Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Legislative committee votes to move forward on CRC project

Posted by on February 19th, 2013 at 1:00 am

CRC hearing in Salem-6

Committee Co-Chair Tobias Read listens to testimony.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Columbia River Crossing project took a step forward in Salem on Monday. After hearing nearly four hours of testimony for the second week in a row, a joint legislative committee voted 14-2 (see votes below) in favor of HB 2800 — a bill that “declares that it is in the state’s interest” to undertake the project.

While an opposition rallied against the bill, it was pushed through so quickly and decisively by the legislative power structure that those against it never really had a chance. In today’s marathon hearing, numerous labor union reps and business interest groups lined up to testify in support of the bill and the project. There were many of smiles and handshakes inside and outside the hearing room before the hearing even began. It was clear many of the movers and shakers had already counted votes and the public testimony would be a mere formality.

CRC hearing in Salem-4

Director of ODOT Matt Garrett (L) shakes hands with Port of Portland Executive Director Bill Wyatt prior to the hearing.

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These trades workers were brought in to “put a face on the jobs” the project is promising to create.
CRC hearing in Salem-13

Metro President Tom Hughes showed up with a “Build that Bridge” pin and went on to share with the committee that the CRC is a “vital project for the Portland metro area.” The Executive Director of the Port of Portland Bill Wyatt rattled off a list of major companies that do shipping through properties owned by the Port that are adjacent to the Columbia River. “Subaru, Nike, Intel…” The General Manager of Fred Meyer and QFC stores testified that the trucks that serve his stores sometimes get caught in I-5 traffic on their way north.

It was hammered home by a litany of professional representatives of companies and labor and business organizations that a wider freeway and a newer, bigger bridge is imperative because I-5 is the “lifeblood of the economy,” that it’s “essential to freight movement,” the “key to job production” and so on.

And, while their talking points weren’t nearly as concise and organized, there were many more people who spoke out against the project. One source we spoke to counted 19 people in favor of the CRC and 32 people who testified against it. While nearly all of those in favor represented large companies, unions, or other organizations, many who showed up to testify against the project were private citizens who lived in the areas that will be most impacted if it ever gets built.

Northeast Portland resident Evan Ross said he’s concerned about air quality in neighborhoods near the freeway project. “I urge you to listen to your constituents, not special interests that are pushing this project,” he said. One woman, who introduced herself as a mom and homeowner in northeast Portland urged lawmakers to consider how we’ll be moving ourselves around in the future. “In the next 50 years, single-occupancy vehicles is not what we’ll be wanting to invest in.”

Ryan Howard, a Newberg City Council member, said the design of the project will only, “Fuel our auto-addiction.” Speaking for the emerging low/no-car constituency, Howard asked, “Who are we building this for?” “If you’re building it for my generation,” he continued, “You should know that we’re committed to not needing it.”

Many others who testified against the project pointed out how it will eat up funding for other important projects around the state. Portland resident Carl Larson pointed out the ubiquitous “Build the Bridge” buttons and stickers in the room: “We should be building many bridges,” he said, “Not just this one. If we don’t build this one, there are a lot of other roads and bridges we can build.”

And then there was self-described “recovering politician” Jefferson Smith. The former state rep and Portland mayoral candidate said he’s concerned that this bill is “committing to the dough before getting the dough.”

CRC hearing in Salem-10

Jefferson Smith
CRC hearing in Salem-11

Senators and Committee Co-Chairs Bruce Starr (L) and Lee Beyer.
CRC hearing in Salem-9

Sandra McDonough, President & CEO of the Portland Business Alliance

And the “dough” in this case is a $450 million commitment to the project from the state of Oregon. If a series of conditions are reached (a Coast Guard permit, a commitment of an equal amount from Washington, and so on) than the bill that passed Monday allows Oregon to issue bonds to come up with the $450 million.

The debt service on those bonds would equal $27 million per year for 30 years. For the next two years, ODOT will repay those bonds from their state transportation improvement program (STIP) “Enhance” funds. While House Speaker Tina Kotek (and others) have tried to say they can use these funds “without significantly impacting the state’s other transportation priorities,” that’s simply not the case. Many Oregon communities rely on STIP Enhance funds for local projects.

