Are People Finally Waking Up To The CRC?

by lewwaters

Yes, it does appear that very gradually, people on both sides of the Columbia River are waking up to the Bridge to Bankruptcy and opposing it. People that were wholeheartedly supporting it are backing up, looking closer and seeing that projections are off, the design is inferior, the location is wrong and the only reason it was ever began was a vehicle to force Clark County to accept Portland’s financially beleaguered light rail, steeped deeply in unfunded liabilities as I write.

Just this week, June 12, 2012 the Oregonian editorial board gave us Will Columbia River Crossing become the Procrustean Bridge?, where they compare the known shortcoming of insufficient river traffic clearance to the “mythological figure who lopped the limbs from unfortunate visitors so they’d fit his iron bed.”

Their editorial ends with,

“the fact that $140 million has been spent on an inadequate design is a poor argument for clinging to it. It’s a small fraction of the full cost of the project, which is expected to exceed $3 billion. And in the end, both Oregonians and Washingtonians should want a bridge that does what it’s supposed to — carry surface traffic across the river — without doing what it’s not supposed to — compromise traffic on the river.”

Just days earlier they reported, River users said Columbia River Crossing too low, and planner ignored them saying,

“In a 2004 survey of Columbia River users and again in a 2006 Coast Guard public hearing, the river users said a new I-5 span needed to be 100 to125 feet tall for them to sail underneath.”

“The Columbia River Crossing planners ignored the input and opted instead for 95 feet. The fateful blunder has put the project at odds with a handful of marine shippers, the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, both of which need to sign off on the project.”

“The impasse may force the CRC to jettison the $3.1 billion current plan — seven years in the making — and design a higher bridge at a cost of $100 million-plus.”

This after already sucking up some $150 Million.

In March, the Columbian, the unofficial daily newsletter of the Democrat Party informed us,

“In a Senate transportation subcommittee meeting, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood called the problem — which could cost as much as $150 million to fix — a “little hiccup” that will not stop the $3.5 billion project.”

Yes, a major shortcoming is but a “little hiccup.”

Meanwhile, they were quick to run cover by telling us, CRC officials defend bridge height.

The “hiccup” caught the attention of Crosscut.com in Seattle as the posted For Columbia River Crossing, Coast Guard objections are just the beginning

June 13, 2012 the Oregonian, in a premonition of what our own C-Tran can expect told us, TriMet board kills Portland’s Free Rail Zone, raises fares, cuts bus service as Oregon fights to fill deep budget gaps and meet unfunded liabilities negotiated for the unions involved with Tri-Met after they rejected a proposed rollback of their overly generous benefits.

C-Tran employees would likely expect the same as their Oregon counterparts that would also likely put our Transportation in similar financial straits. Meanwhile, a conglomeration of self-appointed civic leaders draft a letter to lawmakers saying “find the money” to build it, ignoring the Great Recession we taxpayers know we are still in.

Marvin Case of the Reflector told us back in February 2012, C-TRAN strategy is bad government telling us the fancy footwork schemes that were being tried to impose a tax on Clark County residents while avoiding a vote if possible was gravely flawed.

He wrote,

“So for the last six years, thousands of county residents have paid C-TRAN taxes when they shop but have no voice in establishing the tax or the tax rate.”
“That was the case again last November when urban voters approved another .02 percent sales tax for C-TRAN, while those who don’t live in cities or the Vancouver UGA weren’t allowed to vote. It is the classic and onerous ‘taxation without representation’ that was opposed when this nation was born.”

Portland’s Willamette Week woke up long ago, running several in depth articles showing just how inept the CRC project has been as they ran articles from A Bridge Too False in June 2011 to The $2.5 Billion Bribe in February 2012 where we received confirmation for the first time of what many of us suspected all along, the sole reason for the bridge project from Portland’s Metro was to manipulate Clark County into accepting their light rail that we have rejected every time it has been brought to a vote in the past.

One that has not bought into the hype we have been fed concerning this project is successful businessman and now candidate for County Commissioner, David Madore, who launched Couv.com featuring several revelations. Mr. Madore hired an Independent Forensic Accountant to pour over CRC finances and who reported several disturbing findings, quickly marginalized by state officials.

