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Columbia River Crossing up for a vote at City Hall

Posted by on July 9th, 2008 at 3:42 pm

[Update, 6:30: Council has voted unanimously to support a replacement bridge crossing (with light rail) as the Locally Preferred Alternative. Read the full lowdown at the Mercury blog and read my report from City Hall below.]

Standing room only crowd at City Hall for the vote on the CRC.
(Photos © J. Maus)

The Columbia River Crossing is up for a crucial vote at City Hall this afternoon and a capacity crowd has turned up to voice their opinions and hear what the experts and the elected officials have to say about it.

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Outside City Hall today.

Outside council chambers, an activist group with “Oil Enforcement Agency” written on their shirts was issuing citations to supporters of the bridge.

Inside City Hall, a standing room only crowd and a gaggle of media cameras are here.

Before the hearing started, I bumped in Jill Fugilister from Coalition for Livable Future. She said Commissioner Dan Saltzman and Commissioner Randy Leonard have both reported a record level of communication (in the form of emails and phone calls) from Portland residents about this issue.

The hearing started out with Commissioner Sam Adams reading the same statement that was published in the Oregonian today.

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Commissioner Adams reading his opening statement.

Adams introduced ODOT director Matt Garrett and TriMet GM Fred Hansen. Garrett said he “fully subscribes” to Adams’ statement and spoke about the long process and partnerships that have led to this point. He said “when all is said and done, we’ll deliver a bridge that the citizens and this nation can be proud of.”

“When all is said and done, we’ll deliver a bridge that the citizens and this nation can be proud of.”
–ODOT Director Matt Garrett

After his comments, Commissioner Adams — wanting to calm fears that Portland will lose control of the project if they vote yes today — asked Garrett, “Will ODOT forward a request for funding of this project over the objections of a majority of City Council?”

“No,” said Garrett, “that would be a failure of leadership… as we work on these issues it is important to find consensus.”

TriMet’s Fred Hansen also shared his support for Adams’ position.

Robert Liberty offered compelling testimony against the CRC project. He encouraged Council to make sure they have a “Plan B and Plan C” in order if/when funding for the project doesn’t materialize (many skeptics see funding as the CRC’s Achilles heel). Liberty then got a warm round of applause when he ended with, “This is a project based on 1960 ideas but that’s charging 2030 prices.”

Leslie Carlson from the City of Portland’s Sustainable Development Commission said the project is working on poor assumptions. “We think there is a paradigm shift going on… and that people’s behavior in 25-30 years will be much different than it is now. Our concern is that the LPA is not built on what will likely happen in the future but on predictions from the past [when gas was $1.25 a gallon].”

Speaking in favor of the project were representatives from Schnitzer Steel, labor unions, and freight interests.

In total, 79 people have showed up to testify (they each get two minutes to speak) and City Council will vote on their “locally preferred alternative” (LPA) after all the testimony has been heard.

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The CRC will most likely gain the support of a majority of Council tonight. Adams is clearly going to vote in favor of it. Commissioner Leonard and Mayor Potter will likely follow suit, giving it a majority. The only two wild cards are Commissioners Saltzman and Fish. Saltzman has already shown his distaste for the project and Fish — facing the biggest vote of his short tenure — is reportedly still weighing the issue and could go either way.

Once the locally preferred alternative is approved (as I assume it will), the big question is whether or not Portland will have ceded its ability to have significant oversight on the project going forward. Adams has offered every assurance that he will remain “vigilant” and that Council will remain in a position to shape the project to meet Portland’s sustainable transportation goals — but skepticism remains.

Will Council’s support of the LPA put the CRC project on a smooth path to a 12-lane “mega-bridge”? Will ODOT, WashDOT and CRC project staff work in good faith with Portland leaders to make the bridge something everyone can live with? Will a “yes” vote tonight help coalesce even more opposition to the project and a possible legal challenge that could derail the whole thing?

Speaking to Coalition for a Livable Future (CLF) director Mara Gross outside council chambers a few minutes ago, she says a legal challenge (at least from them) is not likely any time soon. It would come later in the process, she said, if at all. Characterizing the general vibe from advocacy groups who have opposed the project, she says after tonight’s vote, things will, “go from a boiling point, back down to a simmer.”

For now, CLF will focus their attention on Metro’s LPA vote which is coming tomorrow. “But we already know how they’re going to vote,” said Gross.

Stay tuned. There are many more twists and turns in store for this bridge.

For a blow-by-blow account of the hearing, check out the Portland Mercury’s coverage by Amy Ruiz.

