Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

CRC project moves forward; advocates push back

Posted by on August 9th, 2010 at 4:42 pm

CRC project meeting-10

Mayor Adams and Metro President David
Bragdon at today’s meeting.
(Photos © J. Maus)

A key group of elected officials and transportation bigwigs from Oregon and Washington convened this morning and agreed to adopt a major set of recommendations that will move the Columbia River Crossing project forward. The Project Sponsors Council unanimously agreed to push ahead on a 10-lane bridge and also agreed on significant changes to the Hayden Island interchange.

With Portland Mayor Sam Adams and Metro President David Bragdon saying they support a 10-lane bridge and a recent report by the Independent Review Panel calling for something to be done “sooner than later,” momentum seems to be surging for the project. But while Project Sponsors Council members congratulated each other today for making headway and healing some of the wounds of controversy that have plagued the project in the past, a coalition of environmental, public health, and bicycling advocates issued a statement making it clear they are still not happy with the direction of the project.

“… the current proposal would create congestion in the Rose Quarter and I-205, increase global warming pollution from cars and trucks, worsen air quality, and decrease bicycle and pedestrian safety.”
— From a statement signed by the BTA and other transportation and health advocacy groups

In a statement, the coalition — which includes the Bicycle Transportation Alliance — says the CRC “megaproject” is “overly expensive and completely out of line with Oregon’s vision for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

At today’s meeting, BTA advocacy manager Gerik Kransky sat in the crowd and listened to experts rattle off a host of benefits that would come with building a new 10-12 lane bridge.

Counter to what the BTA and other land-use and health groups have been saying for years, a recent modeling exercise done by Metro showed that building a 12-lane bridge with light rail and a $2 peak-period toll would not result in sprawl. (With tolls, the study found that Clark County would have a negligible increase in household growth compared to 0.7% growth without tolls.)

CRC project meeting-4

Signs outside today’s meeting.

Katy Brooks from the Port of Portland shared details on an analysis of travel times and number of accidents with and without a new bridge. Currently, traveling north during the evening commute from the Morrison Bridge exit in Portland to 99th Street in Vancouver would take over 45 minutes. With a new 10-12 bridge, by 2030, the estimated travel time would be around 20 minutes — less than half of what it is today. Brooks also said that, given expected growth, there would be about 750 crashes along the project corridor by 2030 if no new bridge was built, but with a new bridge that number would drop to just 240 crashes.

After hearing these numbers and despite Mayor Adams supporting a 10-lane bridge, the BTA remains unconvinced that it’s necessary. The BTA’s Kranksy wrote via Twitter during the meeting that while he appreciates Adams’ desire for a smaller bridge, “a 10-lane permanent bridge is still massive.” (Note: Adams has said he’s still interested in discussing an 8-lane option, but hasn’t had time to do the full analysis.)

As momentum builds around the project, the BTA will have to lobby and build resistance from outside the process. Last August, former BTA staffer Michelle Poyourow decided to walk away from the project after feeling their concerns were not being taken seriously. Kransky told me today they have no intention of officially re-engaging with the project and that they’ll be looking to publish op-eds in The Oregonian and issue a more detailed position statement later this month.

The BTA and other advocacy groups will have plenty of time to mount their campaigns against the current direction of the CRC. While there was significant progress and agreement at the meeting today, major hurdles — such as binding decisions on the bridge’s design, how it will be governed and who will pick up the estimated $3.6 billion tab — remain elusive.

— Read our past CRC coverage here.

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

  • david....no! the other one August 9, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    Another goverment boon-doggle looking for local political affirmation, supplying photo back slapping for campaign support(and backroom money handshaking)

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  • Joe Rowe August 9, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    Another $42 million was just spent by the US Senate. Add that to the $100 million spent in the past.

    The resulting sales pitch: We have to build this bridge or we would waste all that money to plan it.

    The only way to stop the CRC: Convert the BTA from a 401c3 into a 401c4, and begin to lead a real anti-CRC campaign, working with local churches, groups, endorse people for office, and rat out pro CRC “environmentalists” like the phony Tina Kotek. Flood her phones until she is pissed.


    Beware of groups who say they oppose the CRC. The CLF is in the pants of pro-CRC folks. The CLF showed up at a CRC rally and hijacked the clipboards. They don’t urge the list of 500 activits who showed up to call Kotek or anyone. The CLF just sends email updates. Yawn.

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  • Gerik August 9, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    Thanks for covering today’s meeting Jonathan.

    Just to clarify the BTA’s strategy going forward, yes, we are in fact working on a more detailed policy position around issues related to the CRC.

    However, we may choose to re-engage with the Project Sponsors Council or related governing entity at a later date. Considering the short shrift we were given during our previous round of engagement, this is not likely unless we are sure that our concerns will be reflected in the final project.

    Also, we will be looking for opportunities to engage members and supporters in direct advocacy in support of a project more in line with our vision.

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  • Joe Rowe August 9, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    My comment was deleted. Please explain.

    Joe, your comment was not deleted. As I’ve explained to you in the past, sometimes comments get caught in the spam filter. I found yours there and I pushed it through. cheers. –Jonathan

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  • Joe R. August 9, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    There’s no way that the commute time from Morrison Bridge to 99th Street would ever be just 20 minutes, even with this project.. common sense will tell you that the increased capacity at the river crossing will encourage more driving on I-5 further up and downstream of the improvements, resulting in more congestion elsewhere and offsetting any travel time savings in the vicinity of the $3.6 billion bridge project. Unless there’s a desire to widen I-5 through Rose Quarter, we shouldn’t be attempting to widen I-5 to this size at the Columbia River. How many $3.6 billion dollar projects do we expect to afford between now and 2030?

