September 6, 2013
Coalition Decries Risky Columbia River Crossing Revival
Organizations Send Clear Message to Oregon Leaders: Time for New Solutions
A coalition of eleven advocacy organizations told Oregon leaders today that a proposal for Oregon to pay the full cost of the Columbia River Crossing freeway project is too great a risk for taxpayers, livability, and the environment.
“Now is not the time for Oregon to gamble alone on the risks of a freeway expansion and a big bridge,” said Jason Miner, Executive Director of 1000 Friends of Oregon, which organized the effort with the Coalition for a Livable Future. “The end of the divisive CRC project created an opportunity for Oregonians to work together on transportation projects that unite us and address the needs of all Oregonians wherever they drive, walk, or ride.”
“As the legislature considers a special session, we urge the Governor and legislative leaders to focus on transportation solutions to improve Oregon’s livability, rather than undermine it through a risky project,” said Mara Gross, Executive Director of the Coalition for a Livable Future.
The eleven community leaders including Miner and Gross sent a letter to the Governor and legislative leaders today stressing the significant risks and burdens Oregon would undertake to finance the project by itself.
Among the key points in the letter:
- Oregon will have to funnel many millions of dollars annually to the CRC project, money that could be better spent on road safety and maintenance, sidewalks and bike facilities, and other badly needed infrastructure projects elsewhere in the state.
- Recent evidence demonstrates that projects of this magnitude frequently go far over budget and return significantly less toll revenue than projected. Since Oregon alone would foot the bill, any cost overruns or revenue shortfalls would have to be fully shouldered by Oregon taxpayers, with further cuts to other priorities Oregonians care about.
- TriMet may have to independently pay to operate the light rail component of the proposal, almost certainly resulting in service cuts for bus and train riders throughout the Portland region. Children, the elderly, minorities, the disabled, and low-income residents would bear the brunt of such cuts.
“The CRC as we’ve known it was rejected by Washington,” said Gross. “That gives us an opportunity—not to resurrect it, but to have a serious conversation about mobility solutions that serve the entire state and region.”
“We can begin looking for those solutions today,” Miner said. “But first we must accept that the CRC proposal cannot proceed as-is, and especially not if only Oregon must build it alone.”
Other than 1000 Friends of Oregon and the Coalition for a Livable Future, organizations signing the letter include Audubon Society of Portland, Bicycle Transportation Alliance, Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods, Northwest Environmental Defense Center, OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, Oregon Chapter Sierra Club, Oregon Public Health Institute, Oregon Walks, and Upstream Public Health.
Read the full letter online.