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    Bob_M July 9, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    The opponent with the mask looks like he has something to hide. devious and criminal. That is no way to represent yourself at city hall unless you are a politician. Opponents should not represent themselves like an anarchist fringe group. The messenger affects the message and if this is the face of the opposition, the bridge is sure to be approved.

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    a.O July 9, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    Bob_M, if you\’re seriously saying you or actual decision-makers will have their opinion influenced by one guy outside City Hall wearing a bandana, then we\’ve got far bigger problems than the CRC. Also, I\’d say you\’ve got some serious psychological issue unrelated to anything relevant here.

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    bahueh July 9, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    Bob..pretty much what I was thinking.

    While the bridge is a worth while fight, its going to be built. the cycling community will, as always, take such urban growth as a personal slap in the face but infrastructure growth like this in a modern economy is inevitable…and happens in every single city.

    what are the realistic options? keep the old bridge in place until it falls in the river?

    folks, if you don\’t like overcrowding in your cities and you want a sustainable lifestyle…lets start talking about the real problem here…overpopulation..its not this bridge that\’s bothering you.

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    bahueh July 9, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    a.o…are you insulting people today online using billable hours?

    Bob has his opinion….you have yours. Bob also may have his issues…but then again…you also have yours.

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    Bob_M July 9, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    I just think that if the opponent was a stand up guy he would show his face. Portland has its share of political activism and during events that are peaceful there are a cluster of masked trouble makers who make drop a turd in the proverbial punchbowl. That is the model of the protester pictured.

    Serious psycological issues? WOW, talk about off topic, Would you be comfortable sitting on an airplane next to that guy? Have you never seen a cowboy movie? Your coment reminds me of Bill Frist who can diagnose over long distances without examination.

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    a.O July 9, 2008 at 4:26 pm

    I just think you should get over it and focus on the real issues. Or just keep blathering about irrelevant stuff. Your choice.

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    Jonathan Maus (Editor) July 9, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    \”if this is the face of the opposition, the bridge is sure to be approved\”

    \”the opposition\”??

    this is just one guy. it is not by any stretch representative of some larger movement or organization. it\’s just a photo of one individual.

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    Mike Gambler July 9, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    I predict a 5-0 vote in favor!

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    Paul Cone July 9, 2008 at 5:03 pm


    It may be one individual, but obviously it struck you, because you took the picture and posted it as the only photo representing the crowd outside, so without any other photos, one could infer that represents the crowd.

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    peejay July 9, 2008 at 5:16 pm


    First, the bridge is in no danger of falling in the river. If it were, we ought to rebuild it (maybe with fewer auto lanes, but that\’s just my preference!)

    Second, while overpopulation is indeed a problem, most models show a slowing of population growth, followed by a rather alarming contraction. We could have a world population of about one billion by 2100, according to some models. In the short term, it\’s an issue, but not so much in the US, as our birth rate is slower than that of most countries. The problem of sustainability is much more linked to the energy use and food costs of each person, rather than the number of people. Large numbers of people living close together is much more sustainable than that same number of people spread all over the place, since their travel needs are lower, which they are, because density makes more local business possible, and more needs can be met locally.

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    BikerinNE July 9, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    A picture is worth a thousand words…

    I\’d say the picture did its job.

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    Jonathan Maus (Editor) July 9, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    \”…so without any other photos, one could infer that represents the crowd.\”

    with that line of thinking, I hope no one assumes that Sam Adams and Mayor Potter represent the entire Portland City Council.

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    Chuck July 9, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    God, the human race makes me ashamed sometimes. jumping to conclusions, judging someone from a split second of their existence, and all we\’re talking about here apparently is one dude with a sign and a bandanna, which is barely even as interesting as the actual story that\’s being reported here. why do I get the feeling that some people just skim these articles for the pictures, and don\’t even read the actual post? probably because that\’s what some of you do. c\’mon kids, take your ritalin, and focus here.

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    2GOAT July 9, 2008 at 6:26 pm

    I find it mind boggling that the officials involved with presenting the CRC project from ODOT, WashDOT and the CRC all insist I-5 as the only transit corridor and minimize the presence of I-205 route for transit.
    They also minimize the importance the effect of flow change, for SOV over a bridge that can be adjusted, with a new bridge to the passage of SOV traffic along I-5 directly thru Portland. A region of Portland that does not have an option for realistically adding lanes to manage an increased burden of SOV.
    For safety reasons and to incorporate alternative transportation options, a new bridge is necessary….BUT NOT a new bridge that just promotes single occupancy motor traffic.

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    Icarus Falling July 9, 2008 at 7:20 pm

    Did any of you actually think they were going to vote against this?

