CRC Offers Up Interchanges

Testifying before the Legislature, representatives of the Columbia River Crossing Project offered up $650M of savings by delaying freeway interchange improvements at Marine Drive, Fourth Plain, Mill Plain and SR500.

Point of Order – the FEIS does not contain a phasing plan. What does the project need to do under the NEPA process to introduce phasing?

29 responses to “CRC Offers Up Interchanges”

  1. This is slightly easier to digest, but I still think it’s a huge waste of money. Rehabilitating the existing bridge, upgrading the rail bridge, and building a local access bridge with dedicated BRT lanes would be the best solution.

    Will this get funded now, or is the last desperate gasp from the CRC group?

  2. Nice. Pretend the project will cost a bit less by delaying parts of it until later.

    But don’t make any meaningful cost reductions like, for example, eliminating the Hayden Island interchange.

  3. I’ve stated this before, but I’ll state it again. The main reason it seems that elimination of the Hayden Island interchange (and instead connecting Hayden Island to the Oregon mainland by an auxiliary bridge across the south channel) is off the table is because of protest from Jantzen Beach. It is asserted that Jantzen Beach’s business will suffer if the mall doesn’t have direct freeway access so shoppers can’t get to it quickly.

    This is asinine.

    Jantzen Beach is a failing mall, and has been for years. It’s barely a mall at all these days (most of the interior mall has been demolished); instead it’s just a collection of big box stores. For less than the price of the new Hayden Island interchange, the CRC project committee could afford to build the Jantzen Beach owners a NEW mall somewhere else (say, in Delta Park, still nice and convenient for Vancouver commuters looking to do tax-free shopping), and bulldoze the current mall, replacing it with something else (local retail for Hayden Island residents, a park, or even more residential–Hayden Island isn’t a bad place to live if you like the water).

  4. Hayden Island would be a great little development with a local access bridge and a light rail stop. Car-free access to downtown, great access to the river, etc. Or, they can have the CRC solution: Big box stores and concrete fields under a sprawling mega-freeway and interchange. Where would you rather live?

  5. Ask the residents. Most appreciate the services associated with being a regional retail center, and have argued for maintaining those services and the freeway interchange access to them. Specifically, the ability to maintain a full grocery store and pharmacy are very much related to the extra traffic that comes off of a freeway. With only 2000 people on the island (many of them elderly), there is very little market (if any) for retail services absent the freeway interchange.

  6. I’m curious why the Fourth Plain, Mill Plain and SR500 interchanges were even on the table in the first place, considering they were modernized not too long ago. The cynic in me wonders if these interchanges were intended as “sacrificial lambs” all along in order to give the illusion of cost-cutting.

    EngineerScotty, your idea for Hayden/Delta sounds intriguing… personally I think either location would be ideal for a minor league baseball stadium (fiscal climate allowing, of course).

  7. the ability to maintain a full grocery store and pharmacy are very much related to the extra traffic that comes off of a freeway.

    Thing is, the plan is to demolish the local Safeway. I’m pretty sure the Safeway already in place wouldn’t shut down if it was an extra half mile to the nearest freeway ramp. But there’s no guarantee the full grocery and pharmacy will be replaced once the Safeway is gone.

    And Scotty’s right: if Jantzen Beach failed, it would make sense to build a lot of new housing there. Which would support the Safeway.

  8. And honestly, are we to believe that people from Vancouver are driving over that terribly unsafe, congested bridge to go to a freaking Safeway? There’s no sales tax on food.

  9. @EngineerScotty, @Chris I,

    There is of course a Hayden Island Plan, which envisions life without the big-box stores:

    Though you can also see from that map, which I found here,

    …that it also envisions life with the CRC. Not sure if it in any way depends on the CRC.

    @EngineerScotty, do you think the push for a port facility on West Hayden has anything to do with the push for a Hayden interchange? I recently asked Jim Howell about this, and he said that the WHI port would be mainly served by rail (making a good argument for an improved rail bridge, and he’s obviously a big fan of that idea). But I feel like the port plans might also be feeding this big freeway interchange on Hayden.

