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Anti CRC group launches site, asks Planning Commission to “Reconsider the crossing”

Posted by on April 11th, 2008 at 8:44 am

The chorus of criticism determined to put a stop to the CRC project is getting louder.

Economist Joe Cortright — an outspoken voice in opposition to the $4.2 billion Columbia River Crossing project — gave a presentation to the Portland Planning Commission on Tuesday and a group with major concerns about the CRC have launched SmarterBridge.org to provide, “news and information regarding alternatives to the massive and expensive project.”

A rendering of the proposed CRC highway project at Hayden Island.
(Photo: CRC)

Cortright’s presentation (available here) to the nine-member Planning Commission (a group appointed by the Mayor who advises City Council on any proposal that directly affects any goal or policy related to any element of the City’s Comprehensive Plan) consisted of 39 slides that addressed a number of factors about the CRC project.

The factors addressed in the presentation included: the CRC’s impact on global warming and VMT (vehicle miles traveled, a key component to reducing greenhouse gas emissions), “problematic” funding sources (including major debt worries), key assumptions being made by CRC project staff that are based on flawed models, the “red herring” of safety on Interstate 5, the changing role of freight in our economies, and concerns about the public process.

In one slide (taken from the presentation), Cortright illustrates concern about the relationship between the CRC’s plans, VMT rates, and achieving Washington and Oregon’s carbon emission goals:

The red, orange, and yellow lines show VMT rates with the CRC’s various design options. The green line shows the VMT rate which is needed to reach Oregon’s and Washington’s carbon emission reduction goals.

Cortright’s presentation also presents an alternative to the $4.2 billion proposed project. Here’s what he calls a “prudent, phased, pay-as-you-go alternative”:

  • Toll the existing bridge
  • Improve transit
  • Fix the railroad bridge [to handle more freight]
  • Seismic upgrade for I-5 bridge [which he says could be done for $112-193 million]
  • Modify Hayden Island ramps [where he says most of the crashes occur]
  • Light rail to Clark County

Cortright is not alone in his calls for planners and politicians to take a major pause on this project.

Screenshot of SmarterBridge.org

Cortright — along with the Coalition for a Livable Future — is part of a fledgling coalition of citizens who are concerned about the project. Together, they have just launched SmarterBridge.org.

The new website bills itself as, “A resource for cleaner, less expensive, more effective alternatives for connecting Vancouver and Portland.”

On April 16th, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance will host a forum on the CRC. The forum is open only to BTA members and will be led by BTA staff and Rex Burkholder (a member of the CRC Task Force). A CRC project staffer will do a presentation and will be on hand to answer questions.

    BTA Member’s Forum on the CRC Project
    Wednesday, April 16, 2008
    6:00 to 8:00 pm
    PDC First Floor Conference Room
    222 NW 5th Ave
    Portland, OR 97207

Before you go, make sure you understand this project and are prepared to ask questions. Here are a few places to start:

  • Cortright’s Reconsider the Crossing presentation (download PDF)
  • The official project website, ColumbiaRiverCrossing.org
  • BikePortland.org’s extensive CRC coverage (with a link to other local media coverage)
  • NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

    • DJ Hurricane April 11, 2008 at 9:14 am

      I\’m so glad to see people finally making the connection between the inevitable increase in VMT from the CRC project and the fact that the stated policy of both OR and WA is to decrease VMT.

      Let\’s make this another Mt Hood Highway!!

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    • blurt April 11, 2008 at 9:22 am

      Why is it when people try and provide “news and information regarding alternatives to the massive and expensive project.”, with regards to the Suavie Island bridge reuse we are the bad guys?

      That\’s right cheaper alternatives and fiscal responsibility only apply to non-bicycle projects.

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    • G.A.R. April 11, 2008 at 9:24 am

      Great job!

