More CRC fun and games

In an apparent reversal from campaign promises made to environmentalists, Portland mayor Charlie Hales is now supporting the Columbia River Crossing–albeit with a few reservations (he called it a “work in progress that needs more refinement”).

Hales also cautioned the anti-LRT petitioners in Clark County that “The CRC without LRT is DOA”.

In related news, the Willamette Week reports that folks running the CRC have decided to go forward with asking the Coast Guard to approve a 116′ bridge height–higher than the 95′ height that was originally specified in the FEIS, but lower than what would be needed by a few industrial river users. The WW also suggests that the Obama Administration may order the USCG to approve the bridge at that height, and that upstream river users have have their concerns mollified with a check.

And finally–the Clackamas County Commission, bless their hearts, is set to pass a resolution opposing the CRC. Prior to the conservative takeover of the county board, the County had previously expressed skepticism over the project; particularly the concern that tolls on the new span would shift more regional traffic onto I-205, a significant part of which passes through Clackamas County.

14 responses to “More CRC fun and games”

  1. Vancouver mayor Tim Leavitt weights in on tolling. Leavitt ran for may or an anti-tolling platform, though has (like Hales) changed his stance somewhat since winning office. But he’s suggesting several things, including:

    1) Reduced tolls for carpools and vanpools. (I’m assuming he means an additional reduction beyond the simple fact that multiple commuters sharing a car need only pay a single toll).

    2) Toll relief for lower-income Washington residents who work in Oregon

    3) Implementation of Seattle’s “Good to Go” system on the CRC, and reduction in tolls for those who use the system.

    4) A “maximum daily charge” for vehicles who need to cross the river many times a day.

    I’ve no objection in principle to #1, provided there’s robust enforcement of this (the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is free for carpools); some sort of electronic tolling is now standard practice for tollways (either transponder-based, or take-a-picture-of-your-plate-and-mail-you-a-bill-each-month); and discounts for use of transponders is also common.

    I would oppose #2 as written, however–if we are providing transportation vouchers to the poor, such vouchers should be useable anywhere. For about the same price as waiving someone’s tolls for a year (assuming one round trip per weekday), one could also buy yearly passes on both TriMet and C-TRAN; many lower-income people may find the latter to be preferable. (And who eats the cost of this–is the state essentially paying the tolls of the poor in this case, or is the CRC being asked to subsidize the poor)?

    I’ve no issue with #4, either–though I’d be tempted to limit such a discount to commercial vehicles.

  2. The folks in Clackamas County are wise to be concerned about increased traffic on I-205. Nearly all the through I-5 traffic will detour to avoid the toll and commute patterns from Clark County will shift east as well.

    But the opposition in Clark County is quite different. Here the objection is simple selfishness. The good burgers (no “h” on purpose) of Clark County want their shiny new freeway paid for by someone else. That’s all; there’s nothing more noble or long-term about it. It’s pure damn greed.

  3. Bike Portland reports that the a draft Clackamas County resolution opposing the CRC is now available.

    It would be interesting to show an estimate of tolls were LRT (and the FTA funding that comes with it) removed from the project–it is my understanding that the “cost” of LRT that the FTA is willing to fund is well in excess of the actual marginal cost of building MAX–and that the project actually gets more expensive (for local government) without it.

    Such financial gamesmanship is part and parcel of federal funding, of course–when Uncle Sam agrees to pay 60% (or even half), the economically rational thing to do is to lard the project up with as many tangentially-related improvements as you can, in order to get them matched. (The problem with this is when unnecessary or low-priority things are bolted on; as opposed to things you would have likely done anyway…)

  4. Regarding the low-income tolling assistance program Leavitt proposed:

    If these low-income workers are so close to not being able to afford a commute to Portland that $5 a day will push them over, what will they do when gas breaks $4/gallon again?

  5. Just a short note this time because my posts often are deleted for no apparent reason:

    The double-deck bridge design now being considered is “structurally unsound” for the same reasons the previous double-deck bridge design was rejected two years ago. The river clearance issue can be resolved with a single-deck design circa 2008 of the planning process. Electing an African-American President then gave the big boys someone to blame for screwing things up to their advantage. Stale Oil pipelines, coal train travesties, port facility destruction of the natural environment, and global warming meltdown, all handsomely profitable of course, must be blamed on someone. Why not the innocent as usual?

  6. Anybody know the current total spent on this boondoggle?
    I guess it was $160 million last I looked but I’m sure several million more have been gobbled up by now.

    Somebody should keep one of those thermometers indicating $ spent before anything actually happens.

  7. Centrist Moderate democrats seek compromise to serve ‘the majority’ which necessarily includes a fair proportion of those who uphold respectful and respectable conservative principles. I say the I-5 bridges must be replaced and agree with Mayor Hales that the current design needs improvement (I say total revision). The double-deck design will be replaced with single-deck to gain 20′ of river clearance.

    Everyone should understand how the proposed spagetti ramps design for Hayden Island I-5 guarantees life-threatening multi-car pile-ups on its exits, severe fender benders at its 4 intersection access points, noisy and polluted entrance ramps, poor land-use, etc.

    Island retail business community may want customers in and out faster with direct access, but that thinking is shortsighted and likely to fail long-term exactly like previous Jantzen Beach redevelopment plans. A new plan that does not cater to speeding automobiles and parking would produce a longer lasting, higher value outcome. Thus, We should support a fair review of ODOT’s 2010 Off-island access Concept #1. Yes it displaces and relocates another row of floating homes, but this too is a compromise that produces an overall better outcome for everyone.

  8. You know we wouldn’t have such an issue with this if the yellow line ended in clark county back in 2001. We would just be riding the yellow line.

  9. Why did the yellow line get built without connecting to Vancouver? That is shorter than the MOS from the north south line DEIS

  10. Because North Portland wanted it and they didn’t want to have to wait for Vancouver. Also, they leveraged the money spent on the Airport line (which was privately funded by Bechtel) as a match toward the Yellow line. The FTA paid a much bigger share of the cost than their typical 50% match.

  11. Actually one MOS for South/North ended at N. Lombard. Kenton pushed for a longer version after the election that saw the defeat of S/N by 2,000 votes. I think we would be in better shape if the Yellow Line went to Hayden Island, but perhaps the thinking was that we wait for the new bridge for that. S/N passed in Portland with over 2/3 voting Yes, and by a still healthy margin in Multnomah county. WA Co and Clackamas Co voted it down; only two precincts in Portland voted No, both in North (w. Kenton and Arbor Lodge). Streetcar, which was entirely locally funded, also provided some of the local match for the Yellow Line along with Airport MAX.

  12. Hayden island is a lost cause. We should just wipe any trace of human intervention from the island and turn it into a nature park. It would solve so many problems.

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