Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Adams gets council support for his 12-lane CRC compromise

Posted by on February 26th, 2009 at 12:04 pm

Commissioner Fritz voiced many concerns
before voting “no” on the proposal
last night.
(Image: City of Portland)

At their meeting last night, Portland’s City Council gave Mayor Sam Adams authorization to vote in favor of a 12-lane Columbia River Crossing (CRC) bridge.

But, according to Adams’ office, the vote does not mean the Mayor (and council) have signed off on a 12-lane bridge.

The proposal on the table was meant to move the deadlock in CRC negotiations over the number of lanes the bridge will eventually have. In order for the process to move forward, the design and engineering timeline requires that key conceptual decisions (like the number of lanes) are made.

Adams created his proposal in partnership with Vancouver Mayor Royce Pollard. Prior to the meeting, Mayor Adams and Vancouver Mayor Royce Pollard penned a joint op-ed in The Oregonian about it. In, The way forward across the river, they wrote:

“A new Interstate 5 bridge across the Columbia River is about more than the number of lanes or new transit service or tolls. It’s also an opportunity to show ourselves and the nation a smarter way forward.”

Adams knows that many of his constituents would be extremely disappointed if he gave outright support to a 12-lane bridge so it’s no surprise he opened the editorial by de-emphasizing the importance of the lane quantity decision.

Story continues below


Listening to him introduce the proposal at last night’s hearing (thanks to the video stream on the city’s website), Adams explained this decision not as open invitation to build a 12-lane mega-highway (that many critics fear), but as an innovative step forward in the city’s ability to manage roadways. Here’s more from Adams (emphasis mine):

“We are known in this region as being innovators when it comes to certain aspects of transportation. Clearly we are innovators when it comes to transit, when it comes to pedestrian mobility systems, when it comes to bike mobility systems. We actively plan and manage those transportation modes but when it comes to vehicular roadway management we are, in my opinion, in the dark ages. We tend to build a freeway, build a road — especially if its outside the grid and especially if it is a freeway — we just sort of walk away and leave it to function however it’s going to function.

I have long advocated this region to take a more active role in managing our transportation systems.”

Anti-CRC sign-1.jpg

Spotted on N. Killingsworth
last summer.
(Photo © J. Maus)

According to the proposal that council supported last night, that “active role” will come in the form of a Columbia Crossing Mobility Council. That group, whose formation must still be approved by the CRC’s Project Sponsors Council, would be tasked with “developing performance based management recommendations for the Columbia River Crossing project.”

This morning I asked Adams’ senior transportation policy advisor Catherine Ciarlo for clarification on just what exactly happened last night. Here’s how our conversation went (this is a paraphrase from my recollection and notes):

What does this all mean? Did Adams and city council just approve a 12-lane CRC bridge?

“What it [the vote] does is sets up Commissioner Adams to cast a vote at the Project Sponsors Council to approve building to accommodate 12 lanes. So, in that sense, yes it does…but if and only if there is a commitment around the table [at the Sponsors Council] to create a Columbia Crossing Mobility Council.”

What if the Sponsors Council says no to the Mobility Council?

“If there’s no agreement on this Mobility Council, there’s no agreement to build to accomodate 12 lanes.”

OK, so it’s clear to me that this Mobility Council and its ability to make decisions about the management of the bridge was Adams’ take in the give-and-take compromise between he and Mayor Pollard. But, what exactly will the Mobility Council do?

“By creating this council we have a way for the local jurisdictions, including Portland, to participate in the ongoing management of the project. For instance, this Mobility Council may decide — in the work it does between now and 2018 [when the project is slated to be built] — that 12 lanes doesn’t make sense (the striping of the bridge is the last thing that will happen), that it would be too many and that it would result in induced demand and that it doesn’t meet a certain level of greenhouse gas emissions.

So, it’s possible it would be built to accomodate 12 lanes but it would actually open at 10 lanes…we haven’t said yes to striping 12 lanes.

The beauty of it is that these decisions will be made not just by the DOTs (state departments of transportation) but by all of the agencies that have a dog in the fight…”

Can you define what you mean by “management”?

“This is about management to achieve goals that you set. We’ve been using the thermostat analogy. You use a thermostat to regulate air flow to decide how warm you want your room — this management will serve as a thermostat for the bridge. Do we have too much congestion? If so, you use the tools you have to fix it [which could be tolls, a different mix of transit and HOV lanes, etc…]”

The vote on the number of lanes, and on whether or not to approve this Columbia Crossing Mobility Council will be decided on March 6th by the Project Sponsors Council. The important thing to remember is that if the Mobility Council is not approved, Adams will likely vote against 12 lanes.

If Adams votes no on 12 lanes on March 6th, in many respects the lane decision would go “back to the drawing board” according to Ciarlo. Without support from a key player like the City of Portland, our federal delegation is not likely to support funding for such an expensive project.

As you can see, this is a very high-stakes dance. With his green light to move forward on a 12-lane bridge, Adams has given up a lot. But in return, he is saying that the bridge needs to be managed in a way that makes sense and he hopes his Mobility Council will be the innovative tool to move the region out of the, as he puts it, “vehicular roadway management dark ages”.

Of course, not everyone sees this in the same, positive light as Adams’ office.

On February 11th, Nigel Jacquiss, the Willamette Week reporter who broke the Adams-Breedlove story, wondered if Mayor Adams’ “political weakness” would lead to a 12-lane bridge. And, judging from comments left here on BikePortland late last night and on other local sites, many of Adams’ constituents are very disappointed about the direction this is headed.

Update: One commenter below is not convinced:

“This is total BS, and not even a convincing spin. If you believe these lies from Sam, clearly you will believe anything he says.

This should serve as Exhibit A in support of the proposition that Adams has been so seriously weakened by his self-induced scandal that he can no longer effectively represent the progressive Portlanders who elected him.”

Commissioner Amanda Fritz, the sole dissenter last night, did nothing to soften her criticisms of the proposal. She said she is “profoundly disappointed that this authorizes a 12 lane bridge.” Fritz raised health, cost and community livability concerns. She also pointed out how council’s tone on this project has changed over time:

“I’m concerned… that the resolution passed last July called for the smallest possible bridge, when it now turns out that the smallest possible bridge requires the most possible lanes.”

