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Expansion of I-5 Columbia River Bridge

A staff committee has recommended that the current I-5 bridge that crosses the Columbia River between Portland, OR, and Vancouver, WA, be replaced with a much larger bridge. If approved, this will significantly increase traffic pressures in both cities. Since a decision is going to be made soon, now is the time for community groups to make their voices heard.
In the last few weeks, the staff working on the Columbia River Crossing project have put forward three options (described at the following website:  http://www.columbiarivercrossing.org/staffRecommendation.aspx
1) No Build Option.
2) A bridge with 10 or 12 lanes, with two of those lanes dedicated to bus transit
3) A bridge with 10 or 12 lanes, with two of those lanes dedicated to light rail transit.

The current I-5 bridge has 6 lanes. Therefore, the viable options being advanced by the staff (options 2 and 3) represent a doubling of the number of lanes over the Columbia River. This proposal poses a significant threat to the residents of North/Northeast Portland

At the present, there is no plan to widen a bottle-neck on I-5 at the Rose Quarter (beyond its current four lanes). The existing Columbia Crossing bridge's six lanes are a bit of a choke-point that keeps a surge of south-bound traffic from entering North/Northeast Portland. By significantly widening the I-5 bridge, to 10 or 12 lanes, the staff is in effect recommending a substantial increased traffic impact on the neighborhoods of North and Northeast Portland. More south-bound traffic would be able to cross a larger bridge, and then would idle on I-5 right in North/Northeast PDX, or would move onto surface streets to try to get around traffic congestion.

It is important to note that the residents of North and Northeast Portland are a somewhat vulnerable population, which will benefit very little from increased traffic over a larger bridge. Research I conducted showed that around 15% of the residents that live on either side of I-5 in that part of town have asthma -- compared to 5% of residents in west Portland. Moreover, their neighborhoods have already been hit with significant traffic congestion problems (mainly caused by more affluent residents commuting between downtown Portland and Vancouver, WA). If the staff recommendations go forward, even more significant pollution and congestion problems will be experienced by residents of North and Northeast Portland.

It is surprising that the Columbia River Crossing staff is not considering a proposal that community advocates recommend: a new bridge with 8 lanes of traffic -- with two of those lanes dedicated to mass transit. This kind of bridge would retain the same number of lanes meant for cars and trucks (6), while supporting light rail or bus service on two additional lanes. This configuration would allow for a modest increase of overall transportation flows, while not inundating North Portland with a significant increase in vehicular traffic.

Please contact any community organizations, media representatives, and political authorities you know. Ask them to investigate this story. The Columbia River Crossing task force is close to accepting or rejecting the staff recommendations regarding the 10-12 lane bridge. The opportunity to bring the 8 lane option into public discussion is now somewhat dependent on public input...

send a letter to the oregonian! 18.Feb.2007 15:15

concerned pdx resident

Thanks for the posting about the I-5 bridge! Let's all contact our local media outlets, so that more people can learn about this effort to expand I-5.

If you want to write a letter to The Oregonian, here are the instructions:

GUIDELINES FOR "LETTERS TO THE EDITOR" AT THE OREGONIAN
We invite your letters to the editor. Send them to: Letters to the editor, The Oregonian, 1320 S.W. Broadway, Portland, Or., 97201, or  letters@news.oregonian.com via electronic mail. They may also be faxed to (503)294-4193. Please limit letters to 150 words. Please include your full address and daytime phone number, for verification only. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

There iss another alternative 18.Feb.2007 15:54

penniless activist

There is a group that has been proposing a multimodal (auto, truck, bicycle, pedestrian, AMTRAK, MAX, rail) bridge about a half mile west in the BNSF corridor. This proposal, known to the CTRC taskforce as the "West Arterial," had been in the running for a very long time as an option. Now, it appears that they are saying "Either accept the new big I-5 bridge, or we won't do anything!"

