Oregon Senators question CRC project bike and ped funding

Posted by on February 22nd, 2008 at 12:30 pm

“My view of this bridge is that we’ve got to move freight…isn’t it conceivable they [bikes and peds] would ride across the bridge on whatever kind of transit option is offered, rather than building separate accommodation that just drives the cost of this already unbelievably expensive structure up?”
–Sen. Betsy Johnson

On Tuesday of this week, Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) representatives made a trip to Salem to present the latest developments on the Columbia River Crossing project to the Senate Transportation Committee. The presentation was given by ODOT’s project director John Osborn and he was accompanied by the Deputy Director of ODOT, Doug Tindall.

After Osborne’s presentation, Committee member Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose) called into question the amount of money ($30 million) to be spent on bike and pedestrian facilities.

Senator Johnson asked Osborn why people on bikes and foot don’t just, “ride across the bridge on whatever kind of transit option is offered, rather than building separate accommodation that just drives the cost of this already unbelievably expensive structure up.”

When Osborne told her the bike and ped component of the project is likely to be $30 million, Johnson seemed flabbergasted and said, “that’s a jaw-dropping amount of money.”

$30 million is 2.5% of the cost of the total bridge span, which is estimated to be $1.2 billion, and it is .07% of the total project cost (an estimated $4.2 billion).

Another committee member, Senator Bruce Starr (R-Hillsboro) chimed in to say that the $30 million allocated for bike and ped facilities, “buys me a new interchange in Washington County that allows me to move people safely.”

When told by the ODOT rep that the state is obligated to spend a certain amount on bike and ped facilities (thanks to the Bicycle Bill passed by Don Stathos in 1971), Starr said, “You could spend that 1% anywhere in the state, you don’t have to spend it on this project.”

Below is an audio recording of the entire exchange (that I snipped from the Committee’s audio archives), followed by a written transcript.

[audio:johnsonCRCcomments.mp3]
*Download mp3 file [2.6 MB, 2min 27sec.]

Sen. Johnson:

“My view of this bridge is that we’ve got to move freight. I don’t know how much additional costs the bikes and peds add but at some point isn’t it conceivable they would ride across the bridge on whatever kind of transit option is offered, rather than building separate accommodation that just drives the cost of this already unbelievably expensive structure up?”

John Osborn, ODOT:

“…I guess it is possible that folks could make connections to high capacity transit…at say Hayden Island and then the first stop at Vancouver. Certainly the community would expect to be able to walk along the bridge as they can do today. And I’m not sure that a reasonably sized [bike and ped] facility would add a huge amount to the project…I think somewhere in the neighborhood of about $30 million dollars.”

Sen. Johnson:

“That’s a jaw-dropping amount of money”

Osborne:

“But the bridge itself would be about $1.2 billion to get across [the river], and percentage wise — which we do have a certain obligation to spend a certain amount for bicycle and pedestrian use — it’s in the realm of what we would expect to spend.”

Sen. Johnson:

“Why do we have that obligation?”

Doug Tindall, Deputy Director of ODOT:

“It’s an Oregon Statue. It requires 1% of the highway fund to be spent on bike/ped projects every year.”

Sen. Bruce Starr:

“Yes, that’s absolutely true but that [statute] doesn’t require every project to spend 1%. You could spend that 1% anywhere in the state, you don’t have to spend it on this project. 30 million bucks buys me a new interchange in Washington County that allows me to move people safely.”

Sen. Johnson:

“It fixes Cornelius Pass Road Mr. Chair.”


Stay tuned for more coverage of the bike and pedestrians facilities component of the Columbia River Crossing Project. BikePortland.org correspondent Elly Blue recently met with the CRC’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee Chair David Parisi and I hope to have that story online early next week.

For more coverage of the CRC, check my archives.

NOTE: Thanks for sharing and reading our comments. To ensure this is a welcoming and productive space, all comments are manually approved by staff. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for meanness, discrimination or harassment. Comments with expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia will be deleted and authors will be banned.

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Elly Blue (Columnist)
Member

Unbelievable. Betsy Johnson is from Scappoose and Bruce Starr is from Hillsboro — I hope that their constituents who are reading about this will contact them immediately and let them know that our priorities as voters include ensuring world class bicycle and pedestrian facilities on all roads and bridges throughout the region, including this one.