On a cold January 2012 morning, a group of concerned citizens, and elected officials, many from Oregon who had formed the Smarter Bridge Committee, gathered on the north bank of the Columbia River in a press conference as speaker after speaker laid out their well informed reasons they have come to oppose the current project as designed as others offered viable and cheaper alternatives.

After the revelation of the design being insufficient to clear known river traffic and unable to meet the requirements of the both the U.S. Coast Guard and the Army Corps of Engineers, several long time supporters, many of whom contacted me personally to say they could no longer support the project and now see our point and have joined us in opposition.

David Madore gave a simple suggestion in his March 2012 post, The unraveling of the Columbia River Crossing on opening people’s eyes. He said,

“There is an appropriate time to push the pause button. We will continue to inform our community of the situation and encourage citizens to help others learn about this unfolding story. What do we do? We start by spreading the word and speaking up. We work to elect new leadership and elect those that will protect the public treasury and insist on transparency, accountability and good sense.”

More and more people are opening their eyes to the CRC and their Bridge to Bankruptcy.

Now they only need open their eyes to current elected officials who continue to push this boondoggle, tax sucking, and ill-designed project off on us, all to force us to accept what we have rejected more than once.

22 Comments to “Are People Finally Waking Up To The CRC?”

  1. Those in the past who have supported this… and now oppose it… have a duty to speak up, to make themselves known publicly, to support candidates who share their view and to actively work to put an end to this nonsense.

    Evil truly does triumph when good people do nothing. Telling people privately you’re now opposed to this massive rip off simply isn’t enough.

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  2. I woke up a few months ago. There are good people on both sides of this issue, perhaps we need to get out of our respective corners, stop the attacks and work through this without all the politics getting in the way. It was tough for me to publicly state that I have changed my views on the CRC. As I stated, in my opinion the project raises enough concerns and uncertainties that I felt I couldn’t put my support behind the current project. I have spoken to friends and co-workers…people feel as though this project is being pushed by politicians and businesses that stand to personally benefit from the CRC. That is unsettling because like I’ve said, there are good people that want this project to go forward that have noble intentions. I know, I used to be one of them. While there maybe an element of personal gain, as with any project or vote made by elected officials, many of the people in support are in support because they feel its just simply the right thing to do. On the flip side, supporters of the CRC shouldn’t be dismissive to the concerns of those against this project. Name calling and accusations have tuned out the general public. I don’t see an easy solution but I also don’t see a project we can be proud of at this point. K.J. I agree, people who have support the CRC and are far more involved in this process than me, need to stand up and voice their concerns. It’s called leadership. We want leaders who will stand up for what they feel is right, admitting if/when they were wrong, and even when it puts them into personal/political odds with their friends or party.

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  3. Meanwhile, plans to modify I-5 on the Oregon side that may actually fix the congestion:

    http://www.portlandmercury.com/portland/the-400-million-lane/Content?oid=6232828

    seem unlikely to occur. Seems like a nice Depression-era WPA program would be to create an I-5 bypass that completely goes around the Portland metro parking lot.

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  4. They already have a workable bypass called I-205 that could be redesignated as I-5 and divert through traffic there.

    But you’re right, more crossings and moving traffic away from the Interstate Bridge, especially truck traffic destined for the ports, would relieve congestion too.

    But, congestion relief is not the driving force behind the bridge, forcing us to accept light rail is.

    If it were really needed, shouldn’t it go east, where all of the population growth is?

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  5. Follow the money, Mike.

    Somewhere, there is puppet master driving this and raking in the dough, right out of taxpayers pockets.

    It seems to be nationwide too, citizens are ignored as more an more light rail is forced on communities after they vote it down, if they are even given a chance to vote on it.

    It ties into high density housing along the rail lines as well. Move people out of their homes and property, put them in housing along the rail line after also forcing them out of their cars an we become even more dependent upon government, with all of the property we once owned now owned by someone else.

    It reminds me very much of Eastern Europe under Soviet rule.

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  6. Lew, it’s not necessarily someone getting a direct benefit. There’s an ideological aspect that overshadows all. If our goals were clearly articulated, we could discuss the real problem but there is no intellectual center of the Democratic Party (at least locally) so there is no one to debate.

