Glenn Jackson’s Ghost Haunts CRC

A couple of local architects want to make sure the Columbia River Crossing doesn’t turn into another flat slab bridge.

“We’re not trying to derail the project,” McCulloch said in an interview. “We think it should be pursued. The operative word is ‘enriching’ the process.”

Renderings of Columbia River Crossing show what McCulloch calls a “freeway going over the river. Our worry is we don’t want another Glenn Jackson Bridge.” The Glenn L. Jackson Memorial (I-205) Bridge spans the Columbia River east of the present Interstate 5 bridge.

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0 Responses to Glenn Jackson’s Ghost Haunts CRC

  1. John Russell
    July 16, 2008 at 12:17 am Link

    It would be quite refreshing to see a rendering of such a bridge. If that does happen, make sure it gets a post on here. I’d love to see what our architects have come up with.

  2. Douglas K.
    July 16, 2008 at 8:43 am Link

    I’d love to see the Glenn Jackson duplicated at I-5. Without Light Rail. Might even save a few million in design and engineering?

    That’s actually a viable option. Create a new freeway bridge, and rehab the existing spans for arterial traffic, bicycles and light rail. But what’s a few million in savings in a multi-billion dollar budget?

  3. dick BARNARD
    July 16, 2008 at 8:55 am Link

    Here is an option, change the freeway designation, have I-5 cross the Glenn Jackson and divert through traffic away from the Interstate bridges…then rehab, can go on without a multi-billion new bridge..at least for a time..

  4. al m
    July 16, 2008 at 9:15 am Link

    Sheesh, just get the damn thing built and stop all this nonsense!

    Portlandia and its group hysteria.

    “green bike friendly city”

    LOL!! what a laugh that is!

  5. EngineerScotty
    July 16, 2008 at 9:53 am Link

    Ugh.

    More empire-building by the good folks at Portland City Council, who seem eternally jealous that we’re not as trendy, cosmopolitan, and sophisticated as–say–New York or San Francisco. They have pretty suspension bridges crossing significant waterways, why can’t we?

    The “we don’t want an ugly bridge” powerplay wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the existing constraints on the design and location of the span. But talk of closing Pearson Airpark so that PDX pols can have their postcard is arrant nonsense.

    Maybe it’s a good thing for opponents of the bridge. There seem to be enough conflicting demands from those who want the CRC built, along with “do it my way or else!” ultimatums, including the most recent one by mayor-elect Adams in the Oregonian last week, that it’s just possible that the thing won’t get built, as nobody will be able to agree what to build.

  6. MachineShedFred
    July 16, 2008 at 1:45 pm Link

    I think everyone agrees that the Fremont bridge is an iconic structure.

    However, making it such made it six times as expensive to build (source)as the Marquam bridge that several commenters on this blog want torn down.

    You can’t cry about the $4.3B price tag, and then cry about it’s utilitarian design. Iconic structures cost more, and I don’t think anyone here wants to absorb more cost that we’re already eating.

  7. BILLB
    July 16, 2008 at 2:31 pm Link

    It is important to have quality design in our city.
    This is part of why Nike,Intel,etc are here and not Topeka.
    Please stop the nonsense about re-using the rotting antique existing bridges. They are made of sub-standard metal and bolts/rivets [by current engineering safety standards] that have decayed with inadequate protection for many many mnay
    decades.
    Finally , there is an exhibit of a Green Park-roofed Columbia Bridge Artwork at the NW
    Lucky Lab Brewpub on nw Quimby. It is one design idea that works w/the airpark, and would give us the Green Golden Gate.

  8. EngineerScotty
    July 16, 2008 at 4:15 pm Link

    Nike is here ’cause Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman went to the U of O.

    Intel is here because of a nexus of a) lots of high tech talent, b) cheap land (cheaper than Silicon Valley), and c) really cheap electricity and water–two important issues with large-scale semiconductor production.

    I doubt that either is here because of the quality of the local art scene, or the local architecture, etc. While such cultural trappings can attract talent to an area, they require a significant financial base to be around first. Building a pretty bridge, rather than an ugly one, isn’t gonna attract any Fortune 500 companies here, or new venture firms, or visionary artists, or whatever else. Having better (functional) infrastructure (including transit), better schools, etc. might.

  9. Michael H. Wilson
    July 16, 2008 at 6:22 pm Link

    From the Columbian July 16, 2008

    Maybe there’s a better bridge plan

    Wednesday, July 16, 2008
    By TOM KOENNINGER

    Would the Columbia River Crossing project be more attractive at less than one-fourth the $4.2 billion estimated cost, without tolls and with a third bridge? Keep reading. Will Macht has a plan.

    Macht is professor of urban development in the School of Urban Studies and Planning at Portland State University. PSU is one of the top five schools for urban planning in the nation.

    A resident of Vancouver since 2000, Macht, as president of the firm Macht & Company, completed the Officers Row restoration in the mid-1980s. He has taught at PSU for 30 years. Three years ago, he led a class of 10 master’s candidates in an 11-week study of the development of the Vancouver waterfront and its bridge.