The line \”a new interchange…so we can move people safely\” gets to me. This is another case of a politician saying that bicycling is not transportation. And the idea that building new capacity for cars and trucks increases public safety….don\’t get me started.

Antonio Gramsci
Guest
Antonio Gramsci

Maybe what we need to do is explain to Sen. Johnson that, barring accommodation of cyclists and pedestrians, those of us who view ourselves as \”cyclists and pedestrians\” will, together with environmental and social justice organizations, fight with every last ounce of energy at our disposal to kill this project dead, finished, kaput. DEALBREAKER. Hang up the phone now.

Craig
Guest
Craig

wow…if that is not a punch in the gut I don\’t know what is.
it really sucks that Betsy Johnson\’s opinion has to matter on something she obviously knows little about.

Peter W
Guest

… and part of the reason they want new interchanges in Washington County, and want Cornelius Pass Road widened, is so they can accommodate drivers from Vancouver who work in Washington County.

Idiots.

Matthew W
Guest
Matthew W

Amazing.

Bryan
Guest
Bryan

How do we email (respond) to these people? I\’ve commuted many times by bike from my home in Vancouver to my work in Portland. I\’m very interested in what new pathway will be offered. Some of their comments are outrageous… Is there no bike/ped ally on the Senate Transportation Committee that was willing to speak up?

From the comments above, I can\’t determine if the funds, approximated at 30 million, would or could be used for other projects if they are not used for this project? I\’m trying to understand where they are coming from. Is it just shock at the cost in general, or thinking about distributing money to other projects?

Peter W
Guest

By the way, I think I heard that the Coalition for a Livable Future is the group to join to help kill this massively expensive sprawl inducing bridge.

http://www.clfuture.org/

Peter W
Guest

To turn the argument around we could say:

Isn\’t it conceivable that they [motorists] could cross the river on whatever transit is available, instead of building this $4 billion dollar project?

Dabby
Guest
Dabby

Ididocy…

It appears that they would like to boil down our options to:

A: Driving a car across.

B: Taking the evil temptress Tri Met across.

Or C: Riding all the way over to the 205 crossing, one which Northbound is already not very fun.

Two of these options involve the requiring the use of extra money, and precious resources and fossil fuels.

The third involves extra time, (a lot of extra time), eneetc.rgy,

While I am sure that this article is going to spur a lot of discussion, there is also another thing I am sure of.

It will come to pass that this will not be built without ped/ bike crossing capabilities, as the thought is ridiculous at best.

I am sure there must be someone here that can direct us to info that will show there is a requirement to honor self propelled interstate passage, especially to qualify for Federal Transportation fundage.

It seems they are trying to get everyone\’s proverbial panties in a bunch.

andy
Guest
andy

Senator Johnson, have you petitioned ODOT to get rid of those pesky expensive sidewalks and crosswalks adjacent to highway 30 in Scappoose? Clearly those \”improvements\” are a waste of money. If any citizen needs to cross the highway, they can just hop on public transit or drive a car. I\’m sure no one would mind.

Dave
Guest
Dave

sigh

Porky pork pork. They see $30m getting spent, and they want it spent in their districts. Do these two actually have the pull to influence that decision, or is this just hot air?

Bryan
Guest
Bryan

I would hope you are right Dabby. They must be required to provide some means of ped/bike passage…

toddistic
Guest
toddistic

so we ride on the freeway – ive always wanted to do that!

Mark
Guest
Mark

Is BTA chiming in on this?

dat
Guest
Karl Rohde
Guest
Karl Rohde

We\’re working on it but you all should know that this is what we are up against in the 2009 session. It is going to take a comprehensive, concerted effort leading up to and during the next session. The fact that I can say I\’ve got over 5000 members standing behind me when I meet with legislators helps a lot.

Robert Dobbs
Guest
Robert Dobbs

Sweet, so I get a new (only?) river crossing that as a ped/cyclist I can only cross if/when public transit operates?

Nice!

spencer
Guest
spencer

holy jesus-
lets flood their emails with angry messages about how ignorant they are.
who has the means to rapidly get their contact info onto this list? i cant get to it right now.

Klixi
Guest
Klixi

So if cyclists and pedestrians take up .07% of the total project cost, that means cars take up the other 99.03% (I know the math isn\’t -that- cut and dry, but you get my point)

And yet, it is the .07% that people have a problem with.

