The Worst Day of the Year Ride is February 11th

And then there were 12: CRC rolls on at maximum size

Posted by on March 6th, 2009 at 3:01 pm

As expected, the Columbia River Crossing Project Sponsors Council made their recommendation today that the new I-5 bridge be built with 12 total lanes.

Here’s more from the Portland Business Journal:

“The Columbia River Crossing Project Sponsors Council…wants six lanes in each direction for the replacement bridge, which would also offer bicycle and pedestrian lanes and a light rail line. Another advisory council formed by the group will explore tolling options for the bridge, expected to cost in excess of $4 billion.”

Story continues below


That “advisory council’ is the Columbia Crossing Mobility Council — a group proposed by Portland Mayor Sam Adams and supported by City Council that would have management oversight of bridge traffic.

More on what that oversight might look like from the PBJ:

“.. the new advisory group will study toll rates, auxiliary uses of the bridge, transit management and transportation demand management related to the proposed structure.”

Sarah Mirk from the Portland Mercury made the trek up to Vancouver for the meeting today. In a report just posted on the Mercury blog, she has a quote from Metro Council President David Bragdon about his support for position on a 12 lane bridge:

“When I lose, I’m not going to be a crybaby about it, I’m going to move onto the next step and be constructive and effective in the next effort. If 12 lanes is what the majority wants, we should just move forward as positively as we can.” (*see update at end of story)

Mirk wonders if there’s as much support for 12 lanes as Bragdon assumes. She writes:

Is 12 lanes what the majority wants? On City Council, obviously, but a different kind of majority may turn out for a protest against the 12 lane bridge, April 5th in Waterfront Park.

Just to clarify, the rally planned in Waterfront Park on April 5th isn’t just to “protest against the 12 lane bridge”. From conversations I’ve had with rally organizers, the intention is to voice concerns over the project in general and to propose different options.

However, with milestone decisions like the one made today, it seems like different options are getting less and less likely. But who knows, some people have called the CRC “this generation’s Mt. Hood Freeway“, so I guess anything is possible.

*(UPDATE, 8:38pm): Bragdon left a comment below where he attempts to clarify the quote above:

“I am in favor of the 8 or 10 lane option and that I believe the 12 lane version will likely fill with traffic and cause more congestion elsewhere, especially if not managed. I observed that a MAJORITY OF THE COMMITTEE obviously did not agree with that argument – hence my observation that “I lose” – but that I have to move on to the next step to try to influence things then, rather than just whine about losing on this round.”

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  • Curt Dewees March 6, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    I guess I need some clarification. When they say “12 lanes,” do they mean “12 lanes for motor vehicles” (+ additional amenities for bikes, pedestrians, and light rail)? Or do they mean “12 lanes total”?

    Because 12 lanes TOTAL could mean: 2 lanes for bikes (one each direction), 2 lanes for pedestrians, and 2 lanes for light rail. Leaving 6 lanes for motor vehicles (three each direction). That sounds somewhat fair and reasonable to me.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) March 6, 2009 at 3:18 pm


    the discussion of lanes in this context has nothing to do with bike/ped facilities. That is completely separate conversation…as is light rail.

    BUT, I think what you describe above (a more multi-modal mix of traffic on the bridge) is the vision from Adams’ office. I think they are saying, “go ahead and build the largest bridge possible… but if it turns out to not be needed, than we’ll use the lanes for HOVs, bikes, etc…”

    most people against a big bridge think cars will fill up no matter how many lanes are built… and that any visions of demand management and changing traffic flow via different modes is unlikely.

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  • ean March 6, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    Sounds like a win-win. 12 lanes for motorists and plenty of room for light rail and busses. Keep the amount of cars stuck idle down and the air quality up.

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  • bikieboy March 6, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    Me, I’m a crybaby, especially when I see $4 billion plus about to be wasted. It gives me some hope that a few elected officials (Amanda Fritz, Robert Liberty) seem to see the CRC for the insanity it is.

    See you in Waterfront Park on April 5th.

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  • peejay March 6, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    Wow! I’m encouraged by the free press we’re getting about the April 5th rally. Thanks, Sarah! I believe this shows the widespread opposition to this kind of construction. Not concerned about the rubber-stamp vote today. These people will have to answer to the people eventually. David Bragdon, we will remember what you said.

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  • peejay March 6, 2009 at 3:56 pm


    Do you need the concept of “induced demand” explained to you? Or do you already know, and are just trolling?

