CRC Battle Lines Firming Up: Local Leaders and Enviros vs. Govs and DOTs

A group of local environmental organizations issued a letter today critical of the response from Governors Kulongoski and Gregoire to the request of local leaders to have more control of the Columbia River Crossing project:

March 10, 2010

Dear Governors Gregoire and Kulongoski,

We are writing on behalf of our organizations, which together represent thousands of Oregonians and Washingtonians, to express our concern about the Columbia River Crossing project. In particular, we are concerned about your response to a recent request made by Portland Mayor Sam Adams, Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt, Metro Council President David Bragdon, and Clark County Commissioner Steve Stuart that seeks to address serious flaws in the current plan.

We are confident that, as the governors of Oregon and Washington, you support the region’s shared values of economic vitality, reliable and equitable transportation, safe and healthy neighborhoods, good air quality, reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and good public process. Yet we agree with our local officials that the current proposal for the I-5 corridor falls short on these measures.

We are concerned that the project will lead to increased traffic and congestion, exacerbate the current bottlenecks in the Rose Quarter, on I-205, and on local streets in Portland, induce poorly planned sprawl development, and increase greenhouse gas emissions, making it much more difficult to reach the greenhouse gas goals and requirements you each supported. We also believe the project should increase transparency and provide affected communities with better opportunities to meaningfully participate in the process.

The local officials made several specific requests to address serious flaws in the current plan. The expert review panel you proposed in response is inadequate because it does not allow for consideration of the issues they raised. First, the scope of the review fails to address key questions, particularly related to maximizing performance in the corridor, bringing down project cost, protecting funding for other transportation needs, and evaluating key assumptions that resulted in excessive community impacts, including on Hayden Island. Second, the rigid, fast-track timeline does not allow the opportunity to address any problems the panel may find.

The local officials ask important questions about the project and we ask that you reconsider your response. It is worth some extra time in planning to ensure that this multi-billion dollar, region reshaping, project is done right.

Sincerely,

Jill Fuglister, Co-Director
Coalition for a Livable Future

Rob Johnson, Executive Director
Transportation Choices Coalition

Mary Kyle McCurdy, Co-Interim Director
1000 Friends of Oregon

Jim Long, President
AORTA (Association of Oregon Rail and Transit Advocates)

Gerik Kransky, Advocacy Campaign Manager
Bicycle Transportation Alliance

Chuck Ayers, Executive Director
Cascade Bicycle Club

Gregg Small, Executive Director
Climate Solutions

Brett VandenHeuvel, Executive Director
Columbia Riverkeeper

Mary Lou Hennrich, Executive Director
Community Health Partnership: Oregon’s Public Health Institute

Brock Howell, Advocate
Environment Oregon

April Putney, Co-Director
Futurewise

Jon Ostar, Co-Director
OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon

Mel Rader, Co-Director
Upstream Public Health

Blair Anundson, Consumer and Democracy Advocate
WashPIRG

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