    On Sept. 1, 2005, Macht presented his vision for the Vancouver waterfront to nearly 200 people attending the quarterly luncheon of the Columbia River Economic Development Council. Columbian reporter Jeffrey Mize summarized the talk this way: “Vancouver has one final chance to reclaim its waterfront, an opportunity the city cannot afford to squander, a college professor said Thursday.” He was speaking of the Boise Cascade property, which he called “Quayside.”

    Macht talked about moving people and commercial goods across the Columbia River, making points relevant to today’s Columbia Crossing discussions. He said the downtown areas of Vancouver and Portland are roughly the same size, with a big distinction. Portland is served by seven bridges; downtown Vancouver by one bridge where traffic converges and congestion mushrooms. In his talk, Macht said bridge tolls, like tariffs, would create economic barriers and political unrest on both sides of the river.

    Macht’s suggestions were discussed and debated. “Sometimes you get good ideas from a fresh perspective,” said Steve Burdick, then Vancouver’s economic development manager. “Maybe his transportation concepts are at least worth looking at.”

    So let’s look at the Macht’s vision, which strikes at the heart of bridge bluster going on now:

    Retain existing I-5 spans, and add two reversible traffic lanes in the 38-foot width between them, while strengthening the bridges against earthquakes.
    Raise the height of the I-5 center “long spans” (between the lift span and the hump) by 18 feet and eliminate the lift spans.
    Replace the 175-foot swing span in the downstream railroad bridge with a 300-foot-wide lift span.
    Also at that point downstream, build a twin rail and road bridge with matching lift span.
    Align the rail/road bridges’ lift spans with the hump of the I-5 bridge (now, tugs and other marine vessels navigate a difficult S-curve between the I-5 and railroad bridges).
    The new twin rail/road bridges would contain two to four arterial lanes for traffic; a third heavy-rail track; and two light-rail tracks. The arterial/freight lanes would connect the Mill Plain Extension with North Portland Road and Marine Drive.

    The twin bridge to the BNSF bridge would not be a high, expensive bridge, because it would carry rail and would have a short span. The river is 530 feet narrower at the railroad bridge than at the crossing of the present Interstate 5 Bridge. There would not be as much bridge to build.

    Advantages seem to abound in Macht’s remake of Crossing plans. The only right-of-way needed is a narrow strip on Hayden Island — for the new twin bridge downstream — owned by the Port of Portland. No work is necessary for on-, offramps. Phasing is less disruptive and cheaper. Traffic is dispersed, bottlenecks reduced and security enhanced. A light-rail line near the railroad bridge would stimulate downtown Vancouver development.

    An additional plus is construction of the third bridge now, instead of waiting another generation.

    “A single replacement bridge costs more with fewer benefits,” Macht said.

    He offers a vision-to-reality proposal that should earn examination at the highest levels. It is a crossing at lower cost, projecting better results. Ignoring this kind of solution could lead to a centurylong regret.

    TOM KOENNINGER is editor emeritus of The Columbian. His column of personal opinion appears on the Opinions page each Wednesday. Reach him at tom.koenninger@columbian.com.

  10. Erik Halstead
    July 16, 2008 at 6:32 pm Link

    John E. wrote: I’d love to see the Glenn Jackson duplicated at I-5. Without Light Rail. Might even save a few million in design and engineering?

    I wholely agree.

    Having been in Europe, I have seen many modern bridges for both the Autobahns, and for the ICE (high speed intercity rail) built using simple, modern poured concrete designs. They are sleek, elegant, and simple.

    IMO I don’t see the Marquam Bridge necessarily as “ugly” but I wouldn’t build a new one in place of the CRC. On the other hand, a double-deck design might reduce the project footprint. Seattle successfully built a similar design bridge near Lake Union where the I-5 mainline is on the upper deck (allowing for wonderful views of downtown Seattle and Elliott Bay), and the bi-directional Express Lanes on the lower level.

    (link: http://flickr.com/photos/seattleclick/1628792344/)

    Of course, in Portland MAX could employ the lower level, if it were built.

    If anyone wants to make a “beautiful” bridge, then I suggest there be two cost estimates – one for a “Glenn Jackson” style bridge, and one for the “beautiful” bridge. The taxpayers should only be on the hook for the lower cost; those who want the higher priced option can figure out how to pay for it on their own, without raising taxes (or charging tolls, for that matter).

  11. Ron Swaren
    July 16, 2008 at 8:33 pm Link

    I think I’ve heard enough of this “green gateway” nonsense. Anyone going upriver through the I-5 crossing isn’t going to Portland anyway.

    We have a beautiful bridge at the gateway to Portland—the St. John’s—and it is already painted green, too.

