Talk about the CRC with The Oregonian's Len Reed
11:42
The Oregonian: 
Welcome to our live chat. Len will join us at noon, but you can send in questions and comments now. Once we get started, there will be a short delay between the submission of your question/comment and its appearance in the chat.
Wednesday January 30, 2013 11:42 The Oregonian
11:59
Len Reed: 
Welcome, folks. Our subject today is the Columbia River Crossing, called by some a replacement I-5 bridge over the Columbia River and by others a light rail project also featuring vehicle lanes. It's been long in the planning and not short on contention. We'd enjoy hearing your thoughts and will try to field any questions you might have. Thanks! -Len
Wednesday January 30, 2013 11:59 Len Reed
12:00
[Comment From Guest Guest : ] 
Why does the oregonian push the CRC, when the cost benefit analysis shows that the externalities are less than the price? Wouldn't it be more cost effective to suggest increasing population and housing capacity in clackamas county?
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:00 Guest
12:02
Len Reed: 
Guest: We thought pretty hard about CRC through its many designs, always on the assumption a replacement bridge is necessary. The latest iteration makes sense to us, particularly when you figure in federal aid for the project.
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:02 Len Reed
12:02
[Comment From Aaron Aaron : ] 
Here is my opinion on the CRC. For a country 16 trillion dollars in debt to be spending 3.5 billion on a bridge and light rail that does not address the other bottlenecks (rose quarter, terwilliger etc) on the i-5 system it is ludicrous. Yes another bridge is needed, but how about the options of a third bridge that was thrown off the table so early in the debate.
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:02 Aaron
12:03
Len Reed: 
Aaron, you're not alone in that point of view. I'm not certain of the answer to your question, as it goes back some years, but I know the federal funding that assures the light rail component always figured in to design and scale choices.
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:03 Len Reed
12:03
[Comment From Ron Buel Ron Buel : ] 
Why has The Oregonian put a "cone of silence" over any criticism of the Columbia River Crossing? Don't you realize that there are three reasons it can't be built, and that you have never addressed the three fundamental flaws in the design? I have read 37 editorials you have written on the CRC and you have never been honest about your conflict of interest, which now also extends to your news coverage?
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:03 Ron Buel
12:05
Len Reed: 
Mr. Buel, I can assure you we've put no "cone of silence" over CRC criticisms.
We take the long view on the project, is that it's right-sized now and doable in the next few years. Hence our support.
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:05 Len Reed
12:05
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
Why do Clark County opponents believe light rail would be the end of the world? Why would it turn the county into Detroit? I don’t get it.
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:05 Guest
12:06
Len Reed: 
We can't speak for Clark County. And I've never quite bought into the fear that Clark County would become Detroit, whose economic fortunes in no way parallel Vancouver's....
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:06 Len Reed
12:07
Len Reed: 
.... But we have heard that some folks in Clark County fear "Portland Creep," a migration into Vancouver of certain urban ills -- and that's something we just don't quite believe, either.
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:07 Len Reed
12:07
[Comment From Jeff BernardsJeff Bernards: ] 
Yes, what is the Oregonians insistence that we need the bridge now? I've got sewer lines that need replacing. I'm feeling overwhelmed with the "how to pay for it solutions" Raise the gas tax, raise car registration, sell bonds: I've got $16 trillion I'm already of the hook for. Remember the FED money is largely borrow too! It's only going to save 1 minute in commute time, whats the point? Fix the Rose Quarter first and see if you have any money left. Why didn't they toll the current bridge and see if traffic was managed to a reasonable level? It would have also raised money for a bridge retrofit.
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:07 Jeff Bernards
12:07
[Comment From benjamin barberbenjamin barber: ] 
Even if the federal aid occurs, the total bill will be 10 billion including financing and toll collection, while the externalities are 3.1 billion in congestion charges, considering an optimistic 2005 traffic expectation that never materialized the the only way of financing a crossing, which is inline with congestion based externalities, is to support the Common Sense Alternative. So
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:07 benjamin barber
12:07
[Comment From JOhnJOhn: ] 
why did the Portland City Council not mention the funding of the CRC as one of their 2013 legislative priorities since this is the session to lock in place local funding to match federal funds?