Michelle Poyourow of the BTA says she is still “frustrated that there are no quantified outcomes for this bridge.” While she is glad Adams is trying to establish the Mobility Council to determine (and then manage) those outcomes, she adds that, “but they will be managing that in the context of a 12-lane bridge.”

“I just don’t think it’s responsible,” she continued, “to decide on the size of the bridge without first deciding on the management strategy and goals.”

Is Adams’ proposal the light at the end of the tunnel? Or, regardless of the intricate politics and wonky policy-speak going on here, is this a sign of a weakened and compromised Mayor Adams who was once seen as someone who would stand up against the CRC? Are we headed for mega-highway oblivion with Mayor Adams at the wheel? Will his management idea pan out and ultimately bring us a sensible, multi-modal bridge? Is it even possible for a 12-lane-sized bridge to be sensible no matter how it’s striped or how many buses and bikes it carries?

A lot of questions and only time will tell.

— Video of last night’s meeting can be watched on the City of Portland website. The CRC proposal (agenda item #198) begins at the 78:20 mark.

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

  • a.O February 26, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    This is total BS, and not even a convincing spin. If you believe these lies from Sam, clearly you will believe anything he says.

    This should serve as Exhibit A in support of the proposition that Adams has been so seriously weakened by his self-induced scandal that he can no longer effectively represent the progressive Portlanders who elected him.

    Sam Adams is a sellout and he needs to be recalled.

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  • Kronda February 26, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    I didn’t attend the rally to keep Sam in office. Aside from being busy with other things, I was highly ambivalent about the whole situation. I don’t really care about what he did, I care about what he does as Mayor. This ticks me off a lot more than the supposed ‘scandal.’

    If there is a recall effort, what he does *as Mayor* will be what decides whether I support that effort or not.

    Seems like the whole CRC project is sliding down a slippery slope.

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  • JDL February 26, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    I care a lot more that the CRC has good bike paths that connect well with bike routes on both sides than whether it has 8, 10, or 12 car lanes.

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  • a.O February 26, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    JDL, I understand your focus. But a 12-lane CRC will impact biking throughout Portland.

    Remember the justification for the CRC? The bridge is old and it’s a “choke point” for traffic on I-5. When they put in a 12-lane bridge, the “choke point” will move southward into N/NE Portland.

    Guess what the argument will be then? We need to address the choke point by widening I-5 to 12 lanes through the whole city, starting with NoPo.

    The induced demand created by a much larger highway through the heart of Portland will put much more traffic on our neighborhood streets. Many of those people will be drivers from suburban Clark County who do not understand Oregon’s traffic laws related to bikes.

    A wider CRC is bad for all bike routes.

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  • Wayne February 26, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    I’ve supported Sam in spite of the scandal. but today he just lost my vote.

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  • GLV February 26, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    #4: “The induced demand created by a much larger highway through the heart of Portland will put much more traffic on our neighborhood streets.”

    Translation: watch for a LOT more cars on Vancouver-Williams once this thing is built.

    What is this, the tenth “committee” to study the project since 2000? (I’m only slightly exaggerating.) This is game, set, and match folks: we’re getting a 12 lane bridge.

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  • Lance P. February 26, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    I was a supporter of Sam until now. He just lost my vote this June.

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  • metal cowboy February 26, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    Wait a minute, I got all worked up for nothing? You mean all we need to do is build a 4 billionish dollar bridge, but once it’s done, not stripe a few of the lanes? And here I thought tolling the existing bridge, carpooling like we mean it and adding light rail as peak oil hits were better solutions.

    Come on!

    I second everything Kronda and A.O have written. I thank Amanda Fritz for thinking about the future of Portland and I have to wonder just how dumb and brainwashed does Sam think I am?

    You could ban all the plastic bags in Portland (and I hope you do before the recall) and it wouldn’t make up for this nonsense.

    The CRC is our generation’s Mt. Hood Freeway. The future isn’t a place ten years from now, it’s a collection of decisions made today.

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  • Adam February 26, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    This whole project is ridiculous. The idea behind the CRC is to relieve traffic congestion. How is that going to happen when the freeway on both ends of the bridge are less lanes than the bridge itself? Can you say bottle neck? The idea of a toll bridge is stupid. It will only encourage traffic to move to I-205. Then we will have to build a massive bridge over there as well and charge for crossing it. Seems really inefficient. The CRC has no need to be more than 8 lanes total. That’s an expansion from the existing bridge. Have they considered how many people may opt not to drive being that the new bridge will also accommodate light rail? This whole thing is ridiculous!

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  • Speak up February 26, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    June may be to late. The vote for 12 lanes is in 1 week.

    Let Adams know where you stand.

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  • Grimm February 26, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    His vote and his words dont seem to coincide.
    Though understand this is a precarious dance for federal funding, I’d still very much like to believe Adam has our best interest with the proposed committee.

    On one hand we currently have a 6 lane bridge, that I occasionally use to go see friend in seattle or see some in-laws in vancouver. It can take forever and being frustrating if mis-timed since it goes from 8 lanes on the highway down to 6 on the bridge.

    Having 8 lanes pretty much makes sense, but maybe 10 would be a better as foresight as we’ll surely fill up an 8 lane. Maybe 2 of those are commercial vehicle only, and have peak time tolls for commuters. And maybe the slated final two lanes will be bike/pedestrian only. Yes, 12 sounds like a lot. It sounds like everyone will just move vancouver and keep driving. But depending on how we utilize it may not be as terrible as it is in our heads.

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  • Jeff Bernards February 26, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    I spoke at yesterdays meeting as follows:

    It seems no money has been raised to date to help pay for this project. Since it’s obvious it’s years away, it’s time to do some planning now. You’ve chosen the most expensive option to solve the I-5 congestion problem. I feel you haven’t tried any least cost options that would include:
    · Discounted Tolling with electronic pay tied to drivers credit card charged monthly
    · Higher tolling when paid with cash for a single crossing.
    · Minimum of $5 for round trip crossing
    · Discount for Carpool participants
    · Encourage business’s to locate in Vancouver to reduce job related travel, PDC or VDC for Vancouver to encourage companies to create jobs in Vancouver and reduce the main reason for the commute.

    If this is such a pressing issue why haven’t any of these options been tried to temporarily solve the problem? If they’ll work for a new bridge, they’d work for the current bridge. Your hiding the true costs of this bridge by not tolling now, it will make people aware of what this is going to cost.
    Solving the bottleneck that is the I-5 bridge and not addressing the 2 lanes that pass through the Rose Quarter area is short sighted. If you have 2 broken legs and only fix one, you still can’t walk. Expanding the bridge and not solving both problems is like when they expanded the Convention Center and now claim they need a Hotel to make the expansion pay. Your going to do the same thing with the Bridge, we need to fix the Rose Quarter area to make the I-5 bridge work properly.
    From what I understand the State is going to contribute $100 or $200 million? I want to know how many teachers are going to be laid off or how many prisoners are going to be released early so the state can make this contribution?

    The claim the high accident rate from cars entering and leaving I-5, the part I don’t understand is that the traffic is supposed to be clogged and barely moving, I don’t think there’s many injuries at 10-20 mph.

    The movement in the market place now is to buy local. To subsidize the trucking industry only encourages people buying cheap things from far away lands, and not paying the true costs. I stopped eating bananas because of the distance that it travels.

    I haven’t heard any plans for Vancouver to expand Max to Battleground, U through Vancouver and hook up at I-205. When I see those plans on the table I might support the bridge, but to have Max end in downtown Vancouver is a waste of $4billion.

    Last time gas prices hit $4 many trucking companies went out of business. To spend this much money based on passed experience is misleading. You’re building a monument to the past.

    You all need to thank Amanda Fritz for her voting this thing down!

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  • Lance P. February 26, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    does anyone have the number to call and voice your opinion on this issue? Mayors desk?

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  • Spencer Boomhower February 26, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    a.O. #4

    “Remember the justification for the CRC? The bridge is old and it’s a “choke point” for traffic on I-5. When they put in a 12-lane bridge, the “choke point” will move southward into N/NE Portland.”

    Exactly so, and that should seem obvious to every Portland resident. So where’s the outrage?

    Of course, when I went to one of the open houses and asked one of the CRC folks about this issue of the choke point moving downstream, his reply was: 70% of the trips going over the bridge start and end within the roughly 5-mile project area, so hey, not a problem.

    I’m not buying it.

    But let’s say I did. OK, that then means that all this huge expense is going into accomodating a lot of little local trips that maybe-just-maybe shouldn’t be clogging up this vital international lifeline of a highway.

    (What I rarely hear mentioned is that many of these trips are probably going to and from the big-box shopping center that is cleverly located on an island with only one way on or off. Seems like the merging from those ramps could be a huge factor in slowing things down on the crossing.)

    So to continue the analogy: we’re all going to chip in roughly two grand each for a $4.2 billion mansion so that those few who clogged up what should have been a perfectly spacious house – because after all, the houses to the north and south of this one “chokepoint” get by OK with only six lanes (oops, I broke the analogy) – can have some more elbow room.

    But hey, we might get to play with the thermostat. Until it breaks. And then good luck fixing it.

    Oh, and incidentally, that “70% of the trips are within the project area” was their excuse for only holding the open houses at the expo center up near the crossing, with none closer in to Portland.

    Do you think maybe Portlanders might have second thoughts about this thing if they got to see the banquet-table-sized renderings of this breathtakingly huge, San Bernardino Freeway -esque monstrosity sprawling all over the Columbia River?

    I still think Sam deserves due process in the scandal, and I still don’t want to see a puritanical witchhunt come out of that whole mess. So I’m making an effort to keep my feelings about the CRC separate from my feelings about the scandal.

    Still, when I stood out in front of City Hall with a sign reading, “get back to work, Sam” this was not the work I was hoping for.

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  • Dennis February 26, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    Many of us in Vancouver are SICKENED by the entire process. Developers have owned the planning councils in Clark County for three decades, and this is just one more attempt to open up more land, north of Vancouver to sprawling development. Places like LaCenter, Ridgefield and Woodland will get erased, and filled with new subdivisions in ten short years, once this bridge is built. It’s vile, disgusting, and dangerous.

    Sam, please channel the soul of Portland, and by use of the CRC, limit unrestrained growth north of Portland. The voice of reason from Vancouver is lost on the CRC, all they see is a giant shiny bridge, and acres upon acres of ugly new homes.

    I’m stuck in Vancouver, and this change in the freeway system will run right past my home. I sure hope I can move before they start construction.

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  • ScottG February 26, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    I was really hoping the compromise Adams was going to come to was agreeing to a 10-lane bridge. I could have accepted excuses for that. But not the 12-laner. The proposed Mobility Council is yet another lobbying effort we’ll have to maintain to keep the bridge in check.

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  • Jasun Wurster February 26, 2009 at 3:14 pm


    We have all the Commissioners contact info here:

    City Council Contact Info

    Jasun Wurster

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  • Ethan February 26, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    I don’t care one bit about Beau-gate, but with this I no longer support our mayor.

    If we essentially have a tug of war between the WA side that wants, 12, and the OR side that wants no net increase, there is no way this can make sense, unless you erase 50 years of US history concerning what happens when you add capacity to urban freeways.

    I am quite proud of the fact that I have not seen a lane increase in my 11 years in Portland, when I lived in CA it seemed like they never ever stopped expanding freeways, and now it is a hell hole down there. Call it the dark ages if you want, but more cars does not make Portland a better place, no matter how you slice it.

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  • Suzanne February 26, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    Maybe this could be a way for all us concerned Portlanders who have become divided over the Adams scandal to come together under a common cause. Possibly an “anti-12-lane-bridge” rally could be organized before the vote?

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  • RyNO Dan February 26, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    There is very little to be gained and lots to loose for the citizens of Portland in constructing this mega-freeway. Mainly outsiders would benefit. This just rewards the cheaters.