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  • beth h August 9, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    The Portland metro area is GROWING.
    More people are moving here, in spite of brutal unemployment and a shortage of affordable housing.

    And guess what? Most of them are still bringing their CARS with them.

    Short of enacting legislation to prevent people from moving here, there is NOTHING that can be done, except to anticipate the growth and to PLAN for it.

    You don’t plan for a doubling of our regional population —


    –by building a 4-lane Interstate Bridge. At this point in our growth cycle, that would ALMOST be like tearing down the existing bridge wholesale and demanding that everyone use ferries to cross the Columbia River.

    I’m not happy about a 12- or even a 10-lane bridge, but unless someone out there has a watertight plan for secession from the Union I’m not sure what else can be done here without increasing gridlock and anger.

    Serious, realistic ideas, anyone?

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  • Gregg Woodlawn August 9, 2010 at 6:13 pm


    If there was a proposal to build another six lane bridge (That matches the width on both sides of the bridge) but had MAX on it, and tolls, and a bike/ ped bridge that was even better to ride than the east bank esplanade, I’d listen further.

    Any more than six lanes will only cause bottlenecks on both sides. The CRC would be an irresponsible use of funds (there isn’t a funding source for the bridge anyways.) It is an environmental disaster. The current bridge is fine. If you want to fix a bridge, fix the Sellwood Bridge.

    The CRC proposal is a horrible idea.
    Nobody wants this bridge other than the company that would get paid to build it (And their puppet politicians)

    More Lanes = More Cars = More Climate Change. STOP THE CRC

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  • gus August 9, 2010 at 6:20 pm


    This should be old ground in the debate.
    You dedicate lanes to freight, you establish congestion and usage based tolling, you provide viable public transit alternatives and you don’t plan as though all incomers will be driving across the bridge at rush hour.

    You then don’t need a massively inflated bridge project that will transfer the congestion burden to other points in the system (the Rose Quarter).

    And it’s a heck of a lot cheaper too.

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  • Gregg Woodlawn August 9, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    Serious, realistic ideas, Beth?

    Let’s get off the oil addiction as a region. Great cities of the world have great public transit. They are less car dependent. 3.6 Billion would send MAX and streetcar to communities metrowide with enough money left over to give all residents free rides for the next 20 years…OR YOU CAN BUILD A 5 MILE LONG BRIDGE TO VANTUCKY? This is Bullshit!

    I can imagine that NYC had similar discussions back in the day of whether to build pro-car or pro-person. I vote pro person.

    If the bridge was about getting trucks around, we would start tolling the I-5 and I-205 immediately, and give one lane all of the way across (24 hours a day) to car poolers and truckers and busses and not charge those folks a toll.

    142 million has been spent just PLANNING this 10 lane 5 mile long bridge?

    Math folks- please correct me: but wouldn’t that only be 0.0394% of the 3,600,000,000 it would cost to build this thing? Let’s get out before we get any more invested.

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  • spare_wheel August 9, 2010 at 6:26 pm

    If congestion is a problem then tolls on the current bridge would seem to make sense.

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  • Spencer Boomhower August 9, 2010 at 6:50 pm


    “If congestion is a problem then tolls on the current bridge would seem to make sense.”

    Maybe, but only if you can retain the political will to keep tolls in place.

    With a megabridge crossing providing way more capacity than the segments of freeway it connects, and nothing but tolls holding back induced travel, it sets up a situation in which some future politician can run (and win) on a platform of striking down those tolls.

    We’ve already seen that being against tolls even being enacted is a winning platform. Imagine the points a political could score being the hero who promises to get rid of tolls once and for all?

    Why not just keep the capacity of the crossing consistent with the capacity of the connecting freeways? Anything more than that is a lot of arterial connections built to accommodate local traffic.

    Like that, but waaaaay more expensive.

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  • jim August 9, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    After all of the work is done there will still only be 3 through lanes in each direction, we aren’t gaining anything. Sam Adams isn’t helping any either

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  • matthew vilhauer August 9, 2010 at 7:06 pm

    a new bridge? bring it on!!!!

    way too much money has already been spent without even breaking ground. as a concerned taxpayer seeing the dollar loose it’s value and costs going up constantly we can ill afford to delay construction of such a regionally pivital piece of infastructure. if the port of portland with it’s relation to over the road and rail connections were not on the I-5 corridor i would certainly reconsider my position. and for those of you out there that believe tolling is a viable option to substantially decrease commuter and truck traffic please don’t delude yourselves. unless mass transit (bus and light rail)is vasty improved there will be little incentive or option for drivers to get out of their cars. increased otr costs will also be paid by end consumers, yup.. you and me. tolling will have the greatest negative effect those who can least afford the increased costs of goods and services affected by tolls as well.

    personally i just want a wide well lit bike route. the current bridge is dangerous beyond all reason. how about a pathway for lower speed vehicles (ie. small electric and gas scooters) too. they currently use the existing mup (illegally) and amplify the dangers we face on the bridge as cyclists and pedestrians. haven’t heard anything about provisions for them egh? with gas and transportation costs going up there will only be an increase in the use of these types of vehicles.

    portland will also be forced to deal with the outdated interstate freeway system into downtown as well… or neighborhoods that parallel I-5 will bear the brunt of not doing so. about damn time. it’s called progress folks. for years i was oppesed to light rail moving into vancouver but in the past few years having rode max (yea a friend called me out on that one) i’m sold. the only bad part of light rail extending into vancouver is that there is no plan to extend light rail past the hwy 500/I-5 interchange and out to the 134th st park and ride where it would have the greatest benefit.

