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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Could Ludlow kill the CRoCk?

In a bizarre twist, the Clackistani rebel warlord is developing a fan base among Portland's bike children. You talk about a Portlandia episode.

Comments (22)

Common sense knows no partisanship. Good for Ludlow!
Now if some other electeds follow suit, the monster could actually be killed.

I know people are upset at Hales for lobbying for this bridge, but if it's not his decision, I can't count it as his expense.
Besides, I'm an earthquake guy who's repeated over and over again that we have to get ready for the Big One.

The current bridge piers are built on wood pilings that don't even go to bedrock. The counterweights sitting way up in the air weigh 700 tons each. I see a scenario in a 9.0 quake predicted to last a full 5 minutes, where the bridge gets knocked out. Oh, and if the 300-year mark is a cycle, then that quake is due.

So we lose the I-5 bridge - most likely. There's a chance it will survive, but it looks like a poster child for liquefaction. That would mean 1-5 would use the Glenn Jackson bridge assuming it made it, as we scramble to rebuild or do a CRC while a ton of other stuff needs attention too.

I would be a hypocrite if I opposed an infrastructure improvement to get ready for the Big One. Now if we do build a new one, and the damn thing comes down anyway, that will be bad.

Wait, at least we'll have a leg up on rebuilding, no? I mean at least the piers holding it up won't be on wooden sticks in the mud, right? (I admit I struggle with the CRC. If anyone knows when the 9.0 is going to hit, please share. To me you deal with the #1 threat on the list. The 9.0 quake is the #1 threat on the list.)

I doubt anyone thinks the bridge is entirely OK the way it is.
But the option of relatively inexpensive seismic retrofitting relieves that concern for the $10 billion CRC.

It;s also safe to assume the $170 million already wasted on planning could have easily paid for those seismic upgrades.

The CRC is by far the most inefficiently implemented regional project in history.
Every elected official should feel obligated and compelled to take a public stand. One way or the other.

Bill, if memory serves me right, didn't CoP already address the 9.0 Earthquake Issue a few months back? Didn't they give us huddled masses a list of Fire Stations to aimlessly wander to when the "Big One " hits? In their eyes, all is good. Solution for the problem.

I have it right here on my refrigerator...

The anti-car crowd is scared of rural Oregon,
(unless the Clackamas sheriffs dept is saving their urban butts on Mount Hood). They are the ones that say "Clackistan" (even though Clackamas produces more soldiers than the Pearl).

Now the bikey boys are praising Ludlow.

Honestly, the shrillest of the bikey bloggers are unemployed transplants who whine about not getting a cushy non-profit/artsy job.

They don't pay income taxes, but whine when the tax dollars aren't there for youth bus passes.

Look, I'm vulnerable on this. I admit it. Especially the way all these consultants have lined up to chomp through the money. Plus, didn't the design come in too short?

If my fellow Portlanders want to chance it, I've got a compromise: Let's have some temporary bridges stockpiled and ready to go. 5 or 6 of them all up and down the river. What was that quake in the Solomon Islands. 8.0? The Ring of Fire will be heard from.

Now, it could just be that the 700-ton blocks come down and we fix those sections. There is a lot of steel there. Maybe we could patch something together later like in the Bay Area after the World Series quake. Your call on this one. But let me ask one question:

If we don't have access to Vancouver how do we score the legal pot?

Bill, your concerns about the liquification are shared by the CRC project, almost verbatim, here: http://www.columbiarivercrossing.org/ProjectInformation/ResearchAndResults/SeismicVulnerability.aspx

"The replacement bridge will be designed so that it remains functional, with minor repairs after a seismic event that occurs once in 500 years. Additionally, the bridge will be designed so that it will not collapse when subjected to an event that occurs once in 2,500 years."

Technical report is here: http://www.columbiarivercrossing.org/FileLibrary/FINAL_EIS_PDFs/CRCTechnicalReports/Geology_and_Groundwater/CRC_Geology_Groundwater_Technical_Report.pdf

where on page 3-27 they state "The ability to estimate the occurence and frequency of earthquakes is difficult because fault activity in the region is poorly understood"

Page 3-30 appears to have the money quote: "The PGA on rock (top of Troutdale Formation) is estimated to be approximate: 1) 0.41g for the 2,500 year recurrence SEE event, 2) 0.274g for the 1,000 year recurrence “No Collapse” event, and 3) 0.196g for the 500 year recurrence, “Serviceability” or FEE event (Parsons Brinkerhoff 2009, Shannon & Wilson 2008)."

This is a very long-winded way of saying I'm not sure what sort of earthquake the CRC is designed to survive. Does anyone know what 500/1000/2500 year earthquakes translate to in language the lay person can understand?

Surely if we're concerned about earthquakes we should be designing bus projects instead of rail, due to ease of routing buses after an earthquake?

Their draft 2006 report found at http://www.columbiarivercrossing.org/FileLibrary/TechnicalReports/PanelAssementofBridgesSeismicVulnerabilities.pdf states on page 1-1: "Yes, it is technically feasible to retrofit the existing bridges to the current seismic safety standards. The Panel identified expected vulnerable elements of the bridges and discussed potential retrofit concepts to address these vulnerabilities. Retrofit concepts could include strengthening or replacing significant portions of the existing bridges."