    Yes, Will Macht’s vision of the Vancouver waterfront is exceptional. There are many other voices asking for a new bridge in the rail corridor. We are trying to get it back on track since it had long been considered an option. CRC taskforce likes to analyze what is happening in the I-5 corridor proper–instead of looking at how to better connect two regions. For that bridge I would propose a double through arch design–like the Fremont but on a smaller scale—resting on an isolation casing pier smack dab in the middle of the River. This puts shipping lane traffic on the north side and pleasure craft traffic on the south side–and also eliminates the S-curve problem. The North side of the Columbia River would then be a regulated navigation zone. It is now listed on nautical charts as a “turning basin.”

    The double through arch is a seismically strong design and each portion could be replicated for other crossings on the route to US hwy 30–the Portland Harbor and the Willamette. The design could even be used for the relatively short hop from Lady Island at Camas to Troutdale. By mass producing the components the costs would be held down and with these additional crossings congestion woes on I-5 would disappear.

  12. Douglas K.
    July 16, 2008 at 10:29 pm Link

    Adding two reversible lanes between the bridges is a pretty creative approach, if it’s feasible from an engineering standpoint.

    Please stop the nonsense about re-using the rotting antique existing bridges. They are made of sub-standard metal and bolts/rivets [by current engineering safety standards] that have decayed with inadequate protection for many many mnay decades.

    That is why they need to be rehabbed, but I don’t know where you get the idea they’re beyond recovery. Upgrading and rehabbing the bridges is one of the options in the DEIS. It costs almost as much to tear them out as to retrofit and rehab them. If an extra hundred million or so will let us keep four to six lanes across the river and possibly save the cost of building a completely new MAX bridge, we should bloody well pay it.

  13. MRB
    July 16, 2008 at 10:35 pm Link

    If we try to make an iconic landmark,
    it will be anything but. it’ll be forced, fraudulent “culture”.

    Personally, I like the 520 Evergreen Point Floating Bridge:

    Perhaps, it could be sighted to offer some stunning views to people crossing the bridge. After all, the Pacific Northwest is a place with more natural beauty than anywhere else I’ve ever been in the world. Why try to replace that with expensive design?

  14. Jeff F
    July 17, 2008 at 11:07 am Link

    I don’t understand what people have against the Glenn Jackson Bridge, frankly. It’s not as beautiful as the St Johns Bridge, but which bridges are? It’s functional and it’s not an eyesore.

  15. billb
    July 17, 2008 at 12:48 pm Link

    The existing bridges are sub-standard by today’s
    engineering calculation values , and they have been weakened by less than perfect paint protection in every single joint and connection. If you issue a renovation contract at ‘the sane price as new’ the contractor will suddenly find ‘unseen conditions’, and the cost will skyrocket. Do we need another TRAM?

  16. AL M
    July 17, 2008 at 2:07 pm Link

    A bridge is a bridge is a bridge.

    Portland is as Portland does.

    Too many cooks spoil the soup.

    If pigs could vote, the man with the slop bucket would be elected swineherd every time, no matter how much slaughtering he did on the side.

  17. Doug
    July 17, 2008 at 4:44 pm Link

    Erik: As I understand it, there’s a limit to how high we can build the bridge because the FAA won’t let us block the normal approach into PDX… I think I remember hearing that vertical space was already tight, as such I don’t think a double decker bridge would work.

  18. Hank Sheppard
    July 17, 2008 at 5:08 pm Link

    Can’t avoid the irony that Glenn Jackson, the person, was the head of the Oregon Highway Commission when the Marquam/Eastbank freeway was built. He immediately recognized them both as big mistakes… an ugly industrial grade bridge in the heart of the city and lanes of concrete cutting citizens off from the Willamette River.
    A tunnel under the Columbia River from Columbia Blvd to Mill Plain for the I-5 freeway (six lanes total) combined with the conversion of the old spans to arterial use (four lanes total) with lighrail would be the elegant solution. The existing freeway would be removed, replaced with boulevards and new high density development on either side of the river. Think of Vancouver without that big freeway gash!

  19. Erik Halstead
    July 17, 2008 at 6:01 pm Link

    Doug wrote: I think I remember hearing that vertical space was already tight, as such I don’t think a double decker bridge would work

    You’re right. It wouldn’t work (for the I-5/CRC crossing), but it is a striking contrast between Seattle which embraces a bridge, versus Portland that finds fault with an identical design bridge.

    Maybe a tunnel is the best solution – Portland’s very own Big Dig. Install a massive air filtration system within the tunnel to scrub the exhaust, and maybe a tunnel would actually improve the environment because it’d trap the CO.

  20. Erik Halstead
    July 17, 2008 at 6:04 pm Link

    Hank Sheppard wrote: He immediately recognized them both as big mistakes… an ugly industrial grade bridge in the heart of the city

    What’s more ironic is that while we decry the Marquam Bridge, we embrace the Steel Bridge, which is an “ugly industry grade bridge in the heart of the city” – it is even more “industrial” than the Marquam.

    We even built a pedestrian path on the lower level (despite having two such paths on the upper level), and MAX, and route bus lines and Amtrak trains on it too.