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  • ean March 6, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    No I do not need it explained to me. That is just one variable. This is not a finite circumstance.

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  • BURR March 6, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    none of our pols have any cojones at all

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  • the future March 6, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    with full apologies to rather unsophisticated research into the matter i find while floating above i-5 in my digital hot air balloon (aka…google earth) the rather unsettling revelation that heading south into our much beloved city the lacking of a way to continue a journey among 12 glorious lanes.

    with pressure and time the river erodes the banks until it finds the path of least resistance.

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  • metal cowboy March 6, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    As expected, the 12 lane option was rubberstamped at this meeting.
    April 5th Noon Watefront Park – Build Less Bridge CRC Rally. See you there.

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  • a.O March 6, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    See you at the rally. NO CRC!!

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  • metal cowboy March 6, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    Also, this bridge is not funded, cleared environmental impact suits or built yet. And I’m offended that Bragdon thinks he speaks for the majority now, or has he done a community wide poll of everyone to see what the majority actually thinks of this megabridge option.

    BTW, the majority drives single occupancy vehicles but that doesn’t make it the best choice for the planet’s future.

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  • bahueh March 6, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    ~ what 500? people rallying against a bridge the millions will use?

    whatever makes y’all feel better…Portland can no longer stay the small, quaint city it was 20 years ago…this kind of construction will go on with or without a rally.

    seems like folks here are OK with higher living density but not the actual people that come with it….

    12 lanes, 10 lanes, 8 lanes, whatever…the same amount of people are going to sit on I-5 on their daily commute or business no matter the size. induced demand is a ridiculous concept…if I don’t live or have no business in Vancouver or further north, why would i get in my car and drive there? If i do live there or have business, I’m going to go sit in traffic….the number of lanes has little to do with why people are crossing the river.

    as long as there are increased bike lane/capacity and readily availabe MAX…
    who cares. trying to spead some inane fear about our future highways and cities filling up with cars is ridiculous…its already happend.

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  • peejay March 6, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    This is not a finite circumstance.

    No, I’m reasonably sure there’s a finite supply of single occupancy vehicles to fill the bridge, but I bet it’ll fill the 12 lanes to the same level of congestion within 18 months of construction. Thanks for making my case!

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  • David Bragdon March 6, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    You are reading one blog’s report of another blog’s report of what I said. Here’s a more complete version: what I said this morning was that I am in favor of the 8 or 10 lane option and that I believe the 12 lane version will likely fill with traffic and cause more congestion elsewhere, especially if not managed. I observed that a MAJORITY OF THE COMMITTEE obviously did not agree with that argument – hence my observation that “I lose” – but that I have to move on to the next step to try to influence things then, rather than just whine about losing on this round.

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  • Mele March 6, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    I moved back to pdx from la because of the kind of mentality that allows things like 12 lane, self perpetuating traffic jams. I hope this does not actually go through and is not an indication of future transportation projects for the area. I will definitely try to be there on the 5th

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  • peejay March 6, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    Thank you, David, for your clarification. I take it to mean that you voted against the 12-lane option today? If so, we would welcome your presence at the rally on April 5th.

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  • Adam March 6, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    I have priorities such as work that over power attending the upcoming rally, otherwise I would attend. If this is “Our Generation’s Mt. Hood Freeway” then hopefully this one will be like the past and go away. I commute on SE Powell daily and can’t imagine trying to ride around that part of town had there been a massive freeway.

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  • Spencer Boomhower March 6, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    Speaking of majorities…

    I bet a majority of Portlanders, when they figure out what kind of bridge they’ve been sold, are going to be seriously ticked off.

    Sam Adams frequently makes the point that discussions on this thing have been going on for years and years. But who’s been doing the discussing? Mostly people with vested interests in its construction. Many, MANY lobbyists among them.

    The rest of us, well, it hasn’t been so much on our radar. People who rarely make the crossing either tend to think it won’t affect them (either because they don’t realize how much it’ll cost them, or haven’t thought much about the long-term impact of induced demand on their region), or think it’s a done deal (which is part of the PR push the proponants are making, for instance pushing for a solidification of the premature “how many lanes” question ASAP). So there haven’t been compelling reasons for non-crossers to offer their input.

    And I don’t get the impression the decision-makers have been seeking out that input. Which makes sense: it’s more comfortable and confidence-inducing to proceed with the assumption of a solid mandate. Why seek out potential opposition?

