What would YOU do with $4 billion? Have your say at the CRC Brewhaha Thursday

CRC Rally-132

Brother, can you spare $4 billion?
(Photos © J. Maus)

If you had $4 billion to spend on transportation, what would you do?

Come join our very own Jonathan Maus at tomorrow night (Thursday, May 7) at 7:00pm at Roots Organic Brewery at 1520 SE 7th Ave for a game show-style debate over what kinds of projects we could fund with the Columbia River Crossing’s projected $4 billion price tag. The event, called Brewhaha: Let’s Make a Deal, will bring together representatives of various non-automobile transportation modes to debate how such a sum of money could be spent.

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1000 Friends is organizing this evening game show style event, hosted by 1000 Friends Executive Director Bob Stacey, in association with theOregon Bus Project, Transportation for America, and the Portland Mercury.

The audience will learn about transportation funding and projects, have some fun, and spend an imaginary $4 billion in “Transpo-bucks” on their choice of bike boulevards, light rail, paving unimproved roads, better signaling, reducing bus fares, paying bus drivers, bike path improvements…you name it!


Mara Gross of CLF will speak
about highway modernization.

Debaters include Mara Gross of the Coalition for a Livable Future (CLF), who will be talking about highway modernization; Chris Smith of portlandtransport.com will be talking about buses and rapid transit; Rep. Nick Kahl (D-East Portland) will be talking about Oregon’s plans for high speed and intercity rail; and BikePortland’s Maus will be talking about how a much lesser investment could be enough to turn Portland into a truly world class bicycling city.

The debate will end with a Q&A and transit-funding brainstorming session, so bring your ideas. CLF will also be leading a CRC letter-writing session for those interested, tentatively titled, “Bigger is Not Better” or “Yo Leg, 12 Lanes is Wack.”

The CRC is facing some impressively large hurdles at the state and federal level, and debate over the size of the project continues here in Portland despite local officials’ acquiescence to the project.

Meanwhile, advocates for cheaper, smaller alternatives are just getting warmed up. The hilarious “Have we got a bridge to sell you” video campaign and last month’s rally in Waterfront Park are only the start. We’ll update you soon on more direct action being taken by opponents of the CRC over the Memorial Day weekend — there are some large scale, exciting plans in the works.

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15 years ago

$4 billion is a lot to spend on easing the pain of a group of people who chose to live where and work where they do knowing full well what kind of commute they had when they started.

Shouldn’t money be spent on those who are willing to step up and make responsible choices about where they live, and how they get to work?

I personally am sick of subsidizing the externalized costs of other peoples’ irresponsible lifestyle decisions while I am called out for being “selfish” for riding my bike.

Let’s spend that $4billion the right way, and show our politicians how it’s done.

Sam, we’re talking to you!

Jim Lee
Jim Lee
15 years ago

Just want you to know that Goldman Sachs, Merritt Paulson’s dad’s outfit, announced a $4.5 billion executives’ bonus pool for the first QUARTER of 2009.

And Sam and Randy cannot suck up to the rich kid from the big city fast enough and shower him with our hard earned cash for his flakey soccer and baseball teams.

Here is my proposal: Randy and Sam get the Paulson family to pay for CRC out of petty cash!

metal cowboy
15 years ago

I’ll be there – and We’ll be announcing dates, times and location for the Commuter Awareness Campaign Against the CRC taking place at I-5 overpasses throughout the months of May and June. Elly’s gonna give you guys the 411 in an official article and I’ll be roundinh up an army of the willing to help.

Racer X
Racer X
15 years ago

With the $4.2b – do not forget the options of providing good schools in Portland (so they do not have to move north) and good jobs in Vancouver.

15 years ago

Where were you people when your local and regional governments were debating the number of lanes in question? Not providing meaningful support for an alternative to 12 lanes.