Seriously, who votes these morons into office in the first place?

Robert Dobbs
Guest
Robert Dobbs

Also, I would like to say that we should just scuttle the whole CRC project. $4.2 BILLION spent during a recession? Goodbye OHP.

Where\’s Sizemore when you need him? Hah!

el timito
Guest
el timito

Sen. Johnson certainly knows a thing or two about fiscal responsibility…
http://www.blueoregon.com/2007/06/betsy_johnson.html

Of course, ad hominum arguments are inappropriate in serious policy discussions, such as the Senators engaged in.

Zaphod
Guest

The fundamental issue with this and many other discussions is the perception that a bicycle is essentially not a real transportation tool. They appear to consider bike infrastructure some sort of frivolous expenditure. Why spend on bikes when there are \”more serious\” issues to address for the all mighty car?

The optimal case to resolve this is to get real cyclists in these positions. The next best option would be to engage & educate them so they truly get what is happening. In short, get them out on a bike.

I take the current bridge\’s 36\” wide section dedicated for bikes/peds every day and it\’s not the highlight of my route. If I was forced to ride the 205, my commute time would double to an unworkable amount.

Todd Waddell
Guest
Todd Waddell

E-mails to Johnson and Starr already sent.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

As a CRC PBAC member…

It would be helpful for Tri-met to remind the OR legislature about Tri-met\’s plans to restrict bike access to the MAX in peak hours. Plus at 300 bikes per day (peak) now there are more bikes than hook capacity on the single Yellow line MAX cars (all trips).

And there is also the issue of 24/7 access across the bridge…Tri-met will not be willing to extend service for bikes to cross the bridge at 3AM.

(Imagine the howls if the bridge were closed to car and freight traffic from 1AM to 5AM.)

BillD
Guest
BillD

Johnson has been in the local news here lately.

http://www.spotlightnews.net/news/story.php?story_id=120043753483014800

There have also been some articles in the OREGONIAN

http://search.oregonlive.com/sp?aff=100&keywords=betsy+johnson

The best strategy might be to sell her a piece of property needed for the bike/ped part of the project and let nature take it\’s course.

WA County voter
Guest
WA County voter

Gasp. No wonder we\’re getting killed out here.

Antonio Gramsci
Guest
Antonio Gramsci

The best outcome of all would be for these people to blunder on and successfully remove all bike/ped access from this thing — and then watch the whole thing sink like the Titanic, by death from a thousand cuts, as every major civic group in Oregon/Washington state lines up in opposition to it, outside of big business interests.

That will do more to \”educate\” them about the importance of pedestrian/bicycle and generally human access to streets and road transportation projects than anything ever could.

BURR
Guest
BURR

Don\’t expect much from the Oregon Legislature (or ODOT for that matter). They are both just shills for the freight and motor vehicle industries.

Stripes
Guest
Stripes

Instead of doing nothing but whine about it on BikePortland, why not write or call Betsy Johnson or Bruce Starr directly and let them know how you feel as a bicyclist or pedestrian? Enough feedback can go a long way.

That\’s what I\’ll be doing. I hope you will too.

BillD
Guest
BillD

Klixi #19

\”Seriously, who votes these morons into office in the first place?\”

In the case of Johnson, she was a third term member of the house of representatives when she was appointed to fill the unexpired term of Sen Joan Dukes (D- Astoria) when Dukes moved on th become vice-chair of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council (NWPCC).

Johnson was later elected to a second term in the senate.

john
Guest
john

The real issue is freedom. An LOC over the river simply can\’t exclude the most common, most simple, least expensive and easiest modes of transportation. Those modes that are a basic Human Right: to transport yourself via your own human power.

Cøyøte
Guest
Cøyøte

The amount ($30M) spent seems in very good proportion to the minimum use that bike and ped facilities would see. I would think that everyone would be happy with the 0.07% figure. The mode share is likely to exceed that percentage several times. Plus the rest of the mandated 1% spending would yield an additional $1.2M to spend on bicycle infrastructure elsewhere.

diego
Guest
diego

Wow. What kind of SUV does she drive?

Reality check: the project will contain a bike path. I\’ve been following the project and contrary to what a lot of folks think, the project could reduce traffic levels with light rail and tolls. The extra lanes are just to go between those dangerous ramps and there are lots of gnarly accidents now.

