No Oregonians on Columbia River Crossing Task Force

Carla Axtman

With all the frustration, consternation, mistrust and concern expressed by Oregonians on the Columbia River Crossing project, Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski seems to have figured out a way to silence those objections: don't appoint any Oregonians to serve on the task force reviewing it.

Portland Business Journal:

The task force, consisting of long-time transportation advocates and engineers, will explore structural and financial options for a new bridge.

The panel includes two experts from Washington and one each from California, Georgia, Illinois, Texas, Utah and Washington, D.C.

Thomas Warne, a Utah consultant, will chair the panel. The Washington state representatives are Seattle environmental attorney Rodney Brown and Cle Elum-based consultant Patricia Galloway.

“We have selected the members of this panel because they each bring key areas of expertise to assess this unique project and ensure the project meets our goals of improved flow of commerce and goods, new green transportation alternatives for commuters, and improved safety at the most dangerous interchange in Oregon,” Kulongoski said in a statement.

Anna Richter Taylor, a spokeswoman for Kulongoski, said the task force was selected based on objectivity, rather than geographic concerns. The governors wanted members who weren’t involved in the project to date.

"Objectivity" is all fine and good, and perhaps even a laudable goal. But we're talking about a project that's going to have a tremendous impact on the largest metro area in the State of Oregon. Most of the rest of these task force members won't be around to feel that impact. It seems negligent at best to not have at least one person from our state who has to actually live with this decision in practical terms be a part of this.

It sure feels like our Governor is cheating us out of having a voice on this one.

  • Orygunguy (unverified)

    I would expect nothing more from Ted. He hides from the public and ignores the wishes of all Oregonians. The day he leaves public office for the well deserved obscurity he will fade into cannot come quickly enough for this Oregonian.

  • (Show?)

    I’m less concerned about the lack of Oregon representation than I am concerned about the starting assumptions and charge to the panel. My own opposition to the CRC is both that there are better and cheaper transportation projects for improving Portland-Vancouver crossings of the Columbia River and that Oregon has higher priorities (both inside and outside the transportation sector) for the $3-4 billion dollars. The expert panel will be of no help on either concern.

    The panel is given, falsely, as a starting point that the CRC is a high priority need. According Governor Gregoire in the press release, “Replacing the bridge over the Columbia River is essential to maintaining the economies and enhancing the livability of the communities in our two states.” According to Governor Kulongoski, “The CRC is an investment that is critical to the economy of the entire Pacific Northwest because of its importance as the major north-south transportation link of the western United States.” Both these statements are false.

    “The independent expert review” according to Gregoire in the press release, “will provide us assurance that the project has the implementation and financial plans in place to get the job done on time and on budget.”

    Or, put another way in the press release, “The panel has been asked to: • Assess the implementation plan for the CRC project • Review the financial plan for the project • Review and evaluate post-construction performance measures.”

    This expert panel is not going to deal with the major objections to CRC. It’s totally inadequate and largely irrelevant. Whatever sums of money it is costing are a total waste.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)

    The bridge is a very high priority need to the rgion as all N-S truck traffic must pass across the Columbia if traveling the I-5 corridor. Parochial views of strident Portlanders aside, our governor would have been well served to have appointed at least 1-2 credible Oregonians to the panel.

    River towns along state borders have long struggled with this issue. It has been going on in Louisville, KY for at least 25 years. There they have not one major interstate, but two.

  • (Show?)

    It's mega-highway robbery. There is ABSOLUTELY no reason for this project to be viewed "objectively." It is a very subjective proposal that will have direct impact on my life, Carla's life, your life. Some risk assessor in Houston, quite frankly, does not care one bit about that.

    "Hey, we're going to put a road through your house to redirect traffic flow. Oh, you have objections? Not to worry, we have consultants in Minneapolis and Bangor studying the need and the impact. Just go sit quietly until the wrecking ball shows up."

  • Jake Leander (unverified)


    How do get from here:

    ...all N-S truck traffic must pass across the Columbia if traveling the I-5 corridor.

    to here:

    The bridge is a very high priority need to the rgion....

    There are two bridges over the Columbia in Portland that are far from capacity most of the time. Traffic management is much less expensive than adding lanes. As a society, we should be promoting water and rail transportation of goods [low energy intensity] over trucking [high energy intensity and local economy over long-distance trade.

    Society should shape transportation, instead of allowing transportation [and those who profit from it] to shape society.

    Please think before reaching conclusions.

  • Lord Beaverbrook (unverified)


    No surprise to those of us that consider him a virtual Republican that only plays the Dem card because he lives in Oregon.

    As to the mechanics, this is an old stat trick. You have a big, hairy problem and a number of competing models. You want the status quo to prevail (which would be the mega bridge). So, what you do, you bring in all kinds of face valid variables that ANYONE would recognize as being relevant. That's the bit about the individuals having "particular expertise". No doubt. In fact those variables don't correlate with the outcome, which, here, means that those experts won't pull the considerations in a major way towards their own consideration. Since nothing really is exerting any pressure on the dominant model, the equations regress toward the mean, as will these deliberations, and you end up "demonstrating" that the status quo is most reasonable.

    It's a way to rubber stamp what you've already decided.

  • No CRC (unverified)

    The most dangerous interchange in Oregon? WTF? How many people have died at that interchange?

