Esplanade closure begins February 1st

Video explains ‘Common Sense Alternative’ to CRC project

Posted by on April 27th, 2011 at 6:46 am

Still from video showing proposed new
bridge to Hayden Island.
— Watch it below —

Citizen activist Spencer Boomhower (the man behind the widely acclaimed Idaho Stop Law animation, among others) has released a new video that highlights a different approach to improving mobility between Oregon and Washington.

Boomhower’s latest compares and contrasts the Columbia River Crossing (CRC) project — which is favored by state DOTs, governors, and Mayors on both sides of the river — with what is known as the Common Sense Alternative (CSA).

The CSA is an approach developed by George Crandall and Jim Howell. Crandall is a noted architect and Howell is a veteran advocate of mass transit and active transportation. Both men have close connections to the Mount Hood Freeway, a DOT-backed mega-freeway project that was famously thwarted by grassroots activism in the early 1970s.

“It is not too late [to consider alternatives]. I think the governors picking a bridge type is a bluff to try to show that this project is a done deal.”
— Jim Howell, citizen activist

Howell was the co-founder of the non-proft organization that helped kill the project and Crandall was one of the project’s managers. Last fall, Crandall told The Oregonian that, “The CRC is the Mt. Hood Freeway all over again. Instead of saying, ‘No,’ people aren’t saying a thing.”

Howell and Crandall say their CSA would accomplish the same goals as the CRC, but for half the price: $1.8 billion to the CRC’s $3.6 billion. The key difference is that the CSA focuses on crossing the river, while the CRC spends most of its money on freeway expansion over a 4.5 mile swath of the I-5 corridor (the actual bridge is only a tiny part of the CRC project).

In the video, Boomhower explains the five phases of the CSA and makes a compelling case that it would indeed be a “cheaper, faster, and better way” of crossing the Columbia River. Watch it below:

A Common Sense Alternative to the CRC from Spencer Boomhower on Vimeo.

Boomhower, whose home and Southeast Portland neighborhood wouldn’t exist today if the Mt. Hood Freeway had gone through, has been inspired to act due to his concerns about the CRC project. Back in 2009, he wrote a guest editorial on BikePortland and he has also produced another widely viewed CRC animation that takes a look at the “boatload of questions” surrounding the project.

With a pro-CRC bill being discussed in the Oregon legislature, Boomhower has been sending this video to several state representatives.

“With the Governors making news about their choice of a bridge design (for the .5 mile bridge segment of this 4.4 mile project),” he wrote via email, “it just made a lot of sense to get this very sensible opposing viewpoint out there.”

I asked Howell if it’s too late to consider alternatives. “It is not too late,” he said, “I think the governors picking a bridge type is a bluff to try to show that this project is a done deal.”

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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. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Jack April 27, 2011 at 7:18 am

    So now we just need to talk the governor into taking $100 million of the proposed savings and putting it towards a national TV campaign comparing/contrasting the CRC/CSA so that the whole country will think the CRC is a stuipd waste of their money, thus ensuring that it doesn’t happen.

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    • Joe Rowe April 28, 2011 at 9:33 am

      We need Mayor Adams on board the CSA too. Jonathan just did an interview with Adams and neglected to mention the CSA. Sam tells the BTA crowd to take action, but he’s silent on the CSA. Jonathan, why did you not mention the CRC or CSA with Mayor Adams? Please reply.

      Why fight the CRC and then fail to ask real questions when you have the chance?

      How much with the CSA save? Enough to fund the 20 year Portland bike plan in 100 cities!

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      • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) April 28, 2011 at 9:39 am

        Jonathan, why did you not mention the CRC or CSA with Mayor Adams? Please reply.

        I didn’t mention the CRC because I had other things I wanted to talk about at that interview. Also, I’d rather have a more focused opportunity to talk with him about it…rather than try and cram every issue that people care about into one, hour-long interview.

