Keeping Pace with the CRC

The lawyer phase of the Columbia River Crossing project has begun. The first hearing is at the Land Use Board of Appeals on Thursday.

These appeals (there are more than one) are based on the “Land Use Final Order” under state land use law. More and different legal action will occur once the Final Environmental Impact Statement progresses to “record of decision” status.

On another note, local historian and PSU prof Carl Abbott had a nice op-ed piece yesterday pointing out the questionable economic model that underlies the design of the Hayden Island interchanges for the project…


31 Responses to Keeping Pace with the CRC

  1. Chris I
    September 28, 2011 at 7:07 am Link

    Kind of makes you wonder. If we just did a simple extension of the MAX to Hayden Island using a local bridge with two vehicle lanes and a bike path, would there be any demand for TOD? There is a lot of unused parking lot wasteland up there, and it seems like the areas that are a fair distance away from the freeway would be a decent place to live.

    Of course, it seems like the main motive here is to create a new interchange that will support future development of west Hayden Island…

  2. nuovorecord
    September 28, 2011 at 8:38 am Link

    Chris I: Your last sentence is right on the money. You’re aware that the Port of Portland has designs on West Hayden Island, no? They want to turn 300 acres of it into a deep-water vessel terminal.

    It will be served by rail, but truck traffic is also being planned for, including an arterial bridge to WHI connecting to Marine Drive.

  3. Chris I
    September 28, 2011 at 9:47 am Link

    I think west Hayden would be a good location for a port. The access to rail is great. However, I think the idea that they can route vehicle traffic through the residential/commercial areas of east Hayden Island, and onto the mess that is I-5 is misguided. They should focus on rail connections (expand the two bridges north and south of Hayden Island to 3 or 4 tracks), and adding a local access bridge to get the truck traffic down to Marine Drive.

    I’m curious, though. With all of the expansion going on at the Port of Vancouver, how much demand will there be for another port on Hayden Island?

  4. billb
    September 28, 2011 at 9:49 am Link

    If there was ever a more obvious place to save money it is by eliminating the new Hayden off ramp set-up. Industrial uses can train it on/off. Leave the existing bridge to the island for local access on the OR side only , and all the WA sales tax dodgers will have to work to cheat.

  5. Wells
    September 28, 2011 at 10:13 am Link

    The Sunday Oregonian’s bold headline “The CRC will bring SAFER access to Hayden Island” stretches the truth. Statistical accident rate & severity is worse. Both exits onto Hayden Island are downhill which increases stopping distance. Exiting traffic must come to a complete stop at a “T” with forced turns. Stopped traffic backs up while waiting for traffic entering the freeway to pass. Faster freeway speeds lead to faster exiting onto less visible downhill ramps with backed-up traffic and little emergency escape space. The design ‘creates’ a pair of extremely dangerous bottlenecks. The Hayden Island interchange design is NOT SAFE for motorists nor pedestrians as air, water, noise, land-use and redevelopment potential and island traffic management overall are worse than existing ramps and alternative designs.

    I recommend a fair public review of the CRC Commission’s own Off-island Access Alternative Concept #1 (hinted in the article) plus building ONLY the Southbound bridge while using both existing bridges for northbound lanes. The eventually built northbound bridge does NOT need a lower deck. Being lighter, it can be an elegant cable-stayed design to complement the utilitarian stressed-truss of the southbound bridge. This phased approach to the CRC project sets up a traffic pattern that necessitates further study of northbound interchange designs in Washington State. It most likely reduces costs, but more important, achieves higher safety standards.

  6. Aaron G
    September 28, 2011 at 10:52 am Link

    If I was dictator, we’d fix the CRC by getting rid of Janzen Beach. Then they could put a new port on the island where the big boxes, houseboats, and RV park used to be if they wanted.

  7. Douglas K.
    September 28, 2011 at 11:08 am Link

    I noticed that about the article too. Get rid of the Hayden Island interchange and just expand the Marine Drive interchange a bit (two southbound lanes instead of one, maybe an extra lane at the intersection with Marine Drive). Southbound traffic to Hayden Island will have to take an extra minute or so to get there, plus stopping to make a left turn at (gasp!) ONE traffic light.

