First CRC Hurdle Cleared?

Yesterday, I described four hurdles that I thought a Columbia River Crossing project within the current boundaries defined by the project team (i.e., without take some significant steps backward to examine more alternatives) must clear.

Today at the Project Sponsors Council meeting, a resolution appears to have been reached, at least in principal, to the first hurdle. From the press release following the meeting:

Use performance indicators to inform traffic management recommendations made by a mobility council. Indicators for commuter, freight, and transit mobility; safety; greenhouse gas emissions; and overall benefit/cost ratio supported today’s recommendations.

Are the sponsors convinced that their ability to ‘recommend’ as a “Mobility Council” is sufficient, or will they hold out for more specific control?

BTW – I think in some quarters my post yesterday was read as an endorsement of the 10/8 compromise. Let me be clear, I was handicapping the process as I see it, but that doesn’t mean I endorse the compromise. I remain an advocate for a supplemental bridge approach as the more fiscally and environmentally appropriate solution.

Which leads us to the question of where the environmental community fits in the process. They (we) certainly are not silent – a post on Blue Oregon and the BTA Blog (I imagine it will show up elsewhere as well) by a coalition of environmental groups reminds us:

This decision will be with us for a century or more. Rather than build the wrong project at great expense, we can develop a financially responsible solution that:

(1) includes only as many lanes as we will need and no more,

(2) uses aggressive policy strategies to manage congestion and thereby save billions in construction dollars,

(3) includes good options for public transit, walking and biking,

(4) positively impacts the health of residents, and

(5) is in line with the global warming reduction plans approved by Washington, Oregon and many local jurisdictions.

But where are the environmental arguments going to get any leverage? If Mayor Adams has signed off on a design based on assumptions about travel that clearly contradict the Climate Action Plan, who is going to get in the way of this project on environmental grounds? The Legislature? I’d hate to think that was our last line of defense.

But there are 3 more hurdles – and one more I forgot to mention yesterday – the near certainty of a legal challenge to how the project has conformed with the requirements of the NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) process.

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