The Portland Tribune reports that U.S. Congressman Peter DeFazio has spoken out against current plans for the Columbia River Crossing (CRC) project.
Echoing a popular sentiment around the project these days, DeFazio — who chairs the all-important House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee — told the Tribune that “What has been designed so far is sort of the optimal project, and we can’t afford that.”
What’s been “designed so far” is a 12-lane, $4.2 billion project that includes not just a new bridge over the river but several very expensive new interchanges on both sides.
On the topic of those interchanges, DeFazio also told the Tribune that a priority should be put on “throughput” traffic — meaning the actual crossing of the river as opposed to building/improving interchanges leading up to the river.
no to the CRC is much more
politically acceptable these days.
DeFazio also said that the project must have light-rail and tolls to be feasible. Sound familiar? That’s because Portland Mayor Sam Adams said essentially the same thing in his news-making announcement about the project last month.
With DeFazio’s remarks, the CRC project as it’s currently planned, will almost certainly face major changes in the coming months. There is talk of going back to the drawing board and figuring out how to budget about half of the currently proposed funds.
Metro Councilor Rex Burkholder shared recently that talks are already underway as to how best to trim just over $2 billion off the current price tag. Most likely, as DeFazio alluded to in his comments, most of the budget will be cut by doing away with planned interchanges (now let’s watch how Oregon and Washington fight over which side gives up on theirs).
As support erodes for the current CRC project, there’s an opportunity for someone (or some organization) to pick up the pieces and lead a new discussion for how best to cross the river in the future. Who will it be? As Mayor Adams said recently, “the ground has recently shifted” on this project. Now it’s a matter of who’s left standing and in what position.
(DeFazio CRC comments first seen on Portland Mercury blog.)