After raiding STIP for the next two years, legislators are hoping they’ll have a new revenue stream to pull from beginning in 2016 (easier said than done)

Once committee co-chair Cliff Bentz (also the bill’s co-sponsor) and other members of the committee asked an ODOT panel a series of financial and other technical questions, it was time for the vote.

In the end, only two members of the committee voted against the bill: Senators Chuck Thomsen (R-Hood River), and Fred Girod (R-Stayton). Girod said he thinks the project puts many rural Oregon projects at risk. He also wanted more oversight of the bill in the Ways and Means Committee.

Senator Lee Beyer (D-Springfield) said, “I think this project is probably the most looked-at project in the history of the state. I think if we step out of line [for funding], we won’t get back in line for another decade or two. This is the time to build the bridge.”

Hillsboro Republican Bruce Starr said the bill demonstrates, “The art of the possible,” and that “it ain’t perfect by anybody’s stretch,” but he supports it for the “long-term economic health of Oregon.”

Rep. John Davis (R-Wilsonville) also struck a chord of urgency and wanting to simply be done with this debate. “To the public for the last 18 years that this has been an official state project, your voices have been heard. None of you got everything you wanted… but I would ask that after 1,000 public meetings, how many more design alternatives should we consider?… The easy vote would be to send this back to another study group. We all ran on a platform of getting stuff done.”

From here, the bill will go straight to votes on the House and Senate floors. Stay tuned.

Here are the votes for HB 2800 in the Joint Committee on Interstate-5 Replacement Project:

    Representative Cliff Bentz – YES
    Representative Tobias Read – YES
    Senator Lee Beyer – YES
    Senator Bruce Starr – YES
    Senator Chuck Thomsen – NO
    Senator Chris Edwards – YES
    Senator Fred Girod – NO
    Senator Rod Monroe – YES
    Representative Kevin Cameron – YES
    Representative John Davis – YES
    Representative Margaret Doherty – YES
    Representative Chris Gorsek – YES
    Representative John Lively – YES
    Representative Caddy McKeown – YES
    Representative Nancy Nathanson – YES
    Representative Julie Parrish – YES

More coverage of the hearing and vote:
Willamette Week
The Oregonian

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

  • Hart Noecker February 19, 2013 at 1:15 am

    This is going to be career suicide for these politicians. Next election cycle, there’s going to be no bigger factor of whether they’ll be getting votes. ‘Did they vote for the CRC?’ Then we sure as hell aren’t re-electing them.

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    • Mike Quigley February 19, 2013 at 6:23 am

      Don’t count on that. The average American attention span is, oh, about two weeks at most.

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      • Hart Noecker February 19, 2013 at 7:47 am

        The people in the hearing room testifying against the CRC were anything but average, trust me.

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  • Spencer Boomhower February 19, 2013 at 1:59 am

    It’ll be interesting to see what happens when the Oregon voting public really notices how much money was spent, at the expense of who knows how many other projects, all in order to build just the kind of sprawling freeway we thought our land-use laws were supposed to spare us from having to build. All under the guise of the comforting, market-tested label, “bridge replacement.”

    Just as an aside, unless everything goes swimmingly with the CRC, it’ll be a major anchor around the necks of Oregon Democrats. A Democratic governor and a Democratic speaker are propelling this forward; it’s a Dem project. As a pretty steady “D” voter, that has me a little concerned.

    “The Executive Director of the Port of Portland Bill Wyatt rattled off a list of major companies that do shipping through properties owned by the Port that are adjacent to the Columbia River.”

    Here’s one thing I don’t get: the current congestion near the crossing is cited as this terrible hindrance to freight bound for the ports, because this 60mph interstate through the heart of town slows to a crawl a couple times a day. Let’s say it’s awful enough that the average speed for these few miles of freeway is 30mph overall. Terrible! OK. Now, freight going to the ports is bound for ocean-going freighters, and ocean freighters travel at an average of 20 knots, but cruise at something like 10 knots (for efficiency), for thousands of miles. 10-20 knots is roughly 13-23 mph. How can it be that our freeway that drags down freeway speeds for just a few miles is considered any real hindrance to freight that spends any time at all on a ship?

    “To the public for the last 18 years that this has been an official state project, your voices have been heard. None of you got everything you wanted… but I would ask that after 1,000 public meetings, how many more design alternatives should we consider?”

