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Columbia River Crossing

As Airbnb moves to Old Town, Portland's skilled work boom outpaces CRC's job promises

Friday, March 14th, 2014
Last (and cold) sunrise of 2010-6
Job engine?
(Photo by J.Maus/BikePortland)

Multnomah County alone has created more new "professional and technical service" jobs in the last three years than the Columbia River Crossing was projected to create throughout the region, in all sectors combined, by 2030.

It's a fact that was underscored Friday by Mayor Charlie Hales' announcement that San Francisco-based startup Airbnb will move 160 employees and its North American operational headquarters to Portland's Old Town area.

That was the latest sign that Portland's tech sector is in the middle of an historic boom — and a stark contrast with the freeway-rail project, once called essential to the region's economy, that seems to have been killed by the state legislature one week ago.

According to the Columbia River Crossing project team's own calculations, the long-term economic impact of increasing the capacity of Interstate 5 would be to create 3,441 more jobs around the region by 2030. That'd be about 0.15 percent of the region's future workforce.

(more...)

The zombie is finally dead: ODOT will "shut down" CRC project

Friday, March 7th, 2014
ODOT Director Matt Garrett-1
Good move Matt!
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

It's real this time folks. It's over. ODOT has just announced they will "shut down" the Columbia River Crossing Project once and for all. Here's the full statement just released by ODOT Director Matt Garrett:

"On March 7, the Oregon Legislature adjourned without reinstating construction funds for the CRC I-5 Bridge Replacement project. As identified in Governor Kitzhaber’s January 27, 2014 letter to legislative leadership, the project will begin the process of orderly archival and closeout. We have the fiduciary responsibility to close out the project in a systematic, retrievable manner in order to adequately preserve a decade of research, environmental reviews, community involvement, and detailed engineering work for potential future use. We will archive work products according to Oregon record retention requirements.

Expenditures will be reduced immediately; further design and deliverable development will not occur. The project will shut down completely by May 31, 2014. (more...)

As legislators hold hearing on CRC, some are already looking at cheaper plans

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014
A 2011 rendering of the proposed
Columbia River Crossing.

Two veteran state legislators, one of whom was a key swing vote in support of last year's Columbia River Crossing funding plan, say consensus is building for scrapping the freeway-rail expansion plan and starting over.

Both said they doubt their colleagues will re-approve the existing proposal, though a public committee hearing Wednesday afternoon is likely to advance the debate.

State Rep. Mitch Greenlick and state Rep. Lew Frederick — neither of whom have conferred on the issue — both said Tuesday that a new, much smaller truck-and-train freight bridge would solve the key problems facing the river crossing with far lower costs.

(more...)

Visualizing the cost of local transportation projects

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

More than just about anything else on BikePortland, we write about street projects — and, if our records are any indication, you like to read about them more than just about anything else, too.

But what do they cost, really? Sometimes it's hard to visualize.

So we gave it a shot:

visualizing Portland-area transportation investments
Graphic by BikePortland. The area of each circle corresponds to the cost of each project.

(more...)

Latest Columbia River Crossing proposal scales back bike facilities (updated)

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013
Current bike infrastructure on much of Hayden
Island: signs and sidewalks.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Even for the many Portland-area residents who ride bikes but aren't inclined to object to expensive urban freeway expansions, the Columbia River Crossing has always had one small thing going for it: it'd widen the Vancouver-Portland bike crossing and simplify the maze of trails required to reach it.

With pro-CRC lobbyists hastily re-gathering votes for a possible Oregon-funded version of the project, it looks like the bike facilities are being scaled back.

During its years of planning and outreach, one of the features of the Columbia River Crossing concept was a shared-use path through Hayden Island that would put bike traffic at a different height (or "grade") from auto traffic. A Sept. 25 memo (PDF) from the CRC's environmental manager, however, shows that the new "phased" project would save money by indefinitely postponing the grade separation and sending bike and foot traffic through "at-grade intersections on Hayden Island."

(more...)

