Does He Mean It This Time?

Governor Kitzhaber has written to the Legislature, setting a deadline for a Columbia River Crossing funding deal. Get it done by March 15th, or he’ll pull the plug once and for all.

Of course ODOT has given us “it must happen by” deadlines at least twice before, and nonetheless sallied onward. And the Governor has “pulled the plug” once before.

Is it real this time? Or just another attempt to arm-twist the Legislature into a bad decision?


12 responses to “Does He Mean It This Time?”

  1. It is probably both real and an effort to twist the legislators’ arms. There is not a winning vote for legislators. So their first choice is to not have to vote.

    No legislative action leaves the Governor on the hook for killing the project and the legislators don’t have any blood on their hands. So he needs to put the legislature on the hook to force a vote. If forced to vote, enough legislators may even go his way to push the project forward. But many of those legislators would probably rather just let it die.

    In any case, it would be a mistake to think the death of the CRC will end the battle. The engineers at WashDOT and ODOT have not been chastened by this experience. They will come forward with a new version for highway expansion across the river.My guess is a third bridge with a direct connection to Washington County over, under or around Forest Park. Or a new bridge to the east. Or both.

    • Wow! Do you really think that the Third Bridgers will win? What a disaster for Oregon and regional goals for ag land conservation, energy efficiency and air quality.

      Clark County — not the City of Vancouver proper so much but the sprawling county to the north and east — is to a large degree populated by a bunch of people nostalgic for the 1950’s of their youth. The day-to-day government is well-run, efficient and honest, but the M&M County Commission is doing its damnedest to force out the technocrats responsible for that efficiency and honesty. They want to ignore Washington’s somewhat weaker but by no means insignificant land use laws to pave north Clark County with McMansions occupied by Orange County “refugees from the brown hordes” who will vote the “Right way”. [pun intended].

      Oregon should be very cautious about letting them get away with it by building sprawl enhancers like the 192nd bridge proposal or a “West Side Bypass”. It’s you folks who are going to get stuck with the costs for road improvements to link them to your existing system. And the Westside Bypass would be a huge threat to your Urban Growth Boundary in extreme northwest Multnomah and northeast Washington counties.

      • I thought it likely they would win with the CRC, so what do I know about what will win. I do think that eventually they will get a big new highway bridge unless there is a well-organized effort advocating a better alternative with broad support. If people think they won because the CRC is abandoned, they are fooling themselves.

    • Not to be snarky, but it feels like the impetus for the CRC comes from David Evans and Associates and Patricia McCaig. Think about how they get their money- they are paid regardless of whether the project is built.

      Follow the money.

      I plan to vote in May and November, but I will probably not vote for a gubernatorial candidate. Where is Kitzhaber gonna get his votes? He’s offended a whole bunch of groups with the CRC. In fact, the guv can bring a lot of folks on this blog together in a group hug. “Awww, we all hate the bridge”.

      Group hug! We agree on something!

  2. Here follows a bullet-point list of what’s wrong with the CRC and how the project can possibly be salvaged.

    1). The double-deck bridge should be rejected and replaced with CRC Commission’s own single-deck bridge design options (pre-2008). Double-deck designs increase all costs and limit options for access ramps, and don’t meet Coast Guard minimum river clearance standard of 125′. A single-deck bridge river clearance of 140′ is possible. The double-deck design is structurally unsound and won’t last 30 years before beginning to fall apart quickly. Though the latest double-deck bridge is stripped of the concrete ornamentation of previous versions, it is basicly the same top-heavy overbuilt bridge built on weak piers.

    2). The proposed Hayden Island interchange design is a safety hazard. With both exits onto Hayden Island, trucks and motorists must clear a new central underpass, then descend a steep ramp leading to a ‘T’ stop. While stopped, waiting for traffic to pass, severe rearend pile-ups are predictable. In the southbound direction exit, if you or the truck behind you doesn’t stop, you’re in the water. Entrances are a noisy, polluting, uphill blind merge. The proposed ramps crossing Hayden Island are absolutely unecessary because….

    3). The safest, least impact, relatively least cost access to Hayden Island is ODOT’s 2010 Concept #1 Off-island Access. Concept #1 eliminates all ramps directly to/from I-5.