    It would be political suicide to vote against this….

    Use the bike vote to get into office, appease the rest to stay there.

    Can\’t say I didn\’t tell you so….

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    peejay July 9, 2008 at 7:23 pm

    I hate to agree with Icarus, but there it is.

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    Donna July 9, 2008 at 7:29 pm

    Wow, it sounds like there are some very, very powerful interests putting pressure on the City Council. Observing where the limits to their integrity lie will be an illuminating experience.

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    Donna July 9, 2008 at 7:30 pm

    Correction – we now know the limits to their integrity.

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    RyNO Dan July 9, 2008 at 7:40 pm

    That is a very un-progressive vote by our council. There is nothing in this project for the sustainable residents of the city
    of Portland. We got served.

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    Icarus Falling July 9, 2008 at 7:51 pm

    Thanks Peejay,

    Though I do disagree with \”some\” things you type, when I have been around you I thought you were a good person….And pretty funny.

    That is my strange idea of a compliment…

    Take and eat.

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    Schrauf July 9, 2008 at 8:23 pm

    peejay – one billion population by 2100? Only if we kill ourselves off via nuclear, environmental or other disaster. Which is rather likely, but where in the heck did you get that statistic?

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    Icarus Falling July 9, 2008 at 8:32 pm

    We are at like 300 million now aren\’t we?

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    a.O July 9, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    Yes, Icarus (#13) is right: We are being betrayed by the people we elected, both at the City and at Metro.

    This douchebag Rex Burkholder actually has the audacity to say, on his website: \”I will continue to advocate for regional plans that lower greenhouse gas emissions…\”

    That got him elected by the well-informed, socially-conscious Portlanders who know that we are at a crisis on global warming and peak oil. And now he has blatantly lied right here on bikeportland about the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the new I-5 bridge so he can serve the interests of private profit. Disgusting.

    And Sam has already gone into damage control before he even cast his vote. This is not why we elected you, Sam.

    That said, I have no doubt their opponents would have done the same, so it\’s not like we made a poorer choice than we could have.

    And finally, \”are you insulting people today online using billable hours?\”

    No bahueh, I\’m having your mom type all this. She\’s always over at my place. Didn\’t she tell you?

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    a.O July 9, 2008 at 8:49 pm

    I meant Icarus @ #15.

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    zilfondel July 9, 2008 at 8:49 pm

    ^ Yes.

    And Icarus, I agree with you regarding the bait and switch of the policies our elected officials are supporting.

    However… we are also quite a long ways off from selecting an actual design or having actual leadership on the project itself. I wouldn\’t be too surprised if the sheer weight of the bureaucratic process were to sink it. I also predict the pricetag going a heck of a lot higher than a paltry $4.2 billion.

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    Kevin Costner July 9, 2008 at 8:58 pm

    If we build it they will come.

    To think that more lanes will me less congestion is to engage in intellectually dishonest sophistry. More lanes mean more cars, more pollution, more noise, more accidents, more DUIs, more disconnected communities, more trucked-in resources, more billboards, tolls, taxes, maintenance, more road rage, more urban waste lands, more fast food, more oil wars, more climate change, more, more, more! It may be of little import though, considering that nature always bats last.

    On a less philosophical note, if you are of the persuasion that more lanes means less traffic, please ask the many recent transplants to Portland from larger cities. When highway are expanded to decrease congestion, a number of historically predictable things happen. First traffic gets REALLY bad as workers muddle around for extended periods of time changing the existing roads. Next, cost overruns show up and blow the budgets and time line. Then, like a fool in Vegas, more good money is shoveled into the project to get the damn thing done. Next, it opens with some fan fair and commute times reduced by 10 minutes or so. Finally, it fills back up to the level it was before it all started, unless of course they add toll booths to pay for it all, but that is another story.

    Lets hope the City Council really believes all this sustainability hoo-ha we helped elect them for. Otherwise, if we build it…

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    err July 9, 2008 at 9:06 pm

    What kind of lawyer insults someones mother on the internet? Very bizarre behavior from you today.

    As for the bridge vote – it was indeed bound to happen. Politics is a depressing thing for sure.

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    Icarus Falling July 9, 2008 at 9:58 pm

    Rex has been busy backpedaling on the post \”Sizing up the CRC\”.

    He left a comment recently…

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    Keith Walker July 9, 2008 at 10:03 pm

    Some of you are naive. As if city council would vote away their rights in having a say in the design process of the bridge.

    Let me take that back, you may be not be naive, you may be a vegan who grows ALL their food in your back yard. In that case you are a luddite.

