Strange Bedfellows Organize to Oppose CRC

From the press release:

February 12, 2013
For immediate release (pdf version attached)

Media Contacts:
Mara Gross – 503-225-0333, mara@clfuture.org
Lindsay Berschauer – 503-708-2558, Lindsay@leonaconsulting.com

Bipartisan Coalition Forms Against The Columbia River Crossing

Today, progressive and conservative organizations, businesses, and individuals announced the formation of a bipartisan coalition to oppose the current plan for the Columbia River Crossing.

Coalition leaders include: John Charles (President, Cascade Policy Institute), Steve Cole (Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods), Karla Kay Edwards (Director, Americans for Prosperity-Oregon), Mara Gross (Coalition for A Livable Future) and Jason Williams (Oregon Taxpayer Association). Joe Cortright, President and Chief Economist at Impresa Consulting, is providing financial and economic analysis for the Coalition, based on several years of examining CRC traffic and financial projections.

Members of this coalition, called “Stop the CRC: A Bipartisan Coalition For a Responsible Solution,” share a broad set of concerns about the current plan for the Columbia River Crossing including, but not limited to:

– The Oregon Legislature is essentially being asked to authorize a blank check for the funding.
– The construction and financing of the CRC will impact the ability to maintain existing roads and bridges throughout Oregon.
– The proposal is based on outdated and incorrect information.
– The CRC will worsen traffic gridlock in other parts of Portland and in residential neighborhoods.

“It is the aim of all members of this coalition to persuade Oregon’s 2013 Legislature not to appropriate further funding for this project,” said coalition spokespersons Mara Gross and Lindsay Berschauer. “Instead, we encourage legislators to take a step back and engage Oregonians broadly in an effort to develop a more responsible solution that Oregon can afford.”

The “Stop the CRC” bipartisan coalition will work to educate citizens and lawmakers on the negative impacts of the current CRC plan on our state and our citizens and to steer the legislature toward a more positive direction. Further details will be announced this week.

38 Comments

38 Responses to Strange Bedfellows Organize to Oppose CRC

  1. al m
    February 12, 2013 at 2:25 pm Link

    And now THIS!

  2. EngineerScotty
    February 12, 2013 at 2:38 pm Link

    That said, I’ve never heard of the “Columbia River Crossing Light Rail Tolling project”–though it’s a rather clever framing. Clark County residents might support the thing if they thought it was primarily about making it more convenient to drive to Portland…. :)

  3. al m
    February 12, 2013 at 3:43 pm Link

    “Clark County residents might support the thing if they thought it was primarily about making it more convenient to drive to Portland”

    ~~~~> Well ya! People want to drive, the vast majority of them. They don’t want to be forced on to public transit!

    Can you blame them? I sure cant.

  4. al m
    February 12, 2013 at 3:46 pm Link

    And why should the citizens of Washington State be forced to follow Portland’s priorities?

    I know this is hard to believe, but not everybody thinks Portland ‘is cool’.

  5. Lenny Anderson
    February 12, 2013 at 4:31 pm Link

    And they are welcome to come to Portland, but not with their cars. We don’t have the room. Why not give folks a choice on how to travel…a bus stuck in freeway traffic is not much of a choice.
    Tolls NOW are the obvious solution to so called I-5 gridlock.

  6. al m
    February 12, 2013 at 4:43 pm Link

    “And they are welcome to come to Portland, but not with their cars. ”

    I see, and you and the various special interests who make that proclamation need to be obeyed why?

  7. EngineerScotty
    February 12, 2013 at 5:30 pm Link

    I see, and you and the various special interests who make that proclamation need to be obeyed why?

    Well, if one city (Vancouver) is entitled to restrict transit, or not participate in funding it, another (Portland) ought to be able to do the same with freeways, no?

    Some people act as though (congestion- and toll-free) driving and (and free parking!) is a God-given, constitutional right :) but public transit is a luxury at best and a nuisance at worst.

