Hell Freezes Over: CRC Edition

John Charles and Bob Stacey co-author an opinion piece on the Columbia River Crossing, and I agree with it.

5 responses to “Hell Freezes Over: CRC Edition”

  1. In related news, Washington governor Christine Gregoire sticks both feet in her mouth and declares that to not build the freeway tunnel proposed as a replacement for the derelict Alaskan Way Viaduct, would constitute “social engineering”.

    In other words, the “natural” order of things requires that a massive freeway project be undertaken, and to do otherwise is to spit in the face of the proverbial gods. With one of the two governors responsible for the CRC project saying things like that (and the leadership from Salem not being all that much better), it’s no wonder the CRC is in the deplorable state that is.

    I hereby dub the good guv’nor as Concrete Christine. While she is infinitely better than Dino Rossi would have been–like most politicians in high office, she tends to conflate the interests of the powerful with the interests of the people.

  2. (from the article)
    Strategically focus taxpayer investments in seismic upgrades. Oregon’s Bridge Inventory doesn’t list the I-5 bridges among those most threatened by earthquakes. We should be concerned about the impact of earthquakes. But we should examine all of Oregon’s infrastructure, from schools and bridges to water and sewer lines, and figure out which are the highest priority to reinforce or rebuild.

    Better yet, I think, is to have a plan that can respond in a rapid manner if, and when, a large earthquake does damage critical infrastructure. My rationale; “Haste makes waste.” Better to only replace structures when they are truly obsolete and would be replaced anyway, or if there would be substantial risk to a large population if there were damage; e.g. a gas pipeline running through a populated area.

    So far, in our recorded history, our infrastructure has made it through the seismic events in our region with precious little damage. Usually the damage has been to older, unreinforced masonry structures. First of all, we tend to be a bit further removed from the fiercer geologic events than hot spots like the Bay area or Puget Sound. Sure, our area has plenty of potential for liquefaction, but there has to also be something that causes the liquefaction; and I think we are a bit safer. Secondly, a really big quake (the Subduction one) could be a century or two away. We just don’t know. We could unnecessarily be seismically upgrading structures that would be replaced in a few more decades anyway, for other reasons.

    And if we did have the Big One, the epicenter could be anywhere along an approx. 700 mile long arc, or along all of it. But it would most likely be very near the coastline, so infrastructure in that region would be more vulnerable than Willamette Valley structures, which puts the greater risk in the less populated areas. But since the riskier area is near Hwy 101. wouldn’t the susceptible structures tend to be there? But then there would be no way of predicting how the earth movement in such a large event would occur. Some areas might be untouched; some areas might have the ground collapsing, rising up or spreading apart. We simply would not be able to predict it. That’s what happened in Valdez; there simply was no way to predict beforehand what would happen in any given area, only that there would generally be a lot of damage.

    With ODOT prepared for damage they then could locate their equipment and materials to the places that actually suffer damage when it finally happens, not dump lots of money in the meantime into upgrading structures that MIGHT get damaged. Why gamble lots of public money away when we really don’t know what would actually get broken?

    Build an additional bridge. Having only two road crossings of the Columbia in the greater Portland area doesn’t make long-term sense. Clark County is an integral part of the region. We should be increasing the number of crossings of the river, whether the new bridge be a local or highway bridge, and whether it includes light rail or not

    Sooner or later, Portland’s west side transportation needs to be addressed, as was Portland east side, c. 1980. Even if there were some light rail to Vancouver eventually we would need to address west side needs, If we do it now, rather than later, I think we can avoid a string of costly fixes to other transportation “needs.” That doesn’t imply that we are limited in our vision of what modes should be promoted. Only that something should be done which acknowledges growth in two divergent regions: Washington County and Clark County. If you don’t want Clark County residents to keep bringing in needed money to Oregon Revenue, say so. This annual amount could rise to $200 million in the near future (from $150m today) if we do things right. Currently, to accommodate those affiliated taxpayers we send many of them down into central Portland and then to their various destinations. A well planned shortcut will attract and enhance all modes.

    Use tolling. A well-designed tolling system could fully finance the cost of a properly designed and scaled new bridge.

    We have had tolls in the past, but only to pay for the structure that they are imposed upon. This is different from having a toll that turns into a slush fund for other projects. So, tolls, yes: “tolling in perpetuity”, not so much.

  3. A bridge for local trips, call it “arterial” or “frontage road” bridge, makes the existing freeway work better, allows for removal of substandard on/off ramps, and can accommodate bike/ped and high capacity transit.
    At this point I am ready to say “do what Seattle did in the tunnel”…put the tracks there to Vancouver for when and if they decide they want MAX. Meanwhile C-Tran can run Limited buses on dedicated ROW to a new Transit Center on Hayden Island where riders can transfer to MAX Yellow.

  4. Ha! Love the boldface.

    I saw Charles this morning — he said they’d dashed it off at 10 p.m. the night before posting.

    Stacey chaired the board of the Oregon Environmental Council when Charles was its executive director, back in the 90s before Charles split with the environmental movement.

  5. Hate to be picky, but Hell–at least in Dante’s time–already was frozen.

    Traitors in filthy ice up to their necks, Satan stuck so he could only flap his wings while his three heads chomped on Cassius, Brutus, Judas, other devilish images.

    Abandon all hope, ye CRC supporters!

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