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  • Joe Rowe August 9, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    Matthew #13

    quote: way too much money has already been spent without even breaking ground. as a concerned taxpayer

    my reply: Wasting money on a bad plan is not a reason to justify more waste to build a bad plan.

    Let’s wake up: Interstate 5 is only 2 lanes in central Portland. From the Rose Quarter to OMSI.

    Given the real bottlenecks, what good is adding 2 lanes to the 3 existing lanes at the river?

    Answer: Allow more sprawl commuters over the bridge and on to streets used by pedestrians, bikes, local freight etc. This is really going to kill local small business freight in favor of interstate freight and sprawl.

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  • KWW August 9, 2010 at 7:30 pm

    Last I checked, this is not an agrarian society, I am all for the bridge. Your food, clothes and consumer products almost certainly come from somewhere else – and if you ride a Chinese bike, don’t even think of complaining.

    As for the BTA, what a Hindenburg they pulled, by removing themselves from the process. It is so incredulous that they would do that, it almost seems as if it was malfeasance.

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  • Red Five August 9, 2010 at 7:52 pm

    How many of you Adams voters are gonna stick with your boy now?

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  • matthew vilhauer August 9, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    joe evidently your “bad plan” is something i can not only live with but would welcome. did you get to the part in my comment about portland having to address their outdated freeway system? evidently not. please take a bit of time to re-read my entire posting.

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  • Stop planning for growth August 9, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    Stop having babies. Most of the bloody arguments in politics – and everything finds a home in politics – come down to growth. Just don’t do it.

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  • Johnnie Olivan August 9, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    $4,000,000,000, I can almost realize the difference between millions and billions. C.R.C. – not very resourceful, quite wasteful and smelly

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  • beth h August 9, 2010 at 10:38 pm

    @ Gus (@8) and Greg (#9):

    I would love to see us create toll roads and designate lanes for specific purposes. I would also LOVE to see us get clear of our oil addiction. But I think that both of those visions are a tough sell these days.

    a. You’ve got the “don’t-tread-on-me” folks who would rather die than pay a toll.
    b. You’ve got the drivers who can’t even wrap their head around carpooling, much less taking transit one or two days a week.
    c. Then, you’ve got the many people who still live very far away from where they work, and/or whose housing is far from reliable transit that runs frequently AND early or late enough to accommodate the many swing shift and service workers who have odd hours. (On top of that, Trimet’s making service cuts and raising fares. Again.)
    d. You’ve got a HUGE population that’s growing every day, as more people move here. You’re not going to prevent that with “smart planning” at this stage of the game.

    We all know — or should know — that subsidies for oil and cars could rightly be transferred to mass transit. But the political will isn’t there. And neither is the stomach on the part of most Americans.

    2008 was a wake-up call: gas went above $4.00 a gallon and that was the beginning of a tipping point where people began to change some of the transportation habits. I’ll assume that the powers-that-be — whomever stands to profit most from the car-centric infrastructure we have — put its collective foot down and sent gas prices back down to a more “reasonable” level. As soon as that happened, people got back in their cars with a vengeance.

    I would like to believe that this vision of a more sustainable metro region is possible, but such a vision will take generations to become reality and lots of us won’t be around to see the results of what could be an ugly infrastructure war.

    Finally, @ Stop Planning (# 18): Yeah, well, you’re right. There are too many of us, not just in Portland but all over the place, and more are moving here by the DAY. Problem is that too many people are afraid to have that much harder, larger discussion about population and resources. It’s just easier to keep telling ourselves that this is an argument about a bridge; and besides, how do you have that bigger discussion without coming off sounding like a Fascist, or worse? Sorry.

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  • Exile August 9, 2010 at 11:07 pm

    The commenters so far have missed the real reason why this bridge is being pushed so hard.

    Real Estate. Quite simply, there is a glut of unsold properties in rural Vancouver. There is virtually no employment in vancouver presently, so, not crossing that bridge isn’t an option, and housing prices are so high in Portland that all the “Marginal wage” jobs have to be filled by someone. Developers have farms divided up, all the way to woodland, and out to Yacolt, ready to build, however no one wants these places, because of how long the commute is to centers of employment is so long, they’ll never sell for any profit. A new, toll-free bridge is needed, to drive new immigrants to Vancouver. This project is a mirror to what the I-205 bridge project was in 1979. Before that, east clark county was very rural. Adding capacity, increases sprawl. The numbers these folks are trotting out, are vastly incorrect. The same reason these people are afraid of light rail, is that it will increase the property values of areas surrounding the rail line, while leaving the new, as of yet undeveloped land below their expectations. Because Portland has maintained (relatively) their urban growth boundary, and Vancouver virtually has none, the leadership of both communities are using Vancouver as a “safety valve” on Portland’s growth. This is irresponsible, in every sense of the word. For those of us that live in Vancouver proper, a 10 lane bridge would cause an explosion of out of vancouver traffic flooding through our neighborhoods. Bicycling in Vancouver is already suicidal, but with 20,000 new californians, it would be certain death.

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  • Gregg Woodlawn August 9, 2010 at 11:21 pm

    Sorry beth, but planning for more people moving to portland doesn’t have to mean planning to make portland more like dallas, LA, or Phoenix.

    Portland can plan for more people moving here by planning to take portland in steps towards copenhagen, amsterdam, berlin, and new york.

    That means no 10 lane bridge to vantucky.

    That would mean building the bicycle master plan (Which is about 1/10,000th the price of the proposed bridge.)