    My joking position is that the ought to build a gigantic park-and ride in the middle of the Columbia, just outside the shipping channel, where Vancouverites who don’t wish to travel in a narrower freeway south of the river can stow their rides and transfer to MAX or to their favorite bus. The new bridge can then have 5-6 lanes in each direction on the Washington side, but narrow to 3-4 lanes in each direction by the time it reaches Hayden Island; the other surplus lanes ending in the ramps to the aformentioned park-and-ride.

    Interstate 70 in Baltimore ends in a park-and-ride (though not in the middle of a river), so why the heck not?

  8. John Reinhold
    February 12, 2013 at 5:42 pm Link

    “And why should the citizens of Washington State be forced to follow Portland’s priorities?”

    They aren’t.

    But the citizens of Oregon shouldn’t be forced to pay for Vancouver’s priorities.

  9. al m
    February 12, 2013 at 5:43 pm Link

    “”Some people act as though (congestion- and toll-free) driving and (and free parking!) is a God-given, constitutional right :) but public transit is a luxury at best and a nuisance at worst. “”

    ~~~> OK so I guess it won’t be built at all if the two states can’t work together, of course the FED’s can step in and make the decision.

  10. EngineerScotty
    February 12, 2013 at 6:01 pm Link

    Probably what is likely to happen is what you suggest, Al–Salem, Olympia, and Washington DC will make it happen; and the bridge specified in the FEIS (lifted up by about 20′ or so) will get built, including an extension of the Yellow Line into Vancouver. Vancouverites will discover that MAX doesn’t deliver rampaging hordes of rampaging felons into their bucolic burg; life will go on. Traffic on I-5 will still suck. Gas prices will do what they do.

    It appears the Oregon Legislature is unlikely to say no, though the current scuttlebutt is that the Leg will simply direct the state/ODOT to go full steam ahead, but will delay the question of funding to the next biennium. How that would effect the politics of things–will the Feds release their share without local funding secure (i.e. appropriated), I don’t know. And of course, a gubernatorial election in Oregon will be held in 2014–and Kitzhaber, if he is thinking of a fourth term, will likely have a heck of a time defending his left flank.

  11. dwainedibbly
    February 12, 2013 at 6:08 pm Link

    Kitzhaber needs to get primaried.

    It isn’t about forcing people in Vancouver to use transit, it’s about giving people in Vancouver the option of using transit. Some fraction must want to do that. Let them. It will make more room on the road for those who want to drive.

  12. al m
    February 12, 2013 at 7:25 pm Link

    BTW-I have always thought MAX to Vancouver was a good idea.
    Makes a lot more sense than MAX to a cow town.

  13. Chris I
    February 12, 2013 at 8:18 pm Link

    We’re not trying to force Vancouver residents to take MAX or ride their bikes. I honestly don’t care how they get around; that is their business. What I don’t want to do, is have my state spend $500 million of our tax dollars to “fix” a problem that does not exist.

    There will always be congestion on I-5, and on all of our freeways. We cannot build out way out of congestion; no one has been able to do this. Ever.

    This isn’t the most dangerous stretch of road in the state, and these aren’t the most dangerous, or earthquake-prone bridges in the state.

    All of the supposed reasons for the CRC are deeply flawed. I think a simple bridge replacement (added lane capacity on the span, but not on connecting sections) would be supported by both sides of the river. If Oregon’s contribution was $200 million or less, with no added lane capacity, with no mass transit, with no tolling, there wouldn’t be as much contention. This project, as currently planned, has to be stopped.

  14. Douglas K.
    February 12, 2013 at 9:18 pm Link

    Would the legislature’s action be subject to a referral to a direct vote of the people? Back in 1996, the S/N light rail line was killed because the state funding component was taken to a statewide vote — because people outside the Metro area didn’t want state money going for a Portland project. In the case of the CRC seems to me there’s something for everyone to hate — a gigantic freeway to piss off liberals, light rail to annoy conservatives, the threat of tolls on a currently “free” bridge to rally the shunpikes. And unlike the 1996 light rail measure (which was part of a statewide package of transportation projects), this project WILL drain money from projects all over the state for years to come. I don’t see why it would get a single “yes” vote outside the Metro area.

    It seems to me that if opponents can’t stop this boondoggle in the legislature, they might be able to take whatever the legislature passes to the ballot box.

  15. D Blume
    February 13, 2013 at 3:48 am Link

    Why should Oregonians spend 400 plus million dollars building a bridge to encourage even more people to move across the river and make it more convenient to do so. We have our own more critical needs to fund here in Oregon. The CRC plan was hatched almost 10 years ago before the recession when money was no object. Today is a different reality and we simply cannot afford this luxury.

    As just one example of in-state needs, the state of Oregon cannot even afford 10 or 15 million dollars to make it safe for pedestrians and cyclists to cross Barbur Boulevard bridges between Terwilliger and Hamilton.

  16. Nathanael
    February 13, 2013 at 9:05 am Link

    Best of luck to those trying to kill this. It really does have something for everyone to hate.

    I bet one of the competing, half-as-expensive, plans such as the Common Sense Alternative could be funded easily. Each bridge would have a different source of funding. The alterations to the BNSF bridge would be funded by the Feds and the ports (because it benefits shipping and freight transportation). The Hayden Island arterial/LRT bridge would be funded by Portland. The “rail and truck bridge” would get federal funding, and could get Washington State funding too. The seismic upgrades to the I-5 bridge would get federal, WA, and OR funding. The Vancouver arterial/LRT bridge could be funded by Portland, or by Vancouver if they decided to stop panicking about light rail.

  17. Nathanael
    February 13, 2013 at 9:08 am Link

    “EngineerScotty Says:

    Probably what is likely to happen is what you suggest, Al–Salem, Olympia, and Washington DC will make it happen; and the bridge specified in the FEIS (lifted up by about 20′ or so) will get built, including an extension of the Yellow Line into Vancouver. Vancouverites will discover that MAX doesn’t deliver rampaging hordes of rampaging felons into their bucolic burg; life will go on. Traffic on I-5 will still suck. Gas prices will do what they do.”

    …and tolls on the bridge won’t pay for the debt service. Tolls will be raised. The highway part of the bridge will be half-empty. Maintenance will be deferred. The deteriorating highway deck will start endangering the light rail deck underneath it….
    Yeah, apocalyptic, I know.

  18. Anandakos
    February 13, 2013 at 10:49 am Link

    Al M,

    The “citizens of Washington State” should be “forced to follow Portland’s priorities” because the only reason that Vancouver continues to exist is that 40% of its workforce is employed in Oregon.

    And 100.0% of them either do so in Portland or pass through Portland on their way to their work location.

    So think of Portland as Charon the Boatman who ferries the dead from Clark County to their Hades of employment. It was traditional to give Charon a coin for his services.

    For the Clark County dead, that coin is subservience. A bitter bile indeed.

  19. dan w
    February 13, 2013 at 10:59 am Link

    BTW-I have always thought MAX to Vancouver was a good idea.

    Agreed. It’s mind-boggling the two most populous cities in the region aren’t connected by some sort of high-capacity transit. That said:

    the only reason that Vancouver continues to exist is that 40% of its workforce is employed in Oregon.

    I’ve long believed Clark County should follow Washington County’s example and do more to develop its own employment base so fewer of its residents have to cross the Columbia to get to work (the predicted mass exodus of “tax-burdened” Portland businesses to Vancouver STILL hasn’t materialized.)

  20. Anandakos
    February 13, 2013 at 11:35 am Link

    Dan W,

    Clark County can’t “follow Washington County’s example”, because it’s Clark County, home to reactionary yahoo’s who don’t like science.

    The county used to have several high tech companies which have left: HP, Kyocera, and Sharp. SEH has shrunk. WaferTech is holding on to its niche of making chips other people design, but only because it’s part of TMSC who supplies the foundry technology.

    Washington County, on the other hand, is home to a good portion of Intel’s actual research and development. It has Nike’s R&D as well; no, it’s not semiconductors, but it’s pretty rigorous health science.