    But if you have a car, ever went to New Seasons for food, moved here from out of the area, have not whittled your furniture in your house out of tree trunks you found floating down the Willamette; chances are there is something in your demeanor that is a bit disingenuous because you consume items from the world around us….

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    steve July 9, 2008 at 10:09 pm

    Let me help you wrap your noodle around this one Keith. No one is talking about REMOVING the I-5 bridge.

    Just not making it bigger. You will still be able to eat at McDonalds and waddle your pudgy butt to the video rental store.

    I promise.

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    Engineer July 9, 2008 at 10:49 pm

    @ peejay

    Your first comment in #10 is incorrect. If we suffer a 6.0 earthquake in the area there is a good chance one of the spans will be underwater. That\’s one of the other reasons this whole thing came about. You know that the older span is held up by wood pilings put in the river about 1913 don\’t you?

    Lets build it with MAX, buses, and big bike and walking lanes. I know you\’ll all disagree with that, but is biking over it and avoiding those columns really all that fun?

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    muleteer July 9, 2008 at 11:16 pm

    A.O. the mother comment is trully low and despicable, even if provoked. Act like an adult.

    Bahueh: \”infrastructure growth like this in a modern economy is inevitable\”.
    Sorry to have to be the one to tell you, but it is not \”inevitable\”. We have better options. They should be considered more thoughtfully.

    For historical examples of false inevitability see also the Mt. Hood Expressway, Christianizing of Native Americans, that whole thousand year Reich thing, Eugenics, and a wide array of other (now) patently absurd crap.

    Personally I think that \”infrastructure growth like this in a modern economy is antiquated\”.

    And stop trying to provoke the lawyers, it\’s too easy and reflects poorly on your character. Unless it is an accurate reflection of your character, in which case you have my sympathy.

    I think this is serious business and it\’s time to be seriously business-like about it…

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    Aaron July 9, 2008 at 11:17 pm

    I have the strongest words for those of you who are using this message board as a means of venting cheap insults.
    This is a website for serious discussion, and a means of debating ideas around cycling in Portland. Thus the name BikePortland. This is not
    Please limit your comments to the constructive.
    That said I have been very disappointed that this boondoggle has been approved. Traffic counts have been slowly decreasing since late 2006. The I-5 bridge is structurally solid and will easily handle real traffic counts for as long as it stands. The only new bridge we need is a transit and bike/ped crossing.

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    Mindy C July 9, 2008 at 11:36 pm

    I fail to see how the progressive agenda isn\’t supported when all the CRC options offered an entire lane devoted to pedestrian and bicycling traffic, and either MAX or rapid transit bus options.

    What would progressives prefer over these options?

    Me – I\’d like to see a lane devoted entirely to small-engine modes of transportation. Like mopeds.

    We need to build to support our increasing population – because IT IS increasing, whether we like it or not.

    I would rather put tax dollars towards bridge expansions than towards more streetcar lines or god forbid, another OHSU sky tram.

    Much Love, Mindy C

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    BikerinNE July 10, 2008 at 12:22 am

    Know one has yet to mention that, studies nationwide show time spent in traffic is monies lost to companies, and those companies that lose money downtown, lose money on a global market. If for one minute you think that it\’s just people from Washington state that need to find jobs in their own backyard, perhaps you should find out where alot of them came from. I\’d gather to to say that perhaps a 25% of the Washington\’s Vancouver residents trek over the I-5, lived in Portland at one time. But thats just my 2 cents. A new bridge isn\’t going to make people move across town. It\’s just a better transportation project. Oh, and hasn\’t the \”Green Bridge\” been having money spent on it year after year. A repainting, Bird droppings noise bird removal, bridge lift malfunctions. Oh lets keep spending money on an old bridge that has overhangs to keep from birds pooping on cars! Yeah good idea.

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    Ian Clemons July 10, 2008 at 12:58 am

    Oh, well. This is going to be a major disaster. It\’ll make all the money wasted on the Tram look like chump change.

    By the time they start building this extravagant piece of infrastructure, oil will be at $200/gallon and we\’ll be in a major depression. Traffic won\’t be a problem because commuter traffic will drop off a cliff. Gas will simply be too expensive for the profligate way we currently burn it.

    My guess is we\’ll have a half-built bridge next to the current one which will never be completed due to lack of funds. If I\’m wrong, we\’ll have a world class bridge for cars and trucks which is amazingly underused due to the realities of Peak Oil and ongoing resource depletion.


