“Why alternative I-5 Bridge replacements won’t work” (The Columbian, Sept. 18) doesn’t demand answers to the hard questions.
Greg Johnson says the alternatives don’t satisfy the “Purpose and Need.” Why is that? It’s because the Purpose and Need statement is horrible. It’s wrong. It’s political, especially for the liberal Portland and downtown Vancouver crowd dominating the agenda and all Interstate Bridge Replacement “committees.”
The overwhelming priority should be fixing the traffic congestion problem and saving people time. Fully 78 percent of Southwest Washington residents have that as their top priority. By 2045, travel times in the morning will double.
The Purpose and Need says the “solution” must address bike and pedestrian traffic. Why? Only a couple hundred people a day walk or ride bikes across the bridge. That compares with 130,000 to 140,000 cars and trucks that daily cross the I-5 Bridge. The $1.3 billion MAX light rail extension will only serve about 1,000 people an hour. TriMet is demanding new taxes to fund light rail operations from both Oregon and Washington.
Bottom line, if the Interstate Bridge Replacement defines the “problem” incorrectly, of course common sense alternatives will be ignored. Replacing one three-lane bridge with another three-lane bridge makes no sense.