Reason and economic reality finally afflicted our elected representatives. Faced with a court-ordered mandate to sufficiently finance our public schools, many legislators have decided that money committed to the Columbia River Crossing just isn’t available. Still, those of the CRC and supporters in Olympia continue to spend millions with a “field of dreams” expectation that the CRC will happen regardless.
The need to replace the I-5 Bridge is necessary due to the age of the existing spans. The CRC proudly asserts that its new span, with light rail, will reduce the southbound commute one minute. Billions for one minute less commuting time?
The hundred-plus millions spent have yielded some pretty scale models but little else. That much money could have been used to acquire right-of-way in Washington and Oregon and broken ground for a new crossing between Vancouver’s 192nd Avenue/state Route 14 and over the river to the vicinity of Troutdale, connecting with Interstate 84. To do so would reduce traffic loads on the I-5 and I-205 bridges and facilitate access to both east Multnomah and Clark counties. Removal and replacement of the current I-5 Bridge with a modern structure could then be accomplished. The “Holy Grail” of light rail into Washington could be addressed later in a more pragmatic approach.
Peter L. Williamson