And so it begins.
Faced with mounting costs and uncertain funding, the planners of the Columbia River Crossing are hoping to “save” money by postponing parts of the project. And unsurprisingly, biking and walking investments are among the first things on the chopping block. If you want the details, BikePortland has the goods.
Of course, it’s just a proposal at this point. But it’s a telling one. First, because of the doublespeak: as economist and CRC-watchdog Joe Cortright points out, the CRC planners claim that they’re simply delaying parts of the project by a few years, but they still want to count delayed spending as “savings.” That’s having it both ways: either the project is cheaper because it’s smaller, or it’s the same size and just as costly. Pretending otherwise is gobbledygook.
But second, the CRC planners’ move may signal the trajectory for many of the highway megaprojects under construction in the Northwest.
Road planners often toss popular side projects—street improvements, new bike lanes, walkways, and so forth—into multi-billion dollar highway packages. Many of these side projects were actually good ideas in their own right; but arguably, they were wrapped into megaprojects mostly to build political support.
But now that transportation agencies in both Oregon and Washington are facing some ugly budget realities—with tolling revenue harder to come by, and gas tax receipts below forecasts—they have virtually no choice but to trim their ambitions. And the side projects that were added for political reasons become the first to walk the plank.
The cynical side of me thinks trimming back on these sorts of side projects was always in the plan, or at least in the playbook. I’ve been told by WSDOT consultants that the agency prides itself on managing projects to fit the available budget, in part by altering the project’s scope or schedule to cut costs. And this puts the issue of “cost overruns” in a different perspective: perhaps “scope under-runs”—where car capacity gets built, but the multimodal projects get tossed to the roadside—are what we should be keeping our eyes on.
We have the example of the Tappan Zee bridge to give an idea of how this kind of thing can happen to transit as well. In that case the project was started with the promise of mass transit, but that was cut in order to cut costs.
If you want to get really cynical with the CRC, consider the whole forehead-slapping situation in which it was built 95 feet high when it really seems like they should have known the Coast Guard would want it to be 125 feet.
Now, if only there was some way to cut something from the underside of the bridge…
This is excellent news. Bicyclists are smarmy, freeloading children anyway. They don’t deserve even the slightest considering in any road project of any kind. Stay out of our way, kids. We’ve got work to do and places to be.
Cheering–We love a fruitful discussion, including a variety of opinions. But please, leave the personal attacks and trolling comments at the door, or else we’ll start deleting them (we’ve already removed one).
Hmm, Cheering’s insulting and condescending tone specifically directed at cyclists is strikingly similar to that of a comment posted just the day before over at BikePortland.org:
“$150M for the 15 bikes a year that need to get from PDX to Vancouver…sounds like a pretty good deal to me and serves the public need much better than a few cry babies on wheels….”
Only that comment is signed “Carol.” HMMM.
FWIW, the people I’ve met working on the CRC seem really nice and dedicated. They just appear to be following the direction they were given, which seems to have been: make the current congestion go away, cost be damned, and assuming lots of help from the feds. But that direction is bound to lead to more and more and more freeway development at an ungodly cost. So ultimately the problem is the order that was given, not the people doing their best to follow that order.
Just for the record. Fruitful discussion? Personal attacks? What you mean to say is as long as the personal attacks are directed at the dedicated men and women who work at CRC it is OK to post any sort of negative slander your heart desires…up to and including veiled threats of violence. Don’t believe that? Go back and read the material.
Wsdot is a criminal organization plotting mass murder. The BORE tunnel they propose to construct under Seattle will doom the Underground, historic and modern downtown buildings. Developers lust for rebuilding profits and practice shedding crocodile tears at the deaths of hundreds or thousands in a major earthquake as the BORE Tunnel undermines building foundations as planned. Al Queda will be blamed for the murder Wsdot directors and department heads plot with their supposed blessing of Jesus who hates non-christians.
Wow, that was over the top. Sorry. Still, Wsdot’s BORE Tunnel under Seattle is indeed a catastrophe in the making, whether DOT directors & staff care to admit the extent of its high risk. Many concern citizens believe forced demolishment of dozens of damaged buildings is probable, and actual building collapse with a death toll is not ruled out by those who aren’t employed by Wsdot & SDOT whose previous director Grace Crunican was fired from a DOT director position in another state for flagrant violations of the federal ADA mandate and state codes. Her work in Seattle is much worse, but she’s supported by department staff hired to pretend they understand comprehensive transportation planning; as if Seattle road network isn’t utterly chaotic by design.
And further more…It appears that you are happy to post and article, articles, that are running attacks on the CRC, and if the “enlightened” poster children that offer their “fruitful discussion”, and “variety of opinions” are confronted with actual facts and figures or non-hysterical discourse they will be shouted down by the pitchfork wielding constituents that bother to “contribute” their hair-brained opinions based solely on the fabricated blather that festers within the confines of their fear mongering “brains”.