        Also, I didn’t know as much about the CSA then as I do now. Had I just seen the video and walked into the interview I might have mentioned it.

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      • Ross Williams April 28, 2011 at 10:21 am

        There is nothing really new in the CSA proposal other than the staging. All the elements were suggestions made over 5 years ago (the last time I attended any of the CRC meetings). I think the Mayor and others involved probably have heard these suggestions before.

        Coming up with intellectually satisfying alternatives to the CRC is easy. The politics, with two states and a lot of money at stake, is what makes getting to a sensible solution difficult. As long as the CRC, with all its stakeholders, is on the table there is not going to be serious consideration of ANY alternative. The region’s leadership needs to be convinced the CRC is a dead end.

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  • Ethan April 27, 2011 at 8:09 am

    What the CSA does not do is promote suburban Vancouver development. I am sick if big capital projects always lining the pockets of developers who contribute little or nothing, and often get tax breaks on top.

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    • Allan Folz April 27, 2011 at 4:43 pm

      Hey, those developers contribute plenty… to politicians’ re-election campaigns.

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  • Patrick Croasdaile April 27, 2011 at 8:24 am

    Now I am curious, how does one present this project to the governor?

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  • matt picio April 27, 2011 at 8:36 am

    I’m curious – how do you sell it to the businesses who are prodding the governor? Seems like a no-brainer, this project will create more jobs for a longer period of time, and will create more lasting jobs and lasting contracts down the line (more bridge repairs due to more bridges – higher upkeep than CRC). It also is better during a disaster, since in a 8.0+ earthquake scenario, some bridges will fail. If CRC fails during a quake, where’s the backup? If 1-2 of these bridges fail, there’s still a way to cross the Columbia to facilitate recovery efforts and commerce in the wake of our overdue major quake.

    Backups are a major factor in resilience in the face of catastrophe.

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  • David Parsons April 27, 2011 at 9:02 am

    I’d wonder how you’d sell it to the shipping interests on the river. It seems like the thing would require rebuilding the existing Interstate Bridge to put a lift span in the middle, because otherwise you’d have to do a right-angle turn immediately after crossing it going downstream.

    And the problem with “higher upkeep than CRC” seems like it would be a proposal killer from the get-go, seeing as it’s much easier to allocate tax revenues to construction projects than it is to maintaining things after they’re built (see also the “tear down a bunch of older schools and build new ones because the taxpayers won’t pay to maintain them” bond measure that’s coming up for a vote in Portland) — having 4 poorly maintained bridges (i205/interstate/hayden/new truck) doesn’t seem like it would be a particularly popular idea with the state agencies that would be stuck with the responsibility to maintain them.

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    • Spencer Boomhower April 27, 2011 at 9:34 am


      “It seems like the thing would require rebuilding the existing Interstate Bridge to put a lift span in the middle, because otherwise you’d have to do a right-angle turn immediately after crossing it going downstream.”

      I hope the video didn’t give you this impression… In fact the CSA proposes to fix just this kind of situation.

      It’s the fix of the downstream rail bridge proposed here by the CSA that would prevent just this kind of hard-turn situation. The clearance on the Interstate Bridge is fine the way it is – there’s a hump in the middle that was added in the 50’s when the second span was built. But that hump doesn’t get as much use as it could because it’s not lined up with the current opening in the downstream rail bridge. So the lift span would be added to the *rail bridge* to address this.

      Then the lift span on the Interstate Bridge would only be needed for extremely high vessels, like cranes on barges or whatnot, and then only a few times a year.

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      • David Parsons April 27, 2011 at 12:35 pm

        The Hayden-Vancouver local span, unless it’s as high as the open lift on the interstate, would be the bottleneck. It might only be a few times a year, but the pilot of the boat that has to go under the lift, then turn sharply out into the middle of the river to clear the local span, would be fairly unhappy about it.

