NOW is the Time to Pay Attention to the SW Corridor

The “purpose and need” statement for the SW Corridor project is now out for review. This is perhaps one of the most critical documents in the history of the project. The purpose and need statement becomes the yardstick for all future decisions in the project.

Arguably a flawed purpose and need statement is what allowed the Columbia River Cross project to bypass all the reasonable alternatives and reinforced the rationale for a large highway solution.

The SW Corridor purpose and need may not be flawed, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities for improvement. On my first read it appears to me that there could be stronger language about active transportation and better linkages to key land use policies like the “Healthy Connected City” plank of the Portland Plan.

You can read the draft here (PDF) and comment via the survey here.


10 responses to “NOW is the Time to Pay Attention to the SW Corridor”

  1. I can’t emphasize this strongly enough: Any proposal that does not fit within a project’s Purpose and Need Statement can be dismissed out of hand as “out of scope”–regardless of how well it might otherwise meet the community’s needs. In other words, the P&N becomes the official declaration of the community’s needs; and if the community needs change or are wrong–tough, that’s a different project.

    The CRC’s P&N essentially declared that the community needed a big new freeway bridge across the Columbia, complete with light rail, come Hell or high water. Once that was written in stone–any other proposal, no matter how sensible, was essentially DOA.

    • FWIW, the Columbia River Crossing folks refused to alter the “Purpose and Need Statement” in response to formal public comments. at the time.

      Then they refused to consider proposals which *actually met* the Purpose and Need — such as the reconfiguration of the BNSF bridge to allow for a more appropriate water route under the highway bridge, permitting a different highway bridge design — by declaring such proposals “out of scope” anyway.

      Then they actually proposed proposals which *didn’t* meet the Purpose and Need, which blocked river traffic, and proceeded to try to buy off the upriver industries!

      Their behavior was dishonest well beyond the “purpose and need” statement, and although they used it as an excuse, the fact is that they didn’t really give a damn about what it said. The INDIVIDUALS pushing the CRC (what were their names again?) were hellbent on their expressway junction scheme and just made shit up in order to ignore other proposals.

  2. As I say at the Oregon passenger rail open house it occurred to me that a giant tunnel that held higher speed tracks underneath and max on top might be able to cut some costs from the tunneling and make both affordable enough to consider. However I don’t really understand how tunneling costs scale with diameter

    • This would be the tunnel from PSU to Capitol Highway / 99? How would you get the heavy rail from Union Station to the PSU portal?

      • perhaps under 5th or 6th street? I’m guessing the grade and street grid turn would be serious problems that I have no idea how to solve. A potential solution would be to split the tunnel to dump out near industrial NW for the freight – this was proposed in the Oregon Passenger rail section

  3. A journey into “Corrdor” is somewhat similar to a journey to “Mordor”.

    One does not simply walk into Mordor!

    Instead, you can take the #37 bus to Blackgate Station, or take the Blue Line to Osgiliath, and transfer to the Red Line and take the subway under Cirith Ungol. (Watch out for spiders).

    If you’re adventurous, you could take a bike, though the hills might pose a challenge, and there are no bike lanes in the passes.

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