  21. Jeff F
    July 18, 2008 at 7:24 am Link

    I don’t know that we “embrace” the Steel Bridge for its aesthetics, but merely for its utility. It’s definitely in the heart of the city and it carries more non-auto traffic than any other bridge in downtown. The pedestrian path on the lower level connects the heavily-used Esplanade paths and is completely separate from auto traffic.

    And the Steel Bridge is relatively subtle, pretty well buried in the landscape — unlike the Marquam which looms over the city like a thug.

  22. EngineerScotty
    July 18, 2008 at 10:28 am Link

    Of course, the track record of WSDOT with regard to bridges isn’t all that great; I can off hand think of two Washington bridges that have sunk (the original Hood Canal and Lake Washington bridges), one that blew down in a windstorm (Galloping Gertie), and at least one drawbridge that opened accidentally during traffic, killing a motorist (the Evergreen Point bridge did this, once).

    The only bridge catastrophes I can think of in Oregon are early wooden bridges (the original Hawthorne) that burned.

    Most of the downtown bridges are, IMHO, pretty; the Marquam is the exception of course. That said, were I to have a billion or two to spend on improving the transportation network in Portland (all modes); I wouldn’t blow it on a chiefly-aesthetic project such as redoing the Marquam.

    Burying the UP line might be a more worthwhile endeavor; simply because this stretch of track is a major bottleneck in the state’s rail network. With the Cornelius Pass line out of comission; the only other way for (non-LRT) trains to get from Union Station and the main Port of Portland terminals to any points south or west–is east to the Dalles, south to Chemult, and back up the UPRR mainline over Willamette Pass.

  23. Bob R.
    July 18, 2008 at 10:48 am Link

    The only bridge catastrophes I can think of in Oregon are early wooden bridges (the original Hawthorne) that burned.

    There was also the case of a streetcar with passengers which went off an open drawbridge and into the river at night… was it the Madison St. Bridge, the predecessor to today’s Hawthorne bridge?

  24. AL M
    July 18, 2008 at 11:38 am Link

    “an ugly industrial grade bridge”

    Beauty, is in the eye of the beholder!

    One man’s art is another man’s trash.

  25. Erik Halstead
    July 18, 2008 at 11:49 am Link

    Bob R. wrote: There was also the case of a streetcar with passengers which went off an open drawbridge and into the river at night… was it the Madison St. Bridge, the predecessor to today’s Hawthorne bridge?

    Was that a problem with the bridge, or the Streetcar (or its Operator)?

    Jeff F. wrote: I don’t know that we “embrace” the Steel Bridge for its aesthetics, but merely for its utility….And the Steel Bridge is relatively subtle, pretty well buried in the landscape — unlike the Marquam which looms over the city like a thug.

    I would beg to argue that the Marquam Bridge is quite “utilitarian” – carrying 141,400 vehicles on average per day in 2006.

    As to whather the Marquam looms over the city like a “thug”, the Steel Bridge is benefitted only from having a large grain elevator and several taxpayer funded castles of wasted dollars (the convention center, the Metro regional headquarters, the Rose Quarter) at one end, and a parking garage, the Port of Portland’s and ODOT’s Region 1 headquarters at the other end; whereas the Marquam Bridge has no other buildings around it giving the impression of a much larger presence.

    Surely, remove the grain elevator, the Rose Quarter, the ODOT and Port buildings, the parking garage and heliport…the Steel Bridge will start to look just like the “thug” that it is.

    Never mind that the Fremont Bridge is a much larger “thug”, towering far above anything else in it’s shadow.

  26. Bob R.
    July 18, 2008 at 12:09 pm Link

    Was that a problem with the bridge, or the Streetcar (or its Operator)?

    I don’t recall the details. I have a book somewhere which mentioned it, but don’t have it handy at the moment.

    Surely, remove the grain elevator, the Rose Quarter, the ODOT and Port buildings, the parking garage and heliport…the Steel Bridge will start to look just like the “thug” that it is.

    I was around before most of what you list was built, and people then still disliked the look of the Marquam bridge and didn’t complain about the Steel bridge.

    The Marquam’s is over 1,000 feet long, not directly perpendicular to the river, and the main decks start over 130 above the water. The Steel is considerably shorter in length, crosses a narrower section of the river, and although it has two tall towers, the main decks are at about 26ft and 72ft above the water. It is definitely less massive and occupies less of a chunk of the skyline.

    whereas the Marquam Bridge has no other buildings around it giving the impression of a much larger presence.

    The Marquam has plenty of buildings around it on the west side, just north of the bridge, but those are recent additions. If you stand at the west end of the Hawthorne bridge and look south to the Marquam, it literally appears to jut out of the top floors of the nearby buildings — love it or hate it, it is quite massive in scale and a very interesting contrast.

    Never mind that the Fremont Bridge is a much larger “thug”, towering far above anything else in it’s shadow.