    I keep thinking about how the CRC open-houses (which only took place near the project area) had these massive table-sized renderings of the 12-lane bridge. Seen in that form, the scale and sheer ugliness of the thing is breathtaking. Like some monster freeway crawled up from L.A. and belly-flopped on Hayden Island. I keep wondering what the response would be if they took those renderings on the road to all the various neighborhood associations in town. Would the decision-makers start to see cracks form in their assumed mandates?

    Great to see the rally coming together, it’ll really help raise awareness. I’ll definitely be there.

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  • Curt Dewees March 6, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    While I agree (mostly) with #8, I would like to point out that Amanda Fritz was the lone “No” vote when Portland City Council voted to rubber-stamp the 12-lane option. So one could say that Amanda has more “cojones” than all four men on Portland City Council combined.

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  • Racer X March 6, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    So now that they have the 12 lanes…perhaps this new ‘mobility management committee’ can work on making sure the extra capacity is soaked up at the start with a regional (functional) HOV + Freight lane through Portland and Vancouver.

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  • Todd Boulanger March 6, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    Well there is still alot of work to do – as a PBAC member (Pedestrian & Bike Advisory Committee) for the CRC project…we need to get as many bike and pedestrian friendly folks to the transit station workshop in downtown Vancouver (10 March) Red Lion Hotel.

    The meeting location is at the foot of the bridge – a 10 minute bike ride from the MAX Expo station.

    The Vancouver MAX system’s station areas need your input (as experienced bicyclists with MAX) as how to make them function well and attract southbound commuters to leave their cars at home.


    Transit Workshop
    March 2009
    A neighborhood workshop will be held to gather public input about light rail station design in Vancouver’s downtown. The workshop will focus on how light rail stations can:

    Fit into city streets,
    Function for all users, and
    Be integrated with the look and feel of downtown Vancouver.

    Tuesday, March 10, 2009
    6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
    Red Lion Hotel Vancouver at the Quay
    100 Columbia Street, Vancouver, WA 98660
    For transit information: or 360-695-0123

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  • metal cowboy March 6, 2009 at 6:28 pm


    Thanks for setting the record straight. I should have come directly to you for your full statement rather than reading a report from a report. As I understand it you are in favor of less bridge and you will be moving forward from here to try to influence the powers that be in that direction. I hope you will come out to the April 5th rally.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) March 6, 2009 at 8:40 pm


    I have edited the story. I apologize if I have furthered a mischaracterization of your position on this project.

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  • q`Ztal March 6, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    Maybe the next step is introduce the Columbia Crossing Mobility Council to the concept of “Induced Demand”.

    This won’t work unless the public at large can be shown that the problems of induced demand are not imaginary but happen most of the time.

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  • q`Ztal March 6, 2009 at 10:07 pm

    program better in C++ than html

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  • jim March 6, 2009 at 11:57 pm

    12 is a big number- 3 lanes each way is what we will get for through traffic, same as now. the big thing city council wants is light rail that serves 1/2 of 1% of the population. Billions of dollars spent foolishly. Portland taxpayers should have a vote on spending this much money.

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  • peejay March 7, 2009 at 9:20 am

    Well there is still alot of work to do- as a PBAC member (Pedestrian & Bike Advisory Committee) for the CRC project…

    Todd, if you’re OK with your role as the window dressing on this project, fine. Don’t expect us to help. If a 12-lane bridge is built, no amount of bike and pedestrian facilities can make up for the damage it will do to my city and region, and I don’t wish to be involved in it. That you cannot see that you are being played is sad.

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  • Randy March 7, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    Big lanes = big cars = big pollution = big healthcare costs. Portland will remain pseudo-green until we get more human powered transport, clean up the Willamette, and attend to our dirty air problem.

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  • Kevin Wagoner March 7, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    I haven’t seen someone use crybaby for a long time. Toll, toll, toll.

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  • bahueh March 7, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    Randy…our dirty air problem?
    I used to work for the PDX DEQ…we actually have some of the cleanest air in the country…and it continues to get better across many measures, including PM10 and PM2.5…

    Also, not sure what these big healthcare costs are you’re referring to…there is one study by Lewis and Clark about 10-12 years ago finding a slightly higher prevalence of asthma along the N. PDX I-5 corridor….but that’s about it…one study…one time…one research team…one health outcome.

    got any more “facts” you’d like to share?