You had company too. Your local NGOs were no-shows too; CLF, 1000 Friends of Oregon, OLCV were nowhere on this issue. CLF tried, but they were inept. 1000 friends and OLCV have more muscle, but they were nowhere. The BTA? Got played by the DOTs, just like the environmental justice folks.

Whining about the mayor is frivolous and misplaced. You didn’t have his back (or Bragdon’s) when he was facing entrenched support for 12 lanes from:

– Governor Ted Kulongoski;
– Vancouver Mayor Royce Pollard;
– Clark County Commissioner Steve Stuart;
– TriMet General Manager Fred Hansen;
– City Commissioner Randy Leonard;
– every build-anything-for-the-paycheck union in town;
– ODOT Director Matt Garrett;
– WDOT Director Paula Hammond;

And yet now you whine. Pluhleaze. Good decisions don’t happen in a political vacuum. Hell, give Adams some credit; the active management thing he proposed is radically progressive. Nothing like it in this country. Chances of it actually happening might be remote, but he’s trying.

You ought to be directing your concerns to your local state legislators and the congressional delegation. These are the people with the power to refocus this project. If you follow the project – instead of just following the drama around the project – you’ll get this.

Harsh? Maybe. Accurate? Yes.

15 years ago

first step in stopping the bridge would be to recall Sam, When is the 100 days up? Let’s reform Portland screwed up govt.. Let’s get our priorities straight, public safety, education, take care of our basic needs first. Don’t close police precincts and then spend truckloads of money tearing down memorial coliseum so we can build a new baseball park (yes-we allready have one) and front soccer money that we will never get paid back. Lets wait and build a bridge when we have a more level headed mayor thats not out to bury us in debt for the next 100 yrs.. No Sam gold plated statue on this bridge

Mike B.
Mike B.
15 years ago

directed @ comment #1 –
Your bike riding may not be “selfish” but your comments certainly sound self righteous. Who are you to say what is the right place to live or the correct way to get to said destination?

Matt Picio
15 years ago

jim (#6) – Well, that would be one step, yes, but as someone recently pointed out to me the last time I butted in on this, there is more than one way to stop CRC. ATB2 brings up some very good points. Some on this list (peejay, Metal Cowboy and Joe Rowe come to mind) have been against CRC from the very beginning, and have put substantial effort into fighting it at local, state and federal levels. Focusing solely on Sam Adams makes the issue about Sam, not about the bridge.

ATB2, what you say is in large part true, but the BTA has reversed its decision, and has put resources behind steering the debate in policy wonk circles. I’m glad to have them following the direction of their membership, and joining the fight. It would have been better if they’d done that from the beginning, but I think they’re doing the right thing and I’d like to give them credit for what they’re doing *now*. We can wish the past were different, and I think we *should* point out to these groups what they could have done better, but perhaps it would be more effective if we did that *after* the 12-lane CRC is defeated.

15 years ago

So I get off the bus on N. Williams yesterday around 5:45PM. There are 8 cars behind the bus. I waited to count 6 of them with Washington license plates. All one occupant per car. I don’t think they were all leaving a meeting at Vendetta so I assume they were circumventing traffic on I-5. What’s going to happen when we encourage sprawl in Clark County and more commuting with 6 lanes into two and vice versa?

Toll the bridges now!

15 years ago

What residents of Portland need to remember is:

This bridge is not for Vancouver. It’s for the sprawl areas that have built up outside of Vancouver. This will allow new areas to be built up, all the way to Woodland and Kelso. The reality is, this bridge will do more damage to Vancouver, that anyone realizes. It will dominate the skyline, and bypass much of downtown. The result will be a downtown vancouver, that is merely a blur on the way through.

Remember, This bridge is not that popular with Vancouver residents either. They will toll the bridge, and it will be an eyesore. The jobs it creates will be short term, transitory jobs, most of which will be employees from out of town.

Frankly, the commute isn’t that bad at the moment. The worst part is the two lane stretch after Delta Park. That part is being modified now to three lanes. Once light rail is brought through to Vancouver, many people will be using that instead. That should make three lanes per direction plenty.