    A bridge is needed for economic reasons AND social reasons. Mass transit is needed for economic reasons AND social reasons. If that debate was public, and there was one elected leader from each side who was intelligent, articulate, and wise enough to come to a solution, and that solution was put to the people for a vote – I’m sure it would pass, warts and all, because everyone would know what the goals & tradeoffs were.

    As it is now, the ideological Democrats who want Light Rail are running the show. They won’t admit their goals, nor will they allow any discussion because Light Rail would probably fail if they did. On the flip side, “No Tolls/No Tax” Republicans seem to be intransigent too. Listen, if there was a 3rd bridge that was tolled by the people who used it – what’s wrong with that? And if Oregon gave up some of the Income Tax they make Vancouverites pay (but receive no benefits), wouldn’t that be okay? There are solutions but the “No Compromise” aspect of the sitution bars discussion of them.

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  7. Yes Martin, a bridge is needed. In fact, several bridges are needed.

    Just not this one as currently promoted.

    What I see going on is social engineering, where government elites have decided how we should live, where we should live and how we move about, at their discretion.

    It should make any who miss the Soviet Union proud.

    But somewhere, someone is making a lot of money off of taxpayers.

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  8. Look to Agenda 21 … and you see forced mass transit as a key feature of that leftist/green utopia. Thus, the CRC with light rail is a vital link in imposing unwanted social control on the population to force us into a high density housing “above the stores” as has already been done in several California cities.

    As an escapee from the SF Bay area, I’ve seen how traffic needs are sidetracked to build/extend transit systems (both BART and light rail). Road improvements are encumbered with “traffic calming” features (actually artificial means to increase congestion and slow traffic movement). The point is not to improve traffic flow and make private automobiles more efficient, but rather to impose a particular viewpoint about traffic and force use of mass transit, even though mass transit NEVER comes anywhere close to being cost effective and requires massive taxpayer subsidies.

    The political benefit of these programs is to build expensive public works (rail systems, bridges) that funnel money to unions and favored contractors who, in turn, support the Democratic party with donations and in-kind assistance. (Why is California still building a high-speed rail system that will cost triple the original estimates and will likely haul only a fraction of the estimated passengers? Follow the money.)

    So, my point here, is follow the money. Portland needs to extend Tri-Met to gather more TAXPAYERS to fund its tremendous deficits, and the Democrats need big public works projects to generate more donations to their party.

    If the CRC is a toll bridge, you can expect that immediate demands will start up to require that the I-205 crossing also charge tolls to provide even more support for “mass transit” (on the backs of drivers crossing the river).

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  9. Lew & Friend, no insult to either of you, and I read your concerns with interest, but really what I want is someone intelligent, articulate, and incorruptible to study all aspects of this, debate on my behalf, and come to a conclusion they can clearly explain the goals & tradeoffs involved – one Republican, one Democrat. Unfortunately, our elections don’t provide those kinds of leaders.

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  10. Martin, I agree that there needs to be compromise when addressing these issues. I for one, while vehemently opposed to the CRC project, could support a 3rd crossing partially paid for by tolls. As someone who commutes daily to Oregon, I’d feel that more than people who don’t, but I don’t mind helping pay the way for those who would use the crossing only occasionally. After all, my grandfather and his generation paid for the I-5 bridge with tolls, and I benefit from that today.

    I’ve paid careful attention to those who are currently running for County Commissioner and I’ve found a couple of people who are “intelligent, articulate, (and as far as I know), incorruptible”, and who support both sides of the CRC project. Those two people are David Madore and Joe Tanner.

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  11. Craig, I feel the same way about David Madore as I do Jon Haugen – if CRC is your issue then these are your candidates. Since CRC is the MAJOR concern facing Clark County (that we can do anything about), an argument could be made that these are the people of the moment. Both have put their reputations on the line for this. I wish I knew the names of the enemy – they are a mysterious bunch. (Leavitt seems more a fool than a mover-n-shaker. Moeller seems like a puppet.)

