The Monday Roundup

Here’s the news!

Cancellation notice put up by activists at the proposed Gateway construction site.
  • “Gateway canceled due to climate crisis” read the headline in my in-box. Great news! The Gateway is a controversial 11 billion dollar freeway expansion project being planned in Vancouver, BC. For a project of this scope to be canceled due to its climate impact is a huge, precedent setting shift. Unfortunately, reality has yet to catch up — the cancellation is a creative, well-promoted hoax by the vocal team of community activists opposing the project.

  • In local freeway news, the Columbia River Crossing hired a panel to assess the impact of the planned $4 + billion I-5 freeway bridge project. Dylan Rivera reports that the panel agreed with CRC staff that the new bridge with more lanes (and undetermined facilities for anyone not in a car) won’t produce sprawl. Metro Councillor David Bragdon responds that the panel asks us to trust modeling over “the lessons of the last 50 years.” Rivera also speaks with Canadian transportation guru Todd Litman who points out that none of the CRC studies have yet to investigate the impact of adding tolls and mass transit to the existing bridge.
  • Meanwhile, the folks at Streetsblog are concerned that Obama’s stimulus package might focus too much on much-needed maintenance of roads and bridges to the detriment of even-more-needed long term solutions like high speed rail, public transportation in cities, bicycle infrastructure, and walkable communities. Want Obama to get it? Tell his transition team what you think.

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  • The Hawaiian island of Oahu is the latest place in the US to try a bike sharing service with their privately-funded Momentum B-cycle project.
  • The Oregonian highlights the travails of people who live east of 82nd Ave and get around by bike, and predicts improvements to outer east side bike infrastructure under Sam Adams’ tenure.
  • In news of the news… I have a custom Google News heading that searches for news containing the term “car-free.” Over the past two years, that section on my news page has gone from one or two new stories a week, mainly about “buy the home, get the car free!” sort of deals. Now there are 5 or 6 new stories each week, touting carfree days, carfree shopping streets, carfree holiday light shows, and carfree vacation advice and packages.
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hanmade
hanmade
13 years ago

Ading emphasis to your note on Obama’s stimulus package for roads, the Oregonian reported today that nationaly, public transit ridership is up 6.5% and the decline of auto driving in the U.S. has continued to decline now for 11 straight months!

a.O
a.O
13 years ago

Doesn’t Live Smarter BC show us that we need a more organized opposition to the CRC boondogle? As Dylan Rivera’s report demonstrates, the CRC staff and its flunkies are *deep* denial about its impacts.

Icarus Falling
Icarus Falling
13 years ago

On the CRC project…

We Need A New Bridge!!!!!

Regardless of what many think, we need a new bridge now, and we have needed one for over 20 years…

As a full/full time cyclist, even I can realize that we need a new bridge, and no amount of crying by anyone, even us cyclists, is going to, or should, change this fact.

I say build it now.

Coyote
Coyote
13 years ago

We are probably fortunate that CRC planning is not further along. We are about to get hit with a boat load of federal money. Any road or bridge project that is ready to go will be fast tracked. I wonder what projects PDOT has in the can and just waiting for $$$.

Will Obama remember the 5,000 people on bikes that came to cheer him in PDX?

peejay
peejay
13 years ago

Icarus:

Please explain. Care to show why this bridge is the most efficient way to spend $4 billion? (Although most certainly the cost will exceed $6 billion, and possibly $8 billion.) Many people here think they need a pony, too.

a.O
a.O
13 years ago

The bridge works just fine for me. I can get across it both in my truck and on my bike. Of course, I understand the difference between an opinion and fact. If you’re having trouble crossing, maybe you’re not doing it right.

Adams Carroll (News Intern)
13 years ago

hey folks. i am transcribing my interview with Rex Burkholder and I asked him about his support of the CRC. I hope to publish the interview tomorrow if not sooner.

peejay
peejay
13 years ago

Jonathan:

Naturally, you’re going to balance that Burkholder interview against one with a respected opponent of the CRC? No disrespect to Mr Burkholder, but many respected professionals disagree with him, and Icarus would do well to hear their side.

I’d like to add that I could conceive of a CRC plan that might make sense to me. My opposition is merely to the idea of spending a whole lot of money to add traffic lanes to a crossing that is misrepresented as the “tightest chokepoint in traffic from Mexico to Canada” when that is not even remotely true. Adding mass transit access and increasing bike/ped access are both good things, but do not make up for the negative aspects of increased vehicle lanes. Tolling the bridge is a commendable idea, but would be possible without replacing it. Strengthening the bridge to bring it into compliance with new earthquake standards is desirable, but possible at much lower cost without replacement. Should the design goals/parameters change, or should the repair status of the current bridge change dramatically, or should a whole lot of additional monies become available for other infrastructure improvements (as part of Obama’s stimulus package), then my opinion of this project may change. Until then, I view it as a dinosaur of a project, rooted in a late 20th century mindset about transit needs.