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    Keith Walker July 10, 2008 at 2:42 am

    Well, I think City Council did Portland well, they advocated for light rail on the bridge and advocated 6 lanes (same as existing) with emergency runoff space.

    Comm. Leonard also pushed for bicycle/pedestrian access.

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    peejay July 10, 2008 at 2:55 am

    Shrauf #21:

    I got that from a Scientific American article from about 2000 or so. The conclusion seems preposterous without reading the article, but in a nutshell, it\’s like this: once a country becomes richer and more industrialized, there are material gains to be had by having smaller families. As the general population starts falling, there\’s no \”negative feedback loop\” on this trend, and birth rates should keep dropping until it\’s low enough that our infrastructure is at such over capacity it becomes a burden to us. Anyway, it\’ll all shake out past my lifetime. If you\’re young, good luck with it.

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    revphil July 10, 2008 at 3:37 am

    i want to thank all the people who called, emailed, spoke in person, or worshiped the 12-foot oil tower.

    Regarding the bandanna-wearing CRC protester and the abundance of insults on i hope that we can merge more insightful comments with more clever shit talking. Higher standards all around!

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    bahueh July 10, 2008 at 8:18 am

    wow..the old \”your mom\’s at my house joke\”…truly one of your finest moments there, Mr. Lawyer….do your clients know how you\’re using their time?

    muleteer…of course bridge replacement and traffic system expansion is inevitable in todays economy…infrastructure must keep up if society continues to grow at its current pace and populations continue to increase…

    sorry, I\’m a realist and the car culture is here to stay until oil is too expensive for the median income family…that time has not come and hedging bets for it is not realistic.

    Adams is not pandering…Adams was not put in office soley through votes cast by the cycling community….he cannot, and should not, bow to one constituency over another…Adams is acting in what he sees as the greater good for EVERYONE, not just those riding to work on two wheels…

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    peejay July 10, 2008 at 8:46 am

    engineer #31:

    If that is the case, then I expect that the cost of seismic retrofit to the existing bridge has been studied and calculated as well. You know, just for comparison\’s sake. Only I wonder if the same care went into it that allowed the DEIS to assume $1.25/gallon gas. Considering they spent upwards of $60 million on planning, I hope they considered all the options.

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    peejay July 10, 2008 at 8:59 am

    bahueh #40:

    sorry, I\’m a realist and the car culture is here to stay until oil is too expensive for the median income family…that time has not come and hedging bets for it is not realistic.

    Wow. Where to start with someone who would actually write this sentence? Oil already is too expensive for many family incomes, and will soon be for the average. This is not some projection into the distant future: it\’s now or very soon. So, yes, we could wait until people just cannot afford to drive before we bother to change our long term infrastructure, leading to major economic and social upheaval, and only then start reacting to the world we find ourselves in. Or we can prepare for the transit needs of the next decade, so we\’re not left in the dark after the sunset of car culture. Now bahueh, I guess you would prefer that we keep building that sand castle as the tide rolls in, because to do otherwise would be unrealistic.

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    Coffee Nate July 10, 2008 at 10:14 am

    Wow! Lots of negativity here today / yesterday. It is understandable though; we all knew how City Council would vote on this, but it is still a blow to see it happen. Let\’s all try to be nice to each other though.

    a.O, are you ok? From the posts I\’ve read from you, your attack of someone\’s mama seems out of character; even provoked, as it was.

    Mindy, you make a good point in that there are allowances being made for the progressive agenda, but that really isn\’t enough when the SOV agenda is the real reason the bridge is being built. Just my opinion. Thanks for the love; refreshing in today\’s comments.

    PeeJay, your comments about a low US birthrate are only true compared to third world countries. Compared to other, so called, \’civilized\’ countries we have one of the highest birthrates. The problem of overpopulation seems undeniable to me. But, whether you agree with that, or not, I think everyone here can agree that the overpopulation of oil powered SOV\’s is a drastic problem.

    Anyone have any good ideas on how we can progressively work together, in a positive manner, to promote sustainable solutions in regards to this CRC mess?

    I think we are going to need some community organization (bicycle, neighborhood, progressive, etc. communities), and possibly a revolt similar to the one over the Mt. Hood Freeway.

    It is time for Portlanders to lead the way once again; too bad we can\’t count on our city council. Guess we\’ll have to police the city council and anyone else that wants to set the progression of our city back three decades; right?

    Love to ya all; and to your mamas 😉

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    Coffee Nate July 10, 2008 at 10:19 am

    While I was writing the previous entry, I received an email from Mayor Potter. More fuel for the fire, but here it is:

    Office of Mayor Tom Potter

    City of Portland

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the Columbia River Crossing. The input of the community has been invaluable to City Council in making our decision to move forward with the project.