Ahhhhhhh…I needed that…
If you’ve got some evidence to add that supports the CRC, we’d be happy to discuss the merits and pitfalls of the project. But characterizing all people who ride bikes as smarmy children isn’t that.
I participated in the early sustainability sub-committee of the CRC as a past employee for the City of Vancouver. To cut the bike/ped option is a bad idea. We need a bolder vision for the bridge. I say build the light rail with bike/ped first. And then see what the auto demand really is. 60,000 people commute to Portland everyday from Vancouver. Let them take light rail.
And yet in the body of the article, “First, because of the doublespeak…” then later, “Pretending otherwise is gobbledygook.” You do not perceive that as a slur? Is this representative of the “fruitful discussion” you alluded to? It seems as if this very publication has taken the prejudicial stance that the CRC professionals some kind of nefarious nincompoops and the cyclist is a sacred cow to be worshiped and not disgraced. Even the central point of the article is accusatory and disrespectful. Why do not you consider the reasonable proposition that the good folks over at the CRC are feverishly working on solutions to comply with very real budget constraints that have been placed on them by higher officials, whose very job is to manage the state budget, so that they can deliver a project that they have been commissioned to do by the states of Washington and Oregon as well as the Federal government.
It galls me to here the constant disparaging remarks against the group of professionals working their hearts out to deliver a project for the people of this area that was entrusted to them to benefit this region for generations to come. The CRC that everyone keeps alluding to are not an elite group of “good ol’ boyz” but rather a diverse group of well meaning professionals and citizens of the community just like you and me.
I am still waiting for the person to come to the CRC office and confront one of the young mothers working there with their childish remarks, insults and veiled threats of violence.
If anyone cares to there is tons of documentation about each of every issue that is blown way out of proportion by the press and the bloggers that evidently have nothing better to do than to sit at their computers and launch venomous and vindictive remarks at individuals that are too busy actually working to even defend themselves. But then if reasonable explanations are offered they are just shouted down in an avalanche reeking of hate and shortsighted, uninformed responses that hardly rise above the position of rant.
Since we have the green light on slinging accusations about, is it not the motivation of this publication to draw interest by instigation negative press against predetermined groups of individuals? Arbitrarily deciding who is to be despised and who is to be worshiped? There is a word for that type of behavior whether it is in act or in word; I will let you figure that one out. But then hate sells n’est pas?
By the way, the CRC office enthusiastically supports bicycle ridership and many of the employees bike to work across the existing bridge. At least one consulting firm I am aware of has an annual bike challenge that gives our prizes for employees that log the most miles during the challenge period.
OK, now I really feel much better that I have gotten that off my chest. Feel free to hate and rant against the CRC, or come on down and meet the real folks that are working for YOU. Course it is just easier to hide behind the key board and criticize. Gotta go…much work to do….
Thanks for your thoughts, Carol. I’m sorry you feel that we’re criticizing a particular group of people. That’s not our intent. Our intention is to criticize an immensely enormous project that has been sold on shaky promises that are already not panning out. We know the folks working at state DOTs have a rough job ahead of them, being committed to large projects without the budgets to back it up. It’s not their fault.
But what I hear you saying is that we shouldn’t criticize the project lest we hurt the feelings of people working on the ground. And that, frankly, isn’t a good justification for moving forward with the region’s most expensive transportation project without giving it a hard, critical look first.
And lastly, as we’ve documented extensively, this isn’t a problem solely witnessed at the CRC. Projects across the region have been pushed by leaders even when we lack the funds–and often the traffic volumes–to support them. As my colleague Clark has pointed out continually, we continue to plan our transportation projects around really outdated ways of thinking.
It is too bad you feel attacked and are so defensive. I know many people working on the CRC. They are fine, hard working, honest professionals.
The CRC is a debt financed jobs project. It is a multi-billion dollar freeway widening project aimed at the suburbs with the most sprawl-friendly zoning. These are facts not opinions.
In 2008, the CRC bridge design then was single-deck. River clearance issues then should have prevented consideration of the current double-deck design. This error suggests at least 2 years of wasted effort. I direct blame upon Wsdot because ODOT hadn’t finished the Oregon Marine Dr interchange design work; completed 2 years later in 2010.
Marine Drive interchange is a horror, but Wsdot is apparently still trying to defer its needed rebuild. The proposed ped/bike bridge east of I-5 isn’t necessary as the local access road west of I-5 is more than adequate and near the MAX line. Hmmm. More shenanigans?
CRC staff employed to conduct planning are disgracefully incompetent. Both exit ramps onto Hayden Island as proposed are a Death Trap; severe multi-car pile-ups are predicted. The safest access is ODOT’s Concept #1 Off-island Access, but Wsdot has decided that public safety in Oregon is unimportant.