The Columbia River Crossing mess is of its own making. In 2007, the project office found a layout for the preferred alternative, just one, and then convinced the Federal Highway Authority that no other solution was possible. Unfortunately, this solution was based on incorrect runway glideslope and incorrect navigation clearance, and failed to follow Washington State Department of Transportation design standards for planning near capacity closely spaced interchanges. One choice was based on key fundamental errors.
In 2010, I shared a compelling layout incorporating correct glideslope and design criteria. WSDOT asked that I share with the bridge review panel this straight freeway offering better road and rail function, decreased environmental impacts, less cost, almost 2 million square feet less land take — a single beautiful bridge twice as safe with two-thirds less congestion as that proposed. Oh yes, the solution achieves a 142 foot high navigation channel and increases the turning basin size. What did managers of the CRC project do with this knowledge? They killed it, starting by denial and ending in lies.
Sadly, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and civic leaders are left promoting a scheme that offers little benefit at great harm and cost. Without choices and a history of questionable project leadership, the CRC is a mess of its own making.