Common Sense for the CRC

Spencer Boomhower has another terrific video illustrating Columbia River Crossing issues. This one outlines the “Common Sense Alternative” developed by George Crandall and Jim Howell. See it after the jump.

A Common Sense Alternative to the CRC from Spencer Boomhower on Vimeo.

23 responses to “Common Sense for the CRC”

  1. What’s the point of number 5? Wouldn’t the downstream bridge do roughly the same and not add $400 million+ to the package?

    Also something needs to be done to address Silicon Forest–Clark Co. commuting, although it looks like this plan would shift that traffic to Hwy 30 and I-405. That gets it off I-5, but not necessarily out of downtown, although there could be some other shortcuts later on.

  2. The point of #5 is to add two new auto lanes and two transit lanes so the “Common Sense Alternative” gives the same thing as the CRC — 10 auto lanes plus two transit lanes.

    I still prefer building a new freeway bridge, because it could be paid for with tolls, and then converting the existing bridges to transit and local traffic. “New freeway bridge” would be my #3, with “seismic upgrade and conversion of existing bridges to local traffic and light rail” as #4, and push the “new rail and truck bridge” back to #5.

  3. Best response I have seen thus far, Chris, and does not needlessly demonize Clark County commuters and those who continue to rely, by choice or necessity, on SOV. It also provides capacity for the future if future living and commuting patterns do not follow a single path (density in Portland) but instead rely on scattered midsize towns and cities.

    I like it.

  4. Thumbs up. I especially like how it incorporates the existing rail bridge, which has been all but neglected by the CRC plan. At first I was somewhat of a proponent of the CRC (that is, until sticker shock started setting in) mainly due to its eliminating the need for bridge lifts, but this plan appears to address that as well.

    Has this video been circulated among our elected officals and other CRC power players? If not, it needs to be.

  5. I think the killer feature of this CSA idea comes right at the end: it can be done in stages.

    The largest public works project in this regions history should not be a gamble. Addressing one concern at a time (commuter/commercial rail, Hayden island, traffic counts, etc.) means we can flexible over time.

  6. Very good point, Zac. If they build the CRC as planned, we are done for decades. Stuck with the approach that some felt was best, at a time when gas was cheap and plentiful.

  7. What is to happen to the “old” bridge? What are the reasons why the “old” bridge would not be used for light rail, bicycle and pedestrian traffic? Isn’t it structurally fine for that light load? Has this option been eliminated? What were the reasons?

  8. I’ll give the “CSA” a thumbs up. Install a lift on the BNSF bridge. The HSR/truckers bridge could cut cost with a fixed truss design. Sharron Nasset would probably support that bridge.

  9. I think the new rail/trucking bridge is my favorite part. From what I’ve read, once they finish the Point Defiance Bypass, North Portland is going to be the main bottleneck in the Amtrak Cascades system. This will support Amtrak’s long term plan to run trains on the hour, and provides an opportunity to better connect Vancouver’s station with it’s downtown core, along with bypassing all of the freight delays.

    If Vancouverites want it, they can set up a commuter rail service to supplement Amtrak. BRT/Light rail could serve those traveling to NoPo or points east (transfer at Rose Quarter), and commuter rail to serve those going to the downtown core, or out west.

  10. My hang-up with the CRC is the Hayden Island interchange. I submitted to Metro and the City a rationale for supporting Concept#1 Off-Island Access. Concept#1 could be amended to reduce impacts and cost. It is better access to Hayden Island in terms of safety and traffic management.

    The biggest point favoring Concept#1 is that its simpler access to Hayden Island could allow reducing the number of lanes on the CRC bridges from 10+ to 8+. That last point I think has hit a nerve somewhere.

    I like that the CSA can supposedly be built in stages. I’ve long figured that MAX should reach Vancouver as relief transport during CRC construction delays.

  11. That’s what I feared. This just shows that the entire federal transportation funding model needs to be revamped. Or perhaps we just need to eliminate federal highway spending and leave it up to the states to build and maintain transportation within their borders.

    Looks like the only option now is to try and kill the project. Seems like the only way to prevent tolling and the inevitable expansion of I-5 all the way through to the Rose Quarter, resulting in the eminent domain acquisition/demolition of hundreds of homes and businesses.

  12. Sounds like the perfect opportunity for lawmakers to have a conversation about changing the way transportation projects are funded so that something like the CSA could become a reality. The perfect person to lead such a conversation would a certain Oregon Congressman with an interest in transportation issues.

    Actually I just want to hear Rep. Earl Blumenhauer say the words “Common Sense Alternative”. The more exposure this plan gets the better.

  13. How long is this debate going to go on?
    How many more studies and money is going to be wasted discussing this?

    This whole debate is the perfect example of why government has been such a failure at everything it touches!

  14. Al,

    Assuming you’re being serious (and if you’re not, never mind…)–why is it that you assume any TriMet-sponsored capital project is the result of pork-barrel politics, designed to benefit developers and construction interests rather than the public–but not subject ODOT and WSDOT to the same scrutiny?

    TriMet, for all its faults, tends to deliver MAX lines on time and on budget. The state DsOT on the other hand, both have established track records of poor project management, inflated requirements, and massive cost overruns. Three-quarters of the anticipated cost of the CRC are for non-bridge-related expenses.

    And the fact that hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on paperwork ought to prove the point. The fact that the resulting design is widely considered to be substandard, and is mainly being advanced because “we don’t have time to do it right”, should prove it further.

  15. ES,
    You are right that the DOT projects go way out of bounds, too. That is what Joe Cortwright was saying with his comments that mega-projects, including three recent ones in Oregon, have come in at double the projection. There will need to be rethinking about how we build that type of surface transport—-because I don’t think people are going to like the new ways of paying for it that governments will have to devise.

    However, just because MAX may come in at projected cost does that make it the best choice? Our union has worked on MAX lines since 1979. Wages have gone up about 250 percent since then. Why has the MAX gone up 1000 per cent? Besides, MAX-type technology was fairly new, at that time, at least in our area. Shouldn’t some costs mitigate with time? They do in other technologies. And even if the cost were reliable, that doesn’t mean that a better choice could not present itself. It’s called re-strategizing.

  16. Sounds like the perfect opportunity for lawmakers to have a conversation about changing the way transportation projects are funded so that something like the CSA could become a reality.

    Given the current political climate I doubt it would be possible to convince the rest of the US to change federal finance laws so that wacky little Portland can do something different.

    We’re one of the few cities in the country that would want to use federal funding to avoid upgrading and rebuilding a freeway, especially a stretch that is so far outdated for Interstate standards. I really doubt anyone at the federal level would support legislation designed to allow us to keep a lift span with insufficient shoulders and “dangerous” merges on part of the Interstate Highway Network.

  17. Apparently, Sam Adams doubted whether the CSA approach would be eligible for federal funding, and CSA promoters insist that it is. Joseph Rose has the scoop.

    OTOH, what Hizzoner may have meant was that the CSA (or components thereof) is unlikely to receive federal funding, either due to political considerations (such as no support from the state departments of transportation) or technical criteria; even if they are technically eligible for it…

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