    Yes, but the Fremont was designed with aesthetic considerations in mind, and people generally love the Fremont. It’s on postcards, there are sculptures and even bike racks shaped like it, it’s promoted by the visitors bureau, etc. There’s no similar outpouring of love for the Marquam.

    This just goes to show that appearance matters in design. Although the Fremont is more massive and occupies more of the sky than the Marquam, for a great many people it is subjectively much more attractive.

    When the highway 101 bridge in Waldport was replaced, great care was taken that the replacement echoed the lines of the original. A cheaper, non-arching bridge could have been built, but the locals felt strongly about the iconic structure being a part of the town’s identity. While any large public works project must be primarily governed by functional considerations, appearances do matter as well.

  27. Bob R.
    July 18, 2008 at 12:20 pm Link

    I’m reminded of a guest lecture on urban design I attended back in college. The speaker began his talk with the admonition (paraphrased) that “Can we all agree that, despite it’s utility, chain link fencing is _not_ decorative? If not, you’re probably not going to agree with anything I have to say.”

  28. EngineerScotty
    July 18, 2008 at 1:24 pm Link

    Aesthetics and style seem to matter quite a bit in urban planning.

    The whole “shall we build a pretty CRC” and “shall we tear down (and possibly replace) the Marquam” debates are testament to that.

    As is much of the rail/bus debate, I suppose. Rail has unquestionably higher capital costs than busses (including BRT, electric busses), and has the property that it’s less flexible, as it operates in a fixed ROW. Rail may be cheaper to operate–you can fit more passengers per vehicle in a train than a bus, they’re easier to fix (no need for complicated suspensions), and they’re more fuel-efficient per passenger, assuming the two modes operate at similar capacity. However, whether or not these cheaper operating costs translate into lower savings overall, is a big question. (It is often easier to get funds for capital investment than operations; this may play a part in the calculus).

    Yet–there are many people out there who would never be caught dead riding a bus (meaning public bus-based transit), but would gladly ride a train. Little of this has to do (directly) with the quality of the ride, the service, or the amenities, but the socioeconomic status associated with both modes of transit. To put it bluntly, many think that “only poor people ride the bus”, and don’t wish to associate with (or be accosted by) the riff-raff that it is assumed travel around by bus.

    This is why ideas such as replacing a well-functioning intra-city bus line like the #14 with a streetcar have traction.

    (I should note that rail may be perceived to be faster than bus service at distance. Given that most passenger rail service in the US is inter-city and/or grade-separated, and most bus routes are locals that stop every couple blocks, this perception has some validity; but it only reflects the current use of the modes of transport, rather than their inherent capabilities).

    To oversimplify a bit, transportation planners tend to assume this rail/bus dichotomy as a given–an unalienable fact of life–and thus often find rail-based solutions attractive. If the goal is not just to build infrastructure, but to build infrastructure that is used to capacity, rail is more appropriate for many corridors; even if an equivalent bus service (equivalent in capacity and service quality) can be had for less money.

    Aesthetics.

    (Conversely, those who are opposed to public transit in any form that isn’t an automobile, tend to prefer busses–they share the same infrastructure as cars, and if you are opposed to it, naturally you’ll want whatever is cheapest, whether it gets used or not).

  29. Douglas K.
    July 18, 2008 at 2:24 pm Link

    >i>Aesthetics and style seem to matter quite a bit in urban planning.

    The whole “shall we build a pretty CRC” and “shall we tear down (and possibly replace) the Marquam” debates are testament to that.

    In fairness, the “tear down the Marquam Bridge” issue is really just a subset of the larger “should we get that damn freeway off the East Bank” issue, which is less about aesthetics than a “best use of land” question.

    As far as the Marquam Bridge is concerned, it might be interesting to have urban design students at PSU work up a “lipstick on a pig” project: get some design suggestions to make the Marquam Bridge much nicer to look at than it is today.

  30. EngineerScotty
    July 18, 2008 at 2:48 pm Link

    But the question is–what is the best use of the eastside industrial district?

    What it’s doing now? (light industrial/OMSI/some commercial)

    Upscale housing and shopping, a la the Pearl, or NW 23rd, or SoWA?

    Low-cost housing?

    Heavy industrial?

    The presence of the freeway is certainly burdensome if you wanted to turn the tract into a residential neighborhood; freeways are (in general) not nice things to live next to.

    If the tract is to remain industrial in nature, the freeway is far less of a problem; indeed, industrial users like being located near things like freeways or rail lines.

    At any rate–let’s get SoWA all built up and occupied–and have evidence of further demand–before we look for more industrial districts to convert to housing.

  31. Erik Halstead
    July 18, 2008 at 8:17 pm Link

    Since we’re introducing the aesthetics of busses – why hasn’t that been a priority for TriMet/Metro/City of Portland?

    Why aren’t we demanding that all busses be built with new, cutting edge designs (instead of the bricks that we have)?

    Why aren’t we demanding state-of-the-art, modern design for bus stops?

