Rep. Dennis Richardson is running for Governor, and has made his opposition to the Columbia River Crossing a wedge issue against the incumbent.
But even in trying to make the case why some kind of bridge upgrade may be desirable he gets tripped up and caught by Politifact when trying to use the project’s confusing numbers on crashes.
6 responses to “CRC Safety Stats Confuse Legislator”
“Here’s the rub, though. That figure isn’t just for the bridge, it’s for the entire project area, a considerably larger area, it turns out.
“Thompson told us, and we did a little Google Map work to back check him, that the project area is close to five miles long while the bridge itself is about 2/3 of a mile.”
They’re just noticing this?!?! Jeeeez.
The defining moment of clarity for me on the CRC was going to an open house (up at the Expo Center, the southernmost open house I could find because, as it was explained to me, they didn’t have open houses south of there because the CRC was projected to not affect anything south of the nearby southernmost edge of the project area), and seeing the whole long map printed out in large format, and laid out on a 20-foot long table. Just the 12-lane bridge I thought it was before I saw that map seemed like a bad idea. Seeing it for what it really was was quite an eye-opener.
It’s understandable that the average Portlander would overlook all the five miles of freeway, seeing as it wasn’t exactly featured prominently in CRC promotional materials. But I’d expect someone writing for the local paper of record to not be startled by the fact of that freeway expansion’s existence nearly ten years into the design process.
This story makes me want to request full crash data for the corridor from ODOT. Rep. Richardson’s wording seems to try to tie congestion to crashes. It’d be interesting to see what time of day most crashes occur on the bridge, and whether the timing of crashes lines up with peak traffic periods. Of course, I’m sure ODOT has much newer crash data available to analyze now than the period 2002-2006…
Go take a look! You can download ODOT’s crash data until as recent as January 31, 2013: https://zigzag.odot.state.or.us/
Whenever I see the term “accident” used interchangeably with “crash” or “collision” as it is so often in that article, it’s like nails on a chalkboard for me. Sometimes I wonder if I’m getting get too caught up in that detail. Is it just a semantic quibble, or does using the more brash terminology change the way people see such incidents and contribute toward a trend of safer road use?
Still, with transportation professionals and wonks making such a deliberate effort to avoid the blameless “accident” terminology, I tend to question the knowledge and authority of those (usually journalists) who use it. It’s particularly ironic in something like a Politifact analysis, which tends to parse statements based on semantics anyway. While I agree 100% with the conclusion that legislators and stakeholders are overstating a safety benefit, using “accident” when you mean crash is no different to me than using “Columbia River Bridge” when you mean “Columbia River Crossing.” The CRC is an Orwellian term anyway…
The old I-5 bridges are only 2-lanes wide (but act as 3-lanes without shoulders). A substandard design because emergency vehicles may not reach scene of accidents. The highest accident rate is during the afternoon rush where the northbound entrance from Hayden Island meets disgruntled bean counters driving homeward.
As long as we’re talking about accident rates, the proposed spagetti ramp design for Hayden Island is hazardous. It’s “accident and accident severity” rate is worse than the accident-prone area above. Multi-car pile-ups and fatalities are guaranteed on both downhill exit ramps that lead to a ‘T’. If an out of control car in the southbound exit doesn’t stop, it ends up in the water, blub, blub, blub. Both ‘T’ interchanges have cross traffic and left-turn traffic which with heavy trucking predict a horror like the current Marine Drive interchange stoplight near the MAX stop. But let’s not think about it. Only those who have a “smart person” piece of paper perchased from a University are considered credible. Better to censor contrary opinion. Out of sight, out of mind. Who’s been sweeping dirt under the rug, again?
It’s interesting because it sounds like Richardson wasn’t intentionally lying but instead fell for the hype.