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        • Spencer Boomhower April 27, 2011 at 12:53 pm

          OK, I see what you mean now, and that’s a very incisive question. I would guess that the CSA plan in some way covers this issue, since navigability of the river is one of the issues at the heart of the plan. (In doing this visualization, I got a bunch of feedback from Jim on the number of bridge supports in the water, and their placement. And that feedback was all about paying attention to river navigation.) But I’ll have to run your question by Jim or George. Or I might just drag them on here to answer these kinds of questions themselves :).

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        • Spencer Boomhower April 28, 2011 at 2:33 pm

          David, I heard back from Jim. He says:

          “Regarding the question about navigational clearances of the local bridge: Like all bridges over navigable waterways it would have to be approved by the US Coastguard. I believe the clearance required will be determined by the nature of the vessel that must require the bridge to be lifted. I suspect they are only high masted sail boats and the occasional construction crane. The people that have the issues with “S” curve are the tow boat operators that tow strings of barges downstream.”

          Hope that helps!

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    • 007 April 27, 2011 at 9:38 pm

      Tolls could pay for maintenance.

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  • Sigma April 27, 2011 at 9:08 am

    Light rail AND commuter rail to Vancouver? What’s “common sense” about that?

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    • Spencer Boomhower April 27, 2011 at 9:42 am


      Well as proposed by the CSA, the commuter rail would be making use of what would be a larger high-speed (or highER-speed) rail corridor that would make use of the new passenger rail bridge seen in the video. So it would be relatively local passenger rail using a larger west-coast corridor (the kind that’s already receiving federal support) to make an express line to downtown Portland only.

      Then the light rail, if built at all (because as noted, there’s the option to just use buses on that bridge to Vancouver) would be more about frequent stops, like on Hayden Island, a new station at whatever development will go into the Boise-Cascade site in Vancouver, and a number of points in between there and Portland.

      So each has its own role; there’s not a much redundancy as it might at first seem.

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    • Chris I April 27, 2011 at 9:56 am

      Those are just options. The main goal of the rail bridge IMO is to improve Amtrak Cascades service. Once the point defiance bypass project is complete, North Portland will be the main bottleneck between PDX and SEA. The fact that the rail lines will have extra capacity for a commuter rail system is just an added bonus. The Amtrak long term plan is to have hourly service in both directions. CTran could choose to supplement Amtrak with small commuter trains providing 30 minute headways or better. This service will be faster than driving, and much faster than MAX through NoPo.

      I love this video, this approach is great, and it pains me because I feel that we are already too committed to the CRC.

      – Cheaper, phased approach. Critical in these times of government austerity
      – Discourages sprawl and encourages cleaner forms of transportation, critical in our low-carbon future
      – Calls CRC supporter’s bluff of “freight mobility”. I believe that most of them are using it as an excuse to add more general purpose lanes. They don’t really care about freight mobility, it’s just a good excuse to get more freeway.
      – No tolls, which should make it more politically viable and less annoying for occasional I-5 bridge travelers.

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    • Skid April 27, 2011 at 11:39 am

      Light rail from Portland to Vancouver. Commuter rail to Seattle. Sounds common sense to me, a lot more common sense than single occupancy vehicles.

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      • Sigma April 27, 2011 at 1:42 pm

        Commuter rail, by definition, would not go to Seattle. If, as Spencer says above, the intention is to use a bridge built by federal high speed rail money, then maybe commuter rail could work if funded locally. But there’s no way the new starts program would fund a commuter rail and a light rail line in the same corridor.

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  • Spencer Boomhower April 27, 2011 at 9:25 am

    Thanks for the post, Jonathan! Always glad to see these posted here on BikePortland, where I first learned about the CRC a few years back.

    It’s worth repeating that both George and Jim have some experience with projects that present an aura of inevitability, having been on both sides of the Mt. Hood Freeway. Both bring tremendous experience and understanding to this issue. And I owe a real debt of gratitude to Jim and the other activists who stopped that freeway and helped save SE Portland, one of my favorite places in the world.

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    • Joe Rowe April 28, 2011 at 9:36 am

      Spencer, have you presented your CSA video to the Mayor and Amanda Fritz? The BTA and other leaders are not going to sell the CSA idea. We’ve got to do it on our own. I’d be glad to volunteering start selling the CSA to local portland groups and neighborhood associations.

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      • Spencer Boomhower April 28, 2011 at 3:03 pm

        Joe, I have not, but someone apparently sent it to the Mayor via Twitter. Sam tweeted:

        “Great video! We did get elements of their concepts: fewer freeway lanes, removed a massive interchange on island, tolls, lightrail, multi-model arterial bridge for island & bike/peds infrasture. RT @IsaacKnight Alternative to #CRC: fixing I-5 for 1/2 the price. …any thought given to this? cc/@PortlandAfoot #Pdx #pdxtrsp”

        And I chimed in that the interchange on the island was still pretty massive:

        Admittedly, I think it had been 20+ lanes at one point, but it got trimmed down to a svelte 17 lanes.

        As for pushing it further, I’m certainly going to send the link to my reps (and encourage others to do so), but mainly let the video direct inquiries to Jim Howell and George Crandall. Which was of course the primary goal in the first place.

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  • Dabby April 27, 2011 at 9:31 am

    Let’s replace the bridge already.
    Tired of all the hype, and 100 million spent on thinking about it, and bitching about it.

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    • Chris I April 27, 2011 at 9:58 am

      Not one penny of that money has been spent “bitching about it”. All of it has been spent developing concepts that a lot of people dislike, with no public input. The bitching is free…

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  • jaf April 27, 2011 at 9:32 am

    Jonathan, could you please post/ link to the govs. info so that we can easily express our need for viable alternatives?

    thanks for your diligent work on this issue.

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  • Ross Williams April 27, 2011 at 9:53 am

    I think its important to understand that 10 years ago the I-5 Trade Corridor Study group decided that there was a need to expand freeway capacity through Portland and across the river. Their conclusion was that replacing the I-5 bridges was necessary to accomplish that. In other words, the freeway expansion is not an unfortunate expensive sideshow to building a very large, new bridge. Freeway expansion was the purpose for replacing the bridge in the first place.

    No matter what the stated “purpose and need”, the last ten years and millions of dollars have been spent trying to get a regional consensus for that new freeway bridge. Alternatives that did not support freeway expansion have only been considered long enough to reject them.

    What is driving the issue now is money. I think there is a belief that there is a brief window where there is much chance that federal dollars will be available for any kind of project. Alternatives will not be seriously considered unless this project is dead. What is needed is to build national resistance to this project as an overpriced, unnecessary local boondoggle.

    Aside from cost, there are other weaknesses that could build resistance to this project from outside the region.

    One is the use of tolls to pay the “local” share. For that to work, tolls will need to be placed on both the I-5 and I-205 bridge. If you want to travel from Canada to Mexico or points in between you will have to pay a toll. Its a first step toward transforming the Interstate Highway system into a tolling operation. That might have some merit, but I think representatives from all over the country might pause before going down that path just to pay the “local” share of one bridge.

    The second is the insistence on a light rail component. While I strongly support light rail, the fact is Vancouver’s transit agency does not. Spending huge amounts of money to extend light rail across the river, while running express buses in competition with it on the new freeway, probably makes almost no sense to anyone outside the region. Some of those folks might question whether this is project really a result of a regional consensus or just an expensive compilation of everyone’s wish list. The region can’t agree on transit mode, so it is asking the federal government to kick in money to support all of them.

    The third problem is the two freeway lanes at the Rose Quarter. Once the new bridge is built, the next fix freeway expansion requires is to I-5 through downtown. There is no realistic solution identified for this. The one most talked about is another hugely expensive project tunneling under the Willamette River. Its easy to point out to congressman from elsewhere that not only is the Portland region looking for billions to build a bridge, but they are setting themselves up to come back to the federal trough for a “big dig” size additional project. And without that other new investment, the I-5 crossing will quickly become very limited as a national transportation link, no matter how large the bridge is.

