Columbia River Crossing: Game On!

We’ve been debating The Columbia River Crossing here for most of the last year. Now there’s finally an opportunity to take action. Two key meetings are coming up:

Thursday, February 22nd – Metro Council hearing at 2pm
(Metro Regional Center, 600 NE Grand, Portland)

Tuesday, February 27th – Columbia River Crossing Task Force meeting 4-8pm
(ODOT – 123 NW Flanders St., Portland)

The task force meeting is where the vote on the options to include in the DEIS analysis will occur. It’s NOT a public hearing, but there is a public comment opportunity at the beginning of the meeting.

The main show however is probably at Metro, where there will be a public hearing on Metro’s position on the options.

If you’re an activist and only have time to attend one, I’d say plan to be at Metro on Thursday. But if you can’t make it to Metro, or have the time to do both, I think you can have an impact at the task force as well.

Two resolutions (PDF, 83K) are being offered for Metro’s consideration. The first, from JPACT chair and Metro’s representative to the CRC task force, Rex Burkholder, asks for the addition of one more option to the DEIS mix: a new arterial bridge as a supplement to keeping freeway traffic on the existing bridges.

2. In addition to the CRC staff recommended alternatives, the Metro Council supports including in the DEIS for additional analysis an alternative that includes a low rise with lift span supplemental bridge built to current seismic standards to carry cars, trucks, high capacity transit, bicycles and pedestrians. This alternative retains the existing I-5 bridges for freeway travel with incremental improvements to those bridges and the key access ramps, to improve flow and increase safety on I-5. Additionally, this alternative would include replacing the swing span of the downstream railroad bridge with a movable span located in a mid-river location on the railroad bridge, thereby aligning with the current lift span of the I-5 bridges.

It’s good to see some recognition that the rail bridge has a major impact on the choices for the CRC.

The second resolution, introduced by Councilor Robert Liberty goes further and asks for multiple options, including a land use alternative:

2. In order for the Metro Council to have a proper basis for making choices regarding the best investment of limited transportation funds for a thoughtful and integrated approach to increased mobility, accessibility, economic opportunity, and quality of life, the Council respectfully requests that the CRC Task Force, working in conjunction with those members of the Task Force, Metro and other interested units of government, to develop and explore
additional, lower priced alternatives for analysis in the draft environmental impact statement, including:

(a) A non-capital intensive alternative, or a major element of an alternative, that emphasizes investments in and system management for I-5 and I-205, to increase flow and capacity on both bridges, including special arrangements for long-distance freight movement; and

(b) A land use alternative, or a major land use element for an alternative, that reduces the amount of peak-hour commuting across the Columbia River sufficiently to reduce the overall project cost; and

(c) A supplemental bridge built to current seismic standards to carry cars, trucks, light rail, bicycle and pedestrians, that is part of an alternative that retains the existing I-5 bridges for freeway travel, with incremental improvements to the existing I-5 bridges and the key access ramps, to improve flow and increase safety on I-5; and

(d) An analysis of what kinds of improvements to the downstream railroad bridge could be part of a lower cost alternative, including, moving the swing span from the northern side of the bridge to a location that better aligns with the existing I-5 shipping channel spans, or building a parallel bridge, and accepts the existence of lift spans on all bridges; and

(e) An alternative emphasizing transit investments, including analysis of light rail using the I-205 bridge and a more comprehensive investment in transit in Vancouver, North Portland and Northeast Portland, sufficient to provide cost effect congestion relief on I-5.

3. Furthermore, that these alternatives be designed and examined in such a way that;

(a) The ultimate recommended solution may reflect a blend derived from several alternatives that is cost-effective, multi-faceted and incremental; and

(b) Each of these alternatives, and the alternatives recommended for further study by CRC staff, can be easily compared with each other, and with other projects in the region, across a full range of costs and benefits (including land use costs and benefits)…

The smart money is on Councilor Burkholder’s resolution passing, but the question is whether during the debate, it might be broadened to include some ideas from the second resolution.

You can help impact that!

27 Responses to Columbia River Crossing: Game On!