15 years ago

Dennis, thank you for your intelligent comments from the Vancouver point of view. I just hope what you said about the bridge not being that popular with Vancouverites is true, because all the negative effects of this monstrosity that you mentioned certainly are. This thing is absolutely just as damaging to Vancouver as it is to Portland. Seems to me that all the positive steps Vancouver has been taking recently to support bicycling will be for naught if this project gets built on the proposed scale.

And ATB2#5 – No, I won’t give Adams credit. Not when he campaigned on the concept of “building the smallest bridge possible”, and then turns around and gives the green light to the biggest bridge possible about a month after entering office. And his mobility council? “Pluhleaze” yourself. Thats a joke.

And also “You ought to be directing your concerns to your local state legislators and the congressional delegation.” Well, that is exactly what the people who have decided to stand up against this thing have been doing. Here is one of the responses I have received back from my SW Portland State Rep:

Dear Ms. Marcoe,
Thanks for writing. I am currently formulating my position on this issue. I will support a project only if it meets both high transparency and environmental stewardship standards. Your thoughts will help me make a decision. I’ll weigh your ideas along with opinions from other SW Portlanders.


Mary Nolan

State Representative (SW Portland)

House Majority Leader

15 years ago

ABT2, it’s easy to hurl anonymous insults; it’s a lot harder to move the entrenched interests.

We were certainly disappointed that our work and the work of countless others were unsuccessful in stopping local approval of the 12 lane project, but collectively we have had a significant impact on what has always been a huge, uphill battle.

Your point that folks should focus on state and federal leaders is good. Rather than attack our partners, let’s put our energy into that.

Good people to contact are:

(1) Your state legislator. You might want to thank them for removing the $30 Million in CRC funding from the transportation bill and ask them not to fund the project elsewhere in the budget; and

(2) your federal legislator, asking them not to fund the CRC in the transportation package.

We’re spearheading a letter writing party at Roots immediately following the BrewHaHa. If you can’t make it, you can find your legislators here:

Joel Batterman
Joel Batterman
15 years ago

ATB2 (#5),

Mara refrained from pointing it out, but while your comments are indeed harsh, as you say, they are not accurate. Saying the NGOs were “nowhere” just isn’t true. 1000 Friends executive director Bob Stacy testified against the megabridge this summer, and CLF was responsible for mobilizing most of the opposition earlier this year.

That’s not to say I wouldn’t have liked to see a significantly bigger push than there was. Certainly would have liked to see a lot more of our side at those January and February hearings. Given our numbers there, I agree that it’s not hard to see why Bragdon and Adams decided to capitulate, especially given Adams’ precarious situation. But that doesn’t shake my belief that while elected leaders draw power from supporters, they also have a personal responsibility to lead.

You’re entirely right, however, that complaining about Adams (who, despite my anger over the bridge, remains one of our strongest advocates of sustainable transportation) serves little purpose at this stage. It’s time to take things to the state and the feds, where things have been looking pretty encouraging. Hope to see you at tonight’s festivities.

Spencer Boomhower
15 years ago

This was a great event, and not just because of the beer! I didn’t know what to expect going in, but someone did a fine job of making it both fun and informative.

And FYI, my many millions went all-in for bike stuff.

15 years ago

Decent feedback. Some get it, some don’t. That’s life.

If you’re contacting your state legislator and federal representative, you’re doing what you can on an individualized basis. Cool. If you’re spending all the time you allot yourself for these issues to fume on the internet you’re wasting your time. Sorry- facts can be harsh.

Mara Green: we’d welcome an internal review of CLF’s relative effectiveness on the CRC. I support CLF and its mission, and I stand by my conclusion that CLF’s advocacy to date has been inept. Detail your organization’s “significant contribution.” You couldn’t even keep your two most sympathetic voters on your message, Adams and Bragdon.