    @DE, I certainly can’t speak for the Hayden residents, but their rallying cry has been, “save our Safeway.” To me that indicates they’re less attached to the other, mostly big-box stores.

    It does seem like redevelopment of the kind proposed in the Hayden Island plan – which would stand to bring in more residents along with mixed-use development that would include retail – combined with a local arterial bridge would allow for the island residents to meet their retail needs on the island, without the need for direct freeway access to the island.

  10. @Douglas, you should do some looking into the population needed for a Safeway of that size. You’re right that they probably wouldn’t close down under existing conditions and that there’s no guarantee they’ll rebuild under full-build conditions. It is barely working now with the freeway interchange. The Hayden Island Plan calls for significantly more TOD style housing in the area around the new transit station, but even with that increase (a possible doubling of population), there will only be about 1/3 of the people ordinarily necessary to support a grocer. Some may drive the additional 1/2 mile to a mile to get there off of the freeway, but not enough. Further, there will be a WalMart at Hayden Meadows, so if you were ok with driving 1/2 mile off the freeway, Safeway is no longer the quickest option. That competition is going to make Safeway a hard bet, even if the interchange goes in.

    @Chris I, you can believe what you want, but right now, the store benefits from people stopping on the way home. Easy on & off.

    @Spencer, the HIP does rely on the CRC for all of the road construction around the interchange area. None of that is being paid for by the City of Portland, and extending Tomahawk Drive west as the island’s main street is impossible/unfeasible under existing conditions.

  11. What sort of Walmart is going in at Hayden Meadows–a supercenter, a traditional Walmart, or a Walmart Market? The latter might be useful to Jantzen Beach residents, though non-auto access would be a problem. If and when the MAX cross the river opens, it would be two stops on the train, but there’s still the issue of crossing both Denver Avenue and I-5; the pedestrian environment presently is lousy. If the 8, which presently terminates at a industrial park east of MLK, could be routed through Hayden Meadows to end at Delta Park, that would be beneficial as well (and for many other reasons than providing carless Hayden Island residents with transit access to shopping).

  12. @DE, my sense from what Chris I said was that he was skeptical that people would make the round trip from Vancouver to Hayden just for groceries.

    But what you say sounds about right; it seems like people would pop off and on the freeway to do a little shopping on the way home.

    And actually I’ve heard (again, from Jim Howell) that what’s described as turbulence – the little slowdowns in traffic that can reverberate for miles on a freeway – might result from these on/off trips.

    To me, this is another good argument for closing the interchange (and replacing it with a local bridge to Hayden) if the goal is reducing congestion in I-5 without spending as much as the CRC would cost.

    In response to Robert Liberty’s call for CRC alternatives I proposed the idea in an image:

    Note the note: “Shoppers are, after all, more likely to be travelling to stores in the afternoon and evening.” Basically what you said, about people stopping on the way home. (Though I had big box stores more in mind than Safeway when I made the image.)

    If you’d like to read more about it, the proposal was reported and discussed here on Portland Transport:

  13. So even assuming the Safeway wouldn’t survive the loss of the interchange … we should spend an extra $500 million+ in tax money so a community of 2000 people (or maybe 4000 – 5000, assuming redevelopment of the mall for housing) can have a grocery store right in the neighborhood, as opposed to driving a mile or so on to the mainland?

    If the only reason to build the interchange is to subsidize marginal businesses in a small community, then there really isn’t any reason to build it. And it represents something close to 1/6th of the proposed total project cost right there. Maybe a fifth of the project cost after the proposed “savings” kick in.