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:07 JOhn
12:08
[Comment From Ron BuelRon Buel: ] 
Mr. Reed: You can't get any federal money for this project. You didn't get any in the 2012 Highway Re-Authorization Act, and the Federal highway Trust Fund is broke, with more committed to projects than is in the Fund. You can't get the $850 million from FTA for lightrail if there is operating or maintenance money, and C-Tran can't legally contravene the will of the voters without another vote. There's no federal money coming.
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:08 Ron Buel
12:08
[Comment From AaronAaron: ] 
Light rail has been a success in some areas, and an abject failure in others. Drive the east side line and tell me what you see? I see poverty and empty businesses. Thats why Clark County residents dont like light rail, along withthe cost.
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:08 Aaron
12:09
Len Reed: 
John: Gov. Kitzhaber and other state leaders have established as as legislative priority this session the appropriation of up to $35 million over perhaps 25 years to fund Oregon's share. Not sure how well it's going in Washington, meanwhile.
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:09 Len Reed
12:09
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
The amount of money spent on planning so far boggles the mind. Why hasn’t anyone been fired or investigated?
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:09 Guest
12:10
[Comment From Guest2Guest2: ] 
The Clark County becoming 'Detroit' comment struck me as sort of racist. Like the light rail will bring poor people into 'my back yard'. This is a constant NYMBY argument that rail transit gets in my experience no matter what the community.
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:10 Guest2
12:10
[Comment From JOhnJOhn: ] 
since the President has said it is a priority I would suspect federal funds will be available
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:10 JOhn
12:11
Len Reed: 
Guest: We're a decade in and $160 million spent in planning and design. We agree it's too much time and money. And we don't know why there hasn't been a more vigorous accounting. But regional differences have slowed the project and also upped the costs...
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:11 Len Reed
12:11
[Comment From benjamin barberbenjamin barber: ] 
Does the Oregonian take into consideration that clark county does not have the infrastructure to support higher population, specifically it has to pull water from ever depleted aquifers and the sewers are killing chinook and raised ire of the EPA, and with so many residents actively dodging tax liabilities they cannot afford to improve them.
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:11 benjamin barber
12:12
[Comment From Jeff BernardsJeff Bernards: ] 
Were bringing NO MONEY to the project, it's 100% borrowed. I'm drowning in public debt now, this will only make the situation worse for me.
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:12 Jeff Bernards
12:12
Len Reed: 
Mr. Barber, duly noted.
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:12 Len Reed
12:12
[Comment From Ron BuelRon Buel: ] 
Len; Do you know how many minutes it will take on the new light rail line, an extension of the Yellow Line with what will be ten stops -- 38 minutes according to the CRC between the closest station in Vancouver and Downtown Portland. Yet the CRC says that 37% of crossings of the Columbia in the I-5 corrdior will be made on this line. They will be lucky to get half of this ridership.
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:12 Ron Buel
12:13
[Comment From Guest2Guest2: ] 
Aaron, East Portland had poverty before the light rail. I think that the failure of revitalization in East Portland is a whole different issue. North Portland is seeing a lot of revitalization since light rail went in. And at the time they were planning for it, people in North Portland said, "oh this train will make us a ghetto!' Ironic.
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:13 Guest2
12:13
Len Reed: 
Mr. Buel, 38 minutes is an ugly number, sir! And we have no way of knowing at this point what ridership will be -- only that as population increases, it is believed by planners that the mass transit opportunity will become its own incentive.
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:13 Len Reed
12:14
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
Has the height issue been settled?
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:14 Guest
12:15
Len Reed: 
Guest, the U.S. Coast Guard is reviewing it. The CRC staff has worked several scenarios in which a foot of height either way carries a dollar cost, as going substantially higher pushes out the interchanges and costs exponentially higher.
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:15 Len Reed
12:15
[Comment From AaronAaron: ] 
Len, this project was poorly conceived to begin with. it does not address congestion like it should, and Portland has been "bullying" Clark County with no "third bridge" and "light rail must be included" from the get go. And Len, just so that you know, I used to live in Rockwoodk growing up. It was a nice neighborhood. Now it is a crime infested run down dump. Why??? The major thing that changed was light rail coming in 5 blocks from my old house.