Further, also on 1-1:
3. What is the cost to seismically upgrade the existing bridges?
The Panel discussed and developed their opinion of estimated raw bridge construction costs to retrofit both bridges. This opinion ranges from $88 million to $190 million. This opinion of cost increases from $125 million to $265 million when design, permitting, right-of-way, construction inspection and management, agency oversight, and
contingencies are added. (Note: The Expert Panel determined an opinion on ranges of construction costs and did not estimate the added costs.)

I just read that there were 19 major earthquakes in the Cascadia fault zone over the last 10,000 years. There will be a number 20.
These quakes were in the range of 8.7 to 9.2.

Some OSU guy named Jay Hutton had the money quote:

“By the year 2060, if we have not had an earthquake, we will have exceeded 85 percent of all the known intervals of earthquake recurrence in 10,000 years,” Patton said. “The interval between earthquakes ranges from a few decades to thousands of years. But we already have exceeded about three-fourths of them.”

Translation: We're due.

Bill, while I appreciate and share your apprehension of the big one, let's bring the discussion back to the miracle that at least some elected officials have grown a pair.
Between Ludlow's proposed resolution to take a stand against the currently constituted CRC, and the LO city council's courageous decision last night, I'm more hopeful and optimistic than I've been in years.

Maybe I was too subtle:

1. Is the CRC designed to survive a 8.7-9.2 earthquake? I honestly can't tell from what I've read.

2. Why not simply retrofit the existing bridge?

3. Why not drop the rail component of the CRC project, since it would not survive a 9 earthquake (or am I wrong and the rails *are* in fact designed to survive 9 quake)?

First, I never fully trust anything turned out by the people who are in line to profit from it, but the new bridge is supposed to be able to take a once-in-500-year-hit, and not collapse in a once in 2,500-year-hit.

Just my own sense here, but any retrofit of the current bridge that has to deal with under the pilings sounds borderline nuts.

This may not be the right project and design, but getting ready for the big one is the right category. We know the coast is gong to decimated, right? I say let's cross as many things off the list beforehand as we can, because when that day comes, we're going to be overwhelmed no matter how much we prepare.


Ok, you've made it clear, "getting ready for the big one is the right category".

What does that mean?

The CRC, as planned, is the worst possible way to "cross that off the list."

The fatal flaws are many. http://www.stopcrc.com/

How bad does a boondoggle have to be to get rejected by the electeds? Is there no such beast?

Now I have to design the bridge too?

Does any of your retrofits eliminate having 700 ton blocks at the top of towers? I believe one of the towers went up in 1907.

Look, this could be a situation where it's just too expensive so we kiss it off and hope. I think it's irresponsible but sometimes you have to chance it.

I mean we just spent what will end up being 4-6 trillion on Iraq. That was the wrong category. Infrastructure is the right category.

Bill, how many piling have you driven, or seen driven? You are wrong. $125 MM to retrofit the existing bridge makes sense. Then, a tunnel using the world's biggest boring machine, which WSDOT had already committed to buy to build the Alaska Way Project in Seattle.

In any case, the CRC concept at currently presented is not ready for prime time, or sucking $450MM out of our future. Particularly troublesome is that the Oregonian did not publish a single Letter to the Editor, pro or con, after the proclamation of its Editorial Board that CRC should go forward. I know, I watched for mine:


Letter to the Editor:


This morning’s Oregonian editorial supports CRC’s $450 Million grab, which has been wired in the current Oregon Legislature. This is despite: the United States Coast Guard’s clear and repeated communications that CRC’s mid-level bridge design will not get a Permit, unresolved federal court challenges to the Final Environmental Impact Statement, consistently reduced traffic on the existing Columbia River bridges, credible reports that tolling I-5 only will not service the debt, complete absence of investment grade bond analysis, Clark County voters’ rejection of funding for light rail operation and significant constraints imposed unilaterally by the last Washington Legislature that tilt risk of significant future costs onto Oregon taxpayers and citizens.

Why should Oregon lead with its entire wad, now, if Washington does not have the Project in this year’s proposed Budget?

CRC smells like the WPPSS debacle of the late 70s/early 80s. Pitching a Half Billion Dollars into CRC’s maw is not the answer. It is harder to stop, after the first Billion or two. Washington Public Power Supply System’s disaster is cemented in our distant memories as “WHOOPS”. This one should be known, henceforth, as “CROCK”."

I have not personally driven any pilings. You got me there.

Look, I'm in the middle of a failed argument here because what it would take to be proven right is a disaster that nobody wants.

Fine, I withdraw my support for the bridge. Now, let's get to work outlawing 9.0 earthquakes.

If it gets knocked down, we will fix it, and divert traffic across I-205 and perhaps ferries while we build it back.

Take the Minneapolis collapsed bridge replacement at an example and comparison:

"Builders and designers completed the 10-lane Interstate bridge three months ahead of schedule at a price of $233.8 million."


There is something in Mark Twain's Innocents Abroad that may have some application to reforming CRC: "Within the Hellespont we saw where the original first shoddy contract mentioned in history was carried out, and the "parties of the second part" gently rebuked by Xerxes. I speak of the famous bridge of boats which Xerxes ordered to be built over the narrowest part of the Hellespont (where it is only two or three miles wide.) A moderate gale destroyed the flimsy structure, and the King, thinking that to publicly rebuke the contractors might have a good effect on the next set, called them out before the army and had them beheaded. In the next ten minutes he let a new contract for the bridge. It has been observed by ancient writers that the second bridge was a very good bridge. Xerxes crossed his host of five millions of men on it, and if it had not been purposely destroyed, it would probably have been there yet."

Since Mark Twain went to the Middle East in that, let me tell you a story about Arabia. I was driