Spin Cycle: CRC Seismic Upgrades

Well, at least the half-life of lies being told to support the Columbia River Crossing is getting shorter.

In its morning printed edition of February 10, the Oregonian reported that state bridge engineer Bruce Johnson claimed that “no one had estimated the cost of seismically retrofitting” the I-5 bridges, and speculated that such a retrofit would cost more than half a billion dollars.

By that evening, however, the reporter who wrote the article, posted a blog entry acknowledging that such an estimate (1) had been prepared in 2006, (2) was produced by an expert panel including the quoted engineer Johnson, and (3) the cost was a fraction of the amount mentioned in the morning article.

The Oregonian February 10, 2014 (6am)
Richard Read
Obsolete Interstate Bridge must keep standing if Columbia River Crossing fizzles

Johnson [Bruce Johnson, Oregon’s state bridge engineer] said no one has estimated the cost of seismically retrofitting the Columbia River bridges, but he believes a project would be extremely expensive.

A new substructure would have to be built under the existing bridges for perhaps $500 million or $600 million, which would about equal the cost of the Columbia River Crossing’s bridge portion, Johnson said. The trusses would have to be strengthened, he said, and the drawbridge towers would need to be rebuilt for several hundred million dollars more.

Oregon Live, February 10, 2014, 6:27PM
Richard Read,
Columbia River Crossing: Commenters on Interstate Bridge story bash and praise the CRC (highlights)

Several readers were surprised by Oregon bridge engineer Bruce Johnson’s estimate that seismic retrofitting of the existing bridges would cost perhaps $500 million or $600 million, plus several hundred million dollars more to rebuild the drawbridge towers. In 2006, a panel of experts including Johnson concluded that a raw retrofit would cost between $88 million and $190 million, increasing to a range between $125 million and $265 million when overhead was considered. (Bear in mind that the CRC has spent $190 million on planning, so far).

18 responses to “Spin Cycle: CRC Seismic Upgrades”

  1. given the tone of the original Oregonian article I would have not been surprised if they had bolded and exclamated (new word!) the “facts” about the DIRE and HUGELY expensive work required to bring the current bridges up to seismic snuff.

  2. $190M for “planning” is a bit of a misnomer. More like public relations and promotion…it costs a lot to sell a poorly conceived product!

  3. How could Bruce Johnson have forgotten that he sat on that panel? How many big bridges are there in the area?

    We don’t remember every minute detail of every project we have ever worked on, but Mr. Johnson’s forgetfulness is… well problematic in this case.

    That was a big ticket mis-statement of fact. We all make mis-speak occasionally, but it is rare to forget big projects and important findings.

    I assume that a governor who would work with lobbyist Patricia McCaig will not mind that
    a state engineer utters substantial untruths.about important matters. This is part and parcel of other lies (bike share has a sponsor!) that seem acceptable nowadays.

  4. I’ll give ya, once again my old now 7-Point CRC Plan,
    and you can do with it what you will or more likely won’t,
    being too busy being smart and all.
    The 7-Point CRC Plan
    – Single-deck NOT double-deck
    – Southbound-only new span (5-lanes)
    – Transit/ped/bike span (attached 3-lanes)
    – Marine Drive Interchange ODOT 2010
    – Concept #1 Off-island Access ODOT 2010
    – MAX to Jantzen Beach Center
    -BRT to Vancouver Mall 1st Phase

    A 10-year delay keeps old bridges in place for Northbound traffic, offers future design options; an attached 3-lane transit span with BRT forms “Emergency Access” (why choose lower deck?); Single-deck lighter weight held more securly higher; Concept #1 Off-island Access least polluting and safest option, obviously. Yadda yadda. Marine Drive/Expo local road/MAX bridge shovel-ready, low-cost, desparately needed. Short MAX extension boost ridership.
    Yep. Thar she be. Harrumph.

    New owners Jantzen Beach have ruined the place. OMG it’s worse. Target is being dismantled, one day, ugly blank wall noisy.
    Ugly parking lots, even uglier big boxes.
    I’d say alot of the new stuff is teardown material.
    The place was an amusement park, remember?
    Keep Home Depot. Jantzen Beach Center itself is ruined.

    • A new southbound span four lanes, one of which is 24/7/365 2+ HOV and breakdown lanes narrow enough not to be combined into a new full-width lane and you’re on. Please don’t ruin North Portland for our convenience in Clark County.

      Also, add extension of the 71 to Jantzen Beach or Delta Park station to give the west side of Vancouver a two-seat ride to downtown Portland as well. Formal BRT is not needed along Highway 99; some stop consolidation south of 45th would be nice, but the 71 moves along quickly north of there.

