Joint Oregon Washington committee restarts bridge discussions
The Oct. 25th meeting of the Bi-State Bridge Committee had its second meeting (first one Dec. 2018). Here is my 2-minute testimony.
The entire meeting can be viewed at the link below.
The ODOT & WSDOT briefing continued to mislead the committee and citizens, regarding certain aspects of the failed CRC project. They reported the cost of the bridge was $1.2 Billion. Forensic accountant Tiffany Couch scrutinized all the CRC spending. She reported the actual cost of the bridge was $791 million.
I told the committee (and the WSDOT/ODOT staff) reporting false numbers is wrong — “that has to stop if you’re going to be transparent”.
There were several other good comments, as some legislators indicated we needed to fix the traffic congestion problems. Many citizen comments indicated transit, especially light rail, should take a back seat to fixing traffic congestion. Others indicated Bus Rapid Transit should be included.
Representative Vicki Kraft was not a member of the committee. She offered some excellent and very appropriate comments during the “public comments” period. Rep. Kraft testifies in favor of a 3rd bridge to reduce traffic congestion for commuters and freight community at Bi-State Bridge Committee.
From a news report: “There were also calls to place a greater emphasis on easing congestion. Washington Rep. Vicki Kraft questioned why the issue was not among the committee’s foundational principles.”
From news reports:
There was an immediate disagreement over the first principle on the list, which in its draft form read “Designate the replacement of the I-5 Interstate Bridge as the primary goal.”
Oregon state Sen. Cliff Bentz, R-Ontario, Ore., objected to the word “designate,” arguing that it gave the impression that the committee had already settled on a replacement bridge as the only goal. Oregon state Sen. Lew Frederick, D-Salem, Ore., agreed, stating that the primary goal should be to address congestion issues.
The group eventually approved a new phrasing suggested by Oregon state Rep. Susan McLain, D-Hillsboro, Ore.: “Discuss the replacement of the I-5 Interstate Bridge.”
Another news report included discussions of mass transit being a “solution” to traffic congestion problems. From Clark County Today‘s report:
While the group’s foundational principles, as well as the governors of both Oregon and Washington, have said light rail or some other mass transit component must be part of any new bridge, some have argued that doing so is a waste of resources.
“Only 1,422 people use any of the seven express bus lines, that C-TRAN offers into Portland,” noted John Ley of Camas. “That’s a rounding error of the 310,000 vehicles that cross.”
Ley noted a recent survey by Pemco Insurance of drivers in Oregon and Washington, in which 94 percent said they prefer to drive to work each day.
Other citizens called for the committee to take the divisive light rail off the list of considerations immediately.
Transportation architect Kevin Peterson scrutinized all the CRC traffic data. He shared with citizens the fact that due to significant numbers of people getting on to I-5 south of the Interstate Bridge, we need 3-4 additional lanes in each direction at the Rose Quarter, beyond the number of lanes crossing the Columbia River. Kevin: “this is a 12-14 lane freeway passing thru the Rose Quarter.”
Furthermore, he reported CRC data indicated the need for 8 lanes in each direction crossing the Columbia River by 2060.
Will this Bi-state Bridge Committee actually direct ODOT & WSDOT to focus on fixing traffic congestion problems? Citizens on both sides of the river are getting more and more frustrated at the failure of transportation officials to solve the real congestion problems by adding vehicle capacity and building new transportation corridors.
Is the Interstate Bridge Safe?
Yes. Read about it, and the 150 year old Eads Bridge across the Mississippi River in St. Louis, here.
The ODOT & WSDOT leaders continue propagating the lie that in the CRC, the cost of the bridge was $1.2 Billion. In fact it was $791 million according to a forensic accountant who scrutinized all the CRC financial data. The CRC was loaded with pork barrel spending and improperly allocated expenses.
Transit ridership continues to decline on both sides of the Columbia River.
Pemco surveyed people in both Oregon & Washington — 94% of people prefer their private vehicles for speed and convenience.