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CRC update: Astroturf, Alice, and more cheerleading in The Oregonian

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

Graphic from Washington For CRC on Facebook.

If reports on Twitter are to be trusted, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber is all set to sign The CRC Bill (HB 2800) into law on Tuesday. While that’s no surprise, there are a few other items related to the Columbia River Crossing project that have recently caught our eye.

— A reader has tipped us off to and what looks like a classic astroturf campaign. And by that I mean a corporate PR effort made to seem like an organic, grassroots lobbying effort. Now that Oregon has effectively signed-off on it, it looks like the pushers of this controversial mega-project have wasted no time trying to improve public sentiment on other side of the river. It’s a smart move, given that if the project’s outlook doesn’t improve in Washington soon, it won’t move forward. comes complete with a super-slick website listing “facts” about the project (which are taken directly from paid CRC consultants’ talking points), an active Facebook and Twitter presence, and even a cute logo of a bridge with a heart on it.

While Washington For CRC spokespeople say the group is simply the work of citizens and business owners coming together to rally support for the project, Clark County Conservative blogger Lew Waters calls it nothing more than a professional marketing campaign.

— Speaking of marketing campaigns, Matt Garrett, the Director of the Oregon Department of Transportation penned a guest opinion column in The Oregonian today titled, “ODOT is ready to help build the Columbia River Crossing.” He called the project, “critical to maintain our state’s competitive edge and the future economic health,” and said, “It is indeed time to build this bridge.”

— An outspoken supporter of the CRC project, Fred Meyer Stores, is now a “Lead Sponsor” of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance’s upcoming Alice Awards benefit auction event. A Fred Meyer spokesperson testified on behalf of HB 2800 at a hearing in Salem on February 18th, saying the project was essential to Oregon’s economy and a bigger freeway and bridge is urgently needed to keep their delivery trucks moving. According to the BTA’s sponsorship packet a Lead Sponsorship costs $10,000.

This BTA has said that they don’t support HB 2800, but they haven’t worked to oppose it either. In trying to understand the BTA’s difficult tightrope walk around the CRC project, it’s important to note that one of their current board members, Oregon State Representative Val Hoyle (D-Eugene), voted yes on HB 2800 when it passed the House last month.

See more of our Columbia River Crossing project coverage in the archives.