      • I see I-5 remaining 3-lanes Columbia to Going.
        No widening planned. Either a 4- or 5-lane Southbound span acts pretty much the same. The problem is Hayden Island access. With Concept #1 Off-island Access, the transit/pedway (3-lane arrangement) on west side exits near to the surface first. Traffic exits 1st to Hayden Island, 2nd to Marine Drive. Those close exits require 2-lanes. This leaves 3 thru-lanes southbound, thus the 5-lane (NOT 6-lanes striped for 5-lanes)
        makes more sense than 4-lanes.

        The 7-Point CRC Plan
        – Single-deck NOT double-deck
        – Southbound-only new span (5-lanes)
        – Transit/ped/bike span (attached 3-lanes)
        – Marine Drive Interchange ODOT 2010
        – Concept #1 Off-island Access ODOT 2010
        – MAX to Jantzen Beach Center
        – BRT to Vancouver Mall 1st Phase

        • Edit:
          The transit/pedway, 3-lanes on west side, exits onto Hayden Island first. Car traffic to Hayden Island exits on the 1st Marine Drive ramp, Truck traffic exits on the 2nd ramp to Marine Drive west or the stoplight interchange for Marine Drive east.

          ODOT Marine Drive interchange
          ODOT Expo-to-Hayden bridge
          ODOT Concept #1 Off-island Access

          These are shovel-ready with or without
          the I-5 CRC, which must be single-deck
          designs still on the drawing table.

        • Where do those two lanes’ worth of cars magically disappear? Yes, some will go west to the port district and a few will wander through St. Johns headed toward the tech corridor.

          But everyone else will squeeze down the parallel arterials of north Portland.

          If you look at the existing Hayden Island interchange you’ll see that very nearly as many cars get on going south in the morning — the direction we’re talking about — as get off, at least during the rush hour. There just isn’t that much employment on Hayden Island.

          Since you’re advocating for separated island access — e.g. no freeway ramps to/from the island — then either one or both the “slip lanes” will exit and Marine Drive, and if one the other presumably at North Denver avenue as today. Right now, this morning, today about 3/4 of a lane’s worth of traffic takes one or the other of the “mainland” exits through one of those off-ramps.

          So at the back channel of Hayden Island with a five lane bridge one would have five full lanes of traffic barreling directly toward the three lane section. Take that 3/4 lane off westbound at Marine Drive and you have a full lane and a quarter that will be going down the arterials between MLK and Greeley. It already happens today with the three lane bridge. Why would this new structure magically help it disappear?

          But, if one shrinks the bridge to four lanes and subtract the three-quarter lane westbound on Marine Drive, the increase is only about a half lane of traffic, because it will flow more quickly resulting in less throughput, at least initially.

          • The argument against Interstate MAX didn’t hold water, same as you’re suggesting a dire outcome of traffic with fewer than 4-lanes heading south under the new Marine Drive overpass.

            Concept #1 would work as well or better than the spagetti ramp nonsense. One floating home pier relocated from behind the old Best Buy store. New opening widens view
            corridor N/S, originally a pier checkpoint
            meant to be more wide open.

            Concept #1 offers MOST emission reduction and overall noise abatement, better pedestrian connection, waterfront restoration, improvement to local street network.

            The Off-island access route is a longer
            ‘less steep’ gradient to the overpass. Short, steep uphill entrances (directly at I-5) increase exhaust emissions, noise, hazards.

            Your rush hour traffic problem, Anandakos,
            is probably imaginary mostly. Plus, we’re both ready for the Marine Dr Interchange JOB soon and believe me, it is well-designed enough to lend support. It’s the double-deck bridge nonsense & ignoring the Concept #1 years
            of ODOT planning rejected for no good reason.
            If you aren’t a little offended by professional
            screwups still pretending their bridge is fine,
            then, again, they do have a bridge to sell us.
            Frankly, I’m putting my trust in Oregon
            and telling WARshington DOT people off.
            I’m not liking the new Alaskan Way much.


            • Wells,

              Do you commute from Vancouver to Portland on a daily basis? I did for seventeen years until early last year, driving for seven until Interstate MAX opened at which time I switched to driving to Delta Park and riding to downtown or out to Nike on MAX, depending on where my contract was Then when the 99th Street TC opened a few years later I started using the I-5 express buses.

              Let me be very clear: the freeway leakage through North Portland I’m describing already happens! I know; I’m one of the jerks who used the arterials because I don’t like feeling assaulted by SUV narcissists cutting me off.

