Bridge to Boondogle: Columbia River Crossing

dog logo stamp Beware: Soda tax, Gas tax, Beer tax, Tire tax, Late tax, Privilege TaxBy Taxpayer Association of Oregon

The Columbia River Crossing Bridge (CRC) is Oregon’s “Bridge to Boondoggle”.  This is important to know as the bill to approve it is speeding through the Legislature.

After 15 years of planning & $150 million spent on the Columbia River Crossing, a shovel has yet to be laid or final design decided. The staggering $3.5 billion plan adds no new (long-distance) lane capacity to the bridge it is replacing. Some are saying the bridge may actually increase traffic congestion instead of reducing it due to its design and plans for light rail and bike paths.

One person was paid $10,000/month to sell the bridge to the public and the public remains unsold.  In fact, what many are waiting for with the Columbia River Crossing Bridge is verifiable sound cost numbers.

Here are some great points made by Joe Cortright on why the Columbia River Crossing is bad for business.

The CRC financial plan is based on a series of Pollyanna-like assumptions:

– The $400 million dollar federal earmark the plan counted on failed to appear in the latest national highway bill, no alternative source for this money has been identified.

– It is based on outdated and flawed traffic projections that overestimate potential toll revenues by hundreds of millions of dollars. (The projections use 1990s data, assume dollar a gallon gas, and ever increasing driving, and use models that ODOT has said can’t accurately forecast traffic on tolled facilities).

– It counts on the federal government paying almost 100% of the cost of light rail when it typically pays only half.

– CRC has yet to deliver an independent “investment grade” toll revenue forecast that private investors and the federal government will insist on before lending a dime of the billions of dollars needed for this project.

– Clark County voters have defeated the sales tax to fund light rail operations. This is critical because Washington law requires voter approval of high capacity transit and without O&M funding, the project is ineligible about for federal transit funding.

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Posted by at 07:41 | Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • JacklordGod

    >One person was paid $10,000/month to sell the bridge to the public

    Is there some place these jobs are advertised? Ten grand a month to cut a commercial or two, run a few TV spots sounds sweet. Only government will overpay like this and since the Obama re election I have been rethinking whether it might be better to join the fray and leach off everyone else rather than actually working.

  • Bob Clark

    Most folks I talk to in North Portland don’t want the CRC project as they don’t see congestion changing. The bottleneck only shifts south a couple of miles on I-5 to the Freemont Bridge. You know the one upside about the light rail aspect is it might make it easier to re-locate to Vancouver from over taxed, heavily indebted Portland; but even here, it’s really false gold. I dread the idea of riding light rail for myself and wife as whenever I ride it (in the past few years), I get this feeling of being on the edge of anarchy inside the confines of the train and stations it stops at. On top of this, this version of commuter rail would meander slowly through neighborhoods; and travel half as slow as existing Express bus service. Portland’s brand of Light rail is almost useless, as compared to the rapid speed of commuter rail in Paris or New York. Portland’s light rail brand is like forcing farmers to use mules to plow fields instead of tractors.

    But actually light rail is only part of the problem with the CRC project. Portland actually needs a new bridge farther downstream, linking Hillsboro and Beaverton to Vancouver (north). This is the west side bypass Hillsboro Mayor and other west side officials see as a game changer, unleashing a decade or more of accelerated economic growth. The city of Portland probably dreads this possibility as it would leave the city at a competitive disadvantage vis-à-vis other surrounding cities. So, Portland city hall fiends the climate change stick, anti-sprawl stick; and taxpaying stiffs capable of seeing more than one step ahead, see themselves instead stuck in Metro’s Orwellian Soviet-Harvard drab, underperforming planning model.

    A new west-side road/bridge might have enough in demand to attract a private owner/operator for it, with a regulated toll financing structure without a lot of need for billions in public funds. The other benefit to North Portlanders is this truly would help reduce congestion in North Portland, rather than the CRC’s shifting it a mile or two along I-5.

  • u guest-er chester

    A third bridge makes more sense than staying with the current boondoggle of replacing a bridge that ain’t broke.

    Then there’s OR HB2387 underway to commission a statue of Mark Hatfield and kick Jason Lee of his pedestal in the state capitol’s rotunda. What?

    Some readers here may challenge the meaning of governmentium but most will accept sum comparable $ensitive point.

    I dare say, Morse code to taxpayers: S-O-S (Stop Outrageous Spending). Period!

  • Maximus

    Now is not the time to pass a pork project.

  • Brenda

    Can the OC proprietor explain why I’ve noticed Oregon Catalyst has been AWOL on the CRC until this piece?

    Tell the truth.

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