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CRC project announces $4.2 million “construction techniques test”

Posted by on December 20th, 2011 at 11:53 am

Artists rendering.
(Graphic: CRC)

Columbia River Crossing project staff announced today that they’ve awarded a $4.22 million contract to begin “pre-construction” of the estimated $3.5 billion project.

The contract will go to a Washington-based firm (Max J Kuney Company). In a press release, the CRC project said the firm will, “conduct a construction techniques test project in early 2012.”

Deputy project director Kris Strickler added that, “The test project will allow engineers to refine design assumptions and project plans, keeping us on schedule to start construction by the end of 2013.”

In addition to this “pre-construction” contract, the CRC project has already cost taxpayers an estimated $130 million in planning and PR expenses.

CRC project staff want the public and elected officials to see this project as being inevitable and are happy to share this news as yet another sign of its momentum. But outspoken bridge critic and economist Joe Cortright calls that momentum nothing more than a “fiction purchased by $130 million in planning money.”

Cortright points to a lack of funding comments from local and regional agencies as well as the federal government as a sign that the project is far from a done deal.

In testimony to Metro back in August, Cortright said,
“CRC is trading on the sheer volume of its work and a vague sense of inevitability to move the project along. But still, after years of “planning” they haven’t raised dime number one to actually pay for construction.”

So, does today’s announcement kill Cortright’s chief argument? He says it doesn’t.

“This is planning, not construction,” he wrote me via email today. “The holes they are boring are not for the actual bridge itself. They are to get data on the geology and to assess the environmental effects of the drilling/pile driving… Still not a dime for actual construction of the bridge.”

US DOT Assistant Secretary of Transportation Policy Polly Trottenberg didn’t help dispel that feeling in a recent interview with BikePortland. “The one issue with that project [the CRC] is that the funding is still not in place,” she told me in an interview published this morning, “Whether our blessing of the next step of it will make the funding emerge… We’ll have to see.”

Read the CRC’s full announcement here.

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9watts
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9watts

Any way to know out of which taxpayer pocket all this money so far spent on it has come? Aren’t we fretting over how to cut $16M from PBOT’s budget?

Ken Southerland
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Ken Southerland

To add insult to injury on a bridge that will already benefit Washingtonians way more than Oregonians, this contract goes to a Washington firm. Nice. Can I withhold my taxes?

G
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Is there a neighborhood on either side of the bridge that formally supports this highway expansion project?

Jeffrey Bernards
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Jeffrey Bernards

Oregon taxpayers are suppose to pony up $650 million for our part. How many teachers will be laid off? How much further are we going to let our current infrastructure crumble in order to fund this bridge? If this benefits the trucking industry it’s time now to add a diesel tax to help pay for the bridge or it’s just another special interest group getting something for nothing. It also supports the myth that shipping food 1500 miles is sustainable. If tolling is going to control traffic on the new bridge it should work on the current bridge too, Where are the tolls? Had Kitzhaber supported the bridge during his campaign, I would have boycotted the election, it was wrong on his part not to mention it till after the election.
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Jeff Bernards
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Tom M
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Tom M

The one thing everyone forgets is this is this is a one size fits all proposition. That means it’s a huge compromise. Nobody wins with this project except those promoting it.

What has always been needed and nobody want to hear is that there should be two separate spans. The old bridge should be upgraded for seismic survivability. The new one should be for trucking, mass transit and a deck for pedestrians and cyclists. We give trains separate bridges all the time, why not trucking? Then you could run it with a toll system only for the trucks and get it paid for by those who really use it.

Oh, wait, the trucking lobby would hate that.

Dan Kaufman
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I am sick of paying people to force this freeway down my throat.

How do we kill it? Do we need a replacement like light rail was for the Mt. Hood Freeway.

There are some very influential labor unions backing this project. Is there a way to get them to pull their support?