Point Man for the CRC Opposition: Joe Cortright

In Sunday’s Oregonian, Steve Duin writes about the fundamental and compelling role that local economist Joe Cortright has had in underscoring the risks and failings in the Columbia River Crossing project.

[We also have to express gratitude to Plaid Pantry CEO Chris Girard for funding some of Joe’s work on this.]

As Mr. Duin explains, Joe’s latest devastating presentation was before the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee this past week. Here’s a copy of the PowerPoint deck that Joe presented (PDF, 1.8M).


10 responses to “Point Man for the CRC Opposition: Joe Cortright”

  1. The problem is there has never been any real discussion of whether this bridge is really needed, only how much money can it generate for the DOT’s to administer. The taxpayers have funded a decade long effort to put together a political coalition to support the bridge. Its not going to be stopped on based on objective discussion and evaluation. The only real answer is the “Rex Burkholder” solution, make support for the bridge political poison.

  2. Actually there was a lot of discussion of the need in 1999-2002 by the Governors’ I-5 Task Force, and the vote to include an arterial bridge option across the River in the DEIS split the Task Force down the middle. Unfortunately the big DOTs, despite promises to honor that vote, chose to ignore that guidence and instead, with the support of electeds who should have known better, mounted an expensive PR campaign for a massive project, hoping the money would turn up.

  3. The problem is there has never been any real discussion of whether this bridge is really needed…

    Agreed. The only answer I’ve ever heard is the non-answer “we have to do this.”

    Not to try to hijack the thread, however the other problem (as I see it) is its perfectly acceptable to continue to question the CRC even after it’s been ruled a $3 billion light rail project; yet it’s not acceptable to question using taxpayer dollars to demean union labor, question the bonding of future revenues usable for provisions of service operations on capital project debt repayment, or question the dollar amounts or percentages of public organization budgets being used for capital improvements.

  4. The light rail element of the CRC is actually the only part that has good prospects for federal funding assuming Clark county agrees to fund operation. Their vote will be interesting to watch.

  5. Why not build the local access (Concept “D”) NOW with FTA and local funds? Extending light rail to Hayden Island could be considered a LRT MOS (Minimum Operable Segment).

    Doing this, plus fixing the RR Bridge, would greatly reduce some congestion due to bridge lifts and Hayden Island traffic. It would cost about as much as has already been spent on paper work.

  6. Or why not restripe the original HOV lane on I-5 south from 99th to the bridges or change the C-Tran 105 to a Limited to the Yellow Line to serve the great majority of Clark county commuters to drive to jobs in N & NE Portland? Both actions might help the congestion problem, but the CRC is not about solving a problem, its about building a massive freeway over the River. 50% of the congestion is incident related, so how about lower speed limits in the “bridge influence area” and stricter enforcement. No, that might ease congestion, one of the pillars of salt upon which the CRC sits.

  7. Jim,
    I watched a video of your “common sense alternative” and one question I would have is whether there would need to be expansion of the dredged, shipping channel in the vicinity of the BNSF bridge to make this happen. The chart I have, coming from the Columbia River Cruising Atlas, a popular reference for boaters, shows the dredged channel narrowing considerably at the rr bridge. It does show an “alternate barge channel” where the elevated sections of the I-5 bridges are. But nothing in the vicinity of where you are proposing a lift span.

    The channel widens again to allow for the Vancouver Turning Basin proximate to Port of Vancouver lands, and then the channel follows fairly close to the northbank through our area. But right at the BNSF bridge it is shown as essentially being beneath the swing span.

    This would not be a very signficant increase to the dredging requirement, considering that the 100 mile length out to the Pacific has to be dredged. However, unless there has been expanded dredging already beneath the BNSF bridge this is another detail that has to be figured in.

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