    18 years? This poor project is aging before our eyes. The official Columbia River Crossing timeline lists the start date of the CRC as 2005:


    So more like eight years. There are of course points on the timeline before that, but they’re pre-CRC, more along the lines of reports, recommendations, tasks forces, etc.

    Still, that’s a lot of meetings. Funny thing about that, though, is that among all the CRC open houses they held, there wasn’t one I could find that was held south the Expo Center (just on the Oregon side of the river). I went to one open house there, and asked one of the CRC people why this was this case, and he said: because the CRC wasn’t projected to have any impact on points south of the project area, i.e. Portland and the rest of Oregon.

    But now we seem to be headed toward throwing in $450 million, just as an ante in the pot, and with no apparent limit on spending for this five miles of freeway. Prepare to be impacted!

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  • dwainedibbly February 19, 2013 at 4:13 am

    Jonathan: can you list the committee members who voted in favor?

    Mrs Dibbly & I will probably change our registrations from unaffiliated to D just to help any primary opponents. I encourage anyone else in the same situation to do the same. I *really* wish I was in Tina Koteck’s district. You can be sure that my friends in her district will hear about this.

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    • Seth D. Alford February 19, 2013 at 7:50 am

      I live in Read’s district, and I hope someone primaries him.

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    • rain bike February 19, 2013 at 8:21 am

      Join the Party and stay for a while.

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  • Mike Quigley February 19, 2013 at 7:30 am

    What’s uncanny about this is the $450 million bond debt with no way to pay for it! Besides, it’s still requires approval of the Coast Guard, Washington legislature and the Federal gov’t. Let’s hope that calmer heads prevail and the sequester pushes it so far out as to effectively bury it.

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  • 9watts February 19, 2013 at 7:34 am

    Thanks Jonathan, and all the rest of you great folks who made it to the hearing.

    “The debt service on those bonds would equal $27 million per year for 30 years.”

    Just think what we could do with just the interest payments!

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  • Kristen February 19, 2013 at 8:47 am

    This is really concerning:

    “After raiding STIP for the next two years, legislators are hoping they’ll have a new revenue stream to pull from beginning in 2016 (easier said than done).”

    So… the politicians have no idea where the money will come from after they steal all the money from the STIP. Which means that other programs will get pillaged, until all funds for all road work (or anything even remotely having to do with roads and road work) will be sunk into this boondoggle of a bridge. So nothing else will get done in Oregon, up to and including some badly needed road repairs across the state.

    Awesome. (sarcasm, of course)

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  • Dan V February 19, 2013 at 9:56 am

    There is an easy solution. If traffic congestion is slowing freight and the congestion is due to SOVs gumming up the works twice a day, maybe we can solve this by investing in ways for people to commute that don’t require them to hop into their cars for a solo commute. Get them onto buses, trains, or bicycles and they can get out of the way of the freight. BTW, freight is only hindered heading northbound due to the bridge when the Clark Commuters are fighting their way home. More evidence of the need to not cut bus/bike/light rail access across that bridge. I find it a joke that the trades unions (and yes, I am a member of one) are lining up behind this project. Do they really believe those jobs will last or that OR members will get them?

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  • BURR February 19, 2013 at 10:16 am

    Ah, the good ol’ boy network, voting our money for an extra six lanes of even more expensive gridlock, that’s just F’d up.

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  • maxd February 19, 2013 at 10:26 am

    sent versions of this to Kotek, Shields, Hales, Blumenauer, Wyden and Merkley.

    North Portland is a finite place bounded by the Columbia River to the north, the Willamette to the west and supports a lot of industry, many great neighborhoods, and some great natural areas that just keep getting better. This part of town also has a history of disenfranchisement and being abused by power. The most striking and long-lasting example of this is the condemning of neighborhoods to build the I-5 freeway. Now, after decades of attempting to heal, North Portland still has some empty and neglected land. It may not feel like precious space because the residents are not the wealthiest or most powerful in the state, but every square foot of North Portland is precious! Extrapolate 20, 50, or 100 years into the future and it becomes crystal clear that we will need every piece of land we have for great neighborhoods, thriving businesses, healthy parks and recreation systems. Unfortunately, this is being seriously threatened now by the same powerful coalitions that rammed I-5 through decades ago. I-5 is believed to be a necessary evil, one that is crucial to our state’s economy. However, it is simply not acceptable to ram a giant, mutli-lane freeway through the center of a city. It degrades too much space and brings too many problems for far too little benefit. Freight must be moved across the river, the cities of Vancouver and Portland should be connected, and the bridge should be made safe. However, the CRC is completely unnecessary for any of this! It is too big, and too expensive, it will permanently occupy too much space, and bring too much congestion, diversion and pollution to our city. Please act in your city’s and your district’s best interest and help stop this project.