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    • RyNO Dan April 11, 2008 at 9:33 am

      I\’m going to make a \”NO CRC\” sign and
      put it in my front yard. –DanS–

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    • Carl April 11, 2008 at 9:38 am

      Finally some sensible talk! \”Another Mt. Hood Freeway\” is right. I hope we can put an end to this, but it\’ll take more than reading and commenting on a blog. I\’ll be at the BTA\’s forum (trying not to lose my job) and I\’m eager to hear where else we can pipe up and make our opinions known about this issue.

      I\’ve got reservations about the Sauvie Bridge, too, but CRC is nearly 3000 times (3000 TIMES!) more expensive than that one and involves gutting our transportation budget and putting us in debt. Let\’s compare apples to apples.

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    • JE April 11, 2008 at 9:57 am

      blurt #2,

      Projects in Portland are not simply about good sense or fiscal responsibility, they are equally about the erection of monuments to our leaders and our mythologies. The Sauvie Island bridge will be a temple to the green gods, thus angering the oil gods, vice versa on the CRC.
      The god of common sense has forsaken us.
      Repent sinners! Repent.

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    • G.A.R. April 11, 2008 at 9:58 am

      OK. I cave on the Sauvie bridge. Let \’er buck.
      If they build a lid I\’m guessing it\’s going to be in the Taylor-Alder area to begin with (proximity to MAX) and the truss would be such a groovy thing to hang festival banners from. Besides, 3000x is too good to leave hypothetical.

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    • John Reinhold April 11, 2008 at 10:24 am

      Anti-CRC sticker

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    • jonno April 11, 2008 at 10:27 am

      Blurt (#2) –

      What \”news and information\” do you really have? So far all I\’ve heard is a lot (a lot!) of conjecture, opinion and assumptions about supposedly cheaper alternatives. Where\’s the hard data? 3.5 million for a new bridge is, in Potter\’s own words, a \”best guess\” and we don\’t have anything other than that.

      The Sauvie bridge project is vetted, budgeted and ready to go. It provides a link in the long-term bike infrastructure plan for the area, showcases sustainability and can be installed quickly. There are relatively few unknowns for a project of its size, and don\’t think that even after spending years on some other ideal, perfect proposal that all possible unknowns would cease to exist.

      The Sauvie bridge project is a textbook example of \”plan for tomorrow, build for today\”.

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    • revphil April 11, 2008 at 10:42 am

      I am prepaired to stop the CRC and I will motovate many to follow.

      Fradulent, wasteful destroyers of Portland\’s future you have been warned.

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    • steve April 11, 2008 at 10:47 am

      Ugh, please cease the usage of the word \’vetted\’.

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    • jonno April 11, 2008 at 10:50 am

      Merriam Webster definition 2b: to evaluate for possible approval or acceptance.

      What are you, the grammar police?

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    • k. April 11, 2008 at 11:00 am

      It\’s obvious the plan for the CRC has progressed for years based on old, out of date models of transportation patterns and growth that use flawed assumptions (the one that says our unrestricted use of cars will continue). But the world is changing quickly. Peak oil is here and we need to start realizing that the future is not going to continue on the same patterns of growth that we have generally experienced since the post World War II era. Canning, or at least heavily rethinking, the CRC project is in order. Thank goodness we\’re finally seeing some action in this regard.

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    • steve April 11, 2008 at 11:12 am

      No, you just sound like a talking bobble head doll when you use it.

      No one was saying it a year ago. Now that it is being blubbered about by the punditocracy, it is seeping into common usage.

      I see it as a lazy word being used to self justify preconceptions. Hands off my ideas, as they have already been \’vetted\’! It is subjective and therefore meaningless.

      Anyway, carry on. Just my opinion and I won\’t repeat it, didn\’t mean to spark an off topic debate.

      I think this is still being \’vetted\’ as we speak..

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    • dsaxena April 11, 2008 at 11:56 am

      Web page says \”4 MILLION\” dollar brige but should say 4 BILLION.

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    • Matthew April 11, 2008 at 1:38 pm


      Thank you, fixed.

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