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  12. The necessary height of the bridge conflicts with the necessity of keeping the Pearson approach clear, having reasonable access to and from Highway 14, and a reasonably flat bridge span to eliminate the line-of-sight limitations that are currently the primary cause of traffic slow-downs. This is a no-brainer. Stop thinking “Bridge” and start thinking “Tunnel!” The costs is about the same, and a well-developed tunnel would eliminate most of the conflicts the bridge has.

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  13. Sean, bedrock at the crossing on the Washington side is about 60 feet down, while on the Oregon side the bedrock is over 200 feet down. One of the main problems proponents of a new bridge often site is that the piles on the original span are not sitting on rock because they were not long enough to reach it.

    There are 2 basic ways to build a tunnel. The first involves a tunnel boring machine, but it is designed to bore through solid rock. If the bedrock on the Oregon side is 200 feet deep, and assuming our tunnel boring machine has to be well below the surface of the bedrock, I think you can see how a tunnel will not work to link Vancouver with Hayden Island.

    The other way to build a tunnel is to construct massive floating tunnel sections which you weigh down with concrete, then lower into a prepared trench on the bottom, with the sections resting on rock, and buried with tons more rock. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnels were constructed this way because the bottom of the bay is even and very flat. You have the same problem with this technique at the CRC because the bottom of the river is not flat and the bedrock varies too much.

    Tunnels have been ruled out long ago because they really are not a viable solution here.

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  14. Interesting note here folks. Across the globe people are having this issue regarding lite-rail systems. Just check South America and Australia news sites. However I do not see it in areas of truly impoverished and much needed places like Africa where people are on foot having to commute heavy loads on their backs and heads to even make it to market to sell or buy goods. Why? If global green house gases and getting access to transportation for the underpriviledged are the issues of such critical importance, then why not in places like Africa? Are these issues limited to people who can assist in paying for them? Is not that woman in Africa in need of transportation?
    Yes, we need more bridges and no we do not need a lite-rail system that people here will not use effectively. Furthermore we do not need to pay some huge debt for the next several generations for an outdated mode of transportation that the forcasters claim we will need by the year 2035, possibly.

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  15. Carolyn, mind if I chime in.

    Before any more new bridges are built, the corridors themselves need correction in order for the transition from one state to another to go smoothly. Existing projects must be finished first…projects like Troutdale at I-84 and SR-500 at St. John’s. As Josef pointed out, there are plans in the works to improve the region around the Rose Quarter, although I find it quite difficult to believe there’s actually room in that area to improve the highway. I also believe that the Marquam Bridge has major design flaws which do not meet the needs of Oregon’s Freight Transit. ODOT put in place a bypass Bridge…the Fremont Bridge…which has done little regarding impacting I-5 in the core region. Regarding the Marquam Bridge…a good example is the recent semi versus transportation worker truck on the bottom deck. The top deck…that’s a disaster just waiting to happen. Remember the guy whose car went over the railing a few years back???

    Regarding I-205, there are zones along that corridor which need improvement…one north of SR-500, opening up a third lane in both directions clear through to 134th Street where the right hand lane would be utilized for exit only and for highway exit from 134th street southbound. I also believe another region which needs immediate improvement is in the area around Oregon City, through to I-5.

    Regarding an east side bridge in the manner Mr. Madore supports, it is my opinion that this locality would be least beneficial due to the fact that I-84 from 122nd Avenue westbound to the I-5 interchange is still heavily packed. Truckers already know they can bypass much of I-84 by utilizing Airport Way from I-205 to 181st Avenue and we all know that isn’t the issue. It’s the commuters. Even with the light rail, the highway is still gridlocked. You can’t force drivers to transition. It’s just not in the books.

    The entire reasoning behind highway improvements is Freight Mobility, according to the respective States’ Department of Transportation. It is only those with vested interests($$$) in Agenda 21 who are pushing for a light rail into a region which in all actuality hasn’t the need for such an infrastructure if people would only check the numbers.

    Once the corridors have been improved, then it is my suggestion that a thorough traffic study should be done…but ONLY after the improvements are completed..THEN the discussion of the need for transit improvement should return to the table, should there actually be a need.

    Prioritizing seems to be missing from the vocabulary when it comes to planning.

