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CRC update: Faith from Metro, $178 million for parking garages, and more

Parking garages will cost $178 million.

Love it or hate it, the Columbia River Crossing project is marching forward. Fast (in mega-project terms). Below is a run-down of recent developments and news tidbits…

Metro’s Leap of Faith
On June 9th, Metro voted 5-1 in favor of a CRC resolution (Councilor Carl Hosticka was the lone no vote). The vote was a nod to CRC project staff and state DOTs from Oregon and Washington that they had “addressed satisfactorily” a list of 11 issues with the current plan initially raised by Metro back in 2008.

According to citizen activist Rebecca Hamilton, a report by Metro showed that only five of the 11 issues were “fully addressed,” yet that didn’t stop them from passing the resolution. According to Hamilton, “The remaining six, which include major project concerns (such as the financing plan), were considered unresolved. In the polite project parlance, these issues are considered ‘on track, but requires additional actions/decisions.'”

Hamilton also reported that of the 40 citizens who testified, about 90% “urged Council to vote no on the resolution.”

Despite a lack of progress on key issues with the project and many unconvinced constituents, Metro councilors pushed through the CRC plan. One councilor, Barbara Roberts, had mixed feelings about the project, but described her vote as a “leap of faith”.

CRC’s Answers
In response to questions raised in recent news articles, CRC project staff released a new document on June 16th titled, “Recently Asked Questions.” Available only in PDF form, the document gives the official answer to 14 questions about the project. The questions include details on funding, oversight, whether or not they looked at alternative plans, urgency of the project, and so on.

$178 Million for Park-and-Rides
Remember when I reported last month that the CRC project would spend $60 million on three parking garages near downtown Vancouver to encourage suburban commuters to use light rail? My story was based on an estimate by economist Joe Cortright. Turns out he was wrong.

A story published in The Columbian yesterday has the official estimate — $178 million for 2,890 car parking spaces. That comes out to $61,500 per parking space. CRC officials also told The Columbian that the park-and-rides would be free.

Jobs Lies?
The Willamette Week’s Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Nigel Jaquiss wrote a follow-up to his A Bridge Too False piece last week. In Not True, Times Ten Jaquiss thoroughly debunks the CRC’s job-creation claims.

Wonky Details
Last week, CRC critic and transportation expert Chris Smith pointed out that citizen activist Jim Karlock filed a successful public information request to see the project’s Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). Get the link to download it and read some discussion about it on PortlandTransport.com.

As the CRC lumbers through the process and continues to be supported by our regional elected officials, many questions remain. Is this project destined to happen? Will any regional leader step up (perhaps prodded by activists) to put the brakes on it? Stay tuned.

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