    If we can’t afford the 580,000 bicycle master plan, how can we afford a 5 mile long 10 lane bridge that costs almost 10,000 TIMES as much???

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  • Gregg Woodlawn August 9, 2010 at 11:37 pm

    According to Wiki, Vantucky has 165,809 people. If 10 percent of them drive to Portland everyday and won’t carpool or alleviate traffic by voting in MAX, I say we give those 16,581 daily Vantucky commuters each a check for 10,000 bucks to stop driving to Portland.

    Let’s see 16,581 times 10,000 = 1.658 Billion.
    Bridge proposal = 3.6 Billion
    We would save 1.94109 Billion.

    We would have 16,581 happy Vantuckians.
    Roads would be clear- we could dedicate one of the newly freed lanes only for busses, freight, and carpoolers.

    We would save a LOT more than we spend.

    We would save 1,941,900,000 dollars that we could instead spend on social security, education, libraries, parks, the bicycle master plan, MAX, reinstating fareless square, rebuilding the Sellwood Bridge, job creation in Vantucky, etc.

    Why are they proposing to build a 10 lane bridge that would induce sprawl- a bridge that nobody wants (except for suburban Clark County developers?)

    Oh yeah- Exile #21 already told us.

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  • jim August 10, 2010 at 1:20 am

    Washinton State will have plenty to say about tolls on this bridge. Remember if you ride a washington state ferry they charge for every person boarding the ferry, if you have a bike there is an extra fee for it also. This is only fair as there are no free rides. I expect the same for the bridge also, but only until it is paid off. Free for your great grandkids??

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  • RMH August 10, 2010 at 7:25 am

    Yeah, but my grandkids won’t be driving cars one at a time. The cost of fuel will, thankfully, be prohibitively high by then. My grandkids will be cycling or taking mass transit. By that time, this bridge to the ‘Couv will be virtually empty of SOVs!

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  • Velophile in Exile August 10, 2010 at 8:20 am

    No more welfare for Clark County real estate developers and SOV commuters!

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  • Anonymous August 10, 2010 at 8:29 am

    Re: Gregg Woodlawn #9, “Math folks- please correct me: but wouldn’t that only be 0.0394% of the 3,600,000,000 it would cost to build this thing?

    I don’t disagree with your larger point, but you asked for a correction. Your math was right until that extra % sign made the number appear 100 times smaller. $142 million is 0.0394 of $3.6 billion, which is equal to 3.94%.

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  • EmGee August 10, 2010 at 8:33 am

    @beth h, #6:

    Get real. Building a 10 or 12 lane bridge is only going to shift the current bottlenecks north and south, creating true gridlocks (not mere I-5 slowdowns) in the city streets themselves.

    The underlying problem is that the bridge advocates are attempting to fix something that isn’t broken. The infrastructure we have is sufficient for all freight and interstate commerce needs: the next bridge could be as small as a 4 lane bridge and be fine for that purpose. The problem is that we need to find a way to encourage people to stop commuting by cars. Either move closer to their jobs or take some other form of transit.

    This should be a no-brainer. Anyone with eyes can see that the current 4 lane bridge is adequate for all traffic except the rush hour commuting traffic.

    We probably need more pleasant urban neighborhoods, street cars, light rail systems, bikeways, etc. We definitely do not need more lanes over the river.

    But what we really need are planners who are capable of recognizing that what they are looking at is not a nail, even though they’ve been holding on to this really comfortable hammer for a long time.

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  • Elliot August 10, 2010 at 8:38 am

    I’m guessing that most Vancouverites perceive the term “Vantucky” to be offensive. Anyone who actually wants to be taken seriously and engage in a productive dialog about the CRC should drop that type of language immediately.

    It doesn’t matter how strong or logical your criticisms of the project are. If you start out your argument with name calling, no one will listen to what you have to say.

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  • PDX Rider August 10, 2010 at 8:53 am


    By suggesting that ‘Vantucky’ is a bad thing, I think you are offending the residents of Kentucky.

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  • adam August 10, 2010 at 9:09 am

    wow, I can’t believe this is still going to happen.

    Gus and Gregg have this right. The fact that politicians cannot summon enough backbone to install tolls now leads me to think that they don’t have what it takes to get this thing built, thank god.

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  • Did I miss it? Again? August 10, 2010 at 9:18 am

    When people living in Vancouver are as intelligent, hip, green, fashionable, handsome, etc., as those living in Portland, then they can loose the nickname.

    Until then they will have to put up with our elitism douchie-ness (thank you BSNYC for creating a whole new douche-cabulary).

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  • dennis August 10, 2010 at 9:36 am

    I know that it’s easy to cast this as a portland/vancouver duality, however only a vocal minority is screaming for a 12 lane, no train, no tolls bridge. I’ve had discussions with many local residents, and the damage a bridge would cause to vancouver proper would be immense. Despite the soundbites, this project is equally unpopular in Vancouver. Light rail, has had a dangerous campaign lodged against it by Randall O’toole at the CATO institute for almost 15 years, that spread misinformation and lies. That is what’s driving the anti-rail sentiment.

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  • Lazlo August 10, 2010 at 9:38 am

    @Gregg Woodlawn & Elliot:
    Referring to Vancouver as Vantucky represents regionalist elitism. As if a great unwashed horde of hillbillys are massing at the border. Maybe you’d prefer to tear the current bridge down?

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  • Bob_M August 10, 2010 at 10:40 am

    The people of Vancouver who remain silent while the shrill minority lead the discussion are tacit accomplices in the approval of the bridge.

