“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.
*Download mp3 file [2.6 MB, 2min 27sec.]
“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.”
“That’s a jaw-dropping amount of money”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.