    City Council\’s vote yesterday was not our final word on the project. Approval only establishes that the existing bridge will be replaced with no more travel lanes than exist today and that it must include an expansion of light rail.

    The need to replace the current bridge is obvious. This section of I-5 has an accident rate more than double that of similar urban highways. Narrow lanes, short on-ramps, and a lack of safety shoulders on the bridge contribute to accidents. These safety issues must be addressed.

    City Council has been clear that Portland can only support a new bridge with light rail to Vancouver and tolling on the bridge to help pay for the cost of construction, encourage increased usage of public transportation and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions which contribute to global climate change.

    City Council will continue to make our voices heard as the process moves forward. As decisions are made in the coming months the City will engage the community every step of the way and conduct public hearings on all major decisions

    You can also find other venues to participate and make your voice heard at:
    Thank you, again, for emailing.
    Tom Potter

    The light rail to Vancouver seems like a good idea. However, the issue of Vancouver\’s culture (or lack thereof, depending on your paradigm) vs the PDX culture seems to be largely at the root of this issue but not openly discussed. What do y\’all think?

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    Mr DeJerk July 10, 2008 at 11:00 am

    Yeah, progressive mayor-to-be… I had that impression that \”keeping a balance between sustainability and development\” would end up meaning standing against the community for financial interests. Nothing justifies a new bridge. Out-of-control development is avoidable. But it seems that now that the votes were taken, is time to, politically speaking, stay on the side of the \”cool kids\” (investors).

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    peejay July 10, 2008 at 11:21 am

    Coffee Nate:

    This is a tangential thread to the main topic, but I only brought up population because someone else had done so first. Whatever the exact data, I\’m sure you\’d agree that the birthrate – and indeed net migration rate to the region – is in a smaller change rate than the rate of change in energy usage by each person if we underwent major (but still possible) changes to our transit structure and household energy consumption. For example, if the Portland area population grows by 5% this year, and we reduce our VMT by 10% per person in the same time, we\’re ahead of the game.

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    2GOAT July 10, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    I believe safety is the primary motivation of the city council. There was testimony that retrofitting the current bridge to improve earthquake safety was not cost-effective especially in light of the fact that it still wouldn\’t address the drawbridge dangers in the river and on the road and could not include improved mass transit in the absence of building some other crossing structure.
    Bottom line some form of new bridge is necessary. I hope to god it is not the 12 lane SOV promoting monstrosity that that is currently being researched.
    The City Council\’s current decision insures Portland, stays in the loop.

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    bahueh July 10, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    peejay…I don\’t disagree whatsoever, but your injection as to what I think or believe about this situation is quite entertaining since I haven\’t published those opinions. I\’m all for mass transportation and have enjoyed using it in many other big cities as an efficient and normal method of transportation.

    Fact is, if you want to invest in future needs this bridge needs to be built…it will hold your bike lane…and it will hold light-rail…and to date, there is no acceptance that the bridge will be any wider than it currently is (see above letter)…the entire things sounds like an improvement over currently what exists…the majority of people will use light-rail before they ever sit on a bicycle. the emphasis in this discussion should be there if sustainability is the issue..

    deal in reality..not a myopic view of how you think the world should work or how it will work in the future.

    your projections of this country\’s or the world\’s population rate increases are speculation….humans are experiencing steep k-growth rates…but the timing of the impending peak and decline continues to be unknown for the large variance in ecological factors….

    you\’ve stated a few good points, but the elephant in this room, is simply overpopulation, energy conservation, and energy efficiency (there wouldn\’t be an energy problem if transmission losses were addressed in a 21st century manner…but that\’s a whole other discussion).

    this forum sure likes to attract a lot of discussion about bridges lately…

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    Graham July 10, 2008 at 12:50 pm


    \”this forum sure likes to attract a lot of discussion about bridges lately…\”

    It\’s the comment section of a blog post about a bridge, so yeah 🙂

    I think I get your point though – that this is a bicycle themed blog, and much bridge discussion isn\’t directly about the bike lanes. However, my feeling is that good development – whether it\’s highway, housing, or business development – should affect cycling in a positive manner. As far as transportation goes, cycling is such a win-win-win, that all development should work to promote it.

    With regards to Portland and the CRC, a major – if not THE major – issue to keep in mind is that, if it opens up that chokepoint to more traffic, it\’ll pour more traffic into all the other chokepoints downstream. That\’ll suck for Portland car traffic of course, and it\’ll be bad for cycling all over Portland.

