Comment of the Week: Politics of a megaproject

“If you are looking to have a popular uprising against the bridge, Washington is probably the place to start it.

Welcome to the Comment of the Week, where we highlight good comments in order to inspire more of them. You can help us choose our next one by replying with “comment of the week” to any comment you think deserves recognition.

Comment of the Week

BikePortland has run 14 “Comment of the Week” features since we recommitted to doing them earlier this year. Is it too soon to repeat a commenter? 

No it is not, not when their comment is as good as Ross Williams’s.

We post a lot about the Interstate Bridge Replacement project, most recently last Friday with No one’s happy with the I-5 bridge project. And that’s a good thing?  Your comments in response to the IBRP posts are an impressive show of knowledge and information—about bridge design, climate change, induced demand, and so on. But Williams’s comments keep jumping out to us because, well, he understands politics.

Here’s what Ross Williams had to say about the politics of winning:

I think [Metro Council President] Lynn Peterson’s list of “everyone” includes people whose support is necessary for the project to move forward and people who have the ability to prevent it from moving forward if they are unhappy enough with the proposal. She may believe, or at least hope, that the activists who oppose the design don’t fit into that second category. She needs to be proven wrong. That is not an issue of intellectual discussion but power.

Since most Oregonians rarely use the bridge the folks with the largest stake in the outcome are in Washington. So if you are looking to have a popular uprising against the bridge, Washington is probably the place to start it. Unfortunately opposition to tolls and light rail are far more likely to kill the project than concern about a climate change inducing highway expansion.

Thank you for that bit of realpolitik Ross! You can read Ross’s comment and the whole comment thread under the original post

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8 months ago

Wow that’s the funniest post I’ve seen in here in a long while. lolzing hard!

Joseph E
Joseph E
8 months ago
Reply to  Roberta

Your comment is hard to interpret, and not very helpful. Please elaborate.

7 months ago
Reply to  Joseph E

I think it’s more interesting to compare OHA RAC committees (40-50 members) with ODOT Regional Committees. ODOT concentrates power in smaller committees and hyper control the TSP process so we get the outcomes we are seeing r/n. If ODOT was as inclusive as the OHA we would have radically different health outcomes related to transport and air quality.

As per the design of the new bridge, it’s a curmudgeon for redoing all southern interchanges including Rose Quarter.

The last time I organized with the ‘gasp’ Republicans to kill a regressive gas tax I got shut out of all progressive groups. Now it seems like the only Allie’s of those progressives opposed to the new bridge are the ‘Couv Republicans who just want to block anything that might look like a win going into November election.

As per me, get out the popcorn and laugh it off. Seems ODOT is looking for a new tolling manager. What happened to the old one they recruited a few years back? Lolz They import ‘highly qualified’ people who seem unqualified (no progress in over ten years) to lead a successful Oregon mega project. Hire Oregonians and we will fix Oregon.

Let’s not forget that the same guy who lead the 2013 CRC disaster is leading the same team now. If we wanted different results they would have hired someone different. As it stands we have numerous rural elected officials calling transport shots in urban Portland.

If transport activist wanted to make a wave, field an independent candidate agains Lew Frederick, Shirley M. And Lee Beyer. There’s still time to get on the ballet the same way Betsy Johnson is running as an independent.

Obvs I have few fans after getting shut out of progressive circles for opposing a regressive gas tax that would have given ODOT even more no strings attached freeway funding.

Is that elaborate enough? Still laughing …

I did not read the entire thread I just thought it was hilarious on the front page.

8 months ago

Ross makes a lot of sense in his comments. I believe he shares a common impression that Washington is somehow more pro-highway than Oregon. That is certainly true for SW Washington outside of the City of Vancouver. At the state level, Washington and Oregon are very politically aligned. The fact is that the bridge will impact one political jurisdiction way more than any other – City of Vancouver. Vancouver’s supports light rail and tolling. I really doubt that the City of Vancouver would support the bridge if they realized the negative impact it will have on their downtown, particularly their waterfront development which they invested $75 million to make happen. Everyone is being scammed by the IBR team, but none more than the City of Vancouver who now has a very progressive and well- intentioned Mayor and Council.

7 months ago

I thought Fred’s rejoinder to Ross should have been comment of the week. 🙂

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Lisa Caballero
7 months ago
Reply to  Fred

Of course you do! But I thought Ross’s rejoinder to your rejoinder was better. Folks should click on the link and read the whole exchange.