              I’m not making this up. If two new lanes are added crossing the river — especially if both continue all the way to Marine Drive as is implicit in your “no Island interchange” model — there will be a huge flood of traffic down North Portland arterials. The Marine Drive interchange — however configured — won’t do a DAMN thing to alleviate it. It might divert a little more to MLK or Vancouver Avenue than the present single lane off ramp does, but the simple fact is that there will be roughly a 60% increase in traffic crossing the river with two new lanes.

              There’s no place else for it to go except down those arterials.

              And why in the hell do you think I support the “standard” CRC proposal? I told you I think that building half the new lanes now and half later as you propose is a good idea and the single deck is overall a good idea, although it will make the eventual structure pretty wide.

              I’ve said on this board and elsewhere that while MAX to downtown Vancouver would be very good for development of the city center, it doesn’t make sense to spend 3/4 of a billion dollars to haul at most 3,000 trips per hour in the peak direction. So I like the BRT/bike/ped bridge idea just fine

              I just think that the uncontrolled sprawl that Clark County’s Confederate government allows is incompatible with the regional nous and therefore transit activists should do everything we can to limit the size of any freeway enhancement which crosses the river.

  5. Got it, great, worse than ever, but listen…

    Consider Marine Dr Interchange
    with a Southbound-only, Single-deck,
    shovel-ready, and the “Highpoint Stoplight”
    rearrangement does truck traffic good enough.
    Figure MAX extension to Jantz Bch 4 ridership boost.
    BRT from there to Vanc Mall, roughly the LRT route.
    Finally add Concept #1.

    Nothing is really changed, except Marine Drive is no longer a maniacal 4-way truck stop uphill/downhill, at terrible turns, downhill lefts, uphill entrances. This worst interchange NEEDS to be done yesterday. Am I right or what?

    I propose 3 bridges:

    A 3-lane Transit attached alongside a 5-lane South bridge.
    A future northbound bridge 6-lanes wide,
    plus an “unfinished” narrow pedway.
    (6th lane ‘converts’ to wider walkway)

    It’s wider, but taller, appearing less wide.
    Near shorelines, bridge ramps allow sunlight.

    “There will be a huge flood of traffic down North Portland arterials. The new Marine Drive interchange won’t alleviate it, “but WOULD divert more to MLK and Vancouver Ave.”
    (did I rewrite your assumption accurately, here?)

    Anyways, this is an abridgment of study analysis.
    Marine Drive is improved, therefore traffic improves overall.
    Last point is yours: uncontrolled sprawl

    Clark County Confederate government acts incompatibly with the regional need. Transit activists should propose limits to the size of freeway enhancements crossing the Columbia River.
    (did I rewrite your assumption accurately here too?)

    Our Governors still are of the opinion that the
    “double-deck” design is “just fine” NOT knowing any better.
    I have some good arguments going, anandakos, so,
    you tell your activist friends or partners about the 7-point Plan.
    Politically, it’s the conservative money-makers and pro-gressive-types well-dressed willing to waste time for handouts, IMO,
    and couldn’t engineer their way out of a wet paper bag,
    forgot to take Smarts101 at the old U of Wherever dude.


      Marine Drive is improved, therefore traffic improves overall.

      Last point is yours: uncontrolled sprawl.

      Still celebrating P of P ‘reconsidering’ WHI rail facility. duh.
      Their bad, sorry. P of V has been ‘reconsidering’ coal/oil/gas terminal projects from the start. duh. BNSF lift? No Brainer?

      — Panamax Class stops in Longview. (priviledge info)
      — Partner Port Rainier gets good barge infrastructure

      (export limitation – conversion – suiting future purposes)

      Small barge operation, Boardman to Rainier/Westpoint.
      Partnering with Longview Panamax Class
      West Hayden Island is NOW a NATURE PRESERVE!

      I like all the ‘E’s in the word ‘preserve’.
      That is what you call
      an efficient use of the letter E.

    • Wells,

      I don’t have a dog in the fight about the Marine Drive interchange. I’ve thought that the existing proposal to have a four way light intersection on the bridge was likely to back traffic up into the freeway, so if you have a better design, go for it.

      But while I agree with the need for one more northbound lane because the afternoon peak is considerably higher — the folks who trickle south across the river throughout the day all tend to go home with the commuters — five lanes southbound is TOO MANY! It’s a 60% increase in capacity and that is unacceptable to me.

      Not that I particularly matter on the issue. It’s just one person’s opinion, but I think that housing for jobs on the Oregon side should mostly be on the Oregon side. It avoids the rancid whining “we pay taxes but don’t get anything for it” which basically ruins Clark County politics.