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  • beth h February 26, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    I am unahhppy about this like you would not believe. I feel screwed and my concerns ignored. Sam Adams went for 12 lanes because even HE knows he’s lost political capital. As a result, it’s clear where his true intent lies; and he will not get my support in a recall election because he’s too much of a player and not enough of an innovator and real leader.

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  • Aaron February 26, 2009 at 5:33 pm

    I have already called Amanda Fritz office to thank her for standing up against this proposal. Kronda and Jeff B make excellent points. I did go to the rally for Sam and I have always liked and respected him. But I feel betrayed in the same way as when Rex Burkholder wrote in favor of the bridge. How many billions of dollars to we need to lobby these politicians in favor of a sensible future?
    As Jonathan’s other post states, Portland will be left behind if we don’t get with it.

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  • Lynn February 26, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    The traffic generated by a 12 lane bridge will have a more devastating affect on North Portland than the Vanport Flood of ’48.

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  • aj February 26, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    Sam sucks.

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  • fredlf February 26, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    I live in NE PDX and commute to Vancouver for work. Sometimes by bike, mostly by car. I’m very, very worried about what this mega-bridge would do to my neighborhood (and those to the north where I often bike and do business). I’ve seen what freeways can do to neighborhoods, and already feel like we are cut up and divided by high-volume arteries like MLK. Sacrificing the streets and neighborhoods of NoPo so that Vancouverites can avoid sales tax by buying crap at Jantzen beach doesn’t seem like a good deal.

    I hope to god Sam knows what he’s doing, because it’s really hard for me to see how this isn’t a step towards brain-dead, LA style, sprawl and car culture.

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  • Jim Lee February 26, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    I must thank all 1,111 Portlanders who voted right for mayor last year. Fixies forever!

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  • JR February 26, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    This is what I sent Mayor Adams’ office today:

    “I, and other Portland residents I have been talking to, am quite disappointed with this position. If well managed, 8 lanes would be sufficient for the proposed CRC bridge. I realize the need to work as a regional partner, but Vancouver’s antiquated, sprawl-based land use system should not be supported by the proposal you now support. If on-going management is what you seek, then apply it to a more reasonable (and affordable) bridge type.

    Let me be clear. If a recall hits the ballot, this will be my reason for supporting it and none other. Hopefully you’ve calculated this risk appropriately, but in my circle of friends, who once vigorously supported you (as of last week), this is a major obstacle to continuing our support. “

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  • JR February 26, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    I should add that this is the sole reason I supported Amanda Fritz and she earned my vote yesterday..

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  • CAPS February 26, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    What an interesting turn of events just these last few days…

    Amanda Fritz’s no vote to the 12 lane bridge, Nick Fish warms to singletrack in Forest Park and Sam is….???

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  • Ethan February 26, 2009 at 6:54 pm

    Jonathan, you live within a block of the foulness an expanded I5 corridor will spew into the air . . . must be getting hard to retain journalistic detachment.

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  • Mark February 26, 2009 at 7:12 pm

    Thank you Commissioner Fritz!

    Amanda states her profound disappointment and begins laying out just a few of the myriad reasons why a 12-lane bridge is oh so wrong for Portland at around minute 153 in the video link Jonathan posted above. Just a few minutes earlier, it is sad to see how Catherine Ciarlo can’t get away from the mic quickly enough.

    Sam, why hast thou forsaken us???

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  • old&slow February 26, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    It is pretty ironic, a month ago there were all kinds of Sam Adams supporters on this website and there were a lot of people bashing Obama’s choice of Ray Lahood as transportation secretary. Now Adams is basically supporting sprawl and Lahood is defending high speed rail and other alternative transportation funding in the stimulus bill! I hope all the Adams supporters are happy with this situation!

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  • Zaphod February 26, 2009 at 7:42 pm

    I fail to see the upside. Have we learned nothing on what makes a livable city? Livable translates into attracting talent and growing our green economy with high-value, high-paying jobs. What do we get with the bridge? A dilution of what Portland is and strives to be… we become more of a generic city.

    I appreciate that I don’t know how the dance of politics is done but this huge bridge and the absence of the tiny Sauvie bridge relo, I’m trying to work out how Sam is supporting the cycling community. I’d like to see Sam step up and take some risks and let the chips fall where they may. A little fight might be alright, nuanced political dancing be damned.

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  • Zaphod February 26, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    …oh, and nice job Amanda Fritz

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  • se biker February 26, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    In the battle between Sam’s integrity vs Sam’s personal ambition and ego, integrity will always be a distant runnerup. With each backpedal on the CRC, Sam’s message to his ever-declining base of supporters is clear: his political survival is more important than ethics or his word.

    Really bad judgement led to a really big lie (or several, actually). The really big lies led to a really wounded & weakened politician. It takes someone with a really strong moral compass to stick to their principles under these trying conditions.

    Sam is NOT that person. Sam was my mayor. He is no longer my mayor. I wish he would do us a favor and resign, but I fear only a recall can rid us of this hypocrite.

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  • MT February 26, 2009 at 9:03 pm

    Sam, too, has lost me on this one. If he can’t get the CRC to be the bridge it could be–and not a bridge from the past–then he does need to resign.

    And up till now I’ve been a supporter. Since this decision, no more.

    I too want to send kudos to Commissioner Fritz. What a great way to start your term in office. We look forward to more great things from you.

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  • Spencer Boomhower February 26, 2009 at 9:24 pm

    “…oh, and nice job Amanda Fritz”

    Hear, hear! I’m glad someone is in there putting up a fight.

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  • matt picio February 26, 2009 at 9:57 pm

    I am so glad I voted for Amanda.

    Sam, you’ve just lost my support, and my vote. I don’t care one whit about Adams’ personal life, but this speaks against everything Portland has stood for since the Mt. Hood Freeway was defeated.

    Thanks a lot, Sam Adams. No new bike lanes, indeed – you’re really showing a side to us that many of us did not expect.

    The cynical side of me says “Now we know why he kept Transportation as part of his portfolio”.

    Why did we vote for him again? Oh, right, because Sho would have been worse.

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  • matt picio February 26, 2009 at 9:58 pm

    All due respect, Jonathan, but PeeJay is right – CRC Sam.