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  • Champs February 19, 2013 at 10:53 am

    Charlie Hales has been keeping a suspiciously low profile during these hearings.

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  • Barney February 19, 2013 at 11:28 am

    I think the biking community’s interests would be better served by helping to steer this project rather than outright opposing it. It seems like a lost opportunity if we dont offer constructive input instead of just opposition. Or maybe “bike swarm” could help.

    This thing is going to happen, more delays will only add to the cost.

    Okay, now let the flames begin!

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    • Spencer Boomhower February 19, 2013 at 1:25 pm

      “I think the biking community’s interests would be better served by helping to steer this project rather than outright opposing it.”

      Well remember, the bike community isn’t a monolithic thing. Case in point: Rex Burkholder, who has an excellent history of bike advocacy and promoting and developing bike infrastructure, is also a big CRC supporter. Which is baffling to me because I see the CRC as being such a hugely impactful and hugely expensive bad idea that I can’t see the amount of mitigation it would take to make it worthwhile ever happening. Even the bike infrastructure: it’ll be a 4% grade up and over the CRC at a minimum, and there’ll have to be an elevator to get to Hayden. And it’ll be a contained tunnel under a freeway; not exactly welcoming. But however good it can be made to be, I trust people like Rex will be there to help that effort along.

      In the meantime I’ll keep opposing the CRC in its entirety, until it goes away or turns into something that is on balance worth supporting.

      “This thing is going to happen,”

      Between SE Clinton and SE Division, in the 20’s or 30’s, there is a tiny little park. It didn’t start out as a park, though. It was the site of the first two houses to be demolished to make way for the planned Mt. Hood Freeway, that was going all set to obliterate the blocks between Clinton and Division. You can also still see the freeway ramps to nowhere still dangling in the air off I-5, still ready to connect up to that freeway in the 70’s that was absolutely, positively going to get built. These things give me heart, and remind me that it ain’t over til it’s over.

      ” more delays will only add to the cost.”

      More delays will add to the cost of the planning (and marketing and lobbying) process, which I think I’ve heard eats up 1-2 million dollars a month, and which has eaten up about $130 million or so. Which is a huge amount of money! But it’s less than 5% of the planned cost – before overruns, mitigation costs, and debt servicing – of the CRC itself. So delaying the planning process, while expensive, is nothing compared to proceeding forward with the CRC. One way of looking at it is that if the struggle of the planning process can reveal some expensive element of the planned structure that doesn’t really need to be there, then the planning process, including its delays, will have paid for itself.

      It’s generally that way with the design and building of things; you make a plan, tear it apart, make a prototype, tear it apart, whittling the final project down to something essential. That sort of thing has happened at least once with the CRC – they got rid of an interchange on the northern edge of Vancouver, and slimmed the Hayden interchange down from 21 lanes to 17 (which is still quite a lot of lanes) – but overall the CRC seems to have been designed in a “blue sky” mode: come up with a fix for a problem (in this case congestion), while assuming there will be no technical or financial limitations. It’s a way of freeing up ideas in the design process, but usually it’s followed up by a reality check to fit those ideas into the budget or other limitations. I’m of the opinion that the CRC’s reality check is yet to come.

      Anyway, I get where you’re coming from, and I appreciate the suggestions. Hope this reply didn’t seem like a flame.

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      • Barney February 19, 2013 at 3:07 pm

        Spencer, I appreciate your measured, thorough and thoughtful response. It beats the “caveman” or “dinosaur” labels that often get applied to me here.

        You make some fine points and seem to know the issue well. One statement you make is particularly relavent:

        “In the meantime I’ll keep opposing the CRC in its entirety, until it goes away or turns into something that is on balance worth supporting.”

