In Sunday's New York Times Magazine, Duke University civil engineering professor (and author of popular books like Remaking the World and The Evolution of Useful Things) Henry Petroski has an article called "Bridging the Gap." The article cites a series of bridges along the Oregon Coast as an example for the nation:
"Our roads and bridges are crumbling, yes, but most are also mediocre, reflecting neither engineering sense nor architectural sensibility."
"It need not be this way. In the midst of the Great Depression, Conde McCullough, the state bridge engineer in Oregon, oversaw the design and construction of a series of graceful concrete and steel bridges along the state's Pacific Coast Highway. They stand today as delights to see and use, and they demonstrate that essential structures need not be inferior."
"It comes down to this: Is it enough for the bridge to offer a design that's new to the Portland area and comes in on budget - but isn't unique, with similar structures in Eugene and Kennewick, Washington? Or should the region aspire to a design that would put something original on the city's skyline, even if it could cost significantly more than the $134.6 million budget?"
Many of the extra costs piled onto the hybrid in estimates are called things like "requirements risk" and "design development risk". The construction costs for the hybrid were also listed at $75 million compared to about $62 million for the cable-stay, even though the materials would be about the same. Hybrid designer Miguel Rosales and Stuttgart, Germany-based Schlaich Bergermann und Partner believe the books were more or less cooked to make their design seem more expensive and risky.
Oregonian columnist Barry Johnson also had this to say in a piece called "Godzilla on the Willamette":
"A cable-stayed bridge is absolutely wrong for the relatively narrow space between the Ross Island Bridge and the Marquam Bridge, I would argue. Its towers will rise above the Marquam, and its bristling rows of cables will thumb their collective noses at the far gentler Ross Island Bridge. Worse, the bridge is inappropriate to its use -- as a light-rail, bus, pedestrian bridge.
If ever you wanted a low-impact bridge that says we know how to live in a "light" way, this is it. Light rail is an ongoing piece of our somewhat humble efforts to develop sustainably, which is a buzz word that simply means we understand that we live in a time when resources are getting scarcer and dearer."