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:15 Aaron
12:16
[Comment From Ron BuelRon Buel: ] 
Doesn't Christian Anderson, your publisher sit on the Portland Business Alliance Board? Isn't Fred Meyer, an active member of that organization, and your largest advertiser, an active supporter of this project? isn't your self-interest what's motivating your editorials?
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:16 Ron Buel
12:17
[Comment From EmilyEmily: ] 
I also have a height question- specifically the groups in support of the new lower height and those opposed.
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:17 Emily
12:17
[Comment From EmilyEmily: ] 
Guest re: height: The proposed bridge height of 115-116 feet was set after a technical analysis was performed. However, this is still higher than the bridge that was part of the original environmental analysis and Record of Decision. An evaluation will still need to be performed to determine if there are any “new and significant” impacts with the upward revision of the bridge height.
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:17 Emily
12:17
Len Reed: 
Mr. Buel, our self interest in supporting CRC derives from our conviction that speeding freight along and unlocking a bottleneck at the bridge will help the regional economy. And that's good not only for us but all of us who live here and seek ways to feed the region's prosperity.
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:17 Len Reed
12:19
[Comment From Jeff BernardsJeff Bernards: ] 
They proposed a larger bridge but saw they didn't have the money for it So they reduced the size, I thought the original size was to "solve" the congestion problem, but now it seems a smaller bridge would work? Whats up with that?
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:19 Jeff Bernards
12:19
Len Reed: 
Emily, thanks.
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:19 Len Reed
12:19
[Comment From EmilyEmily: ] 
Guest: reference on height- CRC News Release, Technical analysis produces 115-116 foot clearance for I-5 Replacement Bridge, (Dec. 10, 2012), http://www.columbiarivercrossing.org/FileLibrary/PressReleases/NewsRelease_121012.pdf.
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:19 Emily
12:20
[Comment From Jeff BernardsJeff Bernards: ] 
encouraging more freight isn't a sustainable economy, it's the past and present economy IT"S NOT THE FUTURE ECONOMY. A self-sufficient community is the future, not food from South America arriving my plane and trucked
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:20 Jeff Bernards
12:21
[Comment From AaronAaron: ] 
At what cost is this "reviltilization" that is going on in NOPO? Government money to add to the 16 trillion in debt we already owe?
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:21 Aaron
12:21
Len Reed: 
Mr. Bernards, the scaling down was, as you point out, to trim costs. But it was done to allow designers to retain much of the carrying capacity of the bridge -- a shoulder area was eliminated, for example, and some could argue that undercuts a safety concern. But volumes are essentially retained.
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:21 Len Reed
12:22
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
What are the key arguments and stats for building a new bridge? How economically constraining is the current bridge?
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:22 Guest
12:23
[Comment From MikeMike: ] 
How long does it take to ride max from Rockwood to downtown.? I see those trains twice a week at morning rush hour and they are packed with people willing to make that commute.
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:23 Mike
12:23
[Comment From Jeff BernardsJeff Bernards: ] 
I've spoken against the bridge for years, again "show me the money"? Tolling for $1.3 billion, dream on!
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:23 Jeff Bernards
12:23
[Comment From benjamin barberbenjamin barber: ] 
Jeff Bernards: The issue was that the planners were expecting linear growth, the market turned south and the gas prices spiked afterwards, which has led to a depression in transit across the river. Len Reed: Read "the broken window fallacy" of economics, when you spend more 'opportunity cost' to fix a problem, than what the problem itself costs in lost opportunity, you are actually squandering lost opportunity of increased utility.
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:23 benjamin barber
12:25
Len Reed: 
Guest, excellent questions. The best analysis we've seen was performed by the City Club of Portland (available on their website at pdxcityclub.org, hit research reports menu). But the short answer is that freight mobility is now constrained by traffic and bridge lifts. Freight movement is essential for operations in the ports of Portland and Vancouver. On worst days, some freight diverts to other routes to avoid the current I-5 bridge. That, coupled with major bottlenecks for commuters, many of them from Vancouver into Portland for work, head the list ....
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:25 Len Reed
12:25
[Comment From AaronAaron: ] 
Clark County Senator Paul Harris said it best regarding the congestion. Why unplug the heart (the bridge) if you have clogged artery problems elsewhere. Building this bridge will not solve congestion with all the other bottlenecks all over the Portland (not Vancouver) i-5 system.
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:25 Aaron
12:25
[Comment From Ron BuelRon Buel: ] 
Mr. Reed: Why does The Oregonian keep saying that this CRC will reduce congestion? What will happen every workday morning in the Southbound AM Peak when six lanes reduces to three at the Delta Park interchange, less than two miles from the River. the only independent study of the traffic modeling, done by the national engineering firm URS for Sam Adams said that traffic will be at 99% of capacity at that narrowing every workday morning. You are not getting rid of a bottleneck, you are just pushing it down the road. Congestion will be worse with the CRC.
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:25 Ron Buel
12:26
[Comment From Guest2Guest2: ] 
Aaron, well since the founding of this country, infrastructure has been used to prime the pump for economic development. Erie Canal, freeways, railroads, etc. If the public sector eventually gets more out of a project in new rateables than it invested in the project, then it's a worthwhile project. In my opinion. In North Portland I think the public is getting it's money's worth, in my view.
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:26 Guest2
12:26
[Comment From AaronAaron: ] 
16 trillion folks.....Do we "need" this or is this just another "want" defined as a need. We need to wake up to the economis our country will be facing in the next 25-50 years. We need government to put away the credit card!!
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:26 Aaron
12:27
Len Reed: 
Aaron, we have heard that and respect the thought, which takes into account failures of the entire transportation system. But one step at a time. The bridge is a major contributor to congestion. And we make no claim that it would solve Delta Park slowdowns....
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:27 Len Reed
12:27
[Comment From Ron BuelRon Buel: ] 
Why hasn't The Oregonian covered the suit filed in federal court under the National Environmental Protection Act by Thompson Shipbuilding. The CRC is currently planning to pay them off not to have shipbuilding jobs at the old Kaiser Shipbuilding site, so they can get the height low enough. Why no coverage of this situation and the 400 jobs involved.
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:27 Ron Buel
12:28
[Comment From MikeMike: ] 
A major reason for replacing the existing bridge is the fact that it is one big earthquake away from failure. We don't hear the opposition discussing this much.
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:28 Mike
12:28
[Comment From Jeff BernardsJeff Bernards: ] 
I feel like I'm being spoon fed choke point solutions. I want the TOTAL price for ALL the fixes, including the Rose Quarter. You add up everything and you'll see we DON'T have the money to do all the fixes.
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:28 Jeff Bernards
12:28
Len Reed: 
Mr. Buel, I'll forward your comment to the news side folks for consideration. I know of no effort to "pay off" Thompson, although am aware CRC folks have attempted to explore all options to mitigate economic harm brought by a bridge too low.
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:28 Len Reed
12:29
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
Why is it so expensive? Bridges get built all the time: this isn’t the moon shot.
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:29 Guest
12:29
The Oregonian: 
We've got about 10 more minutes. Send in your questions and comments now.
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:29 The Oregonian
12:30
[Comment From Guest2Guest2: ] 
what's the difference between a "pay off" and settling out of court?
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:30 Guest2
12:30
[Comment From AaronAaron: ] 
Retrofit the existing bridges for earthquakes. Engineers agree it can be done. Guest one quarter of the project cost (750 million) is for light rail that Vancouver does not want.
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:30 Aaron
12:31
[Comment From Jeff BernardsJeff Bernards: ] 
The earthquake problem is just so much bull, those bridges have been their for 100 and one 50 years, and an earthquake hasn't gotten them yet. I don't have sleepless nights over the big one
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:31 Jeff Bernards
12:31
Len Reed: 
Guest, our understanding is the CRC is designed to meet many constraints: expensive and complex interchanges on either side of the river and limits on airspace owing to Pearson Airfield, in Vancouver.
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:31 Len Reed
12:31
Len Reed: 
Mr. Bernards, we'd like to share your optimism!