    I’m disgusted.

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  • brian b February 26, 2009 at 10:10 pm

    Amanda Fritz for Mayor 2009.

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  • katelyn February 26, 2009 at 10:12 pm

    I’m so glad that others have mentioned the Mt. Hood Freeway, because how can one argue that the CRC isn’t this decade’s MHF??! Clinton street was to be turned into an EIGHT-LANE EXPRESSWAY because planners thought that the current infrastructure wouldn’t be able to handle the traffic in the coming decades (they were kinda far off, eh?) SE is a bit trafficy, but I thank mah lucky stars that it wasn’t built– because there are issues that need to be addressed other than congestion.
    Thanks Amanda for sticking to yur guns!

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  • frustrated joe February 26, 2009 at 10:22 pm

    If you live anywhere near a freeway, you are subjected to higher rates of airborne polution, with higher rates of illness//death resulting.
    CRC has done nothing to even recognize the economic justice issues that CRC brings. How can anyone support CRCs efforts to add more lanes of capacity to an already suffering community. Notice they build freeways through the poorest neighborhoods so the richest can save time on their commute. Just on this aspect I could never support CRC. Apparently Adams talks the talk about EJ,but conveniently ignores it when his political bacon is over the fire..

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  • Joe Rowe February 27, 2009 at 12:41 am

    The 12 lane jumbo bridge will lead to 12 lanes of jumbo expansion of interstate 5.

    And if they don’t make Interstate 5 as big as the bridge that means the traffic is dumped on top of family neighborhoods, my hood.

    Yes, I will make the phone call to the deaf ears of government. I want to know what groups are uniting to fight this?

    Time to get off the blog and time for a march and sit in. Let them try to arrest me, it will get thrown out. . The OR constitution says “no law shall restrain ….from assembling together in a peaceable manner…. instructing their representatives”

    Time to school some bureaucrats.

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  • peejay February 27, 2009 at 6:19 am

    Thanks, Matt.

    Anyone for a rally at City Hall? I’d take a day off for it. Who knows good (waterproof) sign printers?

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  • peejay February 27, 2009 at 6:44 am

    Great compromising skills, Sam! You give them the 12 lanes they want, and they promise not to use them so much. Tough bargain!

    Recall Sam Adams!

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  • MT February 27, 2009 at 7:03 am

    And if they don’t make Interstate 5 as big as the bridge that means the traffic is dumped on top of family neighborhoods, my hood.

    Once the bridge is widened, the bottleneck will become the narrow section of I-5 between the Rose Quarter and the Marquam Bridge. That will have to be widened significantly once the CRC is finished, a fact that CRC staff refused to comment upon because “that was beyond the scope” of their project.

    N/NE Portland, they are coming for you next. And it won’t be pretty.

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  • John February 27, 2009 at 7:28 am

    Okay, I can understand that, politically speaking, Sam dropped the soap.

    But letting ROYCE POLLARD push you around? Seriously?

    Get back to work, Sam! Portland needs a mayor, not a swinging door!

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  • steve February 27, 2009 at 7:39 am

    Amy Ruiz for mayor!

    Run CRC, Run!

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  • Coyote February 27, 2009 at 8:47 am

    Cheer up Jonathon, the CRC will likely never get built. You gotta think what 2018 is going to look like. We will have a different president, quite likely a republican one who is content to watch the US feed off the last of its decaying infrastructure. Gasoline will likely be $10+/gal. And the cost of the bridge could easily triple in ten years.

    LOL, that is my most optimistic view of the next ten years. Quite likely it will be worse, with millions of people squatting in “slumburbs” or living in tents under bridges instead of driving over them. All of our public resources will likely be dedicated to fighting wars to secure the last of the oil for wealthiest 10% of the population. In the meantime we might as well keep a bunch of engineers and planners employed designing the damn thing.

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  • Suzanne February 27, 2009 at 8:48 am

    “Time to get off the blog and time for a march and sit in. Let them try to arrest me, it will get thrown out. . The OR constitution says “no law shall restrain ….from assembling together in a peaceable manner…. instructing their representatives”

    Time to school some bureaucrats.”

    YES!!! Thats what I’m saying! When and where? Of the 48 comments so far I haven’t read a single one who wasn’t concerned and/or disgusted. But chatting about it on the interwebs is not going to keep this from happening. Lets go!

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) February 27, 2009 at 9:12 am

    “All due respect, Jonathan, but PeeJay is right – CRC Sam.”

    “Cheer up Jonathon, the CRC will likely never get built”

    Hi folks,

    Am I missing something here? Nowhere in my reporting have I expressed some sort of support for Adams. I have also not expressed any sort of disappointment at what has been decided.

    Unfortunately, Matt Davis at the Mercury misrepresented me and he has corrected his story.

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  • Coyote February 27, 2009 at 9:37 am

    Am I missing something here?

    I guess I was transferring thoughts from your editorial from yesterday. I was not trying to put words in your mouth. The above article is unbiased – sorry.

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  • Lance P. February 27, 2009 at 10:23 am

    Name the time and place. I will show up. Someone needs to step up here and be the champion to set up a rally.

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  • metal cowboy February 27, 2009 at 11:06 am

    I could tell you I’m already swamped with writing projects and other programs directly related to sustainability issues, or that I’m skeptical that this project will ever find funding to get built, but six months ago I also would have chuckled if you’d told me that Sustainability Sam would be the one to propose, in writing, 12 lanes across it.

    I’m big enough to admit when I’ve been had. I also wonder what Portland would look like if folks back during the Mt Hood Freeway fight had decided they were too busy and it would probably never happen anway.


    Let’s rally, press conference and protest or some combination that makes sense. Who wants in? Ideas, location timing, goals?

    For me CRC is a linchpin issue. It’s a watermark to measure where a politican stands regarding Portland’s quality of life ten year’s down the road.

    BTW, a shout out to Jeff Bernard and his words to the council. eloquent and accurate.

    Any rally. press conference and protest would focus on Sam’s 12 lane proposal, the council member’s vote in favor, the folly of this choice and alternative solutions going forward.