    I don’t know about how hip, green or handsome Vancouverians are, but I saw pink Crocs on the feet of one last time I was there.

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  • beth h August 10, 2010 at 11:01 am

    @ # 28:

    I’m NOT happy about a 10-lane bridge; perhaps I didn’t make myself clear enough before. I live in a neighborhood that will be immediately affected by it and so far my concerns have fallen upon deaf ears (those of my State representative and senator, who both insist that the large bridge is needed to anticipate growth in the region.

    I think that Exile (# 21) gets one point but misses another. Selling expansion of housing in Cark County is one thing. But getting people to WANT to live there is another. With housing you must also have jobs and schools nearby. What does THAT planning look like?

    As for encouraging people to “move closer to their jobs”, EmGee, that is easier said than done in the Portland metro area. My sister lives in Parkrose — one of the few places left in Portland proper where she could find an affordable house — but must commute to a job in Tigard. Going by transit would take her nearly two hours with transfers and wait time; and her shift is an iron-clad 6:30 to 3:30 pm. In a town with such high unemployment, she’s not in a good position to seek employment closer to home. Neither are a great many other Portlanders who have NO affordable choice but to live very far from where their jobs are.

    Building a ten-lane bridge won’t solve these problems, but neither will NOT building one. We’ve dug ourselves a Very Big Hole and it will take us a very long time to dig our way out, especially when much of it depends on political will and on changing the habits of so many people.

    I am not, repeat, NOT happy with a ten-lane bridge. It’s a bad and expensive idea. But I also don’t see how sticking to our guns and demanding a much smaller bridge will solve the problems mentioned above.

    Sustainability is a great goal. But it is NOT affordable for the numerous hourly-wage workers who make up the lion’s share of our post-affluent, recessionary workforce. Asking them to simply “move closer to their jobs” or to put up with 90-minute to 2 hour commute (one way) seems a bit much without demanding that developers and government work together to bring jobs and housing closer to each other.

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  • Jeff Bernards August 10, 2010 at 11:05 am

    If tolls will manage traffic on a new bridge why won’t they manage traffic on the current bridge? Let’s do the least cost options first, toll money collected NOW can be used to either pay for the new bridge or used to pay to upgrade the current bridges. Tolls alone may solve most of the problem, we could have spent all that study money errecting toll booths. The sales tax incentive is never brought up, but a drive to Portland can save you nearly $100 on a new TV. Mayor Leavitt wanted no tolls now wants all tolls. If they don’t build the bridge I won’t need the on ramps,he thinks I’m benefiting from. It’s time there was a disel tax so that truckers can pay for the bridge there using to save money (time).
    Everyone who wants the bridge has not offered a plan on how to pay for it except they just want it. It’s unfair to burden future generations with anymore debt, let’s pay as we go. No Pay No Go.
    The Rose Quarter’s 4 lanes are more of a bottle neck than the bridge. Originally 12 lanes is all that would solve the problem but apparantley 10 lanes will work, it makes me think that number is somewhat suspicous too.

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  • matt picio August 10, 2010 at 11:17 am

    beth h (#6) – Possibility 1: Your projection of growth is correct. In this case, building 10 or 12 lanes will do nothing BUT increase gridlock and anger. Right now, the bridge is saturated – it crawls at least 6 hours of day with only 6 lanes. Build 12, and more people will use it until it is again saturated – only now it’ll be 12 lanes of gridlock instead of 6. It’ll continue doing that .

    Even without gridlock on the bridge itself, you’ll still have gridlock wherever it dumps everyone off, or narrows the highway.

    Possibility 2: Your projection of growth is incorrect. Vehicle miles decrease and we’re left with a giant bridge that serves a fraction of the traffic it was designed to serve, once which will be enormously expensive to pull down in another 40 years. In the meantime, bridges all over the state will have maintenance or replacement deferred in order to pay for this one, all while state revenues drop.

    Are there other possibilities? Sure, but how likely are they? We already have more paved infrastructure than we can support at current funding levels, and the federal government just spent trillions of dollars bailing out the banks. Do we have the money to pay for this, at the local, state, or federal levels? When do we decide to be fiscally responsible? After the government collapses from insolvency?

    and that’s not even addressing the climate issues.

    jim (#12) – We’re gaining a more human-scaled environment. How does a 10-lane (or 8, or 12) CRC help anything? What else does it do besides make everyone’s commute a little shorter? As others said, the truck problem can be solved with the existing infrastructure.

    matthew vilhauer (#13) – We can ill-afford to have the monster that is CRC. The I-5 corridor should be using rail, not trucks for the majority of its freight.

    “dangerous beyond reason”? How many deaths or injuries have there been on the sidewalks of the I-5 bridge? It’s certainly loud, and narrow in spots, but when taken at a reasonable speed it’s perfectly safe.

    “outdated interstate freeway system” – It’d be great if they dealt with it by removing the freeways entirely, and going back to the old road grid, but that isn’t going to happen. Updating the current freeways requires only one thing – pick a number of lanes for the system, and make it consistent. Paving 2 more lanes from Rose Quarter to the Freemont bridge would be fine – get rid of the bottleneck. Then just keep 6 lanes across the Columbia and all the way out to Longview (and south to Salem), and leave it there.

    KWW (#15) – No it’s not, but we need to become one again, and as expeditiously as possible, or the situation will get a lot worse.

    and WTF is a “Hindenburg”?

