Moving Forward from the Columbia River Crossing

CRC Concept_Deck_TrussBy Kevin Sharp

With the recent suspension of the Columbia River Crossing project, people are already asking, “What should replace it?” The answer, at least for right now, is, “Nothing.” While it is frustrating that the government spent $170 million to not build a bridge, the cost of a poorly conceived bridge would be much greater.

Before Portland and Vancouver do anything else, they need to look seriously into the root of the transportation problems facing each city and plan accordingly. They also need to understand that just replacing the I-5 Bridge with a different bridge is not a lasting solution to the traffic problems. A new bridge needs to be a supplement to the existing Columbia River bridges.

To make the project viable, Portland also needs to abandon its inherently political goal of spreading light rail anywhere and everywhere. A simple bridge to ease traffic congestion is all that is necessary; but Portland transportation planners continually insist on expanding the MAX line to Washington―while Washington residents obviously do not want that. Any attempt to send light rail to Vancouver will only waste more time, taxpayer dollars, and resources that could go to more productive and valuable projects. A bridge should connect the cities; it doesn’t need to drive them apart.

Kevin Sharp is a research associate at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free-market think tank.

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Posted by at 09:21 | Posted in Columbia River Crossing, Transportation | Tagged , , , | 26 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Ruth

    What about those water taxis they were talking about a few years ago???

  • Common Sense Bridger

    By all accounts intelligible, build a 3rd bridge where it belongs and heave the heinously expensive I-5 CRC boondoggle back into the pits of stupid persona-fiend public works tricks.

  • Bob Clark

    The CRC proposal will remain in “bad penny” status, meaning it still has life and will continually return like the proverbial bad penny (much like the Oregon Convention Center Hotel).

    To move the Governor and Metro off of the CRC and onto an alternative bridge, the heavy weight of major businesses like Intel, Nike and Gentech must be enlisted in the effort.

    One crazy idea, I have which might be able to garner some support from the enviro-types and those normally trapped in the I-5 North Portland traffic is this: An electric bike/bike paved trail with ferry crossing over the Columbia, enclosed and tolled, running between Vancouver to Hillsboro (and vice-versa). The trail could be owned and operated via a regulated monopoly approach. Electric bikes are advancing to a point where they can go a maximum of 20 miles per hour, and some are covered against rain. Possibly electric cars could be permitted as well. (This might also be an alternative to the “mass” transit train dreamed of by some legislators to run between Portland and Salem.)

    Seems like new technologies could break out individual transport modes away from the Metro and local government campaign to “get people out of their cars and onto 19th century-like, ground level mass transit rail cars.” Randal O’toole suggests computer driven cars would create more road capacity by improving driving efficiency.

    I am not sure of the costs of the electric bike trail idea. But might be kind of fun for this retiree to scope out this thing with other dreamers.

    • villageidiot

      regulated monopoly? Oh you mean like our electricity and gas? It is very good to be a regulated monopoly you always make a profit and never have to be efficient. if costs go up just ask for a rate increase. New Tech, all for it. free market, all for it. regulated monopoly not so much.

  • villageidiot

    Did anyone ask the commuters between Vancouver and Portland if they would actually use that form of transport if available or were there assumptions made, based on some other city, or the tremendous success of the current light rail system? and how while polling actual commuters to ask them what to do to make it very convenient to use public transport as opposed to the current system “use what is available in spite of the lack of convenience or cost of personnel time”. most people complain about the congestion but prefer that to the absolute inconvenience of the current public transport. it is more convenient to use a taxi than bus or light rail. at least a taxi is door to door as opposed to nearest or not so near walking distance let alone the inconvenient waiting times for buses and trains.

    • .

      Build a third bridge upstream or downstream from Vancouver USA – and, lodge the previous CRC unfathomable boondoggle down into the Mindanao Trench of bottomed out faults.

  • Ron Swaren

    Please see my OC article (back a page or two) on the realistic Third Bridge option. The main point is that Silicon Forest is going into the next wave of expansion—and this is what caused I-5 to go past the tipping point in the 1990’s. We don’t need a freeway–we can do it with a four lane highway, and incorporate mass transit via double decker buses, and also connect to the bicycle trail.

    Also the Third Bridge should be a seismically safe Double Through Arch design, with a massive center pier that can be used for recreational purposes, like fishing, boat dock or Columbia River museum.

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