CRC Federal Funding Questioned

Based on the quotes in Dylan Rivera’s article in the O today, legislators in D.C. aren’t much more enthusiastic than the ones in Salem about putting big money into the Columbia River Crossing.

Is it time yet to scrap this thing and start over with a program that actually makes sense?

0 responses to “CRC Federal Funding Questioned”

  1. Is it time yet to scrap this thing and start over with a program that actually makes sense?


    Nothing more to see here, move along please.

  2. Maybe we should look at trying to get a private company involved like San Diego did for a new freeway to connect the Mexican border to the freeway grid?

    The total cost was only $600 mil, but a large part was paid for by a toll road operator.

    Unfortunately they’d be extremely unlikely to want to contribute to a LRT bridge, but if the two states really want that they can find the $600 mil each it would cost.

    It seems they could build a new bridge cheaper somehow though, if $600 mil can buy 12.5 miles of freeway including the Otay River Bridge. (An article about the bridge.)

  3. scrap the light rail and save a cool billion. this project was doomed from the beginning. there is no logic in its design. The entire I-5 corridor needs to be widened and re-designed– not just the bridge. Interchanges need to be further apart, and there needs to be parallel routes.

    I have a feeling this project was quickly pieced together to give an appearance that something was being done but in reality the planners knew it would never be approved– except for the light-rail portion of course.

  4. Light rail is easy if you build a new freeway bridge. Just keep the existing bridges and rehab them, instead of tearing them out. Put a light rail line and two arterial traffic lanes on each. No new LRT bridge needed.

    What’s the cost of a six or seven lane freeway bridge, compared to the project they’re looking at right now? Could it be paid for entirely by tolls?

  5. Douglas said: “Light rail is easy if you build a new freeway bridge. Just keep the existing bridges and rehab them, instead of tearing them out. Put a light rail line and two arterial traffic lanes on each. No new LRT bridge needed.”

    If only the politicians on the Oregon side that want to make the crossing project into a social engineering project could see the light and cost savings of such a proposal. It would cost about the same amount of dollars to rehab the existing historical bridges as to tear them down. Three of the six pages of testimony I submitted last May in response to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement described with diagrams this type of a proposal. The arterial traffic lanes would be used for local and interchange traffic. If the bridges are retained as part of an I-5 interchange, the bridges can also remain as part of the Federal Interstate System. Bicycle infrastructure could be provided at a cost savings to taxpayers too by widening one (or both) of the sidewalks similar to what was done on the Hawthorne Bridge. Another half page of my submitted testimony spoke to having the transit passengers and bicyclists that use the bridge financially contribute to the cost of providing the specialized infrastructure they use, thereby broadening the user charge revenue base and spreading out the costs to all users of the crossing, instead of just expecting only motorists to pay a toll and subsidize the other modes of transport. If motorists are tolled, then charging the other users is a must brings equity to the project. However, with economy in trouble, the Feds running out of funds and the stubbornness of both dictator elect Sam Adams and the socialists at Metro that want to encumber motorists at every turn, but still take their money, it is my gut feeling that it is highly likely this project will not be built at all.

  6. “DeFazio suggests the improvements for six highway interchanges could be scaled back. Those account for about a third of the project’s cost.”

    Just look at the problematic interchanges we have now. They are a large and overlooked contributor to the congestion now present on the bridge. The ramps on Hayden Island have the worst safety ratings of the entire project area. Fix these interchanges, and I bet you would notice a large number of problems at least somewhat alleviated. It would improve traffic flow on, onto, and off of the freeway, along with improving the safety of motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists.

  7. Chris Smith asks whether we should scrap this project and start over with “something that makes sense”. Is that “something that makes sense” a light-rail ONLY option? If so – NO! Let it die altogether – NOW.

    The fact that so many people have been allowed to get their hands on this project, and skew it into something so large and grandiouse beyond what the project is supposed to accomplish is itself a symbol that this project got out of control.

    Let’s start with the obivious – Sam Adams’ assertion that this has to be some artistic symbol, a “gateway to the region”. Gateway to whom? Steamship travellers entering Portland from the S.S. Pacific? When did a trans-Pacific steamliner last stop in Portland? (Did one ever???) The Glenn Jackson Bridge is functional, minimalistic, and cost effective. (I seem to recall that it was built extra-wide (four lanes in each direction, plus a bike lane which was ahead of the times back in the late 1970s/early 1980s) so that it could at some point accomodate a “transitway” (which could be either bus or rail). What’s wrong with duplicating that same effort eight miles west? I was given a bill of sale that the OHSU Tram would be “Portland’s Space Needle”. Um, no. (At least the Space Needle is profitable for the City of Seattle, and so is the Monorail and the rest of the Seattle Center complex.)

    The insistence of light rail as part of the project. This project is primarily designed to improve access from industrial centers – Terminals 5/6 of the Port of Portland, the Port of Vancouver, and the Columbia River industrial areas; interstate freight movement. It is secondarily a safety project, as this is a crash-prone area of I-5 (as I almost first-hand witnessed last weekend, thanks to the combination of a C-Tran bus entering I-5 northbound at low speed, three cars who were trying to pass the bus, and a Schneider National tractor/trailer in the right lane forced to slam on its brakes to avoid the slow moving traffic in front of it. Fortunately I was familiar enough with the area and respect the larger vehicles that I kept a safe distance and ended up behind the pumpkin truck.