    We really do NOT need the Hayden Island interchange. Nobody actually needs it; it’s just a slight convenience to a handful of private parties on the island, who will be almost as well served by an arterial bridge from Marine Drive. Maybe two bridges, if a freight bridge is later added to serve West Hayden Island.

  8. Ron Swaren
    September 28, 2011 at 1:28 pm Link

    I see nothing wrong with developing part of West Hayden Island into a port facility. To develop a dock on the north side of the island they could scoop out material from the southern portion, install some culverts to divert Columbia River water into and out of some man made ponds. And have an attraction for water fowl that doesn’t exist there now. Cottonwoods and undergrowth tend to be overrated as natural habitat. The businesses in Terminal 6 and the natural uses of Bybee and Smith lakes already coexist very well. Just duplicate this strategy on W. Hayden Island.

    A third interstate bridge could also provide the port access and mainland connection that some here are talking about. Plus multiple other purposes. I agree that elimination of the on/off ramp at I-5 on Hayden Island would reduce the traffic turbulence that adds to present congestion.

  9. Chris I
    September 28, 2011 at 2:25 pm Link


    Seems like, at least from what I’ve seen, a third Interstate bridge would do nothing for Port access, or even hinder it. The renderings show it blasting past Hayden, well downstream.

    Third Bridge advocates seem to only care about how fast they can drive themselves between Beaverton and Vancouver.

  10. Ron Swaren
    September 28, 2011 at 8:18 pm Link

    I don’t know if you are referring to renderings on Third Bridge Now website, or not. Besides being called the Western Arterial this has also been referred to for at least a few decades as the “Port-to-Port Connection.” The Western Arterial is NOT the west side bypass which some advocated a few decades ago, and which would have been significantly downstream.
    1. Hayden Island could have ramps. We have also discussed merging an extended Yellow Line MAX onto this bridge at Hayden Island, thus giving a MAX route in Vancouver far more coverage than the present LPA.
    2. The Terminal 6 area, served by N. Marine Drive would have a connecting ramp at N. Portland Rd. and Marine Dr—-yielding an industrial loop to the west of the route. It would also extend across the Willamette near the Term. 5 area
    3. The west approach, along Hwy 30, has various port and dock facilities.
    4. The projected route in Vancouver goes through the port facilities, which are expanding westward, and also right past the AMTRAK station.

    How does this not enhance Port access?

    As far as a speedway between Vancouver and Beaverton:
    1. Going from Vancouver to West Union Jct. is now a 20 mile trip. If it is reduced to 14 miles, true, this is faster for cars, but should also be faster for express bus service, or even to those who want to pedal the whole route. Would you rather ride 20+ miles through complex interchanges—or 14 miles on a new route, designed from the outset for various modes? Shortcuts are valuable for all modes of transportation.
    2. Those fast driving commuters from Clark Co. have been bringing in $150 million each year into the Oregon treasury, plus much more into the Oregon economy, where they can shop without sales tax. Assuming business expansion in the Silicon Forest, which looks likely, this sum could increase to $180-200 million/yr. Should we thwart this significant contribution or encourage it?
    3. A group that really has clout to push the CRC are the Silicon Forest and other west side businesses. They are pulling their hair because of the present, money wasting congestion on our roads. And no, they are not going to deliver their goods and conduct interbusiness commerce via MAX light rail or bicycle. So which solution for them? Money wasting CRC? or a west side route that all can use, and that solves profit-draining congestion?

    Saying that a third bridge and interstate route has little purpose other than as a speedway is,IMO, rather simplistic.

  11. EngineerScotty
    September 29, 2011 at 7:37 pm Link

    Michael Anderson tweets: “Woah, the national anti-transit lobby is rolling out their big guns against the CRC in the ‘Couv Oct. 8: ”

    And indeed, it appears that Messrs. Tom Rubin, Randall O’Toole, and Wendell Cox will be in town to advocate against the project.

    I’m rather sure that if this were just a freeway project, these three gentlemen wouldn’t be coming to town to oppose it.