Christian
Guest
Christian

There are a number of sad aspects to this.

Firstly, what Johnson is saying is that poor people don\’t have the right to travel. She\’s basically saying that you should drive a car if you want to use this bridge. There will probably be some type of public transit, but it won\’t be free. That\’s really just an issue of disregarding the basic rights of citizens.

As far as the cost issue, that\’s just noise. Sure it might cost 30 million to add this extravagence of bike and pedestrian access, but my guess is that this project will probably have unforseen costs and overages in the tens if not hundreds of millions. So in the end 30 million is really just a pittance.

It\’s sad that we put people in office who aren\’t really anything like us. Neither of these people come close to expressing my opinion.

Sigh.

C.

nuovorecord
Guest
nuovorecord

So much to pick apart. Where to begin…

The CRC is NOT about moving freight, unless you call Clark Co. commuters \”freight.\” It\’s bad enough that Portland will be inundated with cars as a result of this turkey of a project. Now they want to screw around with the only positive aspects of the project.

Let\’s kill this thing. It will be our generation\’s Mt. Hood Freeway – a gift for our kids.

J
Guest
J

I thought that leaders like Senators Starr and Johnson understood that non-motoriized modes of travel must be accommodated under state law.
At least it\’s clear from the exchange at the Committee meeting that the high-level ODOT staffers, Osborn and Tindall, are fully supportive of bicyclists and pedestrians. We must help them fend off this attempt by the Senators to ignore state law! Write to Starr, Johnson and your senator in support of accommodating bicyclists and pedestrians with all transportation projects.

SH
Guest
SH

(judging only from what I\’ve read here) At first glance senator Johnson sounds like, I\’ll tone it down and say unneeded addition to our Senate, Oregon\’s senate. Heaven forbid a measly 2.5%. If facilities for bikes and pedestrians weren\’t so scarce or poorly maintained, maybe more people would be able to enjoy their commute.

Matt Picio
Guest

Dabby (#9), we have an option D

D: Take the lane

If they build the bridge without any bike / ped facilities, I will organize a weekly ride across the I-5 bridge, taking the lane – ALONE if I have to. If they want to arrest me, so much the better, because 5 cylists and 8 state trooper cars block traffic SO much more effectively than 5 cyclists taking the lane on a 55mph freeway.

And when I get out of court, I\’ll ride it again.

We are transportation minorities. The government exists to protect the RIGHTS of minorities against the majority – otherwise a government is merely an organized mob. (yeah, I know, some say this is already true)

We all have a right to cross this PUBLIC structure, unless they are going to offer us a reasonable alternative. I-205 is not a reasonable alternative.

Toddistic (#13) Right-on! As amplified in my comments to Dabby

Craig
Guest
Craig

Obviously Becky has been taking too many \”alternative\”. She could use some bike time.

a.O
Guest
a.O

We will ride side-by-side, Matt.

Dabby
Guest
Dabby

Well,

I for one have been known to take the Fremont bridge to win races, as it can cut the time from North Portland to NW in half.

There was also an attempt to ticket me during a 4 hour alley cat in Seattle, when I was caught on the I-5 bridge north of town.

He pulled over to the shoulder, then pulled me over. When he asked for my ID, I instead pulled out my map. While checking my escape route, he asked for my ID again. I recall saying something about being lost and from out of town, then jumping on my bike and riding back the wrong way across the bridge.

When checking over my shoulder, I saw him trying to back down it behind me, unsuccessfully of course.

He was of course stuck on the shoulder, in bumper to bumper traffic.

I finished first place out of town in the race.

And with no citation in hand.

Marcello
Guest
Marcello

I ran against Bruce Starr last year, and trying to explain to him transportation options other than cars is a waste of time. Like other minority party elected officials, he routinely ridicules spending on facilities for pedestrians and cyclists as a waste, regardless of the Oregon Statutes mandate. There are a lot more voters who are drivers than cyclists, and borrowing the taxpayer money to pay for more and larger facilities for cars is more popular than investing in facilities that encourage alternative transportation. Outside of the city of Portland being openly hostile to cyclists and road safety for \”vulnerable users\” gets you votes on election day.