Report: Traffic projections 'invalidate the transportation rationale for the CRC'

Monday, September 23rd, 2013
traffic on i-5 -1
Tolls and traffic projections for the CRC project
raise new questions.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Economist Joe Cortright says new traffic projections from a previously undisclosed report reveals an inconvenient truth about the Columbia River Crossing project. The plan to toll the existing I-5 bridge span (starting in 2016) would lead to nearly 50,000 people per day opting to drive over the I-205 bridge instead. As a result, not only would I-205 (and its feeder routes I-84 and SR 14) become jammed during rush hour, but there would be a significant decrease in traffic on I-5 which raises new questions about the wisdom of spending $2.7 billion to significantly expand its capacity.

This analysis is detailed in a new, 12-page report by Cortright's firm, Impresa Consulting Inc. (PDF). Cortright obtained the underlying data via a public records request from the CRC and the records come from a traffic modeling report performed by CRC contractors CDM Smith.

Here's more from the summary of Impresa's report: (more...)

As CRC re-birth looms, activists launch phone tree campaign

Thursday, September 19th, 2013
Anti-CRC event at Crank Bicycles-3
Like the project itself, anti-CRC activism is back.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

As you might have heard thanks to reporting by the Willamette Week, the Columbia River Crossing project is very much alive. Oregon legislators who once said cooperation from Washington was imperative, have conveniently scuttled that narrative and are preparing to push the project through regardless of any bi-state partnership.

However, as the CRC readies for another starring role in Salem in a few weeks, a coalition of grassroots activists who have been working for years to stymie the project have once again come together in hopes of convincing legislators that it's a bad idea. Organized by Bike Walk Vote, a political action committee, their new effort is called, "Operation CRC: Commotion & Ruckus Campaign." (more...)

BTA, enviro groups send anti-CRC letter to Kitzhaber

Friday, September 6th, 2013
(Graphic: 1000 Friends of Oregon)

It appears that regional non-profits might be finally awakening for a fight against the Columbia River Crossing project.

This morning, 11 organizations — including 1000 Friends of Oregon, the Sierra Club, and the Bicycle Transportation Alliance — laid out their opposition to the CRC in a strongly-worded letter addressed to Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber. The letter was also sent to legislative leaders and key staffers at the governor's office.

In the letter, the non-profits made their case against the project and urged Kitzhaber to vote against funding the current CRC plan. After the project was left for dead back in June, it has come roaring back to life in the last month. Now, backers want Oregon to go-it-alone with a plan that puts our state in an even dicier financial position. (more...)

The Columbia River Crossing is alive

Friday, August 16th, 2013
OK. Maybe not.

It may be a hot Friday afternoon in the middle of August, but the president of the Oregon Senate has spent it making calls to key legislators, counting votes for a possible resurrection of the Columbia River Crossing.

That's the latest word from Sen. Rod Monroe (D-East Portland), a longtime backer of the CRC who said a one-day special session that would include a new deal on the big highway-rail project is possible, but not likely.

"I would say right now the chances of a special session are at best 50-50, maybe not even that high," said Monroe, a former Metro councilor who sits on the Business and Transportation Committee and the special committee regarding the CRC.

(more...)

A new 'Common Sense' vision for a Columbia crossing

Monday, August 5th, 2013
Anti 12-lane CRC Ride-38
Could a new bridge plan save money
by putting the old one to use?
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

As the Portland region's freeway planners lick their wounds over the death of the Columbia River Crossing, one of the region's longstanding anti-freeway warriors is seizing the moment of quiet to push a new plan that he says would be far less expensive.

Jim Howell, a longtime citizen activist and former TriMet bus planner who helped lead opposition to both the Mount Hood Freeway and the Columbia River Crossing, has an out-of-the-box idea:

  • Scrap most of the highway enlargements that were part of the Columbia River Crossing.
  • Build a new eight-lane highway bridge immediately upstream of the current Interstate Bridge.
  • Repurpose the Interstate Bridge as a two-lane local street, a light rail crossing and a pair of dedicated cycle tracks.

Interesting? You bet. Howell, the volunteer strategic planning director for the Association of Oregon Rail and Transit Advocates, says the whole thing would cost $1 billion, compared to the Columbia River Crossing plan's $3.1 to $3.5 billion.

(more...)

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