    One suspects that the strategy for those opposed to the transit elements of the project is that a CRC with LRT can be blocked by ‘Couv residents refusing to support it–at which point the Feds and/or the state DOTs will find some way to steamroll Portland–perhaps including legislation taking Portland and/or Metro out of the process–and build the thing without light rail.

    Could such a ploy work?

  12. EngineerScotty
    September 29, 2011 at 7:39 pm Link

    Whoops, forgot the URL for the above event:

  13. Lenny Anderson
    October 3, 2011 at 9:45 am Link

    Someone should look at 2010 census data on where people live and work. An analysis of 2000 data showed that only a relative handful of Washington county employees live in Clark county. Most trips across the I-5 bridges are to jobs in north and northeast Portland. A local or arterial bridge with better transit (MAX, BRT, whatever)and tolling would relieve most of the congestion on the existing bridges.
    Note that Port of Portland’s T-6 handles about 1% of west coast container traffic, exporting straw and hay as well as just empty containers. I question the Port’s need for a massive rebuild of Marine Dr interchange.
    Portland exports wheat and bulk minerals and imports cars. I would hate to see West Hayden Island paved for more auto import facilities. I

  14. John Reinhold
    October 3, 2011 at 11:50 am Link

    Ron wrote:
    “2. Those fast driving commuters from Clark Co. have been bringing in $150 million each year into the Oregon treasury, plus much more into the Oregon economy, where they can shop without sales tax. Assuming business expansion in the Silicon Forest, which looks likely, this sum could increase to $180-200 million/yr. Should we thwart this significant contribution or encourage it?”

    Is that $150 million Clark county residents who work in Washington county? I was under the understanding that the $150million figure was from all Clark county residents who work in Oregon anywhere… Anecdotally I don’t know any who commuted to Washington county but I know MANY who commuted downtown Portland or the Lloyd district.

    (not that I oppose a third bridge – I’m just clarifying a detail)

  15. Ron Swaren
    October 3, 2011 at 12:25 pm Link

    Yes, a lot of Clark Co. residents work in other areas of the Portland area or perhaps even other areas of the state. Washington County represents a fast growing segment and one which will continue to grow. I have seen some articles and figures on that. And that overall figure could be substantially lower because of the impact of the recession. I did see some maps from METRO a couple of years ago that would clarify this. And, there are many Oregonians who work in Washington.

    Elsewhere in Oregon, Washingtonians bring in about $50 million per year–or did. If there were another wave of job expansion in the Portland area the numbers would resume or rise further.

    When I lived in Seattle I heard on the news one night that the favorite vacation destination for Washingtonians was—the Oregon Coast. And then there are the shoppers, too. How many of them want to get out to the Beaverton/Hillsboro area I don’t know—However, why turn their business away? We might even make it easier for them to get there, as well as easier for traffic coming from the north that is headed out to the coast or somewhere along US 26 or the Hillsboro area.

    As I have stated many time I don’t have a vested interest in anything. I resumed bicycling about ten years ago to improve my health beyond what my active vocation would do. I recognize that relying on public transport would be frequently convenient, and actually a lifesaver should some catastrophe or health problem preclude me from driving. And I have mentioned this to the conservative people who think they will always get around by auto. “What will you do when you are tool old to drive—esp. in a city that will be even more crowded and with more vulnerable people on the streets?” I don’t enjoy fighting traffic. OTOH, I often find that going for a drive in the country helps clarify my mind and stimulate creativity, when I feel that I am under circumstances that don’t seem to resolve.

    I’ve also experienced a serious accident while bicycling that was not a collision and have known other people who have, as well.

  16. Chris I
    October 3, 2011 at 1:29 pm Link

    Do Washington residents “bring in” revenue for or state, or do they take it out? An Oregon resident working the same job would “bring in” a lot more of that money.

  17. Jeff F
    October 3, 2011 at 2:13 pm Link

    Do Washington residents “bring in” revenue for or state, or do they take it out? An Oregon resident working the same job would “bring in” a lot more of that money.

    Washington residents who work in Oregon pay income tax in Salem. So, yeah, they bring in revenue, much of which pays for services they don’t enjoy.

