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Activists see Monday hearing as last chance to stop CRC bill

Posted by on February 15th, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Anti 12-lane CRC Ride-6

Scene from a 2009 anti-CRC rally.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

House Bill 2800 — and in some ways the future of Columbia River Crossing project — is up for another hearing at the state capitol on Monday. Activists against the project, who packed hearing rooms this past Monday, hope for a repeat performance in order to “make sure the narrative remains on our side.”

Others see Monday’s hearing as a “last chance” effort to stop the bill. If passed, HB 2800 would declare that it’s in Oregon’s state interest to fund and move forward with the project. The bill would free up the bonding and tolling authority necessary so the state can come up with its share — $450 million — of the project’s $3.6 billion price tag. But critics call the bill a “blank check” that unleashes a series of scary financial obligations.

“This could be our last chance and a huge turnout could be the only thing to stop it. This could be it.”
— Dan Kaufman

Regional political action committee Bike Walk Vote is organizing carpools from Portland to Salem via Facebook. The Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods, an umbrella group that represents 12 Portland neighborhood associations, is urging their members to contact legislators to voice concerns. They sent out an email blast today stating that the NECN, “holds the position that the the Columbia River Crossing project is a costly, risky highway mega-project that would be bad for our neighborhoods and for all Oregonians… We need to keep up the pressure.” (Read more about NECN’s position.)

Monday’s hearing will also likely be the first time we hear from the newly formed “bipartisan coalition” against the project that includes such diverse interests as the Coalition for a Livable Future and the Cascade Policy Institute.

Dan Kaufman, a citizen activist who’s been working to thwart the project for years, shared with us that, “This could be our last chance and a huge turnout could be the only thing to stop it. This could be it.”

While the politics of the CRC still look good for project backers here in Oregon, the picture just keeps getting worse in Washington. The Willamette Week reported today that a Washington state rep wants a re-design. Regardless of the merits of that lawmakers request, it looks increasingly unlikely that Washington will vote in support of the project during this year’s legislative session. Whether that fact impacts the urgency Oregon lawmakers feel around HB 2800 remains to be seen.

The hearing will take place Monday (2/18) at 3:00 pm in front of a 16-member House Joint Committee on the I-5 Bridge Replacement Project. I plan to attend so stay tuned for more coverage.

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Joeq'TzalOregon MamacitaCapizziMike Quigley Recent comment authors
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Alan 1.0
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Alan 1.0

This is probably a stupid question but here goes. So, the Feds share of the funding is 50%, and OR and WA are to split the other half. That means that $450M is 1/4 of the funding, or $1.8B total (OR+WA+Fed). Ignoring debt service and near-certain cost overruns, where does the other $1.8B (3.6-1.8=1.8) come from?

Evan Manvel
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Evan Manvel

To remind people, this isn’t a bill allowing Oregon to come up with “just” $450 million.

It’s a blank check so Oregon can spend whatever they want to. Given there’s already a $400 million hole in the financing for the project, and the traffic projections are based on $1.10 gas, and WSDOT’s tolling projections on the Seattle tunnel and Tacoma Narrows Bridge have been wildly off, and ODOT’s projects tend to triple in cost, don’t think this is about “just” $450,000,000.

All evidence is it will cost a lot more than that.

The bill says this: “the State Treasurer may not have
outstanding, at any one time, bonds in an amount exceeding $450
million” — so all you do is pay off some bonds and issue new ones; it’s a revolving $450 million slush fund until the cows come home.

And to those who think the cost cap for the project is real, look at any other transportation mega-project ODOT has done recently. The political forces change once a project is started, and no one puts up with a half-done project.

Evan Manvel
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Evan Manvel

Alan – the hope is tolls ($1.3 billion) and federal highway money ($400 million). But those are highly unlikely; the federal highway money pot has $500 million TOTAL for all of America. The hundreds of millions of dollars in financing gaps (plus the cost overruns) will be born by, well, you know who.

And the toll projections are iffy; there’s a huge record of WSDOT and ODOT toll projections being WAY off; the models for the project weren’t built to handle tolling. http://www.blueoregon.com/2013/02/pt-barnum-right-crc-boondoggle/

q`Tzal
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q`Tzal

We will want to look in to the minimum allowable bike & pedestrian accommodation allowed by Oregon, Washington and federal law regarding this bridge project.
Also that “hole in the air” that prevents lane and width reductions relative to commercial trucks; it may be vague enough to mandate/require at least equivalent accommodation.
ALSO: if they try to completely eliminate bike facilities I’d look into extreme applications of the Oregon law requiring bike lanes on new roads.

If they force this through and try to to eliminate bike and led access the city, port authority and ODOT should found on some fairly ugly civil disobedience and even uglier lawsuits.

Hart Noecker
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There’s a growing group of people who plan to bike to Salem and back for the CRC hearing on Monday. Meetup is 9am at Tiny’s Coffee at SE 12th & Hawthorne. Low chance of rain. Bring a spare tube, water, and snacks. Shift posting is here: http://www.shift2bikes.org/cal/#18-3462

Marid
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Marid

Please pass the bill so we can begin building the bridge. I take comfort in knowing that nine times out ten, politics follows the money. The economy of the I5 corridor depends on this project. I have far more cycling miles in my legs than driving miles, but that doesn’t make the current CRC bridge look like the Golden Gate.

Capizzi
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Capizzi

Does the bridge design meet Coast Guard specification? Bridge height seemed like a deal breaker before and yet I see no mention of the Coast Guard’s response to the Navigation Impact Report that was supposedly submitted by CRC staff January 2013.

Hart Noecker
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” I take comfort in knowing that nine times out ten, politics follows the money.”

There you have it folks, the CRC supporters giving away the game.

Mike Quigley
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Oregon Mamacita
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Oregon Mamacita

I am against the CRC. But other issues have driven a giant wedge among
Portlanders- such as the destruction of old neighborhoods- so I can’t work with you guys. Have fun on your bike ride to Salem. The people divided are easily defeated. Signed- an incumbant landowner who dared to have two kids & got a “real” job.

Joe
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Joe

I will bike across I-5 boones bridge today in a silent protest of more bike related INFRA for modes of transport. if we keep building more lanes for cars it will not solve the problem, but if we make something that is workable if moves ppl safer and better.

Joe
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Joe

maybe not since the sholder lane is filled with junk. 🙂 sorry about typo