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  16. That all sounds impressively astute, Golden, but until I see a PE number stamped on your report, I really can’t accept it as fact. I have seen stamped reports on the freight mobility studies – convinced me – but only for the freight portion, mind you. No studies on commuter traffic that I can find (other than the “most traffic travels in a 12 mile corridor” report). No studies on other bridge options. And no legal analysts on Pearson airpark or the Wildlife reserve – just people talking out of their asses. No safety study that I’m aware of. No “condition” study on the existing I-5 bridges except for Don Wagner (a PE) saying they can last for another 100 years, easy. No “future technologies” study. No “targeted solutions” except for the disastrous “car pool” lane on the Vancouver side. For $120 million, you’d think there would be a 6-foot stack of stamped reports?!

    Somebody political made up their mind long ago and everything since then has been play-acting to get Light Rail.

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  17. http://www.leg.wa.gov/JTC/Pages/CRCOversightSubcommittee.aspx

    Thought if anyone reading this, this morning that they have time to come down & check out the scenery, they might want to join me, Eric, Andrea or whomever (from the flypaper) who gets assigned.. This is just basically the Oregon and Washington state house and senate joint transporation committees again down here at the NEW Vancouver City Hall (former Columbian building) near Esther Short Park… From 10 til 5pm. Though I think from noon to 3pm, there will be a bus ride around town to the various transportation sites they will be taking on to share with both sides of the river.

    Hope anyone that can, come down and join us. I have to thank Ms. Damewood for posting this on twitter, so I had about 24 hour notice…

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  18. Hey folks…just a little scrounging around on ODOT’s Bridge Engineering Structural Report and found these two links for you. It takes a bit of searching, but try this route. Click on “Table of Contents.” In the Table of Contents, Click on #24 “Bridge Condition by Region.” Scroll down to District 2B. The I-5 Bridges inspection report are on page 43 , first one being the Jantzen Beach overpass over the slough and second and third ones being the I-5 Bridge. If you want to know what the items like OD, FR, GD and all that are, you must go back to the table of contents and pull up the acronyms list.

    ftp://ftp.odot.state.or.us/Bridge/bridge_website_chittirat/2011_Br_Condition_Report_web_071911.pdf

    Martin, the reports are there. It’s a pain in the back side to find them, but they are there. It’s just the powers that be don’t want you to see them so you’re looking for that little needle in a haystack.

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  19. Thanks for that link, Golden, but that’s for ALL bridges in Oregon. It simply says the I-5 bridge needs continuous maintenance or it will fail, same as for ALL the steel bridges. (I’ve read that report before.) And it is a summary – not a detailed engineering analysis. (I’m sure one exists from about 10 years ago when the bridges were refurbed.) You know, maybe the reports I’m looking for do exist but are kept from us because someone like me (or Jon Haugen or David Madore) would go to town with the data. There’s just no way of knowing because of the secrecy or ineptitude or political hackery that CRC roils in.

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  20. Hey Martin, sorry I couldn’t have been more help. Even so , it does show clearly that the structural integrity of the bridges is not an issue. In the column labeled SD/OD, SD stands for Structurally Deficiencies (distressed bridges) and OD is Other Deficiencies (distressed bridges). Note in the segments labeled for the I-5 Bridges, they are labeled OD which tells me these bridges are still in good working order. The last column however does mention low service life with vertical clearance on the first bridge built.

    I noticed the ratings for the Fremont Bridge are quite comparable to the I-5 Bridges…both having vertical clearance issues (as does the Marquam).

    Actually Martin, if you utilize the index to this website I provided, there’s actually a lot more information within than just a summary. Just like everything else in the government, sometimes you have to dig a bit deeper. Regarding the studies and reports…until our fearless leaders realize that special interest studies are prepared in a manner which supports those who back them, there will be no accurate study. We will only read and hear what they want us to read or hear.

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  21. Also Martin, it is my opinion that the current bridge work is taking longer than expected (the trunnion issue), possibly because they might have assumed the crossing was a done deal. The fact is…if the USCG says no way on this current design…they’re up you know what creek without a paddle so now I see the issue as one of neglect in maintenance. Of course, I am no bridge structural engineer and am seeing it from a taxpayer’s point of view.

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  22. Thanks, Golden, I’ll take a look around that site. I might even get my interest back if there’s some good stuff there.

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