  18. Chris I
    October 3, 2011 at 3:12 pm Link

    So if Washington residents come over here to work, they are giving us money, but if Mexicans come up here to work, they are stealing our jobs? The rhetoric doesn’t seem consistent. I’m not saying that you are being inconsistent. But many Vancouver/Portland commuters hold that opinion about immigrants.

  19. Ron Swaren
    October 3, 2011 at 4:01 pm Link

    but if Mexicans come up here to work, they are stealing our jobs?

    Chris I,
    Do you mind putting that in a statement of what you think, instead of a question? Just asking; there might be some surprising answers you never thought of.
    And then we will see if the mods declare it to be off topic.

  20. Lenny Anderson
    October 3, 2011 at 4:43 pm Link

    I’m happy to have WA residents work here (as well as immigrants from anywhere else), I just don’t want them to come by private motor vehicle and then send me a bill for $4 Billion…all to save them five minutes on their commute!

  21. Anthony
    October 3, 2011 at 5:28 pm Link

    Lenny: That is kind of misleading. First, almost 1/3 of the total cost of the project is for the light rail which will benefit no one outside a small group of transit commuters (and will actually take longer then the existing bus service), second, much of the cost is going to upgrading Oregon interchanges, including the way over planned janzen beach mess because Oregon has neglected I5 for 40+ years, and third, no one will save 5 minutes on their commute because they aren’t actually adding any through capacity.

    Plus.. WA and OR are splitting the $4 Billion tab

    The whole freeway between the Marqum bridge to SR500 needs a redesign: evenly spaced interchanges, add-drop lanes, and probably 3-4 through lanes in each direction (possibly a 5th full time carpool/bus/hot lane)… and I bet it could be done with a new bridge for less then $ 4 Billion if they weren’t required to use union contractors.

  22. Ron Swaren
    October 3, 2011 at 6:17 pm Link

    I’m happy to have WA residents work here (as well as immigrants from anywhere else), I just don’t want them to come by private motor vehicle and then send me a bill for $4 Billion…all to save them five minutes on their commute!

  23. John Reinhold
    October 4, 2011 at 5:32 am Link

    “First, almost 1/3 of the total cost of the project is for the light rail which will benefit no one outside a small group of transit commuters”

    I think that statement is going to be grossly incorrect in the coming decades.

    Let me put it this way, having reliable transportation alternatives is very important. Having multiple alternatives makes our communities better prepared for whatever economic, environmental, or socio-political shifts may occur. Those alternatives should include rail, bus, car, bike, ped. In addition to the obvious variety when we implement rail – another advantage is an electrified rail system can derive power from any number of energy sources.

    Perhaps having a regional rail transportation infrastructure may not seem valuable now, but you have to start somewhere. The fully built out and established road network did not just appear in one year. It has been built out for over a hundred years. If you went to New York City or London and asked them if they thought their rail networks were valuable the response would almost assuredly be “yes”.

    The rail network in Portland is significantly more useful now than it was in 1990. It needs to be looked at more as a network in whole, rather than valuing separate individual segments.

    HOWEVER – that said, even though I really support light rail into Vancouver, I oppose the CRC in it’s currently approved and planned form (and have since day one, I was even the sole vote against the project multiple times while serving on TPAC).

    I believe the bridge does need to be replaced, I just disagree with the current plans. I would like to see a suite of smaller more affordable improvements first, to solve immediate problems (which have been elaborated on here ad nausium) – followed by a right-sized and beautifully architected bridge replacement at some time in the future, when a better planned out funding plan can be made.

  24. Ron Swaren
    October 4, 2011 at 8:48 am Link

    I agree that assuming that an expanded mass transit system to Vancouver would serve only a small number of people is poor logic. There could be a system that would attract far more people, and reduce congestion (somewhat)on the present Interstates. But I don’t think the light rail as proposed, or in alternate proposals, is it.
    I asked a CRC sponsor (Horenstein) about the fact that the CRC plans provide only for a 1.5 mile spur into Vancouver. How many riders would this actually attract? His answer was predictable; “That would be the start. We would expand eastward through Clark County.”