        This “thing” is not going away and it will not turn into something better by simple opposition. Instead of threatening local leaders with an ouster if they vote for it (as some here have stated) , we should be convincing them to make sure that local Portland values are included if it passes, i.e. peds, bikes, and public transport.

        It is not possible to build anything these days without some opposition, it is to be expected. Even though many view this as a local project it is not. The I-5 corridor and rail lines make this a national transportation issue. I believe that it will go forward, the real questions are when and for how much.

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        • Marid February 19, 2013 at 9:51 pm

          Thanks Barney, for your thoughtful comments. I too am an avid cyclist and I support this bridge. The I-5 corridor is vital to economy of the entire region. Companies big and small depend on it. I wouldn’t doubt that there are national defense considerations made in DC as well.

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          • Chris I February 20, 2013 at 7:14 am

            This project is going to suck up $500 million of state money that could be used to seismically retrofit bridges along the critical I-5 corridor. What good will the CRC be when a dozen other bridges (including the Marquam) along the I-5 corridor all are destroyed in the next Cascadia quake?

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          • 9watts February 20, 2013 at 7:59 am

            “The I-5 corridor is vital to economy of the entire region. Companies big and small depend on it.”


            you are forgetting that the usefulness of I-5 depends on cheap oil.

            Just as Chris I pointed out that one bridge between Washington and the East side of Portland isn’t that useful to commerce as we’ve come to know it in the 20th Century–without all the other bridges that may or may not survive the big earthquake—so too I-5 isn’t very useful without the black gold, or the conditions which permit its continued extraction and burning.

            What is most surprising to me about the support for this freeway expansion project is the obsessive focus on speeding up 18-wheeler-freight along our main N-S corridor. Of all the transportation projects to dream up at this particular moment in history, when we need desperately to be investing in post-carbon infrastructure before it is too late, when we have no money and even less time to fool around with more or wider freeways, when the current system of freeways is actually working pretty well, even by its own metrics (anyone here have to wait an extra hour to get their coffee at Starbucks? What exactly is this fixation on timely delivery of freight based on?)

            I don’t think this project is a foregone conclusion at all. So much about it makes no sense. I’m glad Jonathan’s reporting on this so actively. We’ll look back from the near future, after we wishfully spent additional hundreds of millions and wonder at our elected officials’ venality, lack of imagination, myopia.

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          • Paul Cone February 20, 2013 at 8:30 pm

            “National defense considerations”? What is this, the 1950’s? Oh yeah, I guess it is.

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          • spare_wheel February 23, 2013 at 10:07 am

            “national defense”

            huh? are we at war with canada?

            and as for business interests, it would behove business people and executives to start planning for a future where inefficient and heavily subsidized trucking is no longer synonymous with freight.

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  • Ted Buehler February 19, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    Yes, the BTA dropped out of the design process in 2009. Nobody has been representing bicyclists’ interests since. There’s something to be said for opposing a mega-freeway project. But there’s also something to be said for making sure that a new bridge to Vancouver has a good bike route!

    Ted Buehler

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    • rain bike February 19, 2013 at 12:56 pm

      Ask for the world and be happy with half.

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    • J_R February 19, 2013 at 7:18 pm

      Ted B. claims “the BTA dropped out of the design process in 2009. Nobody has been representing bicyclists’ interests since.”

      Not true. I attended some of the project open houses and some people in attendance and they old me they served on the Bike and Pedestrian Committee. I didn’t catch their names, but they sure seemed knowledgeable about provisions for bicyclists and pedestrians.

      I ride the bridge regularly and if what they described (and what’s illustrated on the project website) comes to pass, I’ll feel lots better about riding, even if I have to climb an extra 100 feet elevation. Heck, I’ve been known to ride up some hills for fun. If the path is wide enough and safe enough to zoom down the other side, what’s the big deal?

      And unlike some commenters on here, I don’t necessarily think widening the freeway and providing shoulders is all bad. Whenever there’s a stall or crash, motorists divert to MLK or Interstate Ave. That’s where I’m riding my bike and I don’t care for the additional traffic that should be on I-5. It’s especially bad having frustrated, delayed motorists trying to make up time speeding past me during my bike commute.