    In short WashCo has brains galore. Comparing anti-intellectual Clark County with it is risible.

  21. Anandakos
    February 13, 2013 at 11:40 am Link

    Replying to myself,

    Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot to like about Clark County. It has wonderful nature reserves running right through Vancouver. It has Clark PUD, so we get priority on BPA’s clean power. It has quick access to Portland’s arts culture.

    But it will never be an employment center because it’s intellectually Roseburg or Albany, not even Eugene, much less Washington or Multnomah Counties.

  22. Allan
    February 13, 2013 at 11:40 am Link

    I guess there is a reason that its not “Vancouver Transport”. Its a harsh morning on the blog. However entertaining.

  23. Ron Swaren
    February 13, 2013 at 9:14 pm Link

    “It isn’t about forcing people in Vancouver to use transit, it’s about giving people in Vancouver the option of using transit. Some fraction must want to do that. Let them. It will make more room on the road for those who want to drive.”

    Sen. Curtis King, who became Senate Transportation Co-Chair in the WA Leg. (by some fancy footwork) is keeping tabs on the Community Transit plan, north of Seattle in Snohomish County. I know he is well acquainted with the Regional Mobility Grants in Washington state, so no worries there. And I doubt that with so many other priorities in WA that the CRC is going to get much attention from Sen. King. (not to be confused with the “King”—Elvis)

    There is a well established means of connecting the smaller towns along the Columbia Gorge in Clark Co.—–i.e a “highway” and this could be done in a relative heartbeat compared with the lengthy, mendacious and exhaustive processes attendant to MAX planning, these days. FYI, to a lot of people in this world, civic engagement is not so much a religious duty as a lesser of evils, therefore the easier it can be done, the better.

  24. al m
    February 14, 2013 at 4:56 pm Link

    Things going from bad to WORSE!

  25. Chris I
    February 15, 2013 at 12:17 pm Link

    “Reworking the project to increase traffic flow. The CRC will only save 60 seconds for commuters, King writes. “Why should we spend $3.5 billion in capital costs to save a typical commuter one minute?” he writes. The bottleneck at the Rose Quarter must also be addressed, he says.”

    Please, destroy my city. Let me roll out the welcome mat for you.

  26. al m
    February 15, 2013 at 5:52 pm Link

    THIS presentation is pretty interesting.

  27. Lenny Anderson
    February 15, 2013 at 8:19 pm Link

    This project has never been based on data of any kind, just loose talk.

  28. Douglas K
    February 15, 2013 at 11:34 pm Link

    From the WWeek blog: “Among King’s major changes and critiques are: Considering a lift span for the bridge…”

    But … but … but … wasn’t one of the major selling points of this project that we NEED to get rid of the lift span because this is the only traffic light between Canada and Mexico (if you don’t take the 205 bypass) and if we don’t spend several billion dollars to get rid of that traffic light, all kinds of bad stuff happens to the economy of the Metro area and the entire West Coast because truckers have to be able to drive from Seattle to Los Angeles without ever stopping even once?

  29. Anandakos
    February 16, 2013 at 12:50 am Link

    Why don’t we all agree that the two cities can simply not agree and chuck the whole idea?

    Eventually the 1918 bridge will collapse, either from an earthquake or old age, and Vancouver (at least, Vancouver west of Andresen) will be on its own. Which seems to be what the rest of the people in Clark County wants for it.

  30. Lenny Anderson
    February 16, 2013 at 7:44 am Link

    Actually the old spans with their solid Doug Fir pilings might do OK for a long time. Its the RR bridge that I’d worry about. Its older and carries a lot more freight than I-5, and the nearest detour is way up River beyond The Dalles.

  31. Dave H
    February 16, 2013 at 9:36 pm Link

    There will always be congestion on I-5, and on all of our freeways. We cannot build out way out of congestion; no one has been able to do this. Ever.

