The Columbia River Crossing Project

The Columbia River Crossing project seeks to build a new bridge over the Columbia river between Oregon and Washington at Interstate 5.

For more information, read my coverage of this topic in the articles below.

[For links to more local media coverage of this issue, click here.]

Activists hope to weaken CRC ‘signal’ at hearing in Salem today

Posted on February 11th, 2013 at 11:00 am.

Legislator bike ride at the Oregon Bike Summit-1
A big day at the capitol for the CRC.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

A bill that would officially make it “in the state’s interest” to move forward on the I-5 freeway widening project between Oregon and Washington will be given a public hearing in Salem today. The bill, HB 2800, is being pushed by Governor Kitzhaber and many high-profile Democrats and other backers of the Columbia River Crossing project.

A House Joint Committee will hear invited testimony from the Governor as well as Oregon Transportation Commission chair Pat Egan and ODOT’s Deputy Project Director Kris Strickler. If anti-CRC activists are successful, the committee will also hear from dozens of people speaking out against the bill (and the project in general). According to a Facebook page where activists are organizing carpools to attend the 3:00 pm hearing, there are about 40 people so far who plan to make the trip.


Clackamas County set to vote on anti-CRC resolution – UPDATED

Posted on February 5th, 2013 at 3:34 pm.

John Ludlow, Chair of Clackamas
County Board of

A draft resolution that is expected to be voted on by the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners on Thursday could make them the first government body to take a position against the Columbia River Crossing (CRC) project. The draft resolution has been published to the Board’s website and we’ve pasted the full text below.

If it passes (assuming it’s even brought up for a vote), it would be just the latest symbol that the facade of inevitability for the project that has been strategically promoted by staff and backers for years, might finally be starting to crack.


Anti-CRC rally shows opposition still has strength

Posted on February 4th, 2013 at 4:29 pm.

Anti-CRC event at Crank Bicycles-1
Bike Walk Vote board member Lisa Marie White
speaks at the start of an anti-CRC event
held Friday night in Portland.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

There was plenty of evidence in Portland over the weekend of the growing movement to stop the Columbia River Crossing project. On Friday, non-profit political action committee Bike Walk Vote hosted a rally at a bike shop in southeast Portland; and on Saturday, several activists had a sit-down meeting with Oregon Speaker of the House Tina Kotek.

At Crank Bicycles on Friday people learned about the project from notable community leaders, filled out letters to send to legislators, signed up for volunteer shifts to lobby state representatives, and donated money to non-profits working to stop the project. The mood was upbeat and the energy level was high as major cracks are beginning to form in the foundation of a project that many people think is inevitable.

For a project that has been fought by activists since about 2006, the event showed that those who oppose it haven’t given up and they’re more organized and fired up than ever before.


Catching up with the CRC project

Posted on September 22nd, 2011 at 4:14 pm.

The CRC FEIS, now available for viewing
at locations throughout Portland.
(Photo © J. Maus)

It’s been several months since I last chimed in on the Columbia River Crossing (CRC) project.

Somehow, despite many lingering questions — especially around its funding plan — the $3.5 billion project which has been a roller-coaster of controversy and stops and starts over last several years — seems to have gained a bit of momentum. Or, as noted local architecture critic Brian Libby puts it, the “Frankenstein lurches closer to life.”

On September 8th, Metro council (led by ardent CRC supporter Tom Hughes) voted 5-0 in support of the CRC’s Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). To give you an idea of the importance and context of that vote, here’s a snip of reporting on it from The Columbian:


Rolling with momentum, CRC subject of public forum tonight

Posted on March 7th, 2011 at 11:23 am.

Signs of life abound for the
controversial project.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Rolling with momentum in recent weeks from national and statewide elected officials, the Columbia River Crossing (CRC) project will be the focus of a public forum in Northeast Portland tonight.

The event is being hosted by the Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods, an umbrella non-profit that represents 12 neighborhoods in North and Northeast Portland. At tonight’s forum, residents will be able to share their opinion about the project with local leaders including Metro President Tom Hughes, Metro Councilor Rex Burkholder, and state representatives Tina Kotek, Lew Frederick and Chip Shields.


Activists release new ‘Stop the CRC’ poster to raise funds, awareness

Posted on January 4th, 2011 at 10:53 am.

Stop the CRC, a grassroots volunteer network of activists opposed to the Columbia River Crossing project, has released a new poster. Check it out…


Citizen activist releases “Boatload of Questions” CRC video

Posted on October 20th, 2010 at 1:37 pm.

Citizen uber-activist and professional animator Spencer Boomhower has released a thoughtful new video on the Columbia River Crossing Project. You might remember Boomhower as the guy who created the Idaho Stop Law animation that spread nationwide and has since been viewed over 44,000 times.

Boomhower says he put out his latest video on the CRC project because he wanted people to know more about the project in advance of a crucial vote for Metro President. One candidate in that race, Tom Hughes, supports the project. The other, Bob Stacey, opposes it (the two were separated by only a few percentage points in the primary).


Study shows CRC project could cost up to $10 billion (not $3.6)

Posted on October 15th, 2010 at 11:50 am.

CRC Rally-132
You might want to ask for
twice that much.
(Photo © J. Maus)

CRC project staff and Departments of Transportation in both Oregon and Washington have been putting the estimated cost of the new I-5 bridge and highway expansion project at about $3.6 billion; but a new study shows that the the project could end up costing as much as $10 billion.

The report was commissioned by Plaid Pantry CEO Chris Girard and the research was done by economist Joe Cortright for Impresa, Inc. Here’s an excerpt by Girard taken from the report’s cover letter (emphasis mine):

The report documents the unfortunate fact that the proposed CRC project’s real costs are more than double the widely-accepted figure of $3.6 billion. In reality the current design for the project will cost in the range of $8 billion to $10 billion, or more, and there is no available source of revenue to pay for it. The financing plan is a guess at best, and the revenue projections are significantly flawed with bad assumptions and unacceptable risk at every step. The numbers and analysis underpinning this project simply do not add up to a happy ending.


CRC alternatives panel tomorrow: Sneak peek at the proposals

Posted on September 13th, 2010 at 4:32 pm.

Anti 12-lane CRC Ride-37
How about some alternatives?
(Photo © J. Maus)

Tomorrow, Metro councilor Robert Liberty will host a panel discussion on alternatives to the currently proposed Columbia River Crossing project. In announcing the event, Liberty said that given the “serious financial and political challenges” the project currently faces, it might be feasible to come up with some alternatives to the $2.6 to $3.6 billion proposal that’s currently on the table.


Metro Councilor Robert Liberty announces panel to discuss CRC alternatives

Posted on August 16th, 2010 at 10:29 am.

Robert Liberty wants to talk about
alternatives to the current
CRC design.
(Photo © J.M Maus)

Metro Councilor Robert Liberty, the man who likened the new I-5 bridge proposed by the Columbia River Crossing Project to a “monster project” that we should leave behind in favor of “smarter, cheapter, greener solutions,” is putting action behind those words.

On Friday Liberty announced that he would convene a panel discussion to come up with alternative solutions to the current CRC proposal. The statement from Liberty’s office about the event said:

“The Columbia River Crossing project in its current form is facing very serious financial and political challenges.

Metro Councilor Robert Liberty believes it is important to begin a community discussion of some alternatives to the current proposal, in the event it is infeasible.