    To make any push back a success it would need to bring big numbers and represent coalitions and people including as well as beyond the bike cummunity.

    Ideas, thoughts, put them on the comments or email me, Joe Kurmaskie mtcowboy@teleport.com

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  • Suzanne February 27, 2009 at 11:15 am

    City Hall, some night next week? I know absolutely nothing about organizing such things, but I feel really strongly that this needs to happen… If the responses on this site are any reflection of the general population then there is potential to mount a huge opposition to this thing. C’mon people, time to get angry, we can at least go down fighting….

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  • Kt February 27, 2009 at 11:25 am

    A committee is the only living entity on the earth with more than 4 legs and no brain.

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  • peejay February 27, 2009 at 11:39 am


    I know you have to maintain some degree of objectivity, but is it possible you could start a new thread for those of us who wish to plan a protest against CRC Sam and all the other flunkies on the city council who are selling the PEOPLE of PORTLAND down the river?

    We could agree on a place and time, and swap ideas for sign slogans. Here’s my first entry:


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  • Lenny Anderson February 27, 2009 at 11:43 am

    Rex surrendered years ago to the Clark county developers; now Sam. I guess the DOTs $50 million pr campaign is working.
    re taking to the streets? Let’s start with the Sustainable Cities conference coming this spring…a thousand pickets with signs saying “kill the bridge”, and “Sam, walk the talk” and so on.

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  • Lance P. February 27, 2009 at 11:44 am

    Call and voice your opinion!

    Adams = (503)823-4120
    Amanda Fritz = (503)823-3008
    Nick Fish = (503) 823-3589
    Randy Leonard = (503)823-4682
    Dan Saltzman = (503)823-4151

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) February 27, 2009 at 11:56 am

    “I know you have to maintain some degree of objectivity, but is it possible you could start a new thread for those of us who wish to plan a protest against CRC Sam…”

    I am feeling the energy for this… I realize folks are fired up. I think this is a perfect opportunity for a local advocacy group to step in and make something happen.

    I don’t feel comfortable doing the open thread as you describe above. I apologize for that but i am already fighting off perceptions of bias on these issues and that would really muddy the waters.

    The Portland Bike Forums are free and open for anyone to post to.

    I hope to publish another story about this issue today. Stay tuned and thanks for your understanding.

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  • metal cowboy February 27, 2009 at 11:58 am

    Who wants to put big numbers in front of city hall before or at next’s week’s vote? Peejay, Suzanne, others, let’s talk.

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  • Hart February 27, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    I the like the bridge solution applied in ‘The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly’.

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  • Lenny Anderson February 27, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    “Managing the bridge” sounds fine. Why are we not managing the bridge we have? The first management decision should be to build a new bridge for local traffic, light rail, and bikes/pedestrians funded with tolls on the existing bridge.

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  • PdxMark February 27, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    I guess I’m all alone….

    I’ve been an ardent foe of the 12-lane bridge. I actually lean toward just repairing the current bridge. But I have to say that it’s not so clear to me that we have completely lost the battle with the deal Sam put together. We might have even come out ahead.

    A deal to manage, and I think toll?, traffic on BOTH Columbia River bridges seems HUGE. 12 lanes, 10 lanes, even 8, on I-5 seems like skirmishes in the bigger battle of keeping Clark County car commuting from becoming the traffic death of us all. According to Randy L, the incremental cost difference between 10 & 12 lanes, and maybe even the 8 lane version (I’m not sure), isn’t that great. The right to manage traffic across the I-205 bridge, which is the gaping sprawl-control hole around the CRC, seems key.

    I’m not ready to toss Sam under the bus, or streetcar, over this deal.

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  • metal cowboy February 27, 2009 at 1:12 pm


    I also lean towards repairing the old bridge, tolling it and adding light rail. The difference with this 12 lane proposal is billions of dollars diverted from transportation funding in Portland over the next decade. Also, I’ll believe the managing part when I see it. But I do believe that Sam is giving the greenlight to 12 lanes, that clear in the proposal, formation of another “oversight council notwithstanding, When you build 12 lanes, striped or not, vehicles will fill that space. Have you ever seen any highways that were built, then didn’t fill with cars? Also, who will be managing this thing in 2018 and how will they feel about issues of sustainability. Beyond that if you toll it now there won’t be the congestion issues, If people change their habits, carpooling, taking light rail, bike, additional lanes aren’t necessary and the whole thing begins to look like a money consuming dino that only enables single occupancy driving. The smartest bridge is the least bridge in this age of peak oil.

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  • Suzanne February 27, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    “Who wants to put big numbers in front of city hall before or at next’s week’s vote?” Yes! Absolutely.

    Also, the first ever Green Cities Conference is on April 18th. The Oregonian claims there will be 500 city officials there. I can’t really think of a better opportunity then that….

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  • PdxMark February 27, 2009 at 2:12 pm


    I agree that building increased freeway capacity leads to increased usage (traffic). Discussion at the bojack site, including some digging on my own at the CRC site to back up some statements I made under my “spandex superiority complex,” I understand the CRC project better now than I did this morning. Here’s the plan summary that helped me figure out my thoughts on the issue today:


    About 1/4 the cost of the project is for the freeway bridge. About 1/4 the cost is to build light rail into Vancouver. The rest is to build the lanes and large number of on- and off- ramps, mostly in Vancouver, to connect to the car bridge. So the incremental cost of 12 lanes, versus 8 or 10, doesn’t seem to be a big factor.

    Despite a personal predilection to fixing the current bridge, I realize that the politically, and maybe even long-term reasonable, thing to do is to build at least a new 8 lane bridge. 8 lanes doesn’t really resolve congestion though, because it still leaves a 6-lane bottle neck on Hayden Island. The 10 lane option has 7 lanes on Hayden Island.

    If building some form of new bridge is a given, and I think it is, controlling traffic across the river becomes important to keep the I5 bridge from getting congested again and to prevent the heavy car-based that has caused the current congestion.

    I’m all for tolling up the new bridge as a way to control its traffic. The problem is that the I205 bridge is a nearby, and potentially free way to circumvent the tolling. On top of that, it provides an alternative corrider for Bad Growth up in Clark County. Even tolling on the current bridge doesn’t solve that problem.