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  • davemess February 19, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    Again, I’ll ask, was there anyone from Portland on this committee?

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    • Joe Rowe February 19, 2013 at 8:50 pm

      Yes. Two. Senator Monroe and Rep. Gorsek were both on the Transpiration Committee that sold lie after lie, and added a few lies of their own. I made this map on my own because our state website maps are horrible.


      Click link above.

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    • Joe Rowe February 19, 2013 at 8:55 pm

      BTW Rep. Gorsek is very far East, Mostly Gresham. But using the find your lawmaker tool with the address 1007 NE 172nd you can verify that indeed, he has a few people considered by the USPS as living in Portland. Gorsek and Senator Monroe will find that the backups on Interstate 205 at rush hour will go from bad to horrible. There will be much more pollution due to Monroe and Gorsek voting yes on this project. All that pollution comes from fuel, and that is money not going to Fred Meyer and all the businesses who said quote “traffic comes to a stop” on the CRC after 3pm.

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      • Paul Cone February 20, 2013 at 8:29 pm

        Just because the mailing address is Portland, that doesn’t mean they’re in the city limits.

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  • Peter W February 19, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    A huge thanks to everyone who came to testify (including a student from as far away as Seattle).

    “Many people were unable to attend the hearing, understandably since it was at 3 p.m. on a weekday, but I hope that they at least took the step of writing their legislative representatives to make their opinion known. I am 24 years old, the youngest person to testify on February 11th, and I know that if the Oregon Legislature approves House Bill 2800, I will be paying for it for the next forty years.”


    Now would be a good time to write and call your legislator and let them know how important their opposition is.


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  • davemess February 19, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    Also find it sad/funny that there is no mention of this story on the Boregonian website. There is another article taking shots at Trimet though.

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    • Ted Buehler February 19, 2013 at 1:22 pm

      It was in the print edition of The Oregonian, B section, above the fold, small column on the left side.

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      • Spencer Boomhower February 19, 2013 at 3:10 pm

        Yep, it was just to the left of the story saying how the city has nowhere near enough money to cover basic street maintenance:


        All told, the Auditor’s Office estimates it would cost $750 million over the next 10 years to meet street maintenance targets.

        “No forecast we’ve seen would provide (the bureau) that kind of money,” said Drummond Kahn, director of the city’s Audit Services Division. Still “to not invest would cost even more.”

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        • Chris I February 19, 2013 at 3:26 pm

          Oh ya, but Portland doesn’t have money because they blow it all on streetcars and bikes. ODOT doesn’t have funding problems… right? Right?

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          • Spencer Boomhower February 19, 2013 at 4:11 pm

            Yeah, I was bracing myself, glancing over that article, for a “Road to Ruin” -esque argument trying to pin a $750 million shortfall on $0.9 million spent on 13.5 miles of bike boulevards… I only skimmed it, but I didn’t see anything along those lines; it didn’t seem to be quite as tabloidy as some of the O’s earlier efforts on the subject.

            But part of why I post that is because based on the little I know about how transportation budgets work, I get the impression that at least some local money comes via the state and federal level. Like city street funding isn’t all from local fees, some of it starts at the federal level, then goes through the state level, which it gets distributed to county and city levels.

            So it seems possible that there could be a line drawn from the $750 million shortfall in city transportation funding mentioned in the one article, to the $450 million the legislature is hell bent on blowing on the CRC, as mentioned in the article just to its left.

            I can see the lede now:

            “What’s a priority? New freeways lanes, suburban commuters, and demolishing still-useful bridges”

            “What’s not? Repaving and cleaning your crumbling roads!”

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    • Marid February 19, 2013 at 10:17 pm

      The story was posted on the O-live website earlier today. It has about 60 or so comments. The terrible design of the site means you have to search for it on Google. “CRC Bridge” gets you there.

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  • kww February 19, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    Barney is right on. Head in the sand approach will not work with this project (full opposition). The project will happen and needs to happen. I don’t even want to think of what a cluster bomb Portland would become if an earthquake knocks out the I-5 and I-205 bridges.

    Let the criticisms be constructive and argue for light rail (to reduce pollution) and equal bike access.

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  • 9watts February 19, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    “I don’t even want to think …if an earthquake knocks out the I-5 and I-205 bridges.”