To be reasonable, I don't think we will ever eliminate personal motor vehicles, but let's hope that we can find, and fast, an alternative to gas guzzlers. As it is now, people coming to Porland from Washington via Clark Co. have only two places to cross the Columbia. We are proposing a third, which can have the latest planning to accomodate all forms of transportation. It also goes directly to Vancouver's AMTRAK station, so should encourage interstate rail travel. We also believe this is a much wiser use of any money that would come from US taxpayers in general. Write to the "O" about this one! See: newinterstatebridge.com

Re: Please limit letters to 150 words. 18.Feb.2007 17:20

Wallowed

150 words is obviously the upper limit of reading comprehension for the Oregonian pea-brains.

Additionally, any letters to Mr. Reinhart at the Oregonian, should be limited to only 15 words, and at least one of those words had better be 'heil'!

3rd bridge 18.Feb.2007 18:06

gk

We need more crossings. Therefore, I am for a 3rd bridge.

Because the present I-5 is not seismic safe, they want to dismantle it which seems like such a waste. What overpass or bridge crossing IS earthquake protected? I'm told the pilings going into bedrock are timbers that would shake, as well as the upper bridge tower arm. These could be upgraded AFTER putting in another crossing. The present I-5 bridge could be a local route, but I'm told Hilton Mayor Pollard (yuk) doesn't want extra traffic into downtown.

They probably don't want a new bridge to the west because it will alter their uppity downtown village and upset waterfront development. But, people, let us NOT have them shove thier vision down our throats again.

Also, does anyone know how much more electricity lt. rail takes? I've been given that as an argument against extention of MAX.

Garbage Freeway 19.Feb.2007 08:57

oregonian

At the same time that we are learning about the drastic, destructive changes ahead because of global warming, the corporate greedheads and their paid-for politicians are still planning on increasing emissions! These guys are so far out of touch with reality!

The whole purpose is to allow more population and consumption so that more economic growth can continue. And who does economic growth help? Cerrtainly not the majority, and really not anyone in the long run. More lanes means more trucks can make it through. Widen the bridge and then there is more impetus to widen I-5, but not by using general funds but by turning it into a toll road paid for via RFID tags in your car.

Who cares if all the poor kids living near the freeway get more asthma? We gotta keep those trucks moving, don't we, so that we can keep bringing more garbage in to Wal-marts, Fred Meyer, etc.

Answer for gk 19.Feb.2007 09:02

---

Any more increase in transportation, whether auto, bus or rail, which increase the use of energy, which means an increase of throughput of energy and matter being dispersed into entropy, meaning a drawdown of carrying capacity for human existence.

So, it does not make economical sense to increase capacity for human transportation or human activity, period. What makes sense is to improve our quality of existence here, but attaining more leisure, more experience of nature, more community, and fewer but higher quality goods and services. Adding another bridge or more lanes won't achieve any of these objectivesl.

I 2nd the 3rd bridge idea 19.Feb.2007 13:50

No Po Resident

I think the 3rd bridge is the way to go. Right now all the container traffic from the NW industrial area, Swan Island, and the railroad freight center down by Reed College all go up I-5 at the Interstate Br, usually during regular business hours. Plus you have all the Port of Portland traffic in North Portland getting on at Columbia Bd and Marine Drive, and the container traffic getting offloaded in Astoria comes up hwy 30 and goes over the St. Johns bridge through residential areas. - All headed for the i-5 bottle-neck.

What's really needed is a bridge out of the Port area that can cross the Columbia and meet I-5 north of Vancouver, maybe even connecting with Long View freight roads. I don't see how and extra couple of lanes is going to do anything to help traffic beyond the first couple of years.

To NoPo 20.Feb.2007 00:05

???????

Why do you make such an un-informed comment when the truth of the situation was just laid out?

Expanding capacity for more traffic is bad for the environment, but it also is simply a way to make the predictions of growth come true. And for what reason? So that more trucks can ship more products and so that more cars can transport more people. Whatever financial benefit that comes from this does not increase the wealth of most residents but only of an elite minority.