  14. Expecting TOD located next to a massive freeway, with or without an interchange is pure dreaming. Almost no one wants to live or work next to a freeway.
    The only path to a revived Hayden Island is to remove the existing freeway, convert the existing bridges to arterial traffic with bike lanes and boulevards at either end. Build a new rail bridge with heavy and light rail.
    And where does I-5 go? Either bury its six thru lanes (at great expense) or change the signs on I-205 and call it good.

  15. There is an equity issue involved–many Hayden Island residents are poor living in the trailer park, for whom driving to Hayden Meadows would represent a hardship.

    But there are better ways to address that than modifying the bridge design in order to increase the amount commerce on Hayden Island sufficient to make operation of a Safeway attractive.

    Re the claim that “12000 residents are needed for a full-service grocery store”–where is that documented? That seems off–there are plenty of small towns smaller than that which have multiple competing grocery stores.

  16. This quote from the Oregonian article, “CRC officials said the downsized project still delivers on two key goals: improved safety and freight mobility,” is a damn LIE!

    The proposed Hayden Island access ramps have a much higher statistical probability for accidents AND much more severe accidents. The existing Marine Drive interchange is the MOST dangerous for trucks, traffic, bicycling & pedestrian crossing. It is the only interchange design worth approval and support. The CRC commission (led by Wsdot) is criminally preventing the voting public from learning the facts. It’s simple to realize how Wsdot unlawfully “rigs” their studies.

    I am sick to death of wsdot’s liars pretending to give a damn about public safety. Wsdot director Paula Hammond and her predecessor Doug MacDonald are political party criminals smiling, laughing, nodding hypnotically, waving wads of money in stakeholder faces to lull then into a complacent trusting stupid obedience.

    Patricia McCaig labeled the downsizing “minimally necessary and functional,” but this too is false. We should presume she’s wrongly misled by incompetent and corrupt Wsdot directors.

    The proposed Marine Drive interchange is excellent engineering. From its design evolved the Concept#1 off-island access whereby the safest “direct access” to I-5 is possible. Access from the new Marine Drive interchange is west of the Home Depot where most redevelopment will occur and the carousel showroom welcomes residents and visitors.

    This is a States Rights issue:

    The State of Washington is making the decision how to construct a freeway on Hayden Island Oregon. Wsdot’s model is the same used on their similarly controversial freeway projects in Seattle; overbuilt, over-studied, murderously dangerous, recklessly destructive, more expensive than necessary, totally closed public process, lie after lie after lie to cover the truth that Wsdot is a rogue agency employed to serve misanthropic automobile-related business interests who want to build the Keystone pipeline, support “fracking”, scrape Appalatian mountaintops for coal, despoil Canadian forests, pollute, basicly lay waste nature and retreat to reclusive luxury vacation estates far from public scrutiny.

    Wsdot’s deep bore tunnel is a crime of the century. A mass murder. Eat dirt Paula Hammond.

  17. It’s a rule of thumb based on professional experience, but I can assure you that a quick search will show that some believe that number to be higher (15K-20K). You seem Hayden Island has many of the limits of a small town, but it doesn’t have the isolating benefit that creates market reliance. In rural areas where there really is generally only one full service (includes pharmacy, produce, fresh meat & fish), you can go lower, but in urban areas where there are other choices nearby (New Seasons, Fred Meyer, plus stores that partially compete like Target), you really need at least 12K. For a specialty store, you might be looking at something closer to 3-7K.

  18. Regarding congestion, I’ve seen overhead pictures of the approach to the bridge being very congested, but after the bridge being not so bad. In other words, less vehicles coming out than were going in.

    It may be the bridge that causes it (specifically the tunnel-like superstructure, narrow lanes and vertical curves), but it may also be the interchange and the merging (turbulence) and extra traffic that results.

  19. 50% of I-5 congestion is due to incidents. Maybe the DOTs could put a few more towing crews out, hand out a few more tickets, etc. Oh no, that might help and take away one of the arguments for the CRC.

