My Letter to the Columbia River Crossing “Independent” Review Panel

Thank you for taking the time to review the proposed Columbia River Crossing.

Since no one sitting on this independent review panel lives in Oregon, I wanted to share some thoughts about why this project is not consistent with our region’s values of smart growth, good planning, and sustainable forms of construction and transportation.

1) We already know that building capacity does not solve congestion. In fact, it invites more SOV use, which leads to more congestion. The only way to handle the current congestion is to promote and support alternative ways to get across the river. Such solution would include but not limited to bus rapid transit, light rail, good bike and pedestrian pathways, and a tiered tolling system that would reward commuters for traveling during non-peak hours.

2) Tearing down a good bridge to build a brand new one is an affront to our local culture. We do not throw things out in Portland, we reuse them whenever possible. If we want to build a new bridge, it should be to the benefit of local access, mass transit and active transportation, not for an interstate highway. If there are seismic issues with the current bridge, we should repair them. Nothing I’ve read indicates that a replacement is necessary.

3) There will be a negative impact on our region’s environmental and sustainability goals if the proposed 10-12 lane bridge is constructed. Affirmations from the CRC organization that reduced idling will somehow outweigh the overall carbon footprint of thousands of new SOV crossings a day is absolutely false. That sort of arithmetic error demonstrates the CRC organization’s poor grasp of the serious environmental costs this bridge would have on our region and our world.

4) The proposed bridge would not properly accommodate those who are walking and biking. Portland recently passed the Bike Master Plan for 2030, which commits the city to building a world-class bicycle network. The pathways of the proposed new CRC would be an improvement over the current network, but do not go far enough to allow the proper safety and enjoyment of those users who wish to experience the Columbia River Crossing by foot. We can do better.

5) We cannot afford this bridge, when there are other, higher-priority local projects that require necessary funding. Let’s fix the current bridge and move on to more important local projects.

There is absolutely no consensus on this bridge, and the the process for public input is severely lacking, if not appalling. There is no way this bridge can be built within the current framework for public input.

In Oregon, if we’re going to build something, we want to make sure it’s the right thing to do. The new bridge is not what we want, it’s as simple as that.

Steve Bozzone