    I don’t think the word is ‘if’ but ‘when.’ And I also don’t think anyone is suggesting that a Megathrust 9.0 earthquake would leave any replacement bridge over the Columbia usable either. Let’s not oversell this thing. I (still) support the Do Nothing Alternative.

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    • Chris I February 19, 2013 at 2:18 pm

      Everyone that uses the “earthquake” defense for the project conveniently ignores ODOT’s own estimates that a seismic retrofit of the current spans would cost around $200 million (not much more than we’ve spent planning/promoting the CRC). You can build bridges that will survive a 9.0 earthquake, and this is one of the main reasons I oppose the CRC. Our state should be using the $500 million they just devoted to the CRC to upgrade or replace existing critical spans that are not up to current standards. If the CRC is built, and we get hit by the big one, it probably will still be standing, but dozens of other spans in our region that could have been upgraded to survive the quake will be piles of rubble.

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      • kww February 19, 2013 at 5:24 pm

        Chris, do you have the ODOT reference where they state that the existing spans could be upgraded for $200M? I doubt any lift bridge (I-5, Steel Bridge, Hawthorne) could be upgraded – they are all gigantic pendulums that will collapse, imo. I am asking because I didn’t know that info was out there.

        Anyway, I believe Portland is on the right track with regard to bridges, with the light rail bridge and Sellwood bridges being built to modern code so that in a worst case scenario we will still have a link across the Willamette.

        That still leaves the Columbia, and barring CRC, if the Glenn Jackson bridge also falls down during a Cascadia Subduction event, I question if the Longview or Astoria bridges would hold up as well.

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        • Spencer Boomhower February 19, 2013 at 6:27 pm

          kww, Chris might have his own sources, but here’s one I’ve seen:


          “The Panel discussed and developed their opinion of estimated raw bridge construction costs to retrofit both bridges. This opinion ranges from $88 million to $190 million. This opinion of cost increases from $125 million to $265 million when design, permitting, right-of-way, construction inspection and management, agency oversight, and contingencies are added. (Note: The Expert Panel determined an opinion on ranges of construction costs and did not estimate the added costs.)”

          The Common Sense Alternative (see the link in my name) calls it $200 million. The authors of the CSA tended to go with the slightly higher end of cost ranges when making their estimates, in order to keep the estimates conservative and realistic.

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          • kww February 19, 2013 at 7:43 pm

            Thanks Spencer.

            Like all the other estimates for bridge replacement, the seismic upgrade costs should be veiled with skepticism. The costs are conceptual only and they don’t address the lift bridges, only to say they are inadequate.

            Section 5 of the report has qualifiers as to the estimated cost. Usually when the estimates are of this low confidence, then the proper contingency is at least 100%. Given their estimate range of $88-193M, that means a total contigency of $176-393M – for a used bridge. All this excluding lifecycle costs as well.

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  • Brad February 19, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    I’m shocked! Shocked! I cannot believe that business, freight haulers, and union tradespeople came together and effectively lobbied politicians to earmark money for a project that they directly benefit from. But, I am confident that a tersely worded statement from BTA/Gerik Kransky and a bike swarm/disco bike dance party could easily overcome millions of lobbying dollars and billions in contracts and salaries.

    Really? Did anyone here doubt the outcome for even a second? I’m no fan of the bloated CRC but, once again, this shows that the combined forces of the environmental/public health/alternative transportation lobbies are no match for the pro CRC forces. Primary the Dems on the committee? Good luck. I wager all of them get re-elected by a populace more concerned with other issues.

    As stated above, let’s get some scraps for alternative transportation out of the finished project rather than letting anger and an “all or nothing” mentality see us totally shut out.

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    • 9watts February 19, 2013 at 1:45 pm

      There are plenty of other scenarios besides
      (a) quixotic fight
      (b) settle for scraps

      Time marches on and with every month the threat of climate change and our economic ill-health advance. A time will come -18 months from now? 36 months from now? when this project will look so foolish it’s boosters will try to find a way to scuttle it. I am well aware of the momentum and economic clout behind this but these are no match for the looming demise of a habitable planet.