What we need, actually, is to bring back a balance. For decades we have been getting less nature and more roads, noise, pollution, overpopulation. The first thing that needs to happen, then, is to end the subsidies to all this madness that takes place in the form of billions of dollars to new construction. Then we end the marketing campaigns to draw more people and more businesses here. Then we can start removing roads and letting nature come back. We can also have more of us begin working at or close to home so that we don't need to have so many cars on the road.

Increasing capacity for destructive activity only makes the destructive activity worse.

to the guy who is very ???????????????? 20.Feb.2007 11:08

3rd Bridge

>Any more increase in transportation, whether auto, bus or rail, which increase the use of energy, which means an increase of >throughput of energy and matter being dispersed into entropy, meaning a drawdown of carrying capacity for human existence.
>
>So, it does not make economical sense to increase capacity for human transportation or human activity, period. What makes sense >is to improve our quality of existence here, but attaining more leisure, more experience of nature, more community, and fewer >but higher quality goods and services. Adding another bridge or more lanes won't achieve any of these objectivesl.


What would you propose? Taking the rights away of other Americans who want to move here? Supporting the globalist planners who want to reduce world population through genocide policies? Would you like to have the state manage the rights of individuals to procreate? Dude, put down the swaztika and SS emblem. Maybe we should just forget the whole big pipe sewer, because enabling less sewage runoff increases capacity for human activity.

Wow. All that change in society from stopping a bridge expansion.

For those of us in the reality based community, there's a huge problem at the I5 bridge that is the result of poor planning and ignorance for a long time. It really isn't a matter of increasing capacity. If you live where you are effected by it (I actually work just downtown, I'm not a long distance commuter), you realize that it is a problem about livability. Vegetation within a few blocks of I5, Columbia, etc is black with suit from exhaust emissions. People trying to short cut traffic spill off the freeway and clog neighborhood streets. big trucks cut through neighborhoods illegally all the time to avoid traffic and make their deliveries faster. Kids play in these neighborhoods. People try to sit on their patio and have a conversation and you'll have a convoy of trucks go by. This happens on Vancouver, MLK, Portsmouth, Lombard, Denver, Killingsworth...

N/NE has long been a working class and middle class neighborhood, ethnically diversified, and not on any list of priorities for city hall or the local rich folk who always get their way. These neighborhoods were built in the 30's when there were street cars and Interstate Blvd was the link to Washington. Because nobody cared about the people who lived here, they went and ran freeways and freight routes through it without considering the people who live here.

Onward, so sprawl! 21.Feb.2007 14:34

Exile portlander_in_exile@yahoo.com

They didn't learn from the experience of opening the I-205 bridge. Cascade park, Fisher's Landing and Orchards were all farmland before that opened. They haven't figured out that accomidating sprawl only encourages it. This would also be extremely destructive to both Downtown Vancouver, and Jantzen Beach. What is needed? The best option would be to close one lane each way, and reserve that for light rail, close a second lane each way, and reserve that for pedestrian and bicycle traffic. Once people are stuck sitting in the only lane left, going nowhere, and they see everyone passing them on the train, and on bicycles, it will help them think of better alternatives.

What's needed is a new way of traveling, not yet another sprawl inducing span.

To NoPo 21.Feb.2007 15:11

???????

You are making talk that comes straight from the PR offices of the corporate executives and venture capitalists.

Do you want to know what is healthy as an alternative to increasing capacity, or do you propose non-stop expansion? For if we expand now, then what's to stop expandsions ad infinitum into the future?

Comparing my statements to Nazism is simply outrageous. I never said anything about stopping individuals from moving here or having kids. Let them come and procreate if they wish, but let them pay for the full costs of doing so rather than making the poor and middle income people in Oregon pay for it. That these costs are externalized onto existing taxpayers is why the gap keeps growing between the poor and rich here and why we are running out of natural resources to sustain ourselves. Building new bridges and roads not only aids and abets the projected growth. It temporarily staves off the inevitable if growth is to continue, and that will be far worse than any consequences we have suffered so far.