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:31 Len Reed
12:32
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
Might the Oregon and Wash legislatures actually say no to the new bridge?
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:32 Guest
12:33
[Comment From benjamin barberbenjamin barber: ] 
Len Reed: I commend you for facing the questions of this unruly mob of ours, The research that I used for this is the ODOT for the externalities cost, and the plaid pantry commissioned study for the year of expenditure costs including all tolls and interest payments, and the CSA source material cross referenced my own analysis of similar bridges and WES rail costs, and the traffic modeling by ODOT showing where congestion and auto trips in the I-5 and I-205 areas. I tried to boil it all down myself at barberb.org (you don't need to plug me, just look it up on your own time).
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:33 benjamin barber
12:33
[Comment From AaronAaron: ] 
Vancouver government is in love with Pearson. They need to get over that old airfield and understand that anything that adds to the cost of this project is something that needs to be looked at.
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:33 Aaron
12:33
Len Reed: 
They might. Oregon's support has seemed solid of late, though when it comes to finding $35 million annually who knows? Washington is the wild card, however, as the Legislature there faces a $900 million shortfall in the next biennium and is under heavy court order to upgrade its support of public education.
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:33 Len Reed
12:34
[Comment From MikeMike: ] 
Like I said no one wants to talk about the serious ramifications that a bridge collapse wuold cause to our economy not only locally ,but all long the west coast.
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:34 Mike
12:35
[Comment From Guest2Guest2: ] 
I've never understood the 'ideal or no deal' mentality of many of the CRC critics. I don't think the bridge will be very pretty but ultimately it's better to have it than not. It's better to have light rail to Clark County and a cool bike and pedestrian option over the river. It's better to have traffic flow a little better. For me, the issue has always been about getting a good design, not about voting the project up or down.
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:35 Guest2
12:35
Len Reed: 
Mr. Barber, will do. And thanks. Meanwhile, this following, on page 5, offers a useful view on the challenges of bistate cooperation on the CRC project: http://pdxcityclub.org/content/moving-forward-better-way-govern-regional-transportation
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:35 Len Reed
12:35
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
Will the new bridge be built right next to the old bridge, and then the old bridge torn down when the new one is up and running?
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:35 Guest
12:36
[Comment From Ron BuelRon Buel: ] 
Won't the $1.7 billion to be spent on the five interchanges simply jam traffic faster onto I-5, making congestion on an already-full freeway worse, a freeway that narrows to three lanes at Delta Park, then going south two lanes just after the Fremont Bridge and two lanes at the Rose Garden, and then one-lane to get onto I-84?
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:36 Ron Buel
12:36
Len Reed: 
Guest, that is our understanding. Although we have heard many suggestions for continued use of the old span.
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:36 Len Reed
12:36
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
Will there be tolling?
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:36 Guest
12:37
[Comment From AaronAaron: ] 
Guest2- You want your kids to pay how much in their future earnings to cover our debt? 16 trillion and counting for a "cool bike and pedestrian option"?
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:37 Aaron
12:39
Len Reed: 
Guest, yes. Tolling -- at levels yet to be specified -- would be an essential part of financing the bridge project. That revenue would be needed longterm for both construction and operations.
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:39 Len Reed
12:39
[Comment From ThomasThomas: ] 
Having watched ODOT mangle and then coverup their failures on the Newport Hwy why should anyone trust them on the CRC
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:39 Thomas
12:40
Len Reed: 
Thomas, we're no apologists for ODOT. But they have been in lockstep on this project with Washington's Department of Transportation and, between both states, several public agencies. Not sure the Newport highway challenges exemplify in this case.
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:40 Len Reed
12:40
[Comment From Guest2Guest2: ] 
Aaron, I think you are a little too focused on that federal debt. The fed spends most of its money on three things, US Military and entitlements (SS, Medicare). This project is small by comparison.
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:40 Guest2
12:41
Len Reed: 
Thanks, all. Good questions and comments. We'll be following up! -Len
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:41 Len Reed
12:41
The Oregonian: 
Thanks everyone for the lively debate.
Wednesday January 30, 2013 12:41 The Oregonian
 
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