    What else are you going to make up, Governor?

    The key thing is what they have (and haven't) been asked to do. So, they can say they had an independent panel, even if that panel never asks or answers the key questions of the project.

    From the press release:

    The panel has been asked to: Assess the implementation plan for the CRC project Review the financial plan for the project * Review and evaluate post-construction performance measures

    They haven't been asked to: Consider more affordable alternatives Review the modeling assumptions * Look at climate impacts

    So, pretty much: we've hired a bunch of engineers who do bridge building to sign off on this, so we're just like any other place (Atlanta? That's scary!). We haven't hired anyone who has expertise in land use impacts, in climate change analysis (possibly Brown?), in human health impacts, or in minimizing costs.

  • No CRC (unverified)

    If you want independent review, here's what it really looks like when it happens. Answer: CRC is a MegaBridge of the past.

  • Jake Leander (unverified)

    CRC is a very good example of the corrosive effect on democratic governance of self-interested parties with lots of money to put into the political process. Oregon, Metro, Multnomah County, and Portland are led by environmental-protection-minded Democrats. Yet, when a project that means $billions for engineers, contractors, material suppliers, construction workers, developers, etc. is proposed, concern for the environment [not to mention the long-term economy] goes out the window.

  • Terry Parker (unverified)

    Throughout Kulongoski’s time in office as Oregon’s Governor, his posturing seemed to be more one of buffoonery rather than as the CEO of the state working for all Oregonians. Supporting the manipulated numbers and excessive unaffordable costs of the BETC program is a good example of that. Now that Kulongoski’s term in office is about to expire, and he no longer has to kowtow to the progressive socialist mindset of the far left wing in the legislature, he seems to be making far more realistic and rational decisions for the people of Oregon. They include his State of the State speech to the City Club where he acknowledged that the size and spending of state government must be reduced, his appointment of Ted Wheeler as State Treasurer (which unfortunately is also Multnomah County’s loss), and NOT appointing an Oregonian to the CRC independent review panel.

    All the criticism and protest flag waving against the existing the current CRC design is coming from a petty but loud vocal group of eco-crony bloggers, deadbeat bicyclists and socialistic public transit supporters that want their choices of transport mode to be front and center with world class infrastructure that is paid for by somebody else. Additionally, they want to limit the choices other people can make such as driving, Along with statements like “we tax people for what we don’t want them to do and don’t tax people for what we want them to do” is part of the basic ideology of socialism. The “we” in that statement represents the selfishness of the special interests and not the freedom of choice of “we the people” in a democratic society. Any independent review panel must be truly independent of this socialist control mindset and agenda. .

    The Portland-Metro area has a transportation based economy. That includes movement of goods and people by land, sea and air. Highways are an integral part of that economy as are the supporting services like motor vehicle repair shops and parts houses. New car dealerships alone average 60 family wage jobs per dealership. One out of every ten jobs nationwide is tied to the auto industry. Portland doesn’t have and never will have a bicycle based and/or taxpayer subsidized public transit economy.

    The CRC not only serves the Portland-Metro area as one of only two roadway bridges that cross the Columbia, but it is also part of the I-5 transportation corridor, the primary highway corridor for interstate commerce on the West Coast. It is also serves as a national defense corridor. The historical twin bridges are approximately nearly 100 years and over 50 years old respectively. That however is not to say they have outlived their usefulness as a local river crossing, but they are in effect obsolete and not safe as a modern freeway crossing.

    Currently the CRC is the most congested choke point on I-5 between Canada and Mexico. Any bridge built must withstand the test of time and be useful for the next 100 years. Building a bridge too small without significantly increasing roadway capacity on the crossing would be a costly mistake. Such a move will only have a negative impact on the entire local economy in both the short term and probably the long run. Although the future can not be predicted, it is a complete fantasy to assume bicycling and an unaffordable, highly subsidized, mega-mass transit system will replace the need for adding or even doubling the number of motor vehicle highway lanes. Instead of allowing the protesters of fantasy to continue to run-a-muck with an unrealistic agenda that exploits other taxpayers, freeloading bicyclists and transit passengers need to be required to pay for their share of infrastructure on any new crossing built by way of bicycle tolls and surcharges on transit fares. In other words: put up or shut up - it is time deadbeat bicyclists and activist transit passengers open up their wallets and pay their own way instead expecting their lifestyles be funded on the backs by the working class taxpayers they criticize. The people currently being cheated are the motorists. Kulongoski appears to be right by not naming an Oregonian to the review panel.

  • Alisa Anderson (unverified)

    Couldn't you have posted the link, since you've put that out a million places and cut and pasted it here?

  • Jake Leander (unverified)

    Terry Parker has many opinions about who opposes the CRC megabridge. Do those opinions matter?

    He claims that the future cannot be predicted, and then predicts it. It will have more cars, up to twice as many, he suggests.

    Climate change, peak oil, the economic decline of the US: these are all in the future that cannot be predicted, eh? But the need for twice as many truck and auto lanes crossing the Columbia at Portland; that's a foregone conclusion, according to Terry Parker.

    The difficulty of predicting the future is no excuse for concluding it will look just like the present, but bigger. Twenty-first century America will not be a bigger version of twentieth century America.

    Setting up non-tax-paying bicyclists as straw man opponents makes Mr. Parker's argument no more convincing.


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