    A commission to manage traffic on both bridges provides the first possible way to control vehicle flow across the river without having a potentially pointless tolling/control mechanism on one bridge that people can readily drive around. It plugs the hole that otherwise exists on the I205 bridge.

    So, overall, I’ve come to think that a new bridge will be built, and maybe even should be built. The cost difference between 8, 10, and 12 lanes isn’t huge. If the 12 lane version includes a way to control traffic (ie TOLL) the I205 bridge, then I think the extra cost of a couple more I5 bridge lanes might be worth that added control. I agree that there is a risk that we could be sold-out by the Bridge Commission, but maybe that risk is worth the chance of addressing all cross-river traffic rather than just one of the two nearby routes.

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  • metal cowboy February 27, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    pdx – you’re talking as if the bridge is a done deal. the community could start tolling 1-205 and the 1-5 bridge tomorrow. Building the largest bridge option is not the only way to manage these tansportation challenges, in fact, I would argue it’s the most expensive way and the fastest to loose relevance in the decision making process of what your city will look like in the future,

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  • Kris February 27, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    Michelle Poyourow of the BTA says she is still “frustrated that there are no quantified outcomes for this bridge.”

    Well, the reality is that they actually just decided on a “quantified outcome”: 12 lanes. All the talk about tolling and active management is great, but these things won’t be decided or materialize until 11+ years down the line and who knows what the political landscape will look like then.

    Today, we have control over the size of the bridge and I would hope that our politicians make responsible choices that are in line with the vision they have for the region. I don’t see how this jumbo bridge fits the vision.

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  • PdxMark February 27, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    Metal – I don’t agree that “the community could start tolling 1-205 and the 1-5 bridge tomorrow.” They aren’t Portland’s bridges. Any one agency from WDOT, ODOT, FHTA, Vancouver, Clark County, and who knows who else, can prevent tolling the existing bridges, and they would.

    That leaves the following options: (1) do nothing at all – no bridge repair, no light rail – nothing (2) one of the CRC options other than 12 lanes without controls on the I205 bridge (3) Sams’ option.

    I think (1) isn’t really a viable or responsible option. Do we differ on that account? If (2), which other option to choose and how to address I205 traffic volumes? I suppose rush hour tolling high enough to keep a repaired/new I5 bridge reasonably clear would resolve congestion on that bridge, but what does do for traffic on, and development north of, the I205 bridge? How is that better than option (3)?

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  • Spencer Boomhower February 27, 2009 at 3:01 pm


    “According to Randy L, the incremental cost difference between 10 & 12 lanes, and maybe even the 8 lane version (I’m not sure), isn’t that great.”

    You’re correct, no matter how many lanes this bridge has, it’ll cost an outrageous sum. It’s like those coffee sizes where even the “small” is called “tall” :). It’s all really big, and all costly.

    It’s also kinda like the way there’s only incremental differences between the costs of houses that range from moderate size to massive McMansions.

    So the question is, when you buy a house, do you want the absolute biggest house you can afford? When you know it pushes the limit of your budget, not to mention the fact that it’s just going to fill up with stuff? Stuff that will also push your budget.

    Might you not want a more moderately sized house, that helps keep the amount of stuff in your life to a manageable level?

    I see the smaller bridge option as a smart – and concrete – means of keeping traffic manageable, and controlling induced demand.

    Now, supporters of the big bridge often respond to the issue of induced demand by saying, “what, do you think people are going to start making lots of trips across the bridge just because they can?” But that’s missing the point. It’s not about the same people who are using it now making more trips.

    With more lanes, more developers will see more land around the crossing as more accessible, and thus bulldozer-ready. Take a look at Hayden Island in Google maps satellite view, and see how much green space is there, and how much big-box development is there. How fast do you think that green space will get turned into big-boxes if it becomes easy to access?

    Then, once it’s developed, how long do you think that easy access will last?

    This induced development has already happened there. There used to be an amusement park on that island but it was replaced by some stores in the 70’s, probably because there was nice access from the bridge. Then in the 90’s the stores turned to big-boxes. Again, because of the access, and also, I’m thinking, because of a favorable tax situation with Washington. And now the bridge is clogged, and I bet that’s in large part because of those stores.

    “A deal to manage, and I think toll?, traffic on BOTH Columbia River bridges seems HUGE.”

    “The right to manage traffic across the I-205 bridge, which is the gaping sprawl-control hole around the CRC, seems key.”

    I don’t believe tolling will work. Supporters of tolling should present examples of where it has.

    I lived for a while in the bay area, and there’s two toll bridges going into SF, and I used to commute over one (a reverse commute, thankfully). Both are busy bridges. And as a commuter, what you do is just factor the cost of the toll into the (hopefully) higher pay you get on one side of the bridge, or the greater savings you get living on the other side.

    Better, I think, to live near where you work, and where you shop – or at least not have an interstate chokepoint between any of those places.

    Anyway, I have two responses when I hear tolling offered as a solution:

    1) Why not now? Not that I personally want to do that to people making that awful commute, but *if* the problem this bridge proposes to fix is congestion, and *if* tolling is the one tool proposed to fix congestion on a new bridge, and *if* we have congestion now, then it follows that tolling could just be done now. If tolling is such an awesome decongestant, let’s spritz some on the current clog.

    Not gonna happen, though, is it? Because there’s not the political will. There would be outrage at such a suggestion. Which leads to the next point:

    2) If it takes political will to toll, what’s to make sure tolling continues in the future?

    Answer: Nothing. The first point at which the will to toll falters, so then does this one means of controlling congestion, induced demand, and sprawling development.

    (BTW, PdxMark, this whole rambling response isn’t aimed at you, it’s just how I get going when I start talking about this stuff. I’m a hoot at parties.)

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  • PdxMark February 27, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    Spencer – I agree with what you say about induced development. I’ve watched it happen all up & down I205 since it opened. And I grew up in the Bay Area, too. There were toll bridges all over the place. Of course, those were intended to pay for the bridges rather than meter traffic volume.