Mmann
Guest
Mmann

I suggest email. Assume they are reasonable people and don\’t begin with anger (the time may come, but count to 10 first…)

Here\’s mine:

Dear Senator Johnson,

I\’m writing to encourage you to adopt a favorable view towards the necessity of separate bike and pedestrian facilities on the new planned interstate bridge. While I share your view that 30 million is a lot of money, and I agree that a primary role of this span willl be to transport goods, I also believe that the higher good of the region is served by seriously considering the expanded use of this facility. One way to look at this is the boost this gives the region in tourism dollars. A span that encourages human powered transportation only add to the growing national (and international) awareness that Portland and the surrounding area are on the cutting edge of creating a community that promotes healthy recreation and commuting. People are being drawn to our area, both as tourist and residents, by ths kind of planning.

Another reason in favor of this plan is that it considers and plans for the very real looming crisis of peak oil. Gasoline is not going to get cheaper, and estimates are that in the next two decades it will far outstrip other goods in inflationary costs. That means it will become a bigger part of working families\’ budgets, and many more of them (like mine) will turn to bicycles as a way to ease this expense in commuting. It\’s a realistic and sensible goal and should be planned for.

Third, the inclusion of bike and pedestrian facilities on this bridge shows a willingness to plan for curtailing greenhouse gasses by planning infrastructure that allows people to commute or otherwise move across the river without polluting.

Finally, in a very real and powerful way, a structure that encourages people to cross it outside of a vehicle sends a message that the communities of Vancouver and Portland – indeed the states of Washington and Oregon – are welcoming, healthy, friendly places to visit.

Thank you for asking the difficult questions. I hope you see the sense in promoting the inclusion of bicycle and pedestrian faciliites in the new Columbia crossing,

newbie
Guest
newbie
Bryan
Guest
Bryan

Well put Mmann

Sasquatch
Guest
Sasquatch

This sounds like the New York City from about 2 or 3 years ago!

Cøyøte
Guest
Cøyøte

FYI Oregon Senate Transportation committee Members:

Gary George, R-McMinnville sen.garygeorge [at]state.or.us

Larry George, R – Sherwood, sen.larrygeorge [at]state.or.us

Betsy Johnson, D-Scappose, rep.betsyjohnson [at]state.or.us

Rick Metsger, D-Mt. Hood, sen.rickmetsger [at]state.or.us

Rod Monroe, D – Portland, sen.rodmonroe [at]state.or.us

Bruce Starr, R-Hillsboro, sen.brucestarr [at]state.or.us

Joanne Verger, D-Coos Bay , sen.joanneverger [at]state.or.us

Cøyøte
Guest
Cøyøte

Oops

Betsy Johnson, D-Scappose, sen.betsyjohnson [at]state.or.us

Metal Cowboy
Guest

Here\’s a love note I just sent Senator Brain Trust,

Betsy,

Your statements about how we shouldn\’t spend funds totaling less than one percent of the bridge budget to protect Oregon\’s most vulnerable users of the roads really calls into question your vision for Oregon, your ability to look at the larger picture for the future of this state, and exposes you as someone who does not want to improve the state\’s work on congestion, pollution, global warming, dependence on foreign oil, oil wars that are depleting the strength of a nation, not to mention help the health of Oregonians- by making it safer to ride and walk to walk, school and other activities – thus improving their health, preventing obesity, diabetes, heart disease etc.

It bobbles the minds of a large number of us , and the cycling and peds constituency is larger than you think and growing by the day – tax paying Oregonians working to improve conditions in this state – that you would offer these narrow minded, frankly, prehistoric type solutions, to problems that will not go away. When cyclists and pedestrians get hurt or killed on that bridge, we\’ll be sure to send their families to you for an explanation. Or we can just send them the transcript.

Please consider your statements, get yourself educated on how cycling is not a toy, or simply recreation, but a growing and viable , clean and healthy form of transportation and vote accordingly.

Sincerely,
Joe Kurmaskie
http://www.metalcowboy.com

TrafficDodger
Guest
TrafficDodger

What kind of SUV does she drive?
A GMC four door, as of a year and a half a go (and I doubt she\’s switched to anything more efficient since). Just try and calculate Mrs. Johnson\’s carbon output with frequent trips to Salem from Scappoose, as well as any from the aircraft she happens to want to fly.
And by looking at the good Senator\’s weight, which would most likely qualify her as obese, it would be a good guess that she\’s never been on a bike in the first place.