    Red Five (#17) – That depends. If CRC goes through, he loses my vote.

    beth h (#20) – Spot on regarding population, especially here in the NW. As the SW continues to warm up and dry out, and as the current water sources there diminish and ultimately fail, a lot of those folk are going to move here in search of someplace that can support people. In addition to addressing population pressure, we’ll have the unenviable choice between allowing sprawl or accepting an even higher cost of living.

    PDX Rider (#30) – Exactly. Everyone knows it should be “Vankansas” (pronounced Van-ken-saw)

    I’m sure I’ve offended everybody now. 🙂

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  • KWW August 10, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    Hindenburg , as in to fail spectacularly…

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  • EmGee August 10, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    beth h, #28:

    You have repeated a part of the whole problem, this thing about the American Dream of owning your own home. It was just that: a dream fashioned to keep real estate values and new car sales climbing. It never had any basis in the economies of true wealth; it was a fiction of the consumerism era that we have finally (thankfully) begun to get beyond.

    If you have a good job and a long commute, move closer to the job. If you can’t do that because you have saddled yourself with a mortgage rather than paying rent… well, that sounds like a personal problem and not something that society should spend billions on enabling.

    Life styles have to change. That is going to involve some critical reappraisals of what constitutes a “good life.”

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  • matthew vilhauer August 10, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    matt picio #38, yes an agrarian society would be wonderful. however i do prefer to live in the real world and it has been several generations since the U.S. has become industrialized. it may return to what it was (highly unlikely) but it would also take several more generations to do so.

    with our current rail system it is simply not possible to rely on rail to transport the levels of freight needed. how about forming a lobbying group powerful enough to combat the oil and auto/truck industries? good luck with that.

    try riding over the I-5 bridge several times a week for a year. at all hours and in all weather conditions. have you even rode over it more than a few times? or at all? if you did it on a regular basis you would change your opinion. i currently owe more than $20K for a cycling accident on the mup earlier this year. yes, admittedly my assessment of the bridge may be harsher than most.

    eliminating our freeway system altogether? climb down from your horse drawn buggy and please read the first paragraph of this posting again. we are an industrialized country that for all it’s good and evils has chosen the auto as our primary mode of transport. this can certainly change but i won’t try to fool myself into thinking it will happen overnight or even in the immediate future.

    i like the bta/hindenbirg metaphor. i think the bta also pulled a “cartman” by basicly saying “screw you guys, i’m going home” in regards to the crc. a friend put the bta’s actions into context quite well (i’m sure i’ll muddle it a bit but…) by saying that the bta may not have understood the nuances of being an advisor in the crc planning process. as an advisor there are limitations to your role. to me at least it seems they tried to leverage their power when they really had none to begin with and compounded the mistake by walking away from the table so they in effect have not imput or voice in the project at all. running a anti-crc campaign in the press seems to make even less sense. come back to the table and join the discussion.

    no matt i don’t think you have offended everyone…. haven’t heard a peep from vance… yet….

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  • Did I miss it? Again? August 10, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    It appears that the society that considers the “good life” renting so you can be closer to work is the minority. Why wouldn’t home ownership be a part of the good life? Why is renting a part of it? Or is it just being closer to work?

    This is not Beth’s personal problem. This is the majority of society’s problem(name your city/state).

    I do question your assertion that we are getting beyond the consumerism era. Perhaps in the little corner of PDX that are BikePortland followers, but there is a whole lot more society out there that is still just as concerned about buying the new iPhone or whatever. What do you base this on? Certainly not US economics.

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  • Tonya August 10, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    Another perspective for the “move closer to your job” group. What about the dual earners? My husband and I work 10 miles apart. I know other couples who work 15 or 20 or more miles apart. Not everyone has the luxury of moving to their job, finding a job closer to home or going down to one income. At least one of us *has* to drive. And that isn’t even factoring in school preferences into the housing choices…

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  • Did I miss it? Again? August 10, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    On a side note, but that picture of Adams above – I can picture him about to say “Yep, I’ll go along with whatever – just as long as I can still be mayor.”

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  • Paul Tay August 10, 2010 at 3:29 pm

    Give ’em HELL! Down wit da CR ‘effin’ C!

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  • matthew vilhauer August 10, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    paul #45. where exactly do you live?

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  • matt picio August 10, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    matthew vilhauer (#41) – I would argue it’s a fantasy world. The current society is not sustainable and inherently cannot be. We *will* return to a agrarian society – we have the option to do it by choice, or circumstances will force it upon us. read Derrick Jensen’s “Endgame” for the reasons why. (there are other books, but Jensen spells it out better than most – Jared Diamond’s “Collapse” covers much of it as well)

    Rail – I disagree. There are a few corridors that would need expansion (laying another track), but in most locations that can be done without expanding the right-of-way.

    I-5 – I’ve ridden it frequently, but not daily. Obviously we have different views of the experience.

    Freeways – Climb off your own pedestal and re-read *my* post. “It’d be great” does not equal “This is what I think we should do”, and the following sentence states that I realize it isn’t going to happen. In any case, we’ve chosen automobiles, but we won’t be able to maintain that. The replacement costs have gotten too high, there’s too much invested in the oil infrastructure, and that energy source will soon be tapped out for practical purposes.

    Cartman – love it. Yeah, Hindenburg doesn’t work for me. Can’t comment on the BTA’s strategy since I don’t know their objectives. I think they made their point, but what was the cost of that?

    Offended – True, haven’t heard from Vance, but it’s early yet. I wouldn’t mind it – Vance and I frequently disagree, but he usually makes really good and inconvenient points, and if I’ve learned one thing in the last decade, it’s that convenience is far overrated.

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  • rider August 10, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    Having spent a good portion of my life in Houston I can say, without a doubt, “If you build it, it will back up.”