    So then, the real cost to make light rail “work” in Clark Co.would rise to additional billions. And with little added lane capacity on I-5 the bottom line is that we need to commit several billion dollars (factoring inflation) to make light rail attract a reasonable number of riders. An alternative, as Everett WA is doing, is to institute express buses. Their recent expenditure was $23 million—and I’ll keep tabs on the success of this effort.

    And there are other good alternative plans being advanced which are trying to deal more wholistically with our transportation needs. Robert Liberty held a citizen’s forum on this in September of last year on the premise that citizens may have better solutions than professional planners. After all, it is the citizenry that has to live with the decisions.

    As a last note, I think it would be inadequate planning to only be considering metropolitan needs—even if we are talking about Clark County, too. Our Interstate 5 system serves 50 million people if you include Nevada, plus it links into some Canadian traffic as well. There is no other comparable metropolitan area in the US ( A bi-state metro are with a water barrier) that has chosen to limit themselves to only two interstate crossings until you get to Memphis TN which has a suburban county about one-eighth the size of Clark Co.

    Even Vancouver BC, often touted as Freeway-less has three major highway bridges crossing the Fraser River and two crossing Burrard Inlet on the north. When we in Portland have to deal with traffic from several states, exchanging commerce and travelers, trying to narrow down to two river crossings produces a bottle neck. And then we are serving a fairly populous NW portion of the state, but still would be directing the Interstate traffic through DT Portland? I don’t think so.

    However, given changes in chosen modes of transportation, any new route can easily be planned to accomodate alternatives to individual vehicles, if so desired. It’s not the 1950’s anymore.

  25. Lenny Anderson
    October 4, 2011 at 8:57 am Link

    I’m not surprised that someone who advocates a massive freeway expansion thru north Portland would question the value of real transit options.
    Urban freeways are toxic rivers and are inappropriate adjacent to where people live. They should have never been built and should now be removed as they wear out, starting with the Marquam Bridge and the Eastbank Freeway.

  26. Ron Swaren
    October 4, 2011 at 11:42 am Link

    Good luck, Mr. Anderson.

  27. AL M
    October 4, 2011 at 2:08 pm Link

    “Urban freeways are toxic rivers and are inappropriate adjacent to where people live. They should have never been built and should now be removed as they wear out, starting with the Marquam Bridge and the Eastbank Freeway.”

    ~~>That made me laugh, and I needed a good laugh so thank you!

  28. Chris I
    October 4, 2011 at 2:33 pm Link

    He has a valid point. Have you been to Vancouver, BC or many of the European cities that do not have massive freeways slicing through their city centers? What if we had never constructed I-5, and our east side looked like this?,r:4,s:16

  29. Lenny Anderson
    October 4, 2011 at 3:18 pm Link

    Frankfurt a. Main, a city not famous for its beauty or charm has…guess what on the bank of the Main River opposite its downtown? A row of a half dozen museums…art, film, natural history, architecture among other in a parklike esplanade. Surely Portland can do better than a multi-lane freeway on the region’s most valuable real estate.
    And yes freeways are toxic rivers according to EPA data…check out an article in PSU’s Metroscope magazine from a few years ago. Its now only available online, but the graphic is chilling. Studies have shown higher asthma rates within 1/4 mile of freeways. What’s so funny about that?
    San Francisco removed the ugly Embarcadaro freeway and a big piece of the Central; Seattle will be removing the Alaska viaduct. True nature helped. But the SF removals have been transformational. Even the head of the OTC at the time said that the Eastbank was a mistake…none other than Glenn Jackson.

  30. Ron Swaren
    October 4, 2011 at 8:11 pm Link

    So, is Portland going to secede from the United States? The Interstate system serves a national function.

    San Francisco—not on I-5.
    Seattle’s Alaska Viaduct—not on I-5
    Vancouver, BC—not on I-5
    Frankfurt, De.–not on I-5.
    Portland, Ore.—on I-5.

    I suppose there are some potential solutions—very complicated ones, though.

  31. EngineerScotty
    October 4, 2011 at 8:54 pm Link

    Highways can be re-signed or re-routed. Harbor Drive was once US99W, after all; now its a park–were the East Bank Freeway to disappear, either I-205 or I-405 could be signed as I-5 instead.

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