you know, government money comes for free, right?

    It\’s a false economy though, because someone has to pay the cost of the infrastructure to move all those cars around, and then pay for the upkeep, and then pay for the damage done to human health, to the environment, and to the aforementioned city centers.

    Some of us get none of the benefit, but pay all the cost.

    Projects like the CRC big-bridge option are gigantic, taxpayer-funded subsidies that make the idiocy of turning farmland into subdivisions and shopping malls seem to make sound financial sense.

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  • jonno June 11, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    Well put, Graham.

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  • Lenny Anderson June 11, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    The cost of removing the existing I-5 bridges, $150 Million, is almost the same as the cost to retrofit them to resist a 2500 year earthquake.
    Freight moves fine on I-5 for over 90% of the time…30 hours per week are congested out of 336 hours of operation.
    Its so easy to drive thru Portland on I-5 that most freight chooses it over I-205 as its more direct.
    Our freight concerns should focus on export products; imports to not drive an economy. WalMart is not leaving this market, UPS, Fed Ex, etc. will not leave this market. They will do the best they can to compete with the roads they are given.
    And when it comes to exports don\’t be fooled by the Port of Portland…its major exports are wheat and bult minerals, both of which move to the docks by rail.
    What about containers?…Portland moved 260K containers last year, 1% of the West Coast\’s 26 Milion; key exports out of Portland were cattle feed, french fries and air…empty containers.
    Most high tech exports move out via PDX.

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  • mara June 11, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    revphil, you asked about public hearings. The latest info I have from the city of Portland is that there\’s a public hearing on July 9. They are also holding a worksession on June 26 but will not accept public comment.

    June 26 – Portland City Council CRC Work Session (no public comment)
    Time: 3:15pm
    Location: City Hall, 1221 SW 4th Ave, Portland

    July 9 – Portland City Council hearing – with public comment
    Time: 2pm
    Location: City Hall, 1221 SW 4th Ave, Portland

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  • Matthew Denton June 11, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    At the Metro meeting last week, Rex admitted that it was indeed a highway bridge and that of course it wasn\’t going to reduce VMT…

    Duh, that is why people are opposed to it.

    Lance P:
    E-mail addresses and such:
    http://www.onwardoregon.org/siteapps/advocacy/ActionItem.aspx?c=ffIOIRMEG&b=4175101

    Rev Phil:
    City Council hearing dates, (and other hearings as well):
    http://www.smarterbridge.com/?q=node/11

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  • Andy June 11, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    Congestion affects more than just the people on the freeway. You may not be sitting in the freeway on a bike or on MAX, but you are still affected. You have to cope with congested traffic that\’s spilled onto the secondary roads attempting to bypass the jammed freeways.

    Hell, it affects my kids just standing around outside because of the clowns racing through our neighborhood trying to bypass I5 and get home.

    Trucking may make up only 7% of the daily traffic on I5, but during peak hours, they are a *sizeable* presence on the freeway, particularly as you get north of the industrial areas both at Swan Island, and around Lombard and Columbia.

    As for local access to the bridge, this probably includes our own Hayden Island, which has very little choice about rerouting in order to access the freeway further away from the bridge.

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  • joe adamski June 11, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    carbuster.. Maybe a protest/demonstration is in order for the night that City Council votes on this.

    No. protests/demonstrations arent the way to bring change. Truth is, those folks who drag their weary butts to another meeting.. who fill in those \’public comment\’ cards on the websites or mailed to your door.. who join forces with that association or nonprofit or advocacy group to understand whats happening and how to intelligently affect change: they are the ones who get policy changed. Protests and demonstrations usually mean little. Engaged advocacy is the ticket to having an impact

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  • Matthew Denton June 11, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    Andy #31: I do know that congestion spills over onto the local streets.

    Specifically: a 12 lane freeway over the river connecting to 6 lane freeway in North Portland and a 4 lane freeway at the Rose Quarter is going to spill onto the local streets… So, how do we keep that from happening? Don\’t build a 12 lane freeway over the river in the first place…

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  • Graham June 11, 2008 at 7:06 pm

    #33: Yes, exactly: if we open up capacity on this crossing by adding lanes, we induce demand, allowing – and even encouraging – more cars than ever to cross into downtown Portland and Vancouver, already congested urban centers that have no means of absorbing a greater influx of cars. It\’s not like you can add more lanes to the downtown stretch of Broadway.

    Reduce, don\’t induce!

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  • Racer X June 11, 2008 at 10:18 pm

    Please remember that the [single lane] railroad bridge is a privately owned by BNSF. So it would have to be condemned or bought by the government to make the changes suggested. The remote corporate leaders of BNSF are far off in Texas.

    The generations of bridge owners have chosen to not invest in additional capacity to it for 100 years. Back in 1907 Vancouver and Portland residents begged Sam Hill to add a \’wagon road\’ on top of it for the Lewis and Clark Exp. but he said no. – from what I have read and seen on OPB. This then lead to the first Interstate Bridge.

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  • Racer X June 11, 2008 at 10:24 pm

    Correction…the rail bridge is a two track facility.

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  • David Feldman June 12, 2008 at 7:32 am

    Car lanes shouldn\’t be increased in number–how much worse will the Rose Quarter bottleneck become with more cars fed into it? Junkies don\’t have bigger veins implanted into their arms–they either die of an overdose or they quit doing heroin! This bridge has to be part of a forced demand reduction strategy.

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  • Dennis June 12, 2008 at 10:26 am

    Clark county doesn\’t really have any limits on development currently. That\’s why we\’re in the situation that exists now. It\’s perpetual suburbia, as far as the eye can see. Places like Battle Ground, Hockinson, Brush Prairie, Amboy, Yacolt and points outside of that are going to end up becoming the new slums, once fuel becomes expensive enough. Especially if alternative transportation is not made available.

    This Bridge Project is being sold as if fuel would be forever inexpensive. By building twelve lanes, without light rail, we would be re-committing to the abusive marriage to big oil. There would be no recourse, and no way to maintain the few positive aspects of the way of life in Vancouver.

    The way I look at it. People that refuse to bicycle, or take light rail, still benefit from those things.

    For every bicycle, that\’s less traffic for the drivers, and for every passenger on light rail, that\’s a tank of fuel in your SUV to haul your super-sized existence around.

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  • Doug Allen June 12, 2008 at 12:16 pm

    Racer X, Please don\’t spread misinformation about the BNSF railroad bridge. BNSF would be a willing partner in upgrading the bridge, and has participated in studies, sponsored by the Oregon and Washington Transportation Departments, of how to do so. Naturally they don\’t want to pay for more than they get out of it. The public would need to contribute.

    If the swing span were replaced with a lift span to the south, all I-5 lifts from towboat traffic could be eliminated, according to the Columbia River Towboat Association. The Willamette River railroad bridge was similarly altered from a swing span to a lift span a few years back. And if BNSF, for some reason, did not want the shorter opening time that a lift span offers, the US Coast Guard has the authority to order the change, once they have the funding.

    The CRC project is about capacity. The seismic, lift, and safety problems with the existing bridges can be fixed for much less cost than a replacement bridge.

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  • Unit June 12, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    Doug,
    I hate to muddy the waters here, but it sounds like you have some experience working with BNSF re: this bridge, so….in exchange for the public paying for the prudent lift reconfiguration and seismic retrofitting of their bridge, do you think they would permit a ped/bike path to be hung off the side in the process?

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