I do not owe a responsiblity to pay for the end of nature and die off of the human race due to other peoples' excesses. With the terrible costs of war to control the world's oil and the advent of global warming and peak oil, I owe the exact opposite responsibility, and so do you.

For those of us truly rooted in reality, we know there is zero money to pay for the bridge, actually negative money. Read the news and you'll know that, too. And so who do you think that Metro President David Bragdon wants to have pay for it? Read the news to learn that, too. Certainly not the big businesses and already-wealthy who will profit from it.

Our area's population and consumption growth didn't just happen, and won't continue to happen, as an act of God. It is the result of a very expensive, taxpayer funded marketing campaign initiated in the 80s and continuing even stronger than ever today, coupled with BILLIONS of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to new construction and huge, non-local corporations. The rich individuals at the receiving end of these welfare payouts know this, as do the politicians and unelected officials who do their bidding. This is why they work so hard to make sure that Metro's population projections--based upon their fiscal wet-dreams--come true.

It might be helpful for you to know that over the years Environmental Justice Action Group has fought very hard to stop any expansions. Why? Because of the hazards and ill health impacts they would have on the under-represented communities who would be most directly affected by expansions.

The healthy alernative to expansion is neighbor-owned, worker-owned small businesses at or within walking distances from most everyone's homes. When money and natural capital are recirculated among all in the community, then the impetus for more population growth and consumption is eliminated. When people are plugged back into the reality of limits to our local natural resources--rather than made oblivious to them via a growth-dependent, global trade-dependent, suicide economy--they will then go back to living within their means. Costs no longer externalized, and quality of life brought to the fore rather than exploited as pretty talk only, we will actually be able to remove auto lanes.

This is reality, and this rests at the core of social and environmental justice.

-------------------------------
to the guy who is very ???????????????? 20.Feb.2007 11:08
3rd Bridge link

>Any more increase in transportation, whether auto, bus or rail, which increase the use of energy, which means an increase of >throughput of energy and matter being dispersed into entropy, meaning a drawdown of carrying capacity for human existence.
>
>So, it does not make economical sense to increase capacity for human transportation or human activity, period. What makes sense >is to improve our quality of existence here, but attaining more leisure, more experience of nature, more community, and fewer >but higher quality goods and services. Adding another bridge or more lanes won't achieve any of these objectivesl.


What would you propose? Taking the rights away of other Americans who want to move here? Supporting the globalist planners who want to reduce world population through genocide policies? Would you like to have the state manage the rights of individuals to procreate? Dude, put down the swaztika and SS emblem. Maybe we should just forget the whole big pipe sewer, because enabling less sewage runoff increases capacity for human activity.

Wow. All that change in society from stopping a bridge expansion.

For those of us in the reality based community, there's a huge problem at the I5 bridge that is the result of poor planning and ignorance for a long time. It really isn't a matter of increasing capacity. If you live where you are effected by it (I actually work just downtown, I'm not a long distance commuter), you realize that it is a problem about livability. Vegetation within a few blocks of I5, Columbia, etc is black with suit from exhaust emissions. People trying to short cut traffic spill off the freeway and clog neighborhood streets. big trucks cut through neighborhoods illegally all the time to avoid traffic and make their deliveries faster. Kids play in these neighborhoods. People try to sit on their patio and have a conversation and you'll have a convoy of trucks go by. This happens on Vancouver, MLK, Portsmouth, Lombard, Denver, Killingsworth...

N/NE has long been a working class and middle class neighborhood, ethnically diversified, and not on any list of priorities for city hall or the local rich folk who always get their way. These neighborhoods were built in the 30's when there were street cars and Interstate Blvd was the link to Washington. Because nobody cared about the people who lived here, they went and ran freeways and freight routes through it without considering the people who live here.