    In short, the next step is to focus on arguments for the rest of the country. The local debate is now over getting federal money where the bigger and more expensive the project, the better. Those are criteria that the CRC fits well.

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    • meh April 27, 2011 at 1:42 pm

      Once past the Rose Quarter,the Marquam bridge becomes the next bottle neck, and then it is on to the Terwilliger curves.

      I-5 through PDX is just one major issue after another.

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  • Anne April 27, 2011 at 10:06 am

    How does the CSA option address the issue of fixing a privately-owned railroad bridge (owned by Warren Buffett’s rail line BNSF) with public funds? Is this another government-funded support of a private company? I don’t oppose the CSA option, I am just curious about the funding because I do not want to hand more tax money to private companies.

    I actually think the CSA alternative offers some interesting opportunities to cross the Columbia River. And I think the multiple-bridge idea provides a great and safe route for bicyclists.

    Thanks for posting this video and information. It is always good to see multiple the alternatives.

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    • matt picio April 27, 2011 at 2:56 pm

      Anne – it’s not BNSF’s fault the fix is necessary – the rail bridge predates the road bridge by decades. While it would be nice if BNSF stepped up and put some money into it, the burden of cost for the fix lies in the public sphere, since it was government-funded agencies which constructed the Interstate Bridge.

      Private companies should be held accountable for costs imposed by their projects, but in this case, the private company in question isn’t to blame.

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  • dennis April 27, 2011 at 10:10 am


    The presentation is amazing. It seems as though it addresses much of the concerns about the CRC. I wonder why the powers that be are so afraid of having a non-freeway connection between Clark & Multnomah counties. I will be forwarding this to the Columbian, the Vancouver Voice and we’ll see what happens.

    Thank you, once again, for providing excellent visual understanding to such a complex issue facing our region.

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  • Psyfalcon April 27, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    So, building three new bridges and doing major work on the other two is common sense?

    Build a new truck bridge so trucks wont have to use I5. How are you going to divert trucks already on I5?

    Then you build TWO bridges to access a shopping mall?

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    • Chris I April 27, 2011 at 1:55 pm

      The number of bridges is not the important part. Focus on traffic flow and cost. One of the main causes of congestion on I-5 are the ramps on the island, and the associated traffic. Using your logic, Portland should tear down and consolidate all of it’s bridges into 3 or 4 freeway bridges…

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      • Spencer Boomhower April 28, 2011 at 3:21 pm

        Chris I,

        ” Focus on traffic flow and cost. One of the main causes of congestion on I-5 are the ramps on the island, and the associated traffic.”

        Spot-on. Jim Howell addresses this in his original “Five-Step Alternative” doc:

        “With this bridge in place, the Hayden Island ramps to and from Vancouver could be closed during peak hours (except for buses and emergency vehicles), which would greatly reduce the northbound traffic turbulence south of the Interstate Bridges. The closure would also discourage unauthorized park-and-ride on Hayden Island.”

        Now personally I have a hard time imagining how you close freeway ramps at certain times of the day. But I think the effect of, and solutions to the turbulence caused by those ramps bears much more investigation. I would have done more to talk about it, but I’ve been stymied by, among other things, not quite knowing how to represent traffic turbulence with the graphics tools I have available to me.

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    • Paul in the 'couve April 27, 2011 at 2:01 pm

      A lot of truck traffic gets on I-5 at HWY-14, Fourth Plain, or Mill Plain – and much of that truck traffic is going directly to industrial areas in North or Northeast Portland along Columbia Dr. and Vancouver Ave.. There is corresponding return traffic from the same areas heading to Vancouver.

