Oregonian on CRC: It’s for the Freight

Apparently funding the Columbia River Crossing is high up on the Oregonian’s list of resolutions for the 2012.

Their number one argument is freight and a linkage to jobs:

No, the first reason we need a new bridge is to safeguard our own economic health and assure growth — and to create thousands of new family-wage jobs for years to come. Prosperity is at stake. And no public project can help to jump-start prosperity faster than construction of the $3 billion-plus Columbia River Crossing.

Our hobbled I-5 bridge is at the center of a transportation and trading system that supports one in every five jobs in Oregon. Freight industries using the bridge support an estimated 130,000 jobs at warehouses and distribution centers near the ports of Portland and Vancouver. Truck freight valued at an estimated $40 billion crosses the river every year.

Yet as trucks are slowed, scheduled to less congested off-hours or rerouted around the bridge, ripples of costly delay often are sent through a chain of production and shipping here, domestically and even internationally. This hurts Oregon employers, workers and their families — and over time could make competitor states look like more promising places to do business. If we let our transportation system — comprising roads, rail, river and air facilities — become decrepit and cause delays, we’ll threaten our own fortunes.

This conveniently ignores two facts:

  1. By the project’s own numbers, peak hour congestion delays are only trimmed by a few minutes
  2. The vast majority of the investment in the CRC will go to the benefit of private single-occupany passenger vehicles

If freight is our real concern, then there are many much more cost-effective projects across the region that could benefit freight movement.

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