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  • Anonymous March 8, 2009 at 8:52 am

    When a car is moving down the freeway at 55 mph it is running at its most efficiant speed. Any time you let up or press on the gas it decreeses that effeciency if you are in stop and go traffic that is what really causes the most possible pollution and uses the most gas. To start a car from a dead stop it pumps out a lot of unburned gas, if you do that every 30 ft it is just creating tons of air pollution. At 55 mph a car cruising at a steady speed only needs 15 horsepower to maintain that speed. Why would anybody want to make cars use more gas and make more pollution? Only an selfish angry cyclist would think this way. Use your head and don’t play sad

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  • Dennis Bley March 8, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    Lots of people against, and lots of big money for it. I cannot get a clear picture of who all the players are, and where the key points for intervention remain. Any chance on an article to help guide the willing? I need a cohesive stategy to dedicate my limited resources to key junctures. Think Spartans vs the Persians.

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  • bike militia March 8, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    This project has got to be stopped, and stopped right now.

    Make no mistake: we are talking about nothing less than making every mile of freeway in Portland into an LA-style 12-lane nightmare.

    All this horseshit about “build a 12-lane sized bridge and see what happens” is exactly that: horseshit.

    I for one will not sit idly by while a bunch of assholes with their heads stuck in the 1950s try to turn Portland into southern California.

    I know that the people who conceived the April 5 event are calling it a “rally”, but the time for rallies was last year.

    If we want a snowball’s chance in hell at stopping the 12-lane, butt ugly, concrete mega bridge to Vancouver from being built, we are going to have to do something that Portland seems to have almost forgotten how to do:


    See you there!

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  • Opus the Poet March 8, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    There is still one thing that can stop the CRC. There is a process where inhabitants in an affected area can sue to stop a project based on harm done to their quality of life, being an economic taking that was not compensated monitarily. I’m taking about traffic jams downstream of the bridge, and high levels of traffic at all hours from the 12 lanes feeding from the Portland side of the bridge, and dumping into neighborhoods.

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  • Anonymous March 8, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    there aren’t 12 lanes, only 3 lanes each direction

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  • Suzanne March 9, 2009 at 7:49 am

    Bike militia, I like how you think! Good to know some people are on the right track.

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  • metal cowboy March 9, 2009 at 9:37 am

    Aonymous – Stop posting messages until you get your facts straight.

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  • Randy March 9, 2009 at 10:30 am

    Bahueh. When cars idle or go slow they create they pollution. On any day in Portland big rigs and buses can be found idling downtown, on I-5, and on 205. Take a walk or bicycle in downtown Portland and you can almost taste the diesel exhaust. Increased diesel particulates are associated respiratory problems. Anytime a bus stops it creates pollution from the exhaust and brake pad dust. I get my Portland air data from Hope this helps. My point is there is alot more we can do to clean up our air and water. Vehicles can be ranked by the pollution they produce. Here are a few examples. The miles a big rig truck would have to travel in to emit the same amount of diesel soot as the corresponding construction related vehicles in one hour of operation: Bulldozer-1,433, Excavator-1,144, Rubber tired loader-1,126, Tractor or backhoe-972. Source: Oregon DEQ 2007

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  • Anonymous March 11, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    Is right, 3 through lanes each way

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  • Brahman March 12, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    Bridge tolls should be tied to the number of lanes. 12 lanes then 12 bucks round trip. A smaller 10 lane bridge then 10 bucks round trip. That would let commuters pay their fair share of the construction cost.

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  • Randy March 15, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    The problem I see with the bridge plans so far is this…. People are claiming that it will help reduced congestion , yet if you look at most other cities when the freeways are widened within about a 5 year span people move FARTHER AWAY from the city centers due to things like cheaper rent, “Better Neighborhoods” and oh lets see…. NO STATE INCOME TAX! IF this bridge gets built people are going to move further and further into Washington to save on housing costs and taxes. Of Course if they are still working here then there are still some tax considerations( if I understand the tax issues between the two states properly: if not someone please correct this) and of course piling into Oregon to do the no sales-tax shopping. I say we just but a toll booth up and charge people to cross the bridge. It will create additional revenue for the states / cities and will have a small but measurable effect on the amount of traffic. It would certainly encourage more people to car pool where applicable.

    Just my 2 cents.

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  • Randy March 15, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    And there is already tollbooth technology that will photograph their license plate and send them a bill for the toll. There are several toll roads in North Texas that have no actually tollbooths that you have to stop at. They just send you a bill. So it wouldn’t even slow down traffic or cause more congestion due to slowing.


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