President Obama expedites the CRC (corrected)

Note: The original version of this article identified the source as Oregonian reporter Joseph Rose; the Oregonian article was written by Charles Pope. Portland Transport regrets the error.

This evening, Joseph Rose Charles Pope reported that President Obama has ordered the $3.5B Columbia River Crossing to be given “expedited” status. While not providing any additional funding, “expedited” status permits red tape to be cleared out of the way–and in many cases, local objections to be overridden.

This would appear to be bad news for project opponents. When the Tappan Zee Bridge in New York received expedited status last year, the result was the transit components of the project being jettisoned. Whether a similar situation could happen here–with the CRC being built without the transitway, is unclear–in the Tappan Zee case, the transit part was greenwashing that none of the major project stakeholders (including the State of New York) really cared about. Here, of course, the city of Portland insists on light rail as a condition of the project, and the project cleared state regulatory hurdles by virtue of a light rail siting statute (resulting in the infamous declaration from the state Supreme Court that the CRC was a “light rail project”). OTOH, it may well be the case that Salem and Olympia could override any local objections should they choose.

On the other hand, it must be remembered that the Bush Administration expedited the CRC four years ago, and the project is still stuck in planning limbo.

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