    And sticking a bike lane on a monster bridge doesn\’t offset that badness.

    My most optimistic hope now is that the council is angling for a new CRC that increases safety, while not increasing capacity.

    My most cynical speculation is that they gave lip service to smart development, and then once elected reverted to the old politician game of spending the community\’s wealth so that powerful business lobbies will like them.

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    Leat July 10, 2008 at 1:09 pm

    The most significant issue, as I see it, is the run-away growth of Clark County. From my experience, many people move there to avoid paying taxes in both states. They live in Washington to avoid property taxes, and work and shop in Oregon to avoid paying sales tax. There is also the cheaper land values available there, that was until recently farmland. Driving to someone\’s house in the Vancouver suburbs, even on a good day, can take over an hour to reach the outer edge of development. By building this bridge we are accommodating poor planning and a culture that is anti land planning and mass transit, and even against paying local and state taxes. By not building this bridge we are in effect putting a brake on this growth. By building it, we are paying for their lifestyle.

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    Matthew Denton July 10, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    #31 The existing bridge can be retrofitted to withstand an earthquake for about the same price as tearing it down. I compare that to getting a flat tire: it would cost $5 to buy a new tube and fix it, or $5 to donate it to the CCC. You wouldn\’t start making statements about how your bicycle was a safety hazard, (even though, yes, riding with a flat front tire is,) you\’d say you need a new tube.

    And Mr Liberty pointed out 2 things.
    One: it would be easier to fix the railroad bridge so that barges didn\’t have to make an S turn to line up with the high span on the highway, and buy every single sailboat that needed the lift span that has sailed under that thing, and then weld the lift span shut, than build a new bridge.

    Two: There are 30 bridges on I-5 in the state that are actually in danger of collapsing without an earthquake already, and we don\’t have the money to fix them. Why should we fix the one on the Columbia River before those other bridges?

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    bahueh July 10, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    Graham..all good points and I understand them, but decisions regarding this public use infrastructure CANNOT be soley based on making the cycling community content as it represents a SMALL portion of the general public. growing, yes, but still small. This bridge is for EVERYONE, and city council decisions as to its usefulness must reflect that. I\’m aware that people on a cycling blog forum don\’t want to accept that in general…

    Leat…growth will continue to happen, with or without this bridge. This particular I-5 corridor was designed 50+ years ago when the PDX and Vancouver populations were MUCH lower…its antiquated. 21st century solutions lie in lightrail or subways…West Coast Americans are generally much more slow minded when it comes to sustainable transportation progressive as Portland is, it lags in this issue.

    Yes, the issue is the rampant growth of Clark County and continued urban sprawl of that area. MAX extensions are the only answer to that problem and I believe will be heavily utilized if appropriate parking and CTRAN structures are built on the Vancouver side.

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    DJ Hurricane July 10, 2008 at 3:29 pm

    \”This bridge is for EVERYONE, and city council decisions as to its usefulness must reflect that. I\’m aware that people on a cycling blog forum don\’t want to accept that in general…\”

    Yeah, *you\’re* on a cycling blog forum, so that doesn\’t make any sense.

    And yes, these decisions have to be made in the (general) public interest. The public does *not* ultimately benefit from increased VMT, sprawl, and all of the other negative consequences of this bridge. And you don\’t want to accept that.

    The public may *think* they benefit, and it may make it easier for some people to get across the river in the short-term, but in the long-term, everybody loses by continuing to encourage reliance on the SOV.

    The main beneficiary from the new I-5 bridge currently under consideration will be short-term corporate profit from moving goods while it is still economically feasible to do so via the highways. That\’s the interest in which these politicians are acting.

    US oil production peaked in the 1970s, and world oil production has been in declined since 2005. The fundamental consequence of declining supply is exponentially increasing prices. That will have ripple effects throughout the economy that are *likely* to be on the order of the Great Depression.

    This 6 or 8 billion could be spent on mitigating the effects by, for example, changing the transportation infrastructure away from the SOV. In the years to come, we will wish we had spent this money wisely, instead of using it to further our own social suicide.

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    Leat July 10, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    Growth will happen, however, if we do not build this bridge, those who work and shop in Oregon will be much more likely to live here rather than fight traffic. I believe there will be a negative feedback loop for how people choose their homes that will mitigate the need for a bridge. And, incidentally, Clark County residents are overwhelmingly against paying for or using mass transit. Refer to past attempts at putting light rail to Vancouver for that.