Icarus Falling
Icarus Falling
13 years ago

Peejay,

I never mentioned the amount being spent.

I did however correctly mention that we need a new bridge. And new bridges cost a lot of money.

I guess our moronic politicians might just have to end the supposed, and idiotic War in Iraq a couple days early to pay for it.

I really feel sorry for those that cannot see that we need a new Interstate crossing, for autos, for bikes, and for peds.

Even for the one I like to dislike most, Tri Met, and their over priced Death Trollies’.

Maybe you are new here, or have been living under a bridge? (though obviously not the I-5 bridge)

I have the fortunate viewpoint of having been a long term Vancouver resident, and a long term Portland resident.

I also am unfortunate enough to have to (to get to?) ride over it on my bike many times a week, in the dark of night. Scary times indeed. It is like a punch in the face to bicycle traffic to have to choose between it and the too far east 205 bridge.
Which is the lesser of two evils?
Hard to say….

From either side of the bridge, it is obvious that we need a new one.

Icarus Falling
Icarus Falling
13 years ago

To add a note PeeJay,

Rex is not at all one of my favorite people either.

Dave
Dave
13 years ago

The canalien anti progress yayhoos are going on and on about a sea level rise in 30 years significant enough to prevent building a road now? There is NO reputable scientific evidence that human caused globular warming exists and yet feelings and emotions are preventing infrastructure improvements from being approved. Sounds pretty dumb. We definitely NEED not one but as many as THREE new bridges across the Columbia between Astoria and Hood River. They need to be built soon so that the unborn tree molesters of the future will have something to whine about. Crossing the I5 bridge is one of the more dangerous things you can do in your lifetime. I’ve been doing it twice a day for 21 years on a BICYCLE. BUILD Bridges NOW!

zilfondel
zilfondel
13 years ago

“If you’re having trouble crossing, maybe you’re not doing it right.”

I usually do a barrel roll when biking across the Columbia.. I find it makes it that much safer.

Graham
Graham
13 years ago

I went to the CRC open house at the expo center the other night and asked a guy there why they don’t have open houses closer into Portland, where they’d be easier to get to. He replied that were keeping the open houses up around the areas that’ll be affected by the CRC.

Because, you know, Portland won’t be affected by the CRC. Tee-hee-hee.

I really think these guys are banking heavily on the complacency of Portlanders who are oblivious to the CRC’s cost – or worse, assume it’s a done deal – and who won’t notice its affect until they see the 40% more car traffic dumped into the Rose Quarter I-5 – and the rest of Portland.

(BTW, Icarus, I feel for you having to cross the current bridge on a bike, but I simply disagree with the notion put forth by the supporters of the CRC that improvements to the crossing necessarily require the $6 billion+ monster being proposed.)

Maybe CRC supporters see this as a bargaining phase, wherein they ask for more than they expect to get, and they expect us to push back. Let’s do it.

peejay
peejay
13 years ago

Icarus:

You see, the amount being spent is the crux of the biscuit. If it’s super cheap, sure, let’s do it today! But it’s not. It means that at an absolute minimum, $4 billion in other spending does not happen. You mention only what your bike crossing is like on that bridge. And while I feel for you, and am a huge bike advocate, for four billion, we could buy a fleet of ferries to haul your bike across the river in style, while you hang out at the bar below deck and watch NASCAR on the flat screen and order another Cosmo-tini, and still have money left over for the seismic upgrade for the car traffic on the existing bridge.

The point is not that it wouldn’t be nice to have a new bridge; the point is that a) it’s too much money; and b) the benefits of the various (proposed) improvements to bike facilities and (proposed) transit access are offset by the increased car capacity proposed; and c) because of a) and the (proposed) bike and transit parts of b) will be jetisoned at the last minute to save money, leaving us with more car traffic and nothing else. If you trust any of the people involved in the CRC, you’re a very gullible person indeed.

joe
joe
13 years ago

I wonder what the price tag would be to just build a ped/bike addition to the existing bridge. this would, of course, never happen, but just wondering what it would take.

I am no structural engineer but I would guess that a bridge built for people and bikes would require much less support than one built for people and cars.

