Lots of Columbia River Crossing happenings this week:
- The Independent Review Panel (IPR) will convene for the first time, and will be met by a protest at its first meeting.
PROTEST PLANNED FOR FIRST MEETING OF CRC ‘RUBBER STAMP’ PANEL
(Portland, Ore.)–The Stop the CRC Coalition–a grassroots organization opposing the Columbia River Crossing Project in its current form–will protest at the first meeting a panel of ‘experts’ appointed to review the project on Wednesday, May 19.
The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) picked the panel’s members, who are transportation consultants for various road-building agencies. While the panel’s ostensible purpose is to address mounting concerns from citizens and local elected officials about the bridge’s impact on sprawl, the environment, public health, state budgets and local communities, the panel has not asked to hear from critics of the process, focusing its work on only reviewing the current design, finances and post-construction of the bridge, and working from documents and information that the transportation agencies have prepared.
“The cost of this review panel is $750,000, over and above the $1 million being spent every month by the project,” said David Osborn from the Coalition to Stop the CRC. “And yet, the review panel appears to be getting ready to rubber stamp the bridge’s current 12-lane, $3.6 billion design, despite widespread opposition to the project.”
Opponents of the bridge in its current 12-lane design have spent thousands of hours reviewing documents and working on alternatives, but have been largely relegated to three-minute appearances at public hearings, or being refused the opportunity to testify outright.
WHO: Stop the CRC Coalition
WHAT: Protest and action at Rubber Stamp Panel first meeting
WHEN: Wednesday, May 19, 8:45 AM (protest first before Coalition members attempt to enter the panel’s meeting)
WHERE: Portland Expo Center–protest outside; panel meeting in Room D201
- The IPR has also announced a public hearing, with all of two days notice. Stellar citizen involvement:
The panel will host a public meeting to hear directly from members of the community starting at 7 p.m. on May 19 at the Expo Center.
- Perhaps most intriguingly, there is some buzz on the grapevine that Washington (the state) is putting pressure on ODOT to seriously look at slimmed down alternatives in order to generate some consensus and get the project moving again. One can only hope that this might be true…