    Maybe EngineerScotty is right about some people who refuse to ride a bus at any cost but will gladly ride a train; but does that mean in Portland we are only going to design transit for 5% of Portland (since we obiviously can’t afford rail service for 100%)?

    If we are willing to provide the “lowest common denominator” for our bus service, then there is no valid justification why I should be asked to pay more for gold-plating a bridge or a MAX or Streetcar line – they can just as well get the “lowest common denominator” and for the CRC project, it can be a mirror image of the Glenn Jackson Bridge for all I care.

    If, on the other hand, visual beauty is such a big deal, then the same folks (including Sam Adams) need to DEMAND that TriMet purchase visually pleasing busses, install visually pleasing bus stops – and make this PRIORITY ONE.

  32. Ron Swaren
    July 18, 2008 at 8:19 pm Link

    Is it really that important that the Marquam bridge doesn’t pass some ethereal criteria of aesthetics? It moves a lot of traffic, is a critical link in the regions economy, is built h=== for stout and is low maintenance, as far as I know. So are we supposed to embark on a project that would dwarf the Big Dig because people don’t think the Marquam looks good?

    Some proponents of burying the Eastbank freeway say we could sell the land and make some of the cost back. Would not the public insist that this land be a park, similar to Waterfront Park? And then we would also have to rebuild the interchanges to get them down to the level of the new–buried–freeway. So, you have to entirely rebuild the connections from the Fremont Bridge to I-5, both north and south bound? And the connections from I-84,too, not to mention from the arterial surface streets.

    How deep below the ground does the rail line have to go? Doesn’t this sort of put it below the mean level of the Willamette, to say nothing of flood stage?

    I know back in 2003 the Loop Advisory group—Katz’s handpicked litter–were forecasting seven billion for this. What do they know? Judging by similar cost predictions I would guess very little.

    I’m not sure what transportation problems this enormous project would solve—other than the ones that will result from an expanded I-5 bridge, and a neglected overall strategy of transportation needs in the Pacific NW. It looks to me that the biggest winners would be close-in eastside property owners who would suddenly have first class office sites in their portfolios. Assuming that this scenario is repeated in communities across the US–wherever liberal tax and spend governments reign—the losers would be the US citizen. Yeah, I know: J-O-B-S!! No thanks…We don’t need a new, internationalized welfare system based on public works. They already have that in Southern California….

  33. John E.
    July 19, 2008 at 8:57 am Link

    Using Metro and Portland logic the existing bridge should remain with two lanes converted to light rail and ped/bike crossings. That way the reduced road capacity and worsened congestion would discourage driving, reduce greenhouse gases and the reign in sprawl.
    The added rail transit and ped/bike facilites would encourage additional subsidizing of more smart growth development leading to higher livability.

  34. Bob R.
    July 19, 2008 at 10:19 am Link

    Using Metro and Portland logic the existing bridge should remain with two lanes converted to light rail and ped/bike crossings.

    Given that Metro and the City of Portland have approved each stage of the CRC process so far (with minor caveats), I don’t think your views on what constitutes Metro and Portland logic are quite in line with what has happened to date.

    Who, in any position of power, has proposed keeping only the current bridges and reducing the number of auto lanes on those bridges to make room for rail, as you describe it?

  35. Ray Whitford
    July 19, 2008 at 2:04 pm Link

    The “iconic” design for the CRC wasn’t going to happen from the “get go”. This is a conversation that happened years ago. Get over it. Keeping the old bridges is a non-starter (to expensive to repair). Too many bridge structures in the river already and some of you think retaining the current bridges and adding more structures to the river channel is the answer?

    Engineers and the CRC Committee are resigned to the concrete deck design. As long as we get a new bridge that better handles all the demands on this corridor we can call it a success (restrains by Pearson, PDX, and river traffic are on the table here).

    The only place we are going to see a Iconic Gateway bridge in Portland is if we, in fifty years, agreed that a third or fourth bridge is required for LRT, Bikes, and Auto/Truck demands between Clark County and Washington County. At some point in the distant future a true gateway structure will then make sense downriver. Only there will we see our signature Gateway to Ecotopia. And it will have high tolls for Bikes and Autos since the bridge will be knocking off 30 plus minutes to some commute times. This bridge will only be needed when the Metro region passes 5 million people.

    We are so far behind on all our intrastructure needs and so far in debt at the national level that this fourth (and maybe final) bridge will only be built on the local taxpayers backs.

    The national cookie jar is being sucked dry my friends and only the top one percent are laughing all the way to the bank. Oh thats right, banks are failing in our current situation too. Sounds so 1930’s doesn’t it. Stagflation is again our lot, thanks to people who cannot remember the past.

    Brilliant, just brilliant!

    Ray

  36. Bob R.
    July 19, 2008 at 2:33 pm Link

    some of you think retaining the current bridges and adding more structures to the river channel is the answer?

    If those new structures include a realigned railroad bridge so that ships don’t have to navigate an S-curve, then yes. Where the channel is navigated matters.

