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– It is based on outdated and flawed traffic projections that overestimate potential toll revenues by hundreds of millions of dollars.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.