Ten Concerns with the Columbia River Crossing

Oregon Catalyst:

  1. The Environmental Impact Statement fails a key test. The National Environmental Policy Act guides Environmental Impact Statements, such as those of the CRC, to weigh whether the proposed action is a “prudent use of taxpayer dollars.” The CRC project as planned is not a prudent use of taxpayer dollars, particularly federal taxpayer dollars. The CRC plan effectively chooses to ignore the largest component of public transit costs, that being, light rail’s capital costs. Light rail adds somewhere in the ball park of $1 billion to total project cost; and by my calculations, the capital cost alone of each projected light rail passenger ride (extension only) will be on the order of $17. The CRC plan did not consider substituting existing C-Tran express bus service as a mass transit alternative. I seriously doubt the total cost of existing C-Tran express bus service is much more than $10 per ride. TriMet, a key provider of plan transit cost estimates, routinely ignores capital costs, and instead focuses on operation and maintenance cost savings. These savings pale in comparison to the capital cost savings of buses.

  2. The $3.5 Billion Minute. This point is made by Nigel Jaquiss, Willamette Week. For those poor automobile stiffs, commuting from Vancouver to downtown Portland, the CRC project will shave all of about one minute off their peak morning commute time. The main reason for such limited commute improvement for automobile drivers is removing the existing bottleneck at CRC Bridge and adjacent interchanges only serves to move the morning rush hour bottleneck a few miles south to the vicinity of the Rose Garden.

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