Matthew Denton
Matthew Denton
13 years ago

It should be noted that the cost of retrofitting the existing bridges so they’ll last through a 2500 year earthquake is about the same amount as it would cost to tear them down…

Not that very many of the other bridges on I-5 are rated for a 2500 year earthquake, so it isn’t like the rest of I-5 will be passable either. For instance, a 2500 year earthquake will take out all of the bridges over the Willamette, (including the I-5 bridge in both Portland and Eugene.) And there are something like 70 bridges on I-5 in the state that are in urgent need of attention right now, (without any sort of earthquake.)

Joe
Joe
13 years ago

build less bike more!

JR
JR
13 years ago

Icarus.. you said “I did however correctly mention that we need a new bridge.” What you said is neither a correct or false statement – it is your opinion, as you are entitled.

Donna
Donna
13 years ago

What we really need to be doing right now is addressing our national debt. It’s like the federal government is some kind of credit card addict or something. The outstanding public debt as of 09 Dec 2008 at 03:32:37 AM GMT is: 10,665,522,404,450.97.

Please explain to me where the money for this bridge is going to come from, show me that it won’t make the above number higher, and I just might consider supporting a new bridge.

For those of you who think along the same lines as Dave in post #11, please also notice that this issue has nothing to do with environmentalism, and it is something that both conservatives and liberals would be suicidal fools not to address.

Donna
Donna
13 years ago

Incidentally, that’s $34,941.41 for every citizen of this nation. Do you have that kind of money laying around? I don’t.

dan Kearl
dan Kearl
13 years ago

Building infrastructure is a good use of taxpayer dollars. The money stays here and is distributed throughout the economy. Bike lanes are part of this. Obama is trying to prevent an economic disaster not of his making and putting people to work is the first step. Build less, bike more is a great slogan if you have a job! Spending money on public works is about as democratic as you can get and benefits everyone. Nothing is inherently wrong with new roads, bridges, etc. Money for bicycle projects are contained in this and we all benefit.

Donna
Donna
13 years ago

But where is this money going to coming from? We have to sell $25 million per day in Treasury Bills to China just to keep the government operating because our tax revenue is not enough. Treasury Bills is debt. Debt is not “taxpayer dollars”. Debt is slavery for our children and grandchildren.

So what “taxpayer dollars” are you referring to and where can they be found?

Racer X
Racer X
13 years ago

In reply to an earlier post – Actually the CRC project ‘will build’ 3 bridges if funded.

Sometimes I too think that a series of bike pedestrian ferries strategically located along the Columbia (Sauvie Is., Woodland, City Center Vancouver, Camas, etc.) might be a better plan (convenience/ distance) for bicyclists. It works well for Amsterdam north of its Central Station… etc.

peejay
peejay
13 years ago

Donna:

While deficit spending when times are good is a huge mistake, it is absolutely essential that we do so when times are bad. Look at what Herbert Hoover tried to do in the aftermath of the stock market crash, and you’ll see that the terrible parts of the depression didn’t start until government purse strings tightened up during a time of market turmoil. It took Roosevelt’s spending programs to generate the sort of economic activity that allowed people to have some money to spend, and businesses to begin ramping up to produce again. The economy didn’t really take off until WWII, which, if you think about it, is the biggest government spending program around. Eventually, the economic boom of the late 40’s and 50’s was able to generate the kind of tax revenue that paid down the national debt. That’s the way an economy works: you put away money in good times to cover the bad times.

Now, our present situation is such that we have a huge debt entering a time when we need government spending to stimulate the economy. This was created by the anti-tax zealots of the right, whose goal was the elimination of the federal government. But the Bush administration actually expanded the size of the government while cutting taxes (mostly for the rich, creating huge disparities of wealth in our population).

So, yes, we’re broke, but yes, we still need to spend the money, and hopefully, when the ship is righted, we can have a sensible tax policy that will ensure we’ll have the flexibility to deal with future crises on our terms, not China’s.

My problem with the bridge is that it’s the wrong kind of public spending. In the Thirties, the first round of public spending was on big hydro-electric projects and on the first set of really reliable roads across the country. Later, in the fifties and sixties, the interstate highway system got built. Those projects were all geared towards greater mobility, but their unintended consequence was the creation of the car-dependent culture we have now. That is, the spending transformed the country, with a combination of desired and accidental results.

