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Justin Wells

One - we don't actually need a new bridge. According to ODOT, Oregonians are driving less than ever - both per capita and gross miles.

http://daily.sightline.org/daily_score/archive/2011/03/01/whered-the-traffic-go

Two - ODOT is planning on spending between $100 - $340 million to add 1 more lane through the Rose Quarter interchange, a distance of maybe 4 blocks.

http://bikeportland.org/2010/12/14/odot-eyes-major-changes-to-i-5-near-rose-quarter-44469

Nixzusehen

Amen. I work right near the marquam bridge, and it's a depressing thing to see. It reminds me of everything we did wrong in this country in the freeway binge era. If I had my one transport oriented dream for the metro area it would be to tear that monstrosity down and tunnel I-5 under the river...

Jim Heuer

Brian, you're comments are right on.

Indeed it isn't just a small band of design fanatics who oppose the bridge as currently conceived. Add in a substantial business contingent, the Northeast Coalition of Neighbors, representing the tens of thousands of residents along Portland's I-5 corridor affected by the project, and some of the region's smartest politicians. One has to wonder under what rock the Portland Business Journal has been hiding.

There are so many things wrong with this CRC project it's hard to know where to start. But one thing is clear... the proponents of the bridge are attacking the advocates of a more attractive structure as a smoke-screen for the real issues. They can claim that the cable-stay proponents are frittering away money to make a $340 million bridge more expensive. By making that argument they isolate that one part of the CRC project to make it sound like a relatively modest amount of money, NOT the $3-5 BILLION that the entire project will actually cost (in the lowest of the estimates currently floating around). In the context of the larger project, the bridge itself represents about 10% or less of the total cost and the incremental cost of making it a grand design statement is around 1% or less of the total project! ("One percent for Art" anybody?)

There are certainly many infrastructure issues along the I-5 corridor in the Portland metro area:


  • The lack of a light rail crossing over the Columbia

  • The age and limited capacity of the rail bridge between Vancouver, WA, and Portland

  • Poor freight access to I-5 from the NW Industrial District

  • Lloyd District traffic congestion

  • Absence of a non-freeway route across the river for local traffic

  • And many more

Ask yourself just how many of these issues are addressed by the current plan, and you get a good sense how the current design is a triumph for the highway builders and contractors, and a disaster for the region.


Dennis L

Actually I for one have never minded the Marquam Bridge, the simple steel work of the double decker bridge is fine to look at, it is the monstrous interchange that awaits the bridge on the west side of the river that I don't care for, and the same thing can be said about the CRC. As a bridge, the steel truss bridge is fine, it is simple and provides clean lines connecting the two sides, it is going to be the massive off ramp system that is going to be the problem with this highway and make it seem more like a monster spanning the river.

I have never understood why Janzen Beach doesn't have a local access bridge to Portland rather than having just the interstate to use. Actually the city I grew up had one of these Janzen Beach situations within the city when the city was building a new bigger bridge to replace the old one, the city ended up leaving the smaller bridge to provide local access to the island and built a bigger bridge that bypassed the island which actually worked in for the locals because it didn't tear down their old bridge and it didn't build a giant interchange with the new one.

Granted this situation is a little bit different, I just think the amount of preprocess work has been an extreme version of a run around.

Gregstergmo

Brian, I have to agree that we should be solving the I-5 congestion problem should be looked at holistically and long term. I don't think the current economy can shoulder the cost at the moment, though. In all honesty, we shouldn't be bothering with the CRC now. Like you pointed out, it's not going to fall into the river anytime soon.

I appreciate the concern for design, but let's not forget that the CRC is a bridge that nobody sees or cares about the appearance of. Comparing the Columbia Crossing to the Marquam bridge is an errant comparison. Marquam is in view of downtown and the inner-east side - areas of large populations and public gathering spaces. CRC goes over a predominantly industrial stretch of a major shipping channel.

Those that would benefit from a snazzy design of the CRC likely don't care and certainly aren't going to bring jobs, commerce or trade to the area as a result. The bridge is a utility and should be treated as such. If we were talking about a Willamette River crossing in or near downtown, then we would be talking about something with great civic value for carefully considered and timeless design. But we're not. We're effectively debating whether or not to doll up a pair of supply and waste pipes.

You mentioned the bigger problem with I-5 near the Rose Quarter. I agree this is a bigger problem that should be getting the attention. My concern would be that there's no likely good, long-term fix for the mess at the I-5/I-84 interchange. It's a complete mess and there are far too many land owners, utilities, rails and roads that overlap and cross through that spot. It needs to be fixed, but that's not what we're discussing.

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