At the CRC Alternatives Review


The panel reviews the alternatives developed by the community.


The audience was a Who’s Who of progressive/alternative transportation thinkers, including a number of Portland Transport readers.

I spent last night at the Columbia River Crossing alternatives panel organized by Metro Councilor Robert Liberty.

A large majority of the 14 presentations submitted by the community were supplemental bridge proposals, often coupled with additional investments like fixing the railroad bridge (to avoid the barge S-curve maneuver) or seismic upgrades to the existing bridge structures.

Among the comments by the review panel:

  • These proposals represent 21st century thinking compared to the 20th century thinking of the project proposal
  • Proposals that could be phased were appreciated, they don’t “put all the eggs in one basket”
  • The submissions represented “$2M worth of alternatives analysis”
  • With regard to retaining the existing structures: “you almost get a free bridge” (because of the avoided demolition costs)
  • There is a “dance of traffic between Portland and Vancouver” and we need to figure out a bridge configuration to support that complex dance
  • Start tolling now so we can build this project on a “Pay-Go” basis
  • The project needs to be balanced for “fiscal equity” with other investments around the region

10 responses to “At the CRC Alternatives Review”

  1. “The submissions represented “$2M worth of alternatives analysis”

    Just send the $140,000 check……

    Keith Lawton did say that the Third bridge/mini freeway (which was represented in four different proposals )was the best overall choice.

  2. I think the thing that was most clear to me from the discussion is that the legislature really wants to get going (right now) on a project that will create jobs. Why not make the Hayden island bridge now? It doesn’t negatively affect any of the other proposals.

    Close the I-5 entrances/exits onto the island and build a connection from the MLK exit to Hayden island.

  3. If we need an immediate project why not get started on an upgrade to the I-5 structures? Do it comprehensively, yet allow for more improvements in the future.

    I would be more concerned about unsafety due to deterioration than seismic insufficiency. By that I mean that I don’t think the chances of a Richter 9 earthquake are all that high, and the zone in which one could occur is actually quite huge, so it is not too likely that an epicenter would be near us. In the history of the bridges we have had several 6.7-6.8 quakes and so far they have been fine. That means that the worst case scenario of the counterweights swinging around wildly in a Richter 9 is not so likely.

    A bad scenario that would be more likely is a prolonged quake in the 7 range, or —worst case—a Cascadian quake offshore that still has relatively high oscillations in the Portland area. So, a comprehensive plan might include: exam and repair for normal deterioration, upgrade for greater freight traffic impact, installation of modern seismic bearings, changing of the lifting schedule by congressional act, and widening of the walkways.

    Raising the height of the lift span?—-maybe in the future.

    The Interstate 5 bridge in Seattle (Ship Canal Bridge) received seismic upgrades in 2000-2001. And that one is in a much more volatile zone.

  4. Nice to see the rail bridge finally getting more attention in this process. Maybe it could be the key component to lifting (no pun intended) the CRC project off the ground at long last, whatever shape it ends up taking.

  5. If we want to move ahead quickly, there are at least four relatively small projects that would help with congestion and seem to be components of most of the proposed alternatives.

    1. Arterial Bridge to Hayden Island
    2. LRT to Hayden Island
    3. Replace RR swing span with a more southerly lift span
    4. Tolling to pay for seismic upgrade of existing bridges.

    As Steve Duin asks in his column, where is the local leadership to move forward with one or more of these? (Besides Robert Liberty?)

  6. It will take more than local leadership. The state governments are just flat out broke. And the federal government will likely move into an era of really tight purse strings. Get your sharp pencils out!

  7. I think asking for the retrofitting of wider walkways for the I-5 bridges would be the least expensive first step. These should take into account that there would be later seismic upgrades. I don’t see the seismic upgrading as urgent, though it should not be postponed too long. There may be improvements in that technology over time. Wider sidewalks would place an onus upon the cycling community to show how much interstate demand there actually is. These should also be lightweight, to not add great burden to the bridges. Perhaps a certain number would cycle to the Expo MAX station.

    Also, could CTRAN come up with a shuttle to the MAX? Maybe a monthly pass system so passengers would not have to pay twice.

  8. The CRC is clearly dead and the body is lying in the street. Almost everyone can see its dead, but none of the people with any real power want to admit it. They understand the next debate is going to be who killed it. So they keep poking it and pretending to see signs of life. That charade can go on for a long time before anyone is willing to admit $100 million dollars of scarce transportation funds was wasted.

  9. Ron Swaren,

    C-Tran has a monthly pass system, valid anywhere on Tri-Met (except possibly WES). An “All Zone” C-Tran Monthly Pass costs $88. A monthly “Express Pass” valid on the C-Tran expresses AND any Tri-Met service (except possibly WES, again) costs $110.

    So far as the shuttle, are you proposing direct downtown Vancouver to Delta Park shuttles, bypassing Jantzen Beach? If you’re thinking of anything else, forget it. The #4 provides service co-ordinated to the service the the Yellow Line.

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