      Of course, those taxes go to pay for the infrastructure and progressive government that ATTRACTS all those jobs. Washington has what would APPEAR to be a much more business-friendly tax and regulatory structure than does Oregon, yet most of the few companies that set up here during the Tech Boom have left in frustration with the local government.

      I think it’s because of that polarized politics; Clark County is a mirror image of the wider national schism with the city taking the “blue” side and everything else being the “red” team. Local politics is usually about keeping the potholes filled, garbage collected, and Parks and Recreation, but here the Tricorn Hat crowd is particularly pissed off because of the Oregon Income tax issue.

      • Comparing the new Marine Drive interchange to the existing mess leads me to conclude the new design is more than good enough, even with probable traffic backups at exit and entrance ramps.

        I-5 will remain unchanged south of Delta Park. The bridge needs 2 extra lanes southbound for two exit ramps to Marine Drive and to Jantzen Beach Off-island Access just west of Home Depot.

        The Northbound span likewise needs 5- or 6-lanes for northbound exits, SR14 & downtown. The eastside sidewalk is cut to a minimum (or unfinished) because the wider westside
        Pedway is sufficient and to cut cost.

        The 8-Point CRC Plan
        – Single-deck NOT double-deck
        – Southbound-only new span (5-lanes)
        – Transit/ped/bike span (attached 3-lanes)
        – Marine Drive Interchange ODOT 2010
        — Expo-Hayden local road/bridge ODOT 2010
        – Concept #1 Off-island Access ODOT 2010
        – MAX to Jantzen Beach Center
        – BRT to Vancouver Mall 1st Phase

        • I give up. You want to screw over North Portland for some reason that eludes me and you refuse be educated about the issue.

          • I lived one block off Interstate Ave when people like Anandakos were warning about MAX there making traffic worse. Didn’t happen. I give up trying to present an educated perspective on land-use and transportation that you don’t want to consider. I devise proposals that can lead to solutions. Your argument about traffic overrunning North Portland is BS.

  6. As I recall from my work on the Governors’ I-5 Task Force (2000-2002), roughly 1/3 of the trips on the I-5 bridges are “local,” meaning shorter than five miles. That’s about one lane’s worth and left me thinking that what is lacking in the corridor is a “Broadway Bridge!”

    Then it came as a surprise to me, (who like most people assumed that downtown Portland is the prime destination of Clark county commuters), that the majority of commuters are bound elsewhere, primarily to work in N and NE Portland…Rivergate, Swan Island, Lower Albina, Lloyd District, Columbia Corridor, Interstate Corridor. This suggests that an extension of the Yellow Line has merit, as it would allow a bus/MAX or bus/MAX/bus commute with a single transfer to MAX in downtown Vancouver, the hub of the C-Tran system. BRT could force an extra transfer…bus/BRT/MAX/bus which would be a deal killer for most. Last fall the Blue/Red MAX lines carried over 80,000 riders, so there is reason to believe that a similar north-south line—Vancouver to Milwaukie would also put up some good numbers.

    The local destination of most Clark county commuters is born out as well in a analysis done for a Metro vanpool committee on which I served which pulled out the origin and destination for 16 employment areas in the Metro region from the 2000 census. In particular I remember that for those working in Hillsboro there were two dots (each dot=50) in Clark county! 2010 data could well show some shift, but probably not much.

    We already have 14 freeway lanes across the Columbia River; now its time for some options for Clark county commuters…quality transit (exclusive ROW, reliable schedule, minimal transfers), safe bike/ped routes and a couple of lanes for those local trips that should not even be on the Interstate Freeway!

    • “Most Clark County commuters are bound for worksites in North and NE Portland, Rivergate, Swan Island, Lower Albina, Lloyd District, Columbia Corridor, Interstate corridor. An extension of the Yellow Line then as clear merit.”

      I don’t disagree that MAX LRT could work.
      Evidence suggests a BRT from Jantz Bch to
      Vancouver Mall (following the proposed LRT route)
      would operate and function better, cut costs
      and evolve to LRT at a future date, thus qualify
      for Federal funding.

      The Hayden Island spagetti ramp mess is: UNACCEPTABLE

      The 8-Point CRC Plan
      – Single-deck NOT Double-deck
      – Southbound-only span (5-lanes)
      – Attached Transit/Pedway (3-lanes)
      – Marine Drive Interchange ODOT 2010
      – Expo-to-Hayden local road/bridge
      – Concept #1 Off-island Access
      – MAX to Jantzen Beach Center
      – BRT to Vancouver Mall

      Savings: estimated $1billion dollar bananas

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