Before we spend our money this time, let’s think about what direction we need to move, and how we can get there. Our great challenge is energy independence, and the reverse of global warming. The CRC, with its increase in car capacity, is not in line with those goals. That’s my objection to this project. If it were reformulated to de-emphasize car traffic and better support our future transit needs, then I’d happily spend the billions.

ray
13 years ago

Is it true that the CRC plan (or most versions of it) calls for dismantling the current bridge after the new one is built?

as far as I can tell this is the case and that seems like a huge waste.

the old bridge could be used for pedestrian and bikes at least, and/or realigned with Hwy 99

keep the old bridge no matter what!

GLV
GLV
13 years ago

Donna said:

“Please explain to me where the money for this bridge is going to come from,”

The problem with our Federal Reserve system is that we can just create money out of thin air. That’s what Treasury is doing with part of the “bailout” project right now: they are literally printing new money that is not backed by anything of tangible value. I’m sure Obama’s infrastructure package will rely on the same accounting, but at least a bridge is a physical object, unlike the bogus mortgages on most of AIG’s balance sheet, for example. It’s a total shell game. The house of cards is going to completely collapse some day…with 10 trillion in debt and counting, there is probably no way to avoid it. We are just delaying the inevitable, and thereby making it far worse.

icarus: “death trollies” Now you are just being silly. “Death trollies” seriously, that’s a joke, right?

Icarus Falling
Icarus Falling
13 years ago

The current bridge actually happens to be taller than allowed. By over a Hundred feet I think.( could be wrong on the actual footage.)

This is due to the fact that Pearson Airpark is right there, and PDX not far away.

The new bridge will actually be heavily regulated in design, mainly height and where it flows, due to the Pearson Airpark, and for the same reason, leaving the old bridge is not a viable or even federally allowed option.

Icarus Falling
Icarus Falling
13 years ago

I have called it the “Death Trolley” for a long time, for two reasons…

One, I knew the first person to be killed by the Max, during the test runs.

Two, a old piece of really huge graffiti downtown (I hate graffiti though), at 10th and Morrison, in the early ’80’s.

It read, in 5 foot high letters,”Max is Portland’s Death Trolley”.

So the name stuck in my brain.

if you prefer, we can just call it the “Shame Train” instead.

GLV
GLV
13 years ago

Sorry about your friend. That is truly tragic. But why are you ashamed of our transit system?

peejay
peejay
13 years ago

Icarus:

I’m sorry you knew someone who was killed by the Max. I’m sorry anybody was killed by the Max. I’d be sorrier if everybody who ever took the Max drove instead, and suffered the death rate associated with that amount of driving, which is much, much higher.

OK, you hate the Max. We get it. But what, exactly, would you do? Get rid of it? Put more cars on the road (leading to more deaths)? It sucks that we have level grade crossings, but short of building a subway network or elevated rails through most of its line (think billions, not millions), what alternative is there?

It’s cute and all that you’ve anointed yourself TriMet’s gadfly, but I wonder when you’re going to step up and do something constructive with your critical insights.

No offense intended.

007
007
13 years ago

$1 is too much to spend on a new bridge. It shouldn’t be built at any cost. Isn’t anyone aware of how polluted Portland’s air is? We should not have to pay in health, aesthetics or dollars for the lifestyle choices people make, which is live in one state and work in another – and DRIVE their EVERYDAY. Clark County voted down light rail long ago — too bad, cry babies.

Oregonians and Portlanders in particular shouldn’t have to subsidize this wasteful lifestyle. We already spend enough in lost jobs to Washington residents, clogged I-5 and smelly, unhealthy air.
Take the bus, Icarus.

007
007
13 years ago

It once once suggested that crossing guards such as at elementary schools be instituted on Westside Max because adults weren’t either bright enough or sober enough to look before they crossed.

Matthew Denton
Matthew Denton
13 years ago

Hummm, no Rex interview yet. Should we assume it went as well as the Sho Dozono (sp?) interview that took forever to get out as well? (I’m only half joking.)

a.O
a.O
13 years ago

Wow, this is a beauty, 007:

$1 is too much to spend on a new bridge. It shouldn’t be built at any cost. Isn’t anyone aware of how polluted Portland’s air is? We should not have to pay in health, aesthetics or dollars for the lifestyle choices people make, which is live in one state and work in another – and DRIVE their EVERYDAY. Clark County voted down light rail long ago — too bad, cry babies.

Oregonians and Portlanders in particular shouldn’t have to subsidize this wasteful lifestyle. We already spend enough in lost jobs to Washington residents, clogged I-5 and smelly, unhealthy air.

Take the bus, Icarus.

Erin Staphod
Erin Staphod
13 years ago

I agree with Icarus; we need to immediately expand I-5 through Portland from Vancouver to maybe Tigard to probably 10-15 lanes in each direction so that we can reduce traffic congestion.

