Oregonian Makes it Official: We Can Talk About CRC Alternatives

So the editorial board decrees:

The Columbia River Crossing, imagined for a decade and energetically planned since 2005, had bogged down this winter over objections from the city of Portland, Metro, Hayden Island residents and a gaggle of alarmed architects and urban planners. The delicate consensus reached two years ago to proceed with the bridge had evaporated amid complaints that the Oregon and Washington departments of transportation had been allowed to dictate the shape and size of the bridge and its interchanges. The people and communities most affected by the bridge felt increasingly estranged from the planning process.

But then the dynamic started shifting, thanks at least partly to the co-chairman of the Project Sponsors Council, Portland lawyer Henry Hewitt.

“Henry recognized we were not getting where we need to go,” explains Catherine Ciarlo, transportation director for Portland Mayor Sam Adams. She credits Hewitt with driving the creation of a working group to reassess problems such as the project’s heavy footprint on Hayden Island.

Getting past the spin and more to the point:

Later, the city of Portland hired its own transportation consulting firm, San Francisco-based URS Corp., to explore alternative configurations and issues related to expanding the traffic crossing over the Columbia. URS’ research and presentations helped expand the bridge conversation to include its effects on the Rose Quarter.

At Wednesday’s meeting of the review council convened by the governors of Oregon and Washington, highway engineers said their primary unresolved issues involve the configuration of connections to Hayden Island, the width of the bridge and downstream effects on congestion at the Rose Garden. That acknowledgement is a form of progress, demonstrating an understanding of how many parties are needed to steer the bridge to a conclusion.

In other words, the City paid a truly independent (from the DOTs) analyst to review the data and confirm what we all knew.

OK, let’s get on with some real conversation.

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