  20. DE,

    What Scotty proposes would greatly increase the residential population on the island. By replacing the big boxes behind the mall with housing the population would jump to at least 5000. That would be more than enough to support the Safeway and a Walgreen’s.

    No, the folks who live there couldn’t walk to Circuit City, but you can’t carry a 46″ flatscreen on your back anyway. So they’d drive now; they’ll drive a little farther later.

  21. Wells,

    “WSDOT is a rogue agency employed to serve misanthropic automobile-related business interests …. [the] deep bore tunnel is a crime of the century. A mass murder. Eat dirt Paula Hammond.”

    Wow, dude, chill; you’re going to pop an artery. A mass murder, maybe, of earthworms chewed up in the TBM. And by the way, “which Century?” It’s pretty early in the XXI even to be making nominations.

  22. It’d be a long walk to a Circuit City, considering that particular chain has been out of business for a few years. (There’s still a website, which I won’t link to–someone bought the company name and domain–but it’s a strictly online venture,)

    Of course, as you point out, trips to business such as pharmacies and groceries are more frequent than trips to buy TVs or truckloads of barkdust. And one of the big cultural shifts in this day and age is that more and more big loads and non-perishable items are arriving on delivery trucks, not in the back of SUVs or minivans. While Circuit City was an early victim of the slow demise of brick-and-mortar retail–currently, vultures seem to be circling Best Buy, Barnes and Noble (which reminds me I’ve got a few gift cards still to spend), and Sears–the Internet has changed the game in many ways. Which is one reason I expressed doubt at Jantzen Beach’s future–it’s not just a dinosaur according to current shopping tastes, but the whole industry is changing.

    A big reason for Jantzen Beach’s continued existence–along with the Safeway–is it’s the first chance for Washington shoppers to buy tax-free. Whether said shoppers would switch to Hayden Meadows properties were Jantzen Beach made more difficult to reach from the Washington side, I don’t know–OTOH, Jantzen Beach will have a much more convenient MAX stop than Hayden Meadows will.

  23. Spencer Boomhower shows in his excellent sketch, how the turbulence from the Hayden Island ramps cause much of the PM peak traffic backups. Retaining the ramps, but closing them during PM peak hours (except for emergency vehicles and public transit)would also reduce traffic backups.

  24. Jim,

    You mean just closing the northbound on-ramp, right? We can’t close all of the ramps, as it would isolate the island. And going back to the Safeway issue, wouldn’t this kill their business?

    I think the best option if the islanders want to maintain a grocery store, is to take away the interchange and add a local access bridge with light rail. Build more residential housing to create a population large enough to support a grocery store.

  25. [Moderator: Personally-directed remark deleted — ES] Anandakos uses the acronym TBM (Tunnel Boring Machine) but offers nothing more to rebuke my warnings of mortal danger.[Moderator: More deletia]

    “Wow, dude, chill; you’re going to pop an artery. A mass murder, maybe, of earthworms chewed up in the TBM.”

    Seattle’s Deep Bore Tunnel will inevitably undermine downtown tower foundations, forcing their demolition. In the watery soft soil through which it passes, voids large enough to topple vulnerable towers will form invisably underground. No amount of ‘grout’ applied during construction will fill voids that develop over time.


    Not to be too critical, it is also a delightful passtime for Seattle’s business elite to enjoy with heartfelt sentiments such as “Pity the peons and their silly democratic notions. More champagne!”

    As for the CRC, the one interchange most in need of a complete rebuild is Marine Drive. Most posters here[More deleted] have never been near it outside the flimsy protective shell of their automobile.

    [Moderator: Your opinions concerning WSDOT and the potential impact of the DBT are welcome. However, the personal insults are not–just because someone doesn’t agree with you on this particular subject, doesn’t make them a shill or a stooge. Muchas gracias–ES]

  26. None of my remarks were all that derogatory or personally directed, but whatever. Everybody dies. If there’s money to be made accellerating the natural order, highway robbery republicans & their grease monkey sycophants will roll the corpses.

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