And how about Hansen? He got his light rail line and he’s done. He’s been no help whatsoever. Hansen isn’t dumb; he recognized early that “climate smart” bridge types like CLF were playing a game where the dealer (ODOT and WDOT) stacked the deck. He’s been a mercenary; he took his LRT victory and cashed in his chips. Nice work, Fred. Too bad there’s no leadership. But you guys let all these people off the hook, except for Adams, the whipping boy du jour.

Don’t worry about whether a commenter chooses anonymity, or whether a commenter calls out weak advocacy. Focus on the accuracy of the comment.

Bob Stacey is experienced and shrewd. Bob Stacey would surely admit his organization’s efforts to derail a 12-lane disaster have been nearly non-existent.

If you’re Joe Blow, testifying once (or maybe twice) is terrific advocacy. You don’t hold Bob Stacey, the 1000 Friends ED and all-around Oregon land use lion, to that standard. Some speculate 1000 Friends kept its head low on CRC in exchange for support in the pending state transportation funding package. That’s a deal with the devil; that package gets smaller and less progressive every day. Ask Dave Hunt.

The BTA flip flop is a joke. I’m sorry, but giving them credit now. Huh? A bunch of their membership started screaming. In response they condemned 12 lanes. And so what?

The mobility council concept is indeed a long shot. But I’m willing to bet 95% of you cannot meaningfully articulate what it is. It hasn’t been meaningfully covered in the press so I can understand why you’d have little understanding. But somewhere in life you probably learned of the danger of hating what you don’t know.

It’s a damn bold idea. Adams is full of bold ideas, some good some bad. This is a good one. It’s not a substitute for a bridge with fewer than 12 lanes, but it’s a good idea. Read about it; you’ll agree.

12 lanes has become this proxy for everything wrong in the region. I get that. It’s an easy target. And Adams definitely deserves scrutiny for his switch, particularly in light of the timing around the scandal.

The Metal Cowboy spoof videos are fun, but one year too late. Sure, better late than never. I’m glad they’re being done. But the fact is, that type of thing could have made a difference on lanes – had it existed when the conversation was taking place.

Individuals get involved on their own timelines, but the NGOs are at the table. The NGOs should have been organizing this type of thing from the get go. CLF’s Mara Green says CRC advocacy “has always been a huge, uphill battle.” If you’ve known that, you should have organized this guerrilla/grassroots stuff a year ago, not now.

Seriously, you’re drank beer tonight at Roots preaching to the choir. Must be tough. You should be in Vancouver organizing the revolt. They have to vote on LRT, you’ll recall. That’s your window.

If you really hate this project, encourage Vancouver to vote down LRT. Fact: No LRT no project. Based on where we’re at today, that’s what I say: kill the project. There’s a method to this madness: do your homework on Greater Seattle bike/transit funding over the last five years.

All of my carping can be boiled down to this: there has been no meaningful proactive strategy. And now we’re all paying the price. Know your friends, know your enemies, and strike first. I’ve made my point; chat amongst yourselves.

15 years ago

Why does it cost $4b to build this bridge when France just built the tallest bridge in the world for a mere half billion?:


15 years ago


Your bike riding may not be “selfish” but your comments certainly sound self righteous. Who are you to say what is the right place to live or the correct way to get to said destination?

The fact is that there are consequences to where you live and where you work. In many cases, the choices are limited. As for the correct way to get to said destination, I’m proud of my “self-righteousness” there. Anybody who wants to drive a car, hey, it’s a free country. But the fact is that the infrastructure that supports that car use is subsidized by everybody, including people who do not use cars. I argue that monies be spent to support other transit modes in proportion to their mode share, or even – universe forbid! – to induce demand for a greater mode share of transit modes that are better for the health of our environment and communities.

If my pointing this out insults you, then by all means, be insulted. And please go ahead and formulate an argument that shows how cars and far-flung suburbs are valueless lifestyle decisions that are not without consequences.