City Journal Spring 2014

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Spring 2014
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Ethan Epstein
Portland’s Phantom Bridge « Back to Story

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This is way over due! Build a new maga brige with lightrail! It just insane" that a new one has not ben built yet!! But instead they wait our hard
Earned money, on a bike path across the willamett river...build a new light rail brige to vancover, right along with a new mega brige..!
Texas offers its thanks to Mayor Adams and appreciation to the local newspapers for their efforts to break the Portland-Vancouver economy. Without all of you Texas would not be the thriving, destination state that it is.
Can't you take care of this?
Nice to see someone from my home town Portland showcased here. When I was a young man we worried about the KKK in the State of Oregon (Oregon is after all the only State ever to elect a Grand Dragon as Governor), had communities with sundown ordinances, and Portland had a Mayor of roughly the same political stripe as George Wallace. The Lord only knows why Portland right wing mania stopped at public beatings and did not go on to shootings. I worked rather long and hard to try to change that.

Portland remains a near dictatorship of those of one mind, only that mind has changed. It is now the most left wing Congressional District in the USA, bar none. Its mayor likes teenage boys, openly. And now its police have probably as high a rate of gunshot civilian casualties as any force in the country. Getting anything at all done is difficult, and getting it done right, impossible.

The only reason the whole Metro area has not collapsed is that Intel and OHSU - world leader in PC chips and a national leader in advanced hospital care, respectively - can take advantage of the one useful thing Oregon still has: lots of fairly well educated unemployed.

We have been talking about fixing the cross river commute since I was in grade school. I'm sure that they will still be talking about it long after I am dead.
Excellent article Ethan!
Per-capita vehicle miles driven in Portland is actually 14 percent lower today than it was in 1990, and credit goes to Portland's great mass transit system. In fact, Portland is the only metropolitan area in North America that can claim that fact. So this whole story is nothing but propaganda.
If you ever do make it across the bridge, continue north on I-5 to Seattle and take a look at our 520 bridge and Alaska Way viaduct; two critical parts of our crumbling infrastructure suffering much the same fate as the bridge between Portland and Vancouver...
Pure flab.
No facts.

Assertion such as "Yet the city is sure to experience further decline if it remains saddled with the inadequate bridge" cannot be backed by “failure to invest adequately in transportation improvements” since "transportation improvements" can meet a host of things.

An expanded bridge may well be important. this article doesn't even remotely prove it.
It seems pretty obvious to this outsider, that the problem is the bridge is over capacity, and some people feel the taxpayer has to provide free facilities to whatever demand presents itself. If trucking and exports are so important, give them priority to the bridge, eg a dedicated truck lane. And yes, toll it, so people understand that infrastructure costs and benefits must be paid for, preferably by the beneficiary.
The truth is the CRC is a misbegotten mega-project, and although they would be flattered to believe Epstein's claim, environmentalist's opposition--though real--has done nothing to slow down the CRC.

The problem is that no one, not the Oregon or Washington Legislatures, nor Congress, has appropriated a dime of the nearly $4 billion needed for construction of the project. And the project is not so much a bridge, as a five mile long freeway project that just happens to cross a river. The bridge component will be less than 20% of the overall cost, and most of the project budget will go to freeway widening and new interchanges.

Environmentalist opponents have actually done nothing to slow the CRC. The real cause of the dithering is the fact that there is no money to pay for the CRC.

Nothing has happened on the CRC because the project proponents can't go forward without increasing gas taxes in Oregon and Washington, and getting a $400 million earmark from Congress--and none of these things are likely to happen soon.

Although you would never know it from Epstein's article, many of the key opponents of the current CRC proposal are conservative Republicans like Oregon State Rep. Katie Eyre-Brewer and Senator Chris Telfer, who are concerned about the project's enormous cost.

Their concerns are more than warranted: each of the three large highway construction projects underway in Oregon are now slated to exceed their original budgets by more than 100%. Fiscal reality, not environmental opposition, is the key reason this poorly conceived project is not going forward.

And at the same time, cheap and effective measures to address traffic congestion on I-5--like building an arterial bridge to divert local traffic off the crowded freeway--have been studiously ignored by the two State Department's of Transportation, who seem to be hoping that motorists irritation will help them raise billions for this grandiose project.

It's tempting to tell a "just so" story of evil environmentalists blocking a needed bridge. But it just ain't so.