    No offense intended, but this is one of the stupidest things that transit advocates keep repeating. Niagara Falls, NY has a road network that is not at all congested because they built out a freeway system that was never needed as one example. Their freeway network was designed to handle hundreds of thousands of residents who never showed up. Since then they’ve converted some portions of some freeways to bike paths because nobody needed them to drive on.

    You can build your way out of congestion. You just have to make sure that you bleed population faster than you gain it. It’s not healthy for the local economy by any means, but it definitely is possible.

  32. Ron Swaren
    February 16, 2013 at 9:49 pm Link

    The Interstate System was not only for transportation, it was also part of a national defense strategy. Dwight Eisenhower was impressed with the ease and convenience of the German Autobahn system.

    Abraham Lincoln had done something similar in his era with the Transcontinental Railroad and Union Pacific (although he did not live to see it). The UPRR assured the evacuation of civilian populations to safety in the heartland, should the US coasts ever be invaded. This was in the days of several major empires, all interested in North America. It was a strategy that was available for the next eighty years. So besides the economic development aspect there were also national security purposes in these earlier transportation visions. The major security with a lot of the present light rail systems is job security.

  33. Nathanael
    February 20, 2013 at 12:23 am Link

    Ron: The Interstate system was never supposed to go into cities.

    The Autobahn system doesn’t; it ends on the edges of cities or bypasses them. Mamie Eisenhower was said to be extremely upset by the city-wrecking downtown expressways which were built.

  34. Ron Swaren
    February 20, 2013 at 7:51 am Link

    ” it ends on the edges of cities or bypasses them.”

    Which is why I keep saying that Portland needs to complete the Ring Road, which is standard planning practice and bypasses the urban core. We have three fourths of it, but not the last in NW Portland.

    This would promote bicycling, because I think a variant of TOD will happen, even without METRO Overlording it. To wit:

    1. Vancouver plans to develop its waterfront area, south of the RR berm. This will be mixed use, but because of the river and mountain views would definitely have higher end condo tower and office buildings. The western area of Vancouver, closer to the RR tracks will then probably go into low rise housing, as in its present downtown, and there will also be some mid rise office structures and maybe a medical facility.
    2. The Northgate area, bounded by N Marine Drive and N Columbia, still has a lot of undeveloped industrial areas, probably a square mile or more. There is also some land east of there near Delta Park. This could make a lot of jobs.
    3. With our Third Bridge, built for $500 million, this could be a very easy bike commute between these two areas. In Vancouver it is also close to the AMTRAK line that there could be a commute service into Portland and to the MAX.
    4. Extending the Third bridge south you could get to Hhy 30, so that traffic from Washington going out Hhy 30 doesn’t have to cross on I-5.
    5. It would also go out to Hwy 26, with a modest 4 lane route. I would tunnel under Skyline and then connect to NW Kaiser Road, and then to NW Cornelius Pass Rd, even crossing US 26 into Intel territory and to the Hillsboro Airport as well. This could also connect, via bike path to the new West side Trail system. The very hardy could bike all of the way from Vancouver to either Hillsboro, or to points near the Trail.
    6. Business and Industrial traffic from the Silicon Forest would have an alternative to I-5. And Clark County commuters—-the bane of METRO planners—would still bring in $150 million per year to Oregon Revenue, maybe more if the Rivergate area really takes off.

  35. Chris I
    February 20, 2013 at 1:14 pm Link

    If there was an option to tear down I-5 and I-405 through all of Portland, and adding an extension of 217 that connects back up with I-5 in Vancouver, I think you would find some support among the active transportation community. Just adding the new freeway alone will contribute to even more sprawl and additional congestion on the freeways that already slice through the city.

  36. dave
    February 20, 2013 at 2:06 pm Link

    If there was an option to tear down I-5 and I-405 through all of Portland, and adding an extension of 217 that connects back up with I-5 in Vancouver

    Sorry but I’d rather take the existing freeway than tear up Forest Park. I don’t know how else you would do it besides going through the park.

  37. Ron Swaren
    February 20, 2013 at 3:20 pm Link

    Why not turn Leif Erickson Dr into an eight laner?

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