    4). ODOT’s Marine Drive interchange design, also from 2010, is an apparently shovel-ready replacement for the existing (horrible) interchange and should get the go-ahead with or without the new I-5 bridge.

    5). The Expo-to-Hayden Island road/MAX bridge is likewise shovel-ready.

    6). Extend MAX to Jantzen Beach.

    7). From Jantzen Beach, consider a BRT system that would follow the MAX route all the way to Vancouver Mall in the 1st Phase. BRT can evolve into LRT eventually and thus may qualify for federal funds. BRT would be compatable with Ctrans BRT proposals.

    8). It is possible to build ONLY the Southbound bridge with the 3-lane LRT/BRT/Ped bridge alongside attached to its west side to form “lifesaving” emergency access lanes and justify reducing bridge width from 6-lanes to 5-lanes, especially with Concept #1 which eliminates the merge hazard. Leaving both old bridges in place, buttressed to sustain earthquakes, could handle northbound traffic for an interim period of years/decades.

    9). The 2010 Concept ‘D’ Hayden Island Access (spagetti ramp death trap) was modified in 2013 and can be called Concept ‘D-minus’ because it returns the merge hazard into the design.

    10). A single-deck bridge plus Concept #1 reduces cost and impact of Hayden Island segment and most likely allows the I-5 segment over the slough (between Hayden Island and Oregon mainland) to be left in place. The double-deck bridge plus new central underpass may require replacement or ‘raising’ the slough bridge.

    11). West Hayden Island is no place to install and operate an oval rail track facility because it restricts use of the RR bridge and risks complete closure in derailment to be expected with the two 90 degree spurs. The Port of Portland should instead support installation of such a rail facility across the slough where the same operations planned are conducted today.

    These recommendations reduce cost by perhaps $1 billion, rough estimate. Both Oregonians and Warshingtonians deserve a better project and an accounting of responsible work completed. David Evans Associates should be removed from project planning.

    • Wells,

      So you’re willing to throw North Portland under the bus (well, not really a bus,a flood of new care)? You specifically state in your post that building a three lane bus/bike pedestrian bridge alongside a new southbound bridge “justif[ies] reducing bridge width from 6-lanes to 5-lanes.” The CRC already agreed to that, so you’re not advocating that Clark County take some enormous hit here. I-5 can’t be widened through North Portland without taking the row of blocks either to the east or west of the freeway. North Portland has already been damaged by building the freeway at all, but some sort of Interstate right of way between downtown Portland and Washington state had to be chosen, and the one selected is the most direct.

      Therefore, if a new higher-capacity southbound river crossing is built, where will the traffic go once it crosses the bridge? I’ll tell you, once again and for the 93rd time, down MLK, Vancouver, Mississippi, Interstate, Denver, and Greeley.

      I think it would be a very good idea to build a five lane northbound bridge — including a 24 hour HOV lane in the four — in order to ease the afternoon northbound congestion, which is worse than the morning southbound tie-ups because the evening peak is always more extreme than the morning. That’s because non-commuters trickle toward the CBD all day long for various reasons, then need to return at dinner time with the commuters.

      But the morning southbound capacity of the bridge should be kept to three general traffic lanes in order to limit the sprawl in Clark County. That’s good for regional land- and energy-use and air quality goals.

  3. Senate President Peter Courtney doubts the CRC will get very far without support from the Washington Legislature. While he doesn’t threaten to hold up any CRC bills in his chamber, he doubts that such bills would have the votes to pass.

    Meanwhile, Kitzhaber and state House speaker Tina Kotek are busy twisting arms to get the CRC through…

  4. EngineerScotty, This is will not stand…
    Anandakos questions BRT
    (north from Jantzen Beach to Vancouver)
    as air pollution and a health THREAT.
    Forget it. I spelled out A SOLUTION.
    Single-deck, southbound-only bridge,
    adjacent and accessable,
    to a 3-lane ped/bike/BRT bridge,
    evolvable to a LRT bridge,
    for now.
    What will not stand?

    • Whoa Wells. I think express buses would be a fine alternative for a cross-river service, though calling it “BRT” would be a stretch.

      All I object to about your idea is the number of southbound general traffic lanes: four, plus a doubtless full HOV lane. That’s a total southbound traffic volume nearly double that accommodated today. And it would lead to enormous sprawl in north Clark County.

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