Last week the Oregonian editorial board took a swipe at the cost of biking and walking pathways proposed by Columbia River Crossing planners. The editorial board also reminded readers that the core purpose of the project is “getting trains, cars and trucks across the river more quickly.”
BTA Board Chair Mary Roberts and Board Member Stephen Gomez submitted this letter to the Oregonian in response:
“The Oregonian’s point about looking closely at the Columbia River Crossing (CRC) project is well-taken and examining the goal of the project is the most obvious place to start.
Rather than merely aiming to move more “trains, cars, and trucks” across the river, the goals ought to be to improve the quality of communities and health of the economy in the close surrounding areas, the region, and farther. However, building this bridge and seven interchanges would win the battle of peak-hour auto congestion but lose the larger, more significant war for an improved economy, better health, clean air, livability, and prudent investment.
This CRC proposal, if it were ever to get built, would be a $4 billion mistake. As conceived, it is, quite simply, money not well spent in creating higher quality communities. To be fair, it is a complex project with real needs to be met – such as improved traffic safety, transit access and freight mobility. But, the seven-mile project corridor lacks consistent bike-able paths and roadways, making this is a bike bridge to nowhere for cyclists.
I urge the project team to heed the community’s desires and envision a transportation corridor for the 21st century. This is the northwest, a bastion of creative thinking and environmental innovation. Surely we can do better.
Mary Roberts, BTA Board Chair
Steven Gomez, BTA Board Member”
The Oregonian editors also opined that “putting bikers below cars and trucks is shaping up as the best option” (though they didn’t mention that no other even moderately appealing options have been left on the table). The Columbia River Crossing’s bicycle and pedestrian advisory group may take some kind of action on the question at their August 26th meeting, from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm at 700 Washington Street, Suite 300, in Vancouver.
It is not clear what bike facilities will be planned that connect to the bridge – to the south, from North Portland, and to the north, from Vancouver – or whether they would be built as part of the CRC project.