As you might have heard thanks to reporting by the Willamette Week, the Columbia River Crossing project is very much alive. Oregon legislators who once said cooperation from Washington was imperative, have conveniently scuttled that narrative and are preparing to push the project through regardless of any bi-state partnership.
However, as the CRC readies for another starring role in Salem in a few weeks, a coalition of grassroots activists who have been working for years to stymie the project have once again come together in hopes of convincing legislators that it’s a bad idea. Organized by Bike Walk Vote, a political action committee, their new effort is called, “Operation CRC: Commotion & Ruckus Campaign.”
“It’s crunch time! This is a call to action,” reads the group’s Facebook page. The method to their madness is a good, ol’ fashioned citizen phone tree. The campaign encourages everyone who opposes the project to pick up a phone and share their opinion with legislators. “Together, we’ll activate a mighty phone tree of citizens calling for change.” And they’re turning it into a game. Here are the rules:
1. Spread the commotion.
Comment here (on Facebook page) to let us know you’re in. Then invite your friends. Points awarded for participation.
2. Raise a ruckus. Pick an action that’s easy, fun, or meaningful to you.
* Write, fax, and call your legislators. Ask them not to support an “Oregon Only” CRC megaproject.
* Write a little letter to the editor of your neighborhood paper.
* Share your best and worst responses and juiciest stories. Leak state secrets, and craft your most cunning stratagems.
* Explain your opposition in a short article for BlueOregon, BikePortland, Willamette Week, etc and ask the editor to publish it.
* Whatever you decide, call five friends and ask them to do the same.
3. Let us know what you did! Again, participation = points.
And of course there are big prizes for winning. Prizes for winning this fight, say campaign organizers in the game’s tongue-in-cheek fine print: “The state will keep AAA bond raing, will be eligible for funding of schools and sidewalks. Winning residents enjoy reduced atmospheric CO2 (cool, refreshing weather), save money on tolls (savings can be spent on beer, bikes instead). Over $68 million reallocated funds immediately available for better projects, plus billions more saved…”
The most active players will be awarded weekly prizes for making the most calls, publishing the best letter-to-the-editor, coming up with the best ideas to “vanquish the project”, and so on. Check out the Operation CRC: Commotion & Ruckus Campaign page on Facebook for more info and stay tuned for coverage as the deadline for action in Salem approaches.
Why is this important to cyclists? Two reasons:
Most important our safety and new infrastructure depends on a solvent transportation dept. ODOT is already paying massive debt service. This project has been miscalculated and Oregonians (not the project bondholders or builders) will be taking the risk for the cost overages and revenue shortfalls. And we all know it is vulnerable users who take the fall and suffer most when road dollars are scarce.
Second reason, the project will actually make it more difficult and less comfortable to ride a bike from Portland to Vancouver. Key pathway sections have been cut from the project and we are looking at getting another Glenn Jackson type “sewer-path” except at a higher crossing elevation. Say what you will about the I-5 crossing, I will take it as-is rather than what we will be getting.
Please join Bike Walk Vote, many other organizations (like the BTA, CLF and 1000 Friends) and active citizens in opposing this completely new (Oregon-goes-it-alone) version of a still bad project. Use a stamp, or a fax, or your voice to tell your Oregon State rep and senator. Tell your neighbors to do the same. Do it now – after Sept 30th it might be too late.
Dan, are saying you prefer the current I-5 access to the 205 path? Other than the incredible discrepancy in length, I have to say I prefer 205 any day of the week. Yes it sucks to be sandwiched between traffic, but at least I’m not creeping along at 10mph worried I’m going to flip off the side into the river (and look out if there is actually a pedestrian on the bridge).
Yes, Dave. I commuted the I-5 bridge almost daily for several years. I loved the views. I have never heard of anyone flipping off the side. I-205 is a shitty, dirty ghetto. But that’s just me – guess we just disagree.
I sure as hell don’t want to pay for another nasty afterthought MUP, though.