    I’m not advocating 12 lanes. If anything, I guess I’m advocating is discussion of a system to control (toll) traffic on the I5 bridge and the I205 bridge – or whether controlling I205 traffic isn’t also a piece we should be talking about. I think there’s a chance that we here at bikeportland.org could be missing the urban area sprawl & traffic control forest for the number-of-bridge-lanes trees.

    A commission can be founded in a way to keep it operational for a set number of years and to have a mandated purpose. We can dismiss Sam’s plan because we couldn’t trust such a commission. Fine. That’s one position, but maybe we can come up with provisions to keep the Commission on task to avoid this problem. The Columbia River Gorge Commission seems to stay on task, and I think there’s another Commission PacNW Commission on salmon, but I can’t recall its name.

    If people want to reject Sam’s plan out of hand, then I’d still like to hear how they think the I205 bridge doesn’t undercut any tolling that’s implemented on the I5 bridge. I205 tolling won’t happen without wide consensus, and absence of control on I205 will simply steer continued sprawl to the east side of Clark county. Sam’s plan is the first I’ve heard of someone in WA state accepting control (tolling) on I205 (unless I’m reading too much into the role of the Commission.

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  • PdxMark February 27, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    PS I overlooked one thing… As for someplace congestion charging/tolling has worked.. the London congestion charge seems to be working.


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  • a.O February 27, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    Here’s a fascinating excerpt from Mayor Adams’ inaugural address:

    We will do more than just push back on the problems that confront us. Together, we will push ahead. Our goals are tough but doable. Make Portland the greenest city on earth. ….

    We all know which bad habits that contribute to this planet’s potential environmental doom. We rely on a dwindling supply of fossil fuels. Burning them poisons our atmosphere. Our climate is changing faster than experts expected.

    Here’s a silver lining to this toxic cloud: Portland is the ideal starting place for this nation to get serious about environmental sustainability. We can show what’s possible, setting an example the rest of the world can follow. ….

    Portland may be the greenest city in the country. That’s no longer good enough. We aim to be the greenest city on earth. We can do this with thoughtful planning that integrates Portland’s value of sustainability into everything we do.

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  • Hank Sheppard February 27, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    The number of lanes is the only thing that protects Portland’s citizens from being overwhelmed by Clark county’s cancerous development. 14 is just about the right number, and that’s what we have now. What we don’t have now is decent transit connections, decent bike facilities and a decent rideshare system.
    The “tail has been wagging the dog” on this thing from day one…the Clark county commuter alone in their car.

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  • a.O February 27, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    Adams repeated his mantra again today at the City Club:

    Portland is already often ranked as America’s greenest city. We have been the living laboratory for clean technology and sustainable policy and practices. Sometimes we make the world’s top ten most sustainable cities. Now, we will set the goal for Portland to be the most sustainable city in the world. And in doing so we will make Portland the hub for the global green economy.

    He said the words “sustainable” or “sustainability” 36 times (by my count) in his speech today and the word “green” 24 times. Maybe he’s taking the same approach as our former president: If you just say that you don’t torture enough, people will start to believe it. And if you say you’re green and sustainable, you are!

    Or maybe it’s all greenwashing.

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  • Jeff Ong February 27, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    PdxMark & Spencer — thanks for the articulate, rational discussion. Some really interesting and thought-provoking comments on both sides.

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  • PdxMark February 27, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    I remember – the other “commission” is the Northwest Power Planning Council… not that I can remember how well it follows it mandate…

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  • Spencer Boomhower February 27, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    PdxMark, #72 #73

    RE: I205, I feel like when I first heard tolling discussed for the I5 crossing, that it was also mentioned as a given that I205 would have to be tolled, otherwise you’d have massive spillover. But I guess we haven’t heard much on that point lately? Anyway, it makes sense that both would have to be tolled.

    “PS I overlooked one thing… As for someplace congestion charging/tolling has worked.. the London congestion charge seems to be working.”

    That’s a good example.

    Now, in that case, from what little I know about it, the problem was that there were too many cars being crammed into an existing, and antiquated piece of transportation infrastructure: London. So they tolled the traffic to keep it from clogging that infrastructure.

    To me, the most accurate analogy to that scenario with regards to the CRC would be tolling the curent bridge. (Again, not that I’m a booster for that idea, it’s just that I keep returning to the question: “if tolling will do the trick in the future, why not toll now?”)

    However, I think what’s instead being proposed for the CRC would be analogous to: first doubling the traffic capacity of the streets through the middle of London (at massive expense, and to the detriment of anything near those streets that needs to be bulldozed to make room for the new capacity), and only after the dust has settled even thinking about embarking on a program of tolling.

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  • Coyote February 28, 2009 at 11:50 am

    a.O, I think you are confusing “sustainablity” with “sFUstainability” with a silent F. Although the words sound the same, they have different meanings:

    sFUstainabilty focuses on news ways of getting away with the same old shit.

    Sustainability is more introspective, and examines whether the old shit is worthwhile.

    As an attorney, I figured you would be interested in the evolution of our language. 😉

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  • Dave February 28, 2009 at 11:59 am

    Okay, now what part of “using a five gallon funnell to fill a quart jar” don’t these morons understand? This will just allow drivers to hit the Rose Quarter bottleneck faster. Overbuilding the bridge won’t fix anything–enough mass transit, and blatant, aggressive anti-SOV bias in planning would!

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  • Spencer Boomhower February 28, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    If any of you eloquent folks feel like speaking directly to the decision-makers, Monday’s “Think Out Loud” will be on the “State of the City.”


    The guests will be Sam Adams, Randy Leonard, and Vancouver Mayor Royce Pollard.

    I’m thinking there might be some CRC boosterism in the cards, based on that particular configuration of guests.

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  • jim March 1, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    It’s not what it sounds like. There are only 3 lanes of through traffic in each direction. It’s not going to work out in 15 yrs, it will be a congested mess.

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  • Jasun Wurster March 2, 2009 at 12:47 am

    Hi All,

    The call-in radio show starts at 9:00AM

    Then phone number is 1-888-665-5865

    Hold them accountable,


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  • […] February, Adams angered bridge critics by giving his approval to a 12-lane version of the bridge in a City Council vote […]

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