      It isn’t the through traffic that slows down I-5 traffic in that area, it is the on-ramps from Vancouver in the morning and the on-ramps from Delta Park, Columbia Blvd and Jantzen Beach in the afternoon. In the afternoon in particular a lot of the traffic from Columbia Blvd is truck traffic.

      The two bridges don’t just provide access to a shopping mall, although they do take a chunk of traffic that slows down I-5 to get to that Mall off of I-5. The two bridges combined allow people to go from Vancouver to North Portland without getting on I-5 and my observation is that a quite of lot of traffic both car and truck is only going to the 2 or 3 miles from downtown Vancouver to Delta-Park / North Interstate.

      The multiple bridges approach solves more problems for less money, provides more alternatives, and is going to be much better for pedestrians and cyclists. Ultimately it will actually lead to shorter commutes.

      Imagine, even with the new bridge and more lanes there is going to be the day that there is a crash on the bridge. There still won’t be anyway to get off I-5 and get across the river in the CRC approach. The multi-bridge approach means that there would be 2 other routes available without going across town to I-205. That is an inherently (mathematical) more optimal solution than one big bridge. (

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  • Evan Manvel April 27, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    To contact Governor Kitzhaber:

    To contact Governor Gregoire:

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    • Joe Rowe April 28, 2011 at 9:49 am

      Thanks Evan. We need to ask Jonathan to add contact information. Many of his most critical stories sets a tone that leaves the reader with no contact info. I often post contact info, but Jonathan has moderated me. He’s never blocked any comment, he just delays them. He’s got the right to stage reader comments, it’s his site. But people can make suggestions.

      Watch this video starting at 2:15, it talks about the lack of contact info on bikeportland

      Really, bikeportland is a lot like the oregonian. In order to gain access to big people, he never calls the big people to the carpet.

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      • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) April 28, 2011 at 10:06 am

        Really, bikeportland is a lot like the oregonian. In order to gain access to big people, he never calls the big people to the carpet.

        Thanks for your input Joe, but I absolutely disagree with you. You are a citizen activist. I am also a citizen activist… and a business owner, and a publisher, and a lobbyist, and a journalist. As such, I have many more things to think about than simply calling electeds “to the carpet.”

        The decisions I make about what to put in stories is, I feel, a bit more complicated than you are willing to understand.

        First, I do put contact information in many stories where I feel the tone and the subject matter makes it appropriate. In the 6 years I’ve been doing this work, BikePortland readers have impacted many many issues and have made thousands of phone calls, emails, etc… about things they first read on this site.

        I usually err on the side of not putting in contact information because I see BikePortland as both a news outlet and a tool for advocacy. As such, choose my advocacy opportunities very carefully.

        “Calling people to the carpet” as you put it can be an effective tool. My goal is to both continue to have access AND to be able to call people out when necessary.

        I am proud of the fact that, even though my role in this community is very complicated, I feel I am one of the only voices that has maintained a healthy skepticism and distance from the power structures, while also retaining their trust and the access that comes with it. That is not easy to do. Trust me.

        I appreciate your feedback and thanks for the video link. That’s great food for thought.

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        • Bjorn April 28, 2011 at 10:55 am

          Sometimes we are a lot better off when Bikeportland readers don’t have access to contact information… Especially on a breaking story where some of the facts may not be clear.

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      • matt picio April 28, 2011 at 10:25 am

        Jonathan addressed this far better than I can, but I wanted to add one comment. Let’s say for the sake of argument, Joe, that Jonathan took the kind of tone you seem to be advocating. After Sam Adams, the BTA, PBOT, Earl Blumenaur and others stop returning Jonathan’s calls, who exactly is going to have the insider information to alert us to these issues?

        Jonathan Maus is one man. Bike Portland is 1.5 FTE staff and a handful of volunteer contributors (forgive me, JM if I have the exact details wrong) – their impact is in disseminating information for all of us to act on, and while asking the hard questions is a part of serious journalism, the media always has a balancing act in order to maintain access. It’s up to the readership to follow up and provide pressure.