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      • Marid February 20, 2013 at 11:46 am

        It is unfortunate, but I fear that while right wing politicians contend that global warming is a hoax, those in real power know it is not. And they don’t care. Some are looking forward to ice free shipping in the arctic and oil drilling. China has nearly reached parity with the rest of the world in terms of coal burning. The USA is happy to sell it to them. We’re going to burn every last drop and nugget of fossil fuel. Sorry to ruin your day. 🙁

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    • Chris I February 19, 2013 at 2:20 pm

      And now we get to hear our relatives and co-workers complain about tolls and increases in the gas tax to pay for this monster. And none of them will know why, or what they can do to stop it in the future…

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    • Joe Rowe February 19, 2013 at 9:03 pm

      Brad, The owner of the disco trike is Dan, and he was down there in Salem and doing work to fight the CRC for 5 years. Me too.

      I think you are trying to say that the bike community is seen as all talk and no action. I’d agree. Bob Stacey would have halted the CRC if the bike community had gotten him 300 more votes for Metro President.

      The bike community needs at least 500 people to write $100 checks per person, and walk the streets for candidates, phone bank, and go to meetings. Right now I count me, Peter W, Dan K, Rev Phil, and about 12 other people.

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    • spare_wheel February 23, 2013 at 10:16 am

      and many of the people complaining stridently about the CRC will cast their automatic vote for the lesser of two evils party.

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  • was carless February 19, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    It absolutely blows my mind that the city that stopped the Mt. Hood freeway is now planning on building a mega-freeway through the entire city. They are already planning on “upgrading” I-5 through the Rose Quarter, then North Portland, then replace the Marquam, there is also the enlargement and tunneling of I-5 along SE Water that is planned, and then all you have to do is improve I-5 through SW Portland.

    Probably only going to cost $20-$25 billion in total. Not too bad for what, 8 miles of freeway?

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  • Dim February 19, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    Tina Kotek appointed the house dems on this committee. She knew what she was doing keeping the metro area no votes as far away from the gavel as possible.

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  • Hugh Johnson February 19, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    hooray more taxes and fees coming our way. And union workers can buy shiny new mega cab diesel pickups to impress their friends.

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  • Jim Labbe February 19, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    If the governor signs this bill, I hope there is a referendum petition filed immediately.

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    • Joe Rowe February 20, 2013 at 11:41 pm

      A voter referendum can’t happen. HB2800 declares a state of “emergency” and the statutes on a referendum don’t apply to an “emergency” It’s possible a few Senators might get the lies about an “emergency” removed. Please call again and make that another reason everyone should call.

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  • Stan February 19, 2013 at 6:50 pm

    meh.. since Clackamas County started to oppose the project, I feel less offended by it.

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  • Spencer Boomhower February 19, 2013 at 8:02 pm

    Random thought: This $450 million they just voted on is just shy of the cost of this proposed interchange on Hayden Island:


    That single interchange will cost $540 million. And for that money, we’ll see Hayden Island turned into a little slice of Orange County. That’s the kind of purchase decision that’s being made on our behalf here.

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  • Joe Rowe February 20, 2013 at 11:39 pm

    It looks like the Senate can stop the CRC with 15 no votes out of 30 total. I know several Senators that plan to vote no. The heat is on. Turn it up.

    Here’s the news that the House has now added amendments and will vote soon. Then it goes to the Senate.


    Call by looking up your lawmaker

    Demand a meeting and your Senator’s stance in writing.

    Sign this moveon petition. I send out updates to each house and senate district. Some districts have over 67 signatures just in that district. That’s enough calls to change the mind of a Senator.


    Do something, please

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  • Jake February 22, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    Nice to see Jefferson Smith testifying against this boondoggle. And meanwhile, Charlie Hales is lobbying for the CRC. Willamette Week sure got it wrong when they said there was no difference on the two candidates stance on the CRC.

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    • maxd February 22, 2013 at 2:11 pm

      I voted for Hales, and believed he would do what he said: support a sane version of the CRC. The CRC has not gotten any saner, in fact the funding is looking more insane! Yet, he comes out to publicly make a fairly meaningless endorsement! I cannot figure out why he is doing this, and I am embarrassed to have wasted a vote on him. Emails to his office remain unanswered. However, I agree with Jake that Jefferson Smith deserves credit for testifying.

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