Republican gubernatorial candidate Bud Pierce says he’s hit on an idea for solving the problem of people sitting in traffic on freeways: more travel lanes.
“Our current governor and government has no solution to our current gridlock,” he says in a new ad. “When I am governor, I will make sure we have added freeway lanes on all our major freeways. I’ll ensure that we have a new Columbia River Crossing bridge with added lanes. … Vote for Bud Pierce for governor and end gridlock once and for all.”
Multnomah County alone has created more new “professional and technical service” jobs in the last three years than the Columbia River Crossing was projected to create throughout the region, in all sectors combined, by 2030.
That was the latest sign that Portland’s tech sector is in the middle of an historic boom — and a stark contrast with the freeway-rail project, once called essential to the region’s economy, that seems to have been killed by the state legislature one week ago.
It’s real this time folks. It’s over. ODOT has just announced they will “shut down” the Columbia River Crossing Project once and for all. Here’s the full statement just released by ODOT Director Matt Garrett:
“On March 7, the Oregon Legislature adjourned without reinstating construction funds for the CRC I-5 Bridge Replacement project. As identified in Governor Kitzhaber’s January 27, 2014 letter to legislative leadership, the project will begin the process of orderly archival and closeout. We have the fiduciary responsibility to close out the project in a systematic, retrievable manner in order to adequately preserve a decade of research, environmental reviews, community involvement, and detailed engineering work for potential future use. We will archive work products according to Oregon record retention requirements.
Expenditures will be reduced immediately; further design and deliverable development will not occur. The project will shut down completely by May 31, 2014.[Read more…]
A 2011 rendering of the proposed Columbia River Crossing.
Two veteran state legislators, one of whom was a key swing vote in support of last year’s Columbia River Crossing funding plan, say consensus is building for scrapping the freeway-rail expansion plan and starting over.
State Rep. Mitch Greenlick and state Rep. Lew Frederick — neither of whom have conferred on the issue — both said Tuesday that a new, much smaller truck-and-train freight bridge would solve the key problems facing the river crossing with far lower costs.
Even for the many Portland-area residents who ride bikes but aren’t inclined to object to expensive urban freeway expansions, the Columbia River Crossing has always had one small thing going for it: it’d widen the Vancouver-Portland bike crossing and simplify the maze of trails required to reach it.
With pro-CRC lobbyists hastily re-gathering votes for a possible Oregon-funded version of the project, it looks like the bike facilities are being scaled back.
During its years of planning and outreach, one of the features of the Columbia River Crossing concept was a shared-use path through Hayden Island that would put bike traffic at a different height (or “grade”) from auto traffic. A Sept. 25 memo (PDF) from the CRC’s environmental manager, however, shows that the new “phased” project would save money by indefinitely postponing the grade separation and sending bike and foot traffic through “at-grade intersections on Hayden Island.”
“The big lesson here is, we don’t need massive and costly road capital projects.” — Governor Kitzhaber in 1997 after a 6-day closure of the I-5 bridge didn’t result in the massive traffic jams everyone predicted.
While we’ve never attempted blow-by-blow reporting of this issue (I recommend The Columbian and the Willamette Week for that), there are a few things that have come across my desk recently that I feel are worth sharing…
The first is a quote from Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber that shows just how far he’s come in his thinking about the merits of investing billions of dollars into massive highway expansion projects. The quote was found by reader Peter Welte and it came from a fascinating article (given the current CRC discussion) published in The Oregonian on September 23, 1997 titled, Closure of I-5 bridge demonstrates transit’s value. [Read more…]
Economist Joe Cortright says new traffic projections from a previously undisclosed report reveals an inconvenient truth about the Columbia River Crossing project. The plan to toll the existing I-5 bridge span (starting in 2016) would lead to nearly 50,000 people per day opting to drive over the I-205 bridge instead. As a result, not only would I-205 (and its feeder routes I-84 and SR 14) become jammed during rush hour, but there would be a significant decrease in traffic on I-5 which raises new questions about the wisdom of spending $2.7 billion to significantly expand its capacity.
This analysis is detailed in a new, 12-page report by Cortright’s firm, Impresa Consulting Inc. (PDF). Cortright obtained the underlying data via a public records request from the CRC and the records come from a traffic modeling report performed by CRC contractors CDM Smith.
Here’s more from the summary of Impresa’s report:[Read more…]
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.”[Read more…]
In the letter, the non-profits made their case against the project and urged Kitzhaber to vote against funding the current CRC plan. After the project was left for dead back in June, it has come roaring back to life in the last month. Now, backers want Oregon to go-it-alone with a plan that puts our state in an even dicier financial position.[Read more…]