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    Grant July 11, 2008 at 6:55 am


    Living in Washington and working in Orgegon imparts a up to 9% in income tax, hardly avoiding taxes. Also Washington residents while not paying sales tax in Oregon are responsible to pay use tax in Washington for any purchases in Oregon.

    The real reason for moving out of Oregon is the is the lower property prices. You can live in Clark County in a nice house for less than in Oregon and cut down your commute, because the same house at the same value is going to put you in McMinnville.

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    David Feldman July 11, 2008 at 8:21 am

    I live in Vancouver and am happy that Portland\’s city council is taking such a sensible set of stances. My fellow Vancouverites need to learn some simple physics–there\’s no point in trying to fill a quart jar with a five-gallon funnel. SOV trip demand reduction just has to be part of this!

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    Keith Walker July 12, 2008 at 1:45 am

    Let me be an advocate for Vancouver. I am sure that most of them are realizing just how bad their city planning is and that suburban sprawl is now biting them in the ass (and at the pump). Christ, when I go up there on the weekend in my car, it takes me 30 minutes to get 2 miles.

    Let the bridge have light rail and a dedicated bus lane (that will continue all the way to Portland during rush hour in the AM and the opposite direction in the PM).

    When the Vancouver SOV people see how slow they are going relative to mass transit, they will begin to see the light and start using mass transit.

    Right now, I reckon that the \’Vancouver working in Portland\’ populace don\’t have much of a choice now. Sure they can take the bus, but they don\’t have a dedicated bus lane. What good is that?

    Washington DC has this dedicated bus/light rail arrangement and relative to the morass on the SOV highway it works.

    A solution like that will reduce net pollution/commuter. Remember for every bus or future train from Vancouver, it is taking 25-50 cars off the road, and that is worst case scenario assuming car pooling.

    I am also sure that the new bridge will have world class pedestrian/bike lanes.

    Please don\’t advocate sticking our head in the sand, our metro area is getting bigger and to advocate inaction is defeatist.

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    Graham July 12, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    Hi Keith,

    \”Right now, I reckon that the \’Vancouver working in Portland\’ populace don\’t have much of a choice now. Sure they can take the bus, but they don\’t have a dedicated bus lane. What good is that?\”

    I question the premise that they don\’t have a choice – where they live and work are choices. They could work in Vancouver, or live in Portland.

    Living on one side of a difficult-to-cross river, and working on the other side just seems like bad planning to me.

    BTW, I recognize that lots of people can\’t just up and change their live/work situations due to their finances. People with families are obviously very rooted as well. I\’m not picking on those folks. Live/work changes are difficult in the best of times.

    My beef is more with a lifestyle that has sucked up millions of years worth of irreplaceable fossil energy in just a few decades (a process of consumption so rapid in geologic terms, I\’m coming to visualize it as a piece of magician\’s flash paper going fssst!) and then pouring it into the atmosphere as carbon. All to do something as tedious and everyday as commuting.

    It has only recently come to seem necessary to live this way, and it only started to seem like a good idea in the 1950\’s. Now it\’s rapidly revealing itself to be a very, very bad idea.

    (If I\’m ranting, it might be because I\’m sitting here listening to this morning\’s Alternative Radio – Richard Heinberg on Peak Oil. :))

    There are positive steps we can take, but I don\’t believe expanding highway infrastructure is one of them.

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    Keith Walker July 13, 2008 at 2:02 am

    Point taken Graham. I am not an apologist for their lifestyle, and we can\’t force people to live where they work, but we can try to lessen their impact, can\’t we?

    Anyway, I am more in favor of expansion of mass transit on I-5, not the same as highway expansion.

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    beth h July 13, 2008 at 10:32 pm

    ..::the sound of my head hitting the wall repeatedly::..

    When WILL these people get it??!? Building another bridge, whether it\’s The Way Of The World or not, is simply not the right idea at this time. Certainly not the kind of bridge they\’re suggesting. Add more lanes, add more cars. It\’s that simple.

    And as for #3:

    \”…folks, if you don\’t like overcrowding in your cities and you want a sustainable lifestyle…lets start talking about the real problem here…overpopulation..its not this bridge that\’s bothering you.\” (quote)

    Well, it\’s about time someone put into print the larger issues looming behind sustainability and growth. Thank you.

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    David Feldman July 14, 2008 at 10:03 am

    Come to think of it, why are City Council (Vancouver) and the Clark County Comissioners wasting all this time jacking off over light rail–Clark County needs it\’s bus system rebuilt desperately; the connections are terrible. Light rail to Clark County will be a train to nowhere without it.
    SOV\’s are an idea who\’s time has gone and nobody has the guts to realize it, likewise population growth.

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