I use both regularly without preference. I really don’t have a problem with the I-5 bridge itself other than being too narrow for easy passing. I don’t think it’s at all unsafe and really don’t get people who do. I’ve ridden it frequently late at night, in the wind, in the rain and never been the least bit concerned about it.
I signed up! Had already contacted my state Rep but will contact my senator too! Also invited my politically – oriented local facebook friends to join.
We need letters to the editor, too. Blue Oregon, WWeek, and the (shudders) Oregonian are key places for this.
Thanks Alex! Feel free to use this as an excuse to call and hang out with those friends too so we have some real world fun as well as getting people involved online.
i’m looking forward to a new bridge with safer multi-use pathways. although it was a pretty bad time for me I did enjoy lance’s comments and the fact that he stirs things up! makes for much more entertaining reading that what I’ve seen here lately.
Dang, it’s a full moon and this beast is rising again. Now where’d I put my silver bullets?
I also used the existing bridge for many years as a bike commuter and found it to be awful. Among other things, one must get the attention of any pedestrian on the path (no easy task with all the noise) and get them to move out of the way. Then there are the bicyclists who insist on riding the wrong way. Others have mentioned the low railing and there are plenty of obstructions. Sure, the view is nice, but it’s noisy.
I attended several of the public open house meetings and talked with members of the bicycle and pedestrian advisory committee. I was impressed by what they told me and saw illustrations that make me really want the project to go forward.
If the opponents manage to kill the current plan, I predict that in ten years, we’ll end up with a highway bridge with a minimal path like the one on the Glenn Jackson Bridge. I’d rather get the planned multi-modal bridge with a good MUP and light rail to Vancouver.
By the way, I still don’t believe that an improved bridge with five lanes in each direction will cause traffic to increase in neighborhoods. I noticed plenty of times when there was a blockage on I-5 due to a crash that motorists diverted from I-5 to Interstate or MLK where I’d normally ride my bile with relatively little traffic. I think providing adequate lanes and shoulders on I-5 near the bridge is a good way to keep auto commuter traffic off the streets where I ride.
Sure, the biking/walking infrastructure could be improved. In fact, before this project was co-opted by the highway departments, one of the proposals under consideration would have involved a retrofit of the existing structure to add either 10 foot sidepaths on both sides or a 15 foot sidepath on one side.
Their diagram of that is here: http://imgur.com/AzzjBAK
I’d be fine with that and/or elements of the Common Sense Alternative (but only if Washington is as well — I agree with what Congressman Blumenauer said recently: the best way to spread lightrail is to put it in places that want it rather than force it on people who don’t).
Thanks, Governer Kitzhaber, 1997. Can you please deliver this message to Governer Kitzhaber, 2013?”
(Thanks Hart and Peter for the reference)
This bridge this tall will be difficult for some cyclists and peds to cross (if the facilities do not get cut totally!) but too low to support existing and future industry (they are paying off Vancouver businesses 10’s of millions of dollars!). The freeway expansion will induce demand (get more people on to the bridge) but simply move the bottleneck a couple of miles south- where commuters will angrily leave the highway they just paid $8 to drive on and race through neighborhoods compromising road safety for everyone, including bikes. Those that stay and idle on the freeway through North Portland and the Rose Quarter will further increase asthma rates (already the highest in the state!). Servicing the debt to build this freeway expansion will cost ODOT 10’s of millions- up to 100 million- PER YEAR, this is money that will not be spent around the state to improve road conditions for everyone, including bikes.
This is an urban planning FAIL and a design FAIL. It will adversely effect many Oregonians, it will be terrible for North Portland, it promotes sprawl north of Vancouver, and this comes with a very high environmental cost. For what? Hundreds of millions of $$ in debt. Less than 2 minutes saved in commute times. MAX expanded to WA against their wishes. This a corrupt play for federal money being paid for by Oregon taxpayers and Washington commuters. Please urge your legislator to work to stop this.
Yeah, don’t be surprised when the budget ax trims off all but the most basic (and by that I mean poor connections) pedestrian and bike pathway from the final design.
Washington Senator to Oregon Legislators: Let the Columbia River Crossing Die