  37. Douglas K.
    July 19, 2008 at 3:03 pm Link

    Keeping the old bridges is a non-starter (to expensive to repair).

    Removing them is almost as expensive as repairing them. Besides, keeping them is one of the alternatives in the DEIS, which sure looks like a “starter” to me.

  38. EngineerScotty
    July 19, 2008 at 4:14 pm Link

    Note that a “no build” option is a requirement for any federally-funded project. So the fact that “do nothing” is one of the alternatives under study isn’t an endorsement of “do nothing”.

    Requiring a baseline when analyzing such projects, especially one of that scope, is actually quite sensible.

  39. Terry Parker
    July 19, 2008 at 5:37 pm Link

    Let the people on the Washington side of the river design the bridge, and it will be a functional bridge that works and brings the two sides of the river closer together. Let Metro and the Adams government design the bridge, and it becomes another cost intensive social engineering program that may look pretty to some, but functions horribly and is just another cost overrun monument to Portland’s excessive and frivolous spending of taxpayer dollars in the city that works harder to pick your pockets.

  40. Ron Swaren
    July 19, 2008 at 7:14 pm Link

    It is not so much the details of the bridge that concern me. Believe me, I am all for mass transit, bicycles, walking—and I also believe that fuel effcient personal vehicles will be hitting the US market within a few years.

    What does concern me about this project–and if you want to call it a conspiracy theory, go right ahead–is that movers and shakers in Portland have already determined that they would like to see the whole I-5 route through Portland revamped. And not that this would be, on the face of it, a bad idea. But who stands to benefit the most? From my house I don’t really care if I-5 does take up the east Willamette riverfront area. In fact if I take the Marquam bridge I rather enjoy the view.

    But there are people who would like it gone. And if I owned property in the CEID that would zoom in value in such an event I might want it gone, too. But, I–like most Portlanders–don’t own anything there, so I don’t see a financial stake, And at the same time I see huge expenses in such a project. There is enough overlap between the CRC taskforce and Vera Kats’ freeway loop advisory group that I believe those people assume that, after a new CRC bridge, a relocated I-5 would be a next logical step. But why should US taxpayers foot the bil for these projects? If we get ours, other cities will want their expensive projects. I believe most people are tired of reading or hearing about outlandishly expensive public works projects. So the reform has to start somewhere. If we are going to be a leader we should be a leader in that,too.

    Undoubtedly there is a lot of infrastructure work needed in the US. But we need to concentrate on those projects that HAVE to be done. Because of the far cheaper BNSF bridge option available to us, as well as other relatively inexpensive crossings (i.e. Camas to Troutdale) this isn’t one of them.

  41. Erik Halstead
    July 19, 2008 at 7:55 pm Link

    Ron Swaren wrote: What does concern me about this project–and if you want to call it a conspiracy theory, go right ahead–is that movers and shakers in Portland have already determined that they would like to see the whole I-5 route through Portland revamped. And not that this would be, on the face of it, a bad idea. But who stands to benefit the most? From my house I don’t really care if I-5 does take up the east Willamette riverfront area. In fact if I take the Marquam bridge I rather enjoy the view.

    Ron is absolutely right.

    Let’s take his statement, but instead of I-5…

    What does concern me about this project–and if you want to call it a conspiracy theory, go right ahead–is that movers and shakers in Portland have already determined that they would like to see more Streetcars. And not that this would be, on the face of it, a bad idea. But who stands to benefit the most? From my house I don’t really care if the streetcar goes by or not. In fact I don’t mind the existing transit service, or lack thereof.

    But there are people who would like to build more Streetcars. And if I owned property on the Streetcar route that would zoom in value in such an event I might want it gone, too. But, I–like most Portlanders–don’t own anything there, so I don’t see a financial stake, And at the same time I see huge expenses in such a project.

    It’s an eerie coincidence. Sam Adams and his “leadership”, among other people, have no problem taking the city’s pool of money and spends it to benefit a select few people (namely specific developers who stand to get rich off of their developments which often receive substantial tax breaks), while the majority of Portland gets little if any benefit from his works. How many Portlanders (as a percentage) benefitted from the Streetcar, or the Tram? How many Portlanders will benefit if I-5 is buried in the ground, or if the Marquam Bridge is replaced?

    On the other hand, how many Portlanders (and I include Portland businesses) are impacted by “do nothing”?

    I always thought that government existed to serve the people, but it seems that government – in the case of transportation issues affecting Portland – are serving their own self interests above the interests of the city as a whole. Yes, maybe “peak oil” and “global warming” are substantial issues that affect us all, but is stalling on one freeway bridge project REALLY going to make a different towards those goals? Meanwhile we have a substantial population right here in Portland that has poor quality transit service that I don’t see Sam Adams doing a darn thing about – he doesn’t care about improving bus service one bit. He isn’t doing anything about security on the MAX line. In fact he’s rather quiet on the issue.

