Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on July 2nd, 2008 at 1:52 pm
“…he’s “seriously considering” not supporting the resolution at all.”
–from a Portland Mercury story about Commissioner Dan Saltzman’s position on the CRC project.
A week from today (July 9th), Portland City Council will take an important vote on the Columbia River Crossing project. On June 24th, in advance of a meeting of the CRC Task Force, the entire Council signed onto a letter of support for a project option that many believe would lead to a $4.2 billion, 12-lane mega-bridge.
But as of today, according to the Portland Mercury, one member of Council is now getting cold feet.
From the Mercury:
“Commissioner Sam Adams’ office is busy circulating the city council’s proposed resolution on the Columbia River Crossing, soliciting co-sponsors from the rest of the council before the 5 pm filing deadline.
They won’t be getting Commissioner Dan Saltzman’s sponsorship. In fact, he’s “seriously considering” not supporting the resolution at all, according to his chief of staff Brendan Finn, due to concerns that the council will throw away its ability to watchdog the massive project and hold it to strong environmental standards…”
Apparently Saltzman is worried that the language in the Council’s resolution is too weak in terms of how much oversight of the project they will retain once their “yes” vote is logged.
They way this complex process works is that once Portland approves the “locally preferred alternative” (which is what they will be doing next week), the state transportation agencies (WSDOT and ODOT) will have the blessing to plan and build a freeway which many think will be too big, will cost too much, and will not be the right move for our region.
At the recent meeting of the CRC Task Force, Commissioner Sam Adams wanted to guarantee more local oversight (essentially, veto power if necessary), but he was not successful.
The Oregonian put it like this:
“Adams proposed the local agencies should have veto authority over major project decisions, such as the number of lanes. Instead, the task force agreed to call for an oversight committee that “strives for consensus.””
And now it seems like that’s not good enough for Saltzman. According to the Mercury, he wants to make sure that independent analysis of greenhouse gas emissions and the “induced demand” phenomenon are guaranteed to be part of the process going forward.
Some might remember Saltzman’s surprise “no” vote on the Sauvie Island Bridge relocation project. His reasons for that were also about maintaining power within a contractual agreement.
After their letter of support for the project to the Task Force back in June, conventional wisdom was that the Council would support the project from here on out. However, with Saltzman’s seeming lack of support, and after getting bullied by the Task Force, perhaps the tide at Council is turning.
All Saltzman needs is two other council members to join him, and they could throw a serious wrench in the CRC machine. Mercury reporter Amy Ruiz — who’s been covering this issue closely for months — says, “I think there’s a good chance Saltzman might find the support.”
In other CRC News:
— Economist Joe Cortright (who opposes the CRC) and Metro Councilor Rex Burkholder (he supports it) laid out their arguments about the project at the City Club of Portland last Friday. You can listen to the MP3 of that debate here.
— Transportation activist Chris Smith has uncovered what he thinks might be another serious roadblock to the CRC. Read more about it on his blog, PortlandTransport.com.