    If congestion were truly a goal of this project, then the project would encompass the entire I-5 corridor from I-205 to I-205 (yes, I said that right). The CRC scope of project was to cover, what, 10% of the distance between the two interchanges (almost 40 miles).

    Third is the “green”/”sustainability” goals. If we had applied these same goals, light rail would have NEVER been built to Hillsboro or to the airport, and the Portland region could have saved the hundreds of millions in digging a tunnel. We could have built BRT that went up and over the hill using an existing corridor (either Sunset Highway, or Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway) at a tiny, tiny, tiny fraction of the cost. We could have even implemented trolleybusses to accomplish the fuel savings that MAX enjoys, and still have had BRT at a tiny fraction of the cost of the MAX line (even minus the tunnel cost).

    Look at the greenfield development and loss of farmland that occurred in Orenco/Quatama. Look at the new development that has occurred along the Sunset Highway post-Westside MAX. None of this had to happen but was accelerated thanks to MAX related development and development tax credits for so-called “transit oriented development”.

    The land around the airport could have still be used as farmland – potatoes and corn don’t complain about airport noise. Many airports intentionally use the surrounding land as farmland because it is a compatible use with airfield operations; plus having a large farm literally in the center of Portland would certainly be a shining star for Portland’s “sustainability” index for encouraging farmers market, local produce, and the likes. (Of course, the airport itself is inherently unsustainable, but that’s another thread.)

    If the CRC project is killed, I won’t lose any sleep over it. I just hope that “killed” also means that light rail is killed along with it too. Since it’s said that “congestion is a choice”, let Clark County commuters revel in their choice. There is no reason that Oregonians, nor the federal government, need to subsidize that choice. Metro has an obligation to serve its own district residents and has absolutely zero obligation to Vancouver – Metro’s BOD need to apologize to the hundreds of thousands of Metro district residents who were left in the cold thanks to non-planning, and start a transit investment program for the region (yes, that means Southwest Portland and its suburbs like Tigard and Tualatin) that go beyond the “weekday rush hour only” “commuter train” that requires credit checks or deposits to ride (since cash fares are not accepted).

    Let the CRC die.

  8. The problem over the I-5 Bridges is too many single occupancy vehicles in the peaks. How to address? Charge a toll now and/or provide good alternatives to SOVs asap.
    Some alternatives: HOV lanes across the bridge now…good for both transit (bus) and for carpools/vanpools. HOV lanes carry 50% people than GP lanes.
    Build a “frontage road bridge:” remove local trips from Interstate freeway, reduce SOVs in peaks and remove substandard on/off ramps at Hayden Island.
    Build some form of high capacity transit with its own ROW: allow transit riders to bypass the existing roadway alltogether and reuce SOVs in peaks. MAX would seem to be the best fit, but maybe that is up to Clark county at this point. Perhaps Clark county residents would like a transfer at Delta/Vanport from bus to MAX.
    Improve the very substandard bike/ped facilities across the River: Remove more SOVs in peaks.
    Reducing SOVs in the peaks can increase freight movement in the 10% of freeway operating time when it is constrained. 90% of the time I-5 is pretty much OK, and appears to be getting better; shippers opposed tolls now because they don’t have a problem.
    Spend $4 Billion on universities, community colleges, K-12, etc., the real drivers of economic development.

  9. Please stop saying we can magically re-hab the old bridges , [as if they had a drinking problem]. If
    you are not a Structural Engineer you have no biz speaking about the viability of this bad idea. I don’t dispense advice on Brain Surgery because I am NOT a Surgeon. These bridges are made of sub-standard steel, that has been exposed to harsh weather for many decades. There isn’t a squre inch worth keeping if you want a safe bridge for the next hundred years.

  10. billb, if the structural engineers that are working on the CRC say that we can rehab the bridges, (say, if they included it as one of the alternatives in the DEIS,) then maybe it might be possible…

  11. The problem on how to fund a new Columbia River Crossing is that too many people/user groups want a free ride and/or dictate to others how they should travel (i.e. the bicyclists, transit users and political forces socialistically attempting to force people out of their cars). If bicyclists are unwilling to be directly taxed or tolled to help pay the price tag for the bicycle infrastructure, any bicycle infrastructure needs to be eliminated from the project. If transit passengers are unwilling to pay higher fares or a farebox surcharge to help pay for the transit components of the crossing, then the transit components on the crossing must be completely dropped. It is just that simple – equity must prevail.

  12. Bike commuters and transit riders are not the problem on I-5…they are the solution. We should be paying them to get off the freeway in the peaks.
    It does not get more obvious than this.

  13. Sustainability starts with financial self-sustainability. Therefore, what is truly obvious, the real problem is the expectation (by socialist thinkers) that taxpayers should pay the price tags and bills for freeloading bike commuters and subsidized transit passengers when they ought to be paying their own way for the infrastructure they use.

  14. Making policy decisions based on ideology can be risky. Better to design a solution based on the problem…again, too many SOVs in the peak. How can we best reduce this demand at the least cost?
    re who pays? When are we going to get motorists in Portland to pick up their share of the tab for the water/air pollution they cause. You should see this bicyclist/transit rider’s sewer bill! Maybe a meter on every tail pipe can tally up the air quality bill while a tax on oil, gas and rubber can cover the motorists’ share of the water pollution tab.

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