    There are better solutions. Dense urban living and public transportation are the two most reasonable.

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  • matt picio August 10, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    Paul Tay is from Oklahoma. Occasionally he comes up for Pedalpalooza.

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  • beth h August 10, 2010 at 4:21 pm


    I wasn’t talking so much about the folks who own homes, I was talking about the lower-income majority who rent and still can’t afford to live closer to where they work — if they can find a living-wage job at all. Do THEY have a “personal problem” because they’re the working poor and because infrstraucture wasn’t developed with their needs or interests in mind?

    I hear some pussyfooting around the ideas of a collapse of commerce, of a collapse of the Portland-as-we-know-it as more people move here from parts of tha country that are failing in terms of society, economy AND climate. No one’s spelling out longer term nightmaresin detail here but folks are sure hinting loudly at them.

    Again, I maintain that this is not simply an argument about a bridge; rather it’s a larger discussion about class, race, the distribution of wealth and how certain sectors of society and the economy seem to get the upper hand time and again.

    If the neighborhoods immediately affected were Raleigh Hills and Multnomah instead of King and Woodlawn, you BET there’d be a hue and cry about a ten-freaking-lane bridge FROM Vancouver (because hardly anyone there is thinking in terms of “TO” Vancouver). And that is only a teeny tiny sumptom of the many larger problems we face as this region continues to grow willy-nilly.

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  • matthew vilhauer August 10, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    beth h. has it right. period. thoughtful, precise and intuitive. common sense has it’s boundries.

    thanks, beth.

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  • The Translator August 10, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    Here’s another reason not to build this massive and expensive thing: What if Portland itself is not a sustainable thing?

    After 20 years in this town I still cannot believe the absolute lack of economic planning in Oregon. We keep having these boom and bust cycles based on the region’s inability to build a truly diverse economy. First it was timber, then high tech, then the much vaunted “creative” economy, and now the state is talking up green tech. We get shorter and shorter bounces from these economic saviors only to find that businesses move away due to mergers, consolidations, ridiculous tax/regulatory/etc. considerations, and old fashioned failure. What were left with with more population and bond financed infrastructure that isn’t paid off.

    To my opening salvo, shouldn’t the regional authorities have to “prove” that this thing will be a true boon to our local economy and not a potential white elephant? With high unemployment and not many jobs to be found, how many of our younger citizens will simply move away to where more stable economies can found leaving behind their parents and aging retirees with declining incomes? That won’t create a sustainable tax base. How many businesses will look to Portland as a base of operations if it can’t offer an energetic talent pool or the cost of doing business in a dying state are too high?

    Portland was super hot five to ten years ago. People are still moving here but how long can the PDX hype machine keep convincing folks to come here and then stay? If I were 23 years old and fresh from college with huge loan debt, I wouldn’t move here for the “lifestyle” considering that I’ll have to compete with M.B.A.’s and laid off teachers for an $8.50/hr. barista gig at Starbuck’s. Oregon could rapidly become a prettier version of Ohio or Michigan.

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  • spare_wheel August 10, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    Red Five (#17) – That depends. If CRC goes through, he loses my vote.

    Mine too.

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  • beth h August 10, 2010 at 7:59 pm

    Translator makes another excellent point, and one that is not restricted to Portland. We are on the edge of a huge economic sh*tstorm because of the scenario he described so astutely. In less time than we think, Portland could become overbuilt, overcrowded, undersold and underproductive — and that scenario will leave a LOT of people out in the cold figuratively AND literally.

    The Interstate Bridge is the tip of a vast iceberg that could sink a lot of ships in a relatively short time. And though I would like to consider happier outcomes, none of them feel possible to me at this point.

    It’s time for me to walk away from this discussion, just so I can function.

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  • StopTheCRC August 10, 2010 at 8:42 pm


    you can watch a fantastic debate between an anti-CRC activist and the co-director of the CRC project here: http://populations.blip.tv/file/3942801/

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  • Chris August 10, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    I recently moved here from Texas to get away from this kind of development. I am here because of Portland’s reputation for good urbanism, local business economy, and car-free transit options. I am a young professional, I would imagine I am a model of one type of resident a city like Portland would want to attract. I use my car for 0% of my necessary travel, and ride MAX and my bicycle to all of the local businesses I support (via employment and patronage).

    This kind of project has obvious motives and even more obvious consequences. As one modest voice that perhaps represents one of many person-types that could be considered a good thing for Portland: I am strongly opposed to this project.

    The spirit of Portland that attracted me here is that of Harbor Drive and Tom McCall Waterfront Park. This project feels the opposite. It will be a victory for mediocre development that can be had anywhere in this country.

    For my family, Portland is, perhaps, a last resort in the States. Can this entire country not produce a single ultra-liveable, human-scale big city?

    Oregon’s urban-growth boundary seems like a great thing. Why would we work to cheat it?

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 10, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    thanks everyone for the comments.

    RE: the BTA. I have been wondering if there are lessons for them to learn from the Hayden Island Interchange situation. The CRC staff was ram-rodding a terrible design on Hayden Island. So they mobilized, showed up in force, made a lot of noise, and had advocate working within the process. The CRC and the DOTs heard their concerns loud and clear, put together a Hayden Island Working group, came up with some real solutions, and now everyone on all sides — including Hayden Island residents — are happy.

    Will the BTA, without a dog in the fight around the table, be able to pull out a similar result for the bikeway design? we’ll see…

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  • Mike August 10, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    I may be wrong but aren’t we talking about a frickin bridge? Cars need to move from point A to point B. Get over it!!