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      • J.R. (Dir. Keeping Lights On) April 28, 2011 at 11:08 am

        Pardon my defensiveness but you’ve got to be kidding!? In 160,000 comments over 11,000+ posts published by one guy, do you really think there is time to calculatingly meter your comments? There is not.
        The fact that you can comment on nearly anything published here largely negates your argument that BikePortland discourages engagement. In fact it strives to encourage engagement. Look at the links in this article- this one for instance has the Governors’ phone numbers right a the top:
        Evan’s inclusion of their email addresses is of benefit to anyone reading the article and comments like Evan’s are encouraged because they routinely improve a story. The publisher himself suggested in the comments that the Governors would take notice if 100 people sent them this video. I don’t see the Oregonian doing that. I also don’t believe that “called to the carpet” interviews are much of a strategy for advocacy, journalism or business.
        The TED video you pointed out is really good but it does not, as you stated, talk about the lack of contact info on BikePortland. I agree with a lot of the points in the video including Meslin’s point 4 which states that a heroic effort is COLLECTIVE, IMPERFECT and VOLUNTARY. I think that describes this publication and its reader participation very well even though I strongly disagree with you in this instance.

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      • wsbob April 28, 2011 at 11:17 am

        “… Many of his most critical stories sets a tone that leaves the reader with no contact info. …” Joe Rowe

        If the person or agency in need of being contacted is not well known, contact info might help people overcome a big obstacle to getting their word out; beyond that, browser search function easily pulls up lots of contact info for things like government, local and national.

        “… Really, bikeportland is a lot like the oregonian. In order to gain access to big people, he never calls the big people to the carpet. …” Joe Rowe

        Calling people to the carpet. How frequently can a little reporter take this type approach to big people, and still get access to the big people?

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  • matt picio April 27, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    Ross, you’ve just cut to the heart of the matter. Over a decade ago, increased capacity was identified as the primary goal. Now, we’re in a new environment where VMT on the bridge has fallen for 3 straight years, and there is no short or mid-term projected increase in traffic, hence no requirement for increased capacity. Long-term is a little more difficult to predict, as it requires a guess as to the future of motorization – an aspect which is cloudy at best and indecipherable in the extreme.

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  • Carter April 27, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    All evidence indicates that the powers that be want a new, big freeway bridge and that’s all there is to it. All the common sense in the world is not going to influence those who stand to profit by the big, expensive, bad option.

    The governors’ gatekeepers have evidently not allowed them to evaluate realistic alternatives to the superbridge. There may be a chance that state legislators will pass laws requiring a more common sense alternative, but wait until the lobbyists for the expensive bridge option get ahold of them.

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    • q`Tzal April 28, 2011 at 12:33 pm

      Another more “mud-slinging” angle to sway the genral public: eminent domain. Few issues raise more ire than taxes and eminent domain but in the latter case the irrational fervor is self-sustaining.

      Assume the BIG Build CRC occurs.
      Traffic backups now migrate to downtown and N Portland.
      Just how man peoples’ properties, homes and businesses will be razed for the traffic problem we’ve moved in to town?
      How much will this resemble the Mt Hood Freeway issue?

      We keep pulling our punches against a much more well funded foe: perhaps now is the time to play dirty.
      The cost of the CRC is more than the construction price or debt leveraging, the public needs to be made aware of the costs for what will be “necessary” next.

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  • Johnnie Olivan April 27, 2011 at 7:23 pm


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    • Johnnie Olivan April 27, 2011 at 7:29 pm

      I thought you were done and you dropped another bridge on it….that was a well done video

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      • Justin April 28, 2011 at 10:19 am

        I know! I was surprised to see not one, but four bridge projects (two upgrade, two new construction).

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  • borgbike April 28, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    I love this proposal. It seems to work so practically and takes a realistic approach. Plus it seems to provide better long-term forward-thinking solutions for light rail and train traffic. The construction based on phases will have much less economic disruption.

