There are, of course, many missing elements to the CRC project.
Voter input has been shunned as an idea, and while we have had some ignored input in the design, the fact is that this process has been much like asking a condemned prisoner which method of execution he finds more attractive... when, chances are, he'd skip the execution altogether, given a choice.
Which is, of course, a big part of why the condemned... both prisoners.... AND voters... aren't asked if they want to be executed.
Because here's a clue to you bridgers/looters:
And yet, like the condemned prisoner, being dragged to the gallows; effectively, we've only been allowed to select the rope.
And that's the crime in all of this. The slime ramming this down our throats... Adams, Leavitt, Stuart and Boldt... they won't have to pay the $130 plus or more per month to go to work. That money won't be taken off THEIR children's backs... or off their kitchen table.
Nope. That penalty is reserved exclusively for the commuters... not the wardens... and not the executioners.
There are, however, alternatives.
That the CRC never intended any other outcome save the one that's been stuffed down our collective throats is obvious. The problem that makes a third bridge so unacceptable to these slime is that a third bridge won't bring loot rail into Vancouver... which is, of course, the entire reason for this fiasco... a plan that has hundreds of additional millions of dollars left to waste before it catches up with the $400 wasted million dollars of the SR 520/Evergreen Floating Bridge Project, which also, come to think of it, hasn't laid a foot of concrete.
Nevertheless, people who don't stand to make a fortune off this program like the special interests who own the appointed CRC members, have taken a sober view and come up with other ideas.
Here are but a few. And they are worthy of consideration.
John Charles is President and CEO of Cascade Policy Institute. Bob Stacey is the former Executive Director of 1000 Friends of Oregon.
The two of us may be strange bedfellows. Over the past twenty years, we’ve disagreed about many issues, including transit investments, land use laws and the underlying role of government. But recently we were both in Salem criticizing HJM 22, a bill asking the federal government to spend over a billion dollars on the ill-conceived “Columbia River Crossing” mega-project.
We each bring decades of experience in transportation policy to the table. Among the hundreds of projects we’ve seen, the current CRC proposal stands out as a doozy, throwing staggering amounts of money at a wasteful, ineffective plan.
Others, including the project’s own Independent Review Panel, have written about the huge costs to the taxpayers and the state, about the risks of cost overruns in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and about the project not fixing congestion but merely moving it from Vancouver to the I-405/Rose Quarter area. Those are serious problems.
As transportation experts from very different perspectives, we diverge on other flaws of the project. However, we agree on several actions Oregon should take instead of building the highway departments’ current bloated plan:
- Build an additional bridge. Having only two road crossings of the Columbia in the greater Portland area doesn’t make long-term sense. Clark County is an integral part of the region. We should be increasing the number of crossings of the river, whether the new bridge be a local or highway bridge, and whether it includes light rail or not.
- Retain the existing bridges. The current pair of I-5 spans have decades of life left in them. Spending $74 million to demolish them and build something in their place is wasteful.
- Use tolling. A well-designed tolling system could fully finance the cost of a properly designed and scaled new bridge.
- Increase the legislative oversight of mega-projects. ODOT and the Oregon Transportation Commission, rather than the Legislature, have historically guided and decided on projects. But the CRC mega-project’s bill of $450 million or more to Oregon taxpayers demands enhanced accountability measures.
Common sense. Clearly, the CRC doesn't speak it.