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  • Exile August 11, 2010 at 12:19 am


    This subject, brings out so much vitriol in people.

    Portlander: damn you rednecks!

    Vancouverian(sp): damn liberals!

    if it didn’t have a direct affect on my life, it would make a great buddy-movie comedy.

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  • Jj August 11, 2010 at 8:27 am


    There are others besides you in the metro region. In fact, the suburban areas are the areas actually gaining population–Multnomah is basically flat. Yes, Portland can provide you what you want, and it can because areas like Vancouver are there.

    “Vantucky”–what a nice insult. Ridden a Chinese bike anyone? How the heck do you think it got here? A port in CA or WA and a truck, I’d bet.

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  • matt picio August 11, 2010 at 9:43 am

    Mike (#58) – Cars are already moving, that *is* the point. 12-lane CRC, assuming business as usual, solves nothing – it will encourage more auto trips until the congestion level is right back where it is now. No economic benefit to the region, increased pollution in the immediate and surrounding areas, a $3.5+ billion price tag, and maintenance costs which will balloon after 25-40 years.

    Jj (#60) – And are those others going to shoulder the cost of increased medical bills for those living on Jantzen Beach, in King, Woodlawn, Peidmont and Kenton? Are they going to have to live with the increased noise, increased traffic on local surface streets that feed the freeway? Jeff Bernards is right, let’s try tolling now, and see what that effect has, and use that money to solve some of the paving backlog. This bridge is being shoved down the public’s throats without addressing (nor indeed even examining) the larger issues. The carrot is the myth of less congestion and the stick is the impending closure of the funding window.

    This bridge is poorly designed, poorly considered, poorly studied, unsustainable and ill-affordable. It needs to die, and they need to start looking at ways to refurbish the existing structure and add safer bike/ped facilities to what we have.

    We DON’T HAVE THE MONEY for projects like this – we need to spend what we have smarter and fix what we have rather than keep building anew.

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  • Jeff Bernards August 11, 2010 at 10:35 am

    The CRC group claims it will lessen CO2 emmissions because you won’t have a parking lot on I-5. My concern is the amount of concrete needed for this project is so huge & the Carbon Footprint is also huge, cement has a carbon price too. How many years of “Carefree” driving does it take to earase the CO2 created to make and deliver all the cement needed?
    Just wondering

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  • KWW August 11, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    I would buy much of the anti-CRC argument if it were forging a new highway through established neighborhoods like the Mt. Hood freeway threatened; or was building beltways where the only benefit would be future corporate real estate development (aka Houston, which has a notoriously lax zoning code – you want a high rise office next to corn fields, Houston is your town).

    I don’t see that though. I-5 the major north south arterial for the west coast. The highway is built, the bridge does not meet current seismic requirements.

    Conspicuously absent is feedback from Vancouver bike commuters and would be bike commuters, that should warrant an article in and of itself.

    Also surprising is the lack of perceived priority and support for the mass transit Max bridge.

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  • Paul Johnson August 11, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    @Beth #6: Get real. There is zero compelling reason for making life more comfortable for tourists who forget to leave when they’re done visiting. If we replace the bridge, it shouldn’t be more than six lanes, should have decent bicycle and separate pedestrian facilities, and should be a tollway.

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  • spare_wheel August 11, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    Vancouver BC is a larger city but manages to be a vibrant, economically diverse city with a far smaller highway infrastructure.

    IMO, its time for inefficient and wasteful petrochemical transport to be taxed/tolled into oblivion. The billions we are planning to spend on this massive concrete boondoggle should be invested in improved rail lines and smart traffic systems.

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  • Nick V August 11, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    Mayor Adams has time to accept minor (and stupid) acting roles but no time to do analysis for an 8-lane bridge. Awesome.

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  • MIndful Cyclist August 11, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    Part of me wonders if we as advocates for something other than SOV’s are getting too hung up in the how many lanes argument. I DO think 10 is too much, but the bottom line is that a new bridge is eventually going to get built.

    I think the things we perhaps need to focus our energy more on is:

    1. Light rail being able to go across the river. Vancouverites are on the fence about it now, but eventually it will make sense to them.

    2. A good MUP. Preferably going each way.

    3. A HOV lane that goes across it.

    I do hope we don’t lose focus on these.

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  • Paul Johnson August 11, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    I’m dead set against any plan that…

    1. doesn’t toll single-occupant motorists.
    2. Lacks an HOV lane from Wilsonville to Salmon Creek, both directions.
    3. Lacks a dedicated, pedestrian-free cycleway in both directions, Salmon Creek to 217.
    4. Lacks pedestrian facilities.
    5. Lacks light rail.

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  • KWW August 11, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    Good list Paul

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  • The Translator August 11, 2010 at 9:25 pm

    Nick V@66

    Because this mayor is more interested in being an attention ‘ho than actually using his authority and influence to do anything that benefits the city.

    The shame is, due to his scandals and assuming he is a one termer, he could have gone out in a three year blaze of glory. A politician without regard for re-election could be a very powerful force as the need to compromise and water down your vision is no longer necessary. If he had some spine and did great things, he could actually salvage his career.

    Instead, he has opted to take acting gigs and middle of the road positions to become just another mediocre elected official. I guess he must be satisfied that “First Gay Mayor of a Major City” will be the pinnacle of his achievements.

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  • Paul Johnson August 11, 2010 at 11:49 pm

    Anybody who thinks Sam Adams is Portland’s first homosexual mayor has the attention span of a gnat. Are we so quick to forget Vera Katz, even with a statue of her and a cycleway named after her in Portland?

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