Need for Third Bridge Remains Ignored

by lewwaters

In light of the October 13, 2019 Lazy C (the Columbian) article New I-5 Bridge project: Here we go, again … again, I decided to unmask an older post on the real needs of the community on river crossings.

Only time will tell if we go backwards to being strong armed by our neighbor to the South, of if both states will actually address and do what is needed to resolve the pressing issue.

Miami Traffic bAs everybody in Clark and Multnomah Counties saw, the Wednesday, June 17, 2015 commute was a mess, a real nightmare as once again, a Semi Truck accident closed the bridge in the early hours of the morning.

As has happened before, traffic had to be diverted several miles east to the Glenn Jackson Bridge to cross the Columbia River, causing a massive traffic back-up for several miles for commuters.

Almost immediately we heard the cries of supporters of the now comatose CRC light rail project of how certain people were to blame not approving that light rail project, as if somehow magically, forcing light rail a few blocks into our community would have prevented a driver from drifting too far to the right, striking the bridge and rolling over.

Ignored is that drivers are human and as such, subject to accidents.

Had the CRC been approved, the nightmare today would have been much worse as there also would have been construction traffic to deal with and nothing to alleviate congestion other than diverting to I-205 as happened.

Nothing would have been any different.

Had the project actually been completed and this occurred, still it would have been the same as the even though the design called for a lower deck section for truck traffic, that would have been completely shut down and all commercial truck traffic would have been forced to the upper deck with commuter traffic.

We saw a couple years ago another truck accident that completely shut down the I-205 Bridge, causing traffic to be diverted to the I-5 corridor with the massive traffic back-up occurring there.

Light rail proponents refuse to open their eyes and see the only relief we will ever have is for more river crossings. Forcing people out of their cars is not going to happen any time soon, face it. We enjoy our freedom and liberty of travel too much to be confined to a sardine can environment on light rail, etching along slowly where it decides to take us, instead of where we wish to go.

Commuters this morning don’t realize how fortunate they were as not mentioned very prominently in the pages of the Lazy C coverage of the accident, there was a second truck rollover this morning during the mess, in Oregon, on an off ramp on the I-205 freeway.

Had that occurred on the Glenn Jackson Bridge or in the midst of miles of traffic back-up on the Washington side of I-205, what then?

Where would anybody go to get to work in Oregon or carry their products to market?

There is no other access across the Columbia River for several more miles, much too far to travel out of your way to get to a job.

As this blog has argued time and again, more crossings must be built before considering replacing the existing bridge spans across the Columbia along I-5.

Construction of new spans alongside the existing spans will bring with it an increase in congestion, what with construction equipment and workers coming and going, delivery of materials and the expected rubber necking commuter looking to see how the building is going.

Add to that the inevitable accident, either in traffic or construction and you have a recipe for a daily commute not unlike the nightmare seen today, but every day for several years.

Where additional crossings are placed doesn’t concern me very much, but they need to be in place simply to offer relief for commuters and commercial traffic during any construction period.

It is pure folly to think forcing light rail a few blocks into our community will alleviate the problem and it is very short sighted to cause such a massive nightmare on a near daily basis, simply to pay off special interests desiring to force light rail those few blocks into our community.

We have time to get it right. Although not very pretty, the aging structures are sound and serviceable for several more years.

Previous calls of “unsafe,” and the need to be replaced right now to “ease congestion” and “improve freight mobility” were proven to be nothing but a smoke screen to force light rail a few blocks into our community when Oregon Governor Kitzhaber came out citing, “no light rail, no bridge, no fooling.”

That alone proved beyond any shadow of doubt that the CRC was about light rail and only light rail, nothing else mattered.

Understandably, Oregon is experiencing sour grapes now because we successfully blocked their plan to ram their financially troubled light rail into our community a few blocks and gain access to our revenues, so they are not very receptive to discussing the real need.

But, they also must understand we are not the ignorant hicks north of the river and the need for additional crossings is of just as much benefit to them as it us.

They have the jobs and we have the workers, it is an equal partnership and they have to learn to treat us as equals.

So let’s get serious and sit down to discuss what is actually needed to improve our communities and that is more crossings over the river first.

It is time citizens are served and not special interests.

Anything else is pure folly.

Oct 13, 2019: Let it not be forgotten that without adequate congestion relief in place, the several years of inevitable greatly increased congestion in the corridor as new bridges are constructed alongside the existing spans very likely could lead to bankrupting that shiny new Waterfront project as no one would want to fight such massive congestion replacing the current bridges will bring with no additional crossing in place to provide relief.

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