It’ll probably only cost a fraction of the cost of all these “bicycle” improvements, and will greatly help take all the cars off the local roads so that it will be safer for my bicycle commute.

Adams Carroll (News Intern)
13 years ago

Naturally, you’re going to balance that Burkholder interview against one with a respected opponent of the CRC?

thanks for the idea PJ. I think you’ll recall that I’ve published editorials and articles that have been critical of the CRC.

as for the burkholder interview. I had 66 minutes to transcribe which takes forever… i might separate out the CRC part but I don’t want to lose the context. we’ll see. thanks for your patience. doing interviews is time-consuming and since I have a lot of stories I need/want to get to.

cheers.

zilfondel
zilfondel
13 years ago

“The current bridge actually happens to be taller than allowed. By over a Hundred feet I think.( could be wrong on the actual footage.)

This is due to the fact that Pearson Airpark is right there, and PDX not far away.”

The future bridge must fit within a very small envelope, being tall enough for ships, and low enough for small airplanes to land at the Vancouver International Airport. It WILL basically be the same as the I-205 bridge – a concrete box girder on piers across the river.

“…and for the same reason, leaving the old bridge is not a viable or even federally allowed option.”

This is false. Old bridges are grandfathered into the infrastructure system. Additionally, the current bridge is one of the structurally highest-rated bridges in Oregon. However, like virtually all structures in Oregon, it was not designed to withstand a 9.0 earthquake that should strike here within the next few hundred years. But then, NOTHING WILL! Loma Prieta was only 6.9, by comparison.

Besides, $4.2 billion could carry a couple hundred thousand more people on a vastly expanded MAX system, or a million or so more people on the bus system we have. The CRC bridge is just more pork to the highway, oil, and car lobby.

The CRC bridge project will barely even increase capacity from Vancouver to Portland, and if we’re lucky, we’ll get MAX and a better bike connection to the north!

These guys are opposed to the CRC boondoggle as well:

http://www.smarterbridge.org/

zilfondel
zilfondel
13 years ago

I’d additionally like to ask Portlanders why on Earth you would want to spend $1+ billion on a bridge so that Clark County (whose commissioners are against any growth controls) can sprawl more?

Its not like its going to help US at all. But it will spend a lot of local dollars, from the city of Portland, Metro, state, and federal, of course.

For $4.2 billion we could expand our bus system from ~600 buses to over 21,000 buses (a 35-fold increase), and would be the largest bus system in the entire world… this is such a ridiculous amount of money to tear out a functional bridge for virtually no benefit to anyone in Oregon!!

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

GLV (#26): I know all about how the Fed creates money out of thin air. We do have infrastructure needs in this nation (and definitely in this region), but with all due respect,“make work” programs do not solve economic problems. Nor does spending money we don’t have. We’ve got to get our fiscal house in order and that means promoting a “positive carry” in tax collection and GDP. If we do that, we then can then spend on infrastructure and employment will follow.

There are rumors China is threatening to stop buying our debt(T-bills)soon. If that turns out to be true, the house of cards is going to collapse sooner than we can imagine.

Icarus Falling
Icarus Falling
13 years ago

I do not hate Max, I dislike the way Tri met is run, or more realistically the way Tri Met runs like it owns the city. They make the roads unsafe for bicycles in many instances, and by self proffession,(as even read here on this site) their drivers do not feel they can, nor do they think they are qualified, to drive safely around bicycles.

My calling it the death trolley is nothing more than nostalgia.

The Shame Train is a term used by some PDX messengers when they are too tired from work to ride home, so they take the Max.

Lighten up a little people………

Matthew Denton
Matthew Denton
13 years ago

Jonathan, I’m not complaining, you do a very good job around here.

mara
13 years ago

The CRC project hired people to review the findings, but still has not contracted for an independent analysis as requested by Metro and the City of Portland. The panel had two days to answer seven major questions, and were only asked if the findings were reasonable. It was a cursory review, not an independent analysis.

The questions were:

• Are fuel price and vehicle operating cost assumptions used in the model
reasonable?
• Are the tolling methods used in the model reasonable?
• Are the traffic projections for I-5 and I-205 from the model reasonable?
• Are the vehicle miles travelled results reasonable?
• Are the bridge auxiliary lanes modeled correctly?
• Was the approach used to estimate induced growth reasonable?
• Were the induced growth findings reasonable?

jim
jim
13 years ago

Why spend $4 billion on a bridge that is going to have the same number of traffic lanes?
The minesota bridge has allready bean replaced for only $250 million
Once again we are getting the shaft