    So now he’s on is “iconic” design binge. If we’re going to build it, let’s go bankrupt doing it. Well, I would have hoped that the last time he had to declare personal bankruptcy that he would have learned something about money management. Sometimes, crap happens in life and that’s what bankruptcy is for – to give you a fresh start and hopefully for one to learn a lesson not to live beyond your means, to make sure to save for a rainy day (or sick day), etc. I can only see Portland having to follow the lead of several California cities in brushing up on Chapter 9 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, all over “iconic” features like the tram and this bridge. At least the Space Needle makes a profit (how can it not, with an admission fee of $16 per adult!) and so does the Seattle Monorail; we can’t even say that of our own Convention Center.

  42. Grant
    July 20, 2008 at 1:41 am Link

    “So, you have to entirely rebuild the connections from the Fremont Bridge to I-5, both north and south bound?”

    I believe the idea is to bury the freeway up to I-84, with the portion north of the Rose Quarter to remain relatively unchanged.

  43. Ron Swaren
    July 20, 2008 at 12:30 pm Link

    “Full Tunnel: The most radical concept relocates a significant portion of the southern and eastern part of the loop into tunnels and removes the Marquam Bridge. This concept offers the greatest opportunity to redefine the Central City’s urban form and reclaim land for economic and social uses. Through travel is emphasized in the tunnel. Local connections are made from the tunnel’s portals. Features Three miles of I-5 underground between SW Corbett Avenue and N. BroadwayTravel decks well beneath the riverbed (about 75 feet below sea level) which means that connections to I-405 cannot surface until about SW Park Avenue Freeway interchanges at OR-99E (SE McLoughlin Blvd) and I-84 Partial interchange at NE Multnomah Street New street connections atop the tunnels, which distribute trips between the portals and their Central City destinationsCentral Eastside railway relocated below grade Reclamation of acres of land that currently forms barriers, providing new opportunities for economic development, open space, and other amenities Improved economic development, neighborhoodconnections, and environmental reclamation Performance The Full Tunnel concept provides transportationimprovements that significantly outweigh the otherconcepts including highest capacity and average speed This concept offers the best safety enhancements Bottlenecks are addressed so that projected 2030 travel demand increases are accommodated with a system that performs similarly to today’s situation The tunnel option, as evaluated for this study, could alter the role of the Freeway Loop for access and circulation to and from the Central City. Traffic traveling through the Central City would use the tunnel. A new network of arterial streets would provide access to and from the Central City. The need for direct freeway access and additional interchanges to specific areas of the Central City, such as the Central Eastside or Lloyd Center, could be part of a future study. Additional study will be needed to evaluate the traffic operations of the tunnel and new arterial network. Capital cost estimate $3.0-$5.8 billion (2003 dollars)”
    ——————————————————————————–

    If this is the case it does include the I-84 interchange but not the Fremont Bridge/I-405. I think it would be easier to leave the entire route just as it is, including the Interstate Bridges, and put an improved route in that crosses at the BNSF/Amtrak crossing. Front Ave, Yeon Ave and Hwy 30 already exist as connectors from the south, so no drastic improvements are needed–just smooth out Front Ave and perhaps have less traffic lights on Yeon. Right now here is a lot of traffic from arterials feeding in from the western suburbs that have only one reasonable choice in going northward to Washington—the I-5 route. Unless they are headed to East Clark co. From the business hub of Hillsboro traffic could get over via Cornelius Pass Rd. Traffic from Scappoose and St. Helens to Vancouver would not have to go down to either St. Johns Bridge or the Fremont. It could also pick up traffic from the Terminal area in North Portland all the way up to the Expo Center.

    There… that is a good chunk of traffic that can be taken off the I-5 route. Mass transit and carpooling can take some more. An Amtrak commuter train could remove some more. I also favor a streetcar connection from Union Station to DT Vancouver via this rail route, which I think will become more obvious about a decade from now. And it would be a much more scenic route if someone wants to bike, jog or hang glide.

  44. John E.
    July 20, 2008 at 8:58 pm Link

    Bob R.

    You must have noticed I was reflecting off of the claim that more capacity would lead to more sprawl and worse congestion?

    So with that in mind I suggested that theory could justify leaving the bridge and convert two existing lanes to light rail and ped/bike crossings.

    If expanded capacity would lead to more sprawl and congestion then less capacity, lane reduction, would lead to less congestion and sprawl.

    Your response that Metro and the City of Portland have approved each stage of the CRC process appears to have been a dodge.

    Of course their logic is selective and often hypocritical. But then their motives and agenda
    prevent them from proposing to keep the current bridges and reduce the number of auto lanes on those bridges to make room for rail and ped bike lanes.

    It’s obvious they would prefer that.

  45. Bob R.
    July 20, 2008 at 11:00 pm Link

    It’s obvious they would prefer that.

    I think if you discussed Metro’s actions and the Portland city council’s actions with folks who have been opposed to the specific CRC proposals, you’d find that it wasn’t obvious at all.

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