    One thing I love about it is that there will eventually be a second vehicle traffic bridge. This is vitally important in a disaster situation. In case of an earthquake we don’t want to have all of our eggs in one super duper expensive CRC basket.

    It will be interesting to see how car-focused political interests react to the proposal. Will it get serious consideration or will it get a lot of knee-jerk denunciation? I’d hate to see it labeled as the bike-friendly plan rather that the “it costs less than half” plan. Honestly I can’t see how a fiscally conservative Vancouverite can have a problem with this but then again these days people tend to react to things more based on perceived political color rather than the real substance of an idea.

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  • Johnnie Olivan April 28, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    I really enjoy how this plan is done in stages, allowing for the process to be evaluated as it goes. If there is a need to jump into a commitment a.s.a.p., why wouldn’t this be the common sense alternative?

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    • Alan 1.0 April 28, 2011 at 11:03 pm

      Because each stage would require all the parties to go back to funding issues, separately, over and over. The only way it could work is if the entire proposal were funded as a package deal, which pretty much undermines the attractiveness of the phased implementation. A cynic might wonder if that were not the objective of the proposal all along by people who have opposed anything but refurbishing the existing bridge. That said–and I’m not really that cynical–from a regional urbanist point-of-view that CSA looks excellent in nearly all regards and I’d support it if the funding for future phases were secured.

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  • Merckxrider April 29, 2011 at 11:42 am

    Wouldn’t get public support in Vancouver and parts farther north–the hicks in Battle Ground want more freeway lanes at any cost. They’d probably want to keep a drawbridge, the better to keep witches and dragons over in Portland as well as prevent excessive numbers of bicyclists from invading their good, All-American roads.

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  • GlowBoy April 29, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    The CSA does look pretty promising, though I wonder if some of the cost estimates (only $50M each for a new BNSF bridge and a new MAX/transit bridge to Hayden Island?) might be a bit low.

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    • Spencer Boomhower April 29, 2011 at 4:09 pm


      I’m guessing you got those numbers out of the .doc I posted above, which is Jim Howell’s original proposal. Those estimates were later revised, probably when Jim started working with George Crandall to produce their combined CSA proposal. The numbers got bumped up – way up – to more conservative estimates. For instance, the two that you mention were each doubled, to $100 million each. As you can see here in a still from the video:

      Sorry for the confusion!

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  • Norman H April 29, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    Mayor Adams has come out against the Common Sense Alternative. Apparently he doesn’t think it can be realistically funded. I have to say I found his remarks exasperating.

    The financing behind the Columbia River Crossing is based on fantasy. One third of the Oregon House of Representatives have called for a pause in the process largely out of concerns about financing. Yet to my knowledge, Sam Adams has never expressed any concerns.

    The very least he could do is call for an investment grade analysis before the CRC goes forward.

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  • Jim Lee April 30, 2011 at 9:20 am

    CSA deals well with the rail bridges. A new passenger rail system will need a new bridge, but why is everyone, including Sam Adams, compulsive about cable-stayed designs? Always it is dangerous to commit to certain visuals in advance of actual engineering, as CRC fans recently discovered.

    Otherwise, CSA is a real mess, multiple blots upon a magnificent riverine environment. Far worse than CRC in that respect.

    Conde McCullough said we should build bridges for utility, economy, and to blend with the terrain. Respect the river, people!

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    • Spencer Boomhower May 1, 2011 at 4:09 am

      Jim, as I understand it, one good reason to go with the cable stay design is because that kind of span puts fewer columns into the water. According to Jim Howell, this has less environmental impact, and creates fewer obstacles to navigation. So in a way that kind of approach does respect the river; as much as it can while still spanning the river, anyway.

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  • GlowBoy May 2, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    Thanks Spencer. Yes, I was looking at the .doc because I couldn’t access Vimeo from my work computer.

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  • rev May 3, 2011 at 6:18 am

    Alex Reed


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