I wanted to work in my yard on this glorious spring day—get some flowers planted along the front walk, weed and till the raised beds, maybe even spread out some compost. Really, I did. Instead, I went for a bike ride down to Waterfront Park. It was my civic duty.
There was a rally down there at to stop the $4 billion white elephant known as the Columbia River Crossing (CRC). This is the proposal for a new I-5 bridge of 12 lanes, plus bike lanes and a light rail line. Something for everybody, but mostly, a lot of new capacity for cars and trucks to fill up—or not.
I commented on the CRC several months ago. No information has surfaced since then to change my mind. If anything, it’s even more crucial to stop this bridge and use that $4 billion for something else, given the state of our economy.
Most of the speakers cited global warming and other environmental and health hazards as a key reason why the bridge should not be built. Roadway expansion generally is a function of Parkinson’s Law—stuff expands to fill the space allotted for it. It certainly has been true for freeways; building them only increases traffic and thus never mitigates congestion.
My own take on this project, however, is that by the time it gets built nine years from now (if it does get built) traffic volume will have dropped due to rising gas prices. In addition, the tolls necessary for covering half the cost of the bridge—around $2 billion—will also reduce demand. So we will have spent $4 billion (and likely a lot more than that) for something that isn’t needed.
By the way, the current I-5 bridges are in no danger of falling down, according to recent engineer’s studies. The
All of the speakers referred to the historic public uprising against the
But the repeated references to the successful anti-freeway campaign of the 70s reveals a bit of desperation in this current movement. There were maybe 300 people at the rally, the vast majority of whom arrived by bike and, like me, were mixing politics with pleasure. Perhaps we live in different times, or that the circumstances are different. The
The CRC, on the other hand, replaces an existing bridge and adds freeway lanes and ramps in that sort of empty area south of the river. Not so much to get worked up about.
But we should. It’s an enormous expense. At the rally, I talked with a representative from the Association of Oregon Rail and Transit Advocates. He told me that for a measly $100 million, all of the track between
Shouldn’t we get some of Obama’s stimulus money for this? I know Amtrak improvements are slated for the Eastern seaboard, but not out here. So start writing and calling your representatives, local as well as congressional. Especially those of you who didn’t attend the rally and got your garden in ahead of me.
Go to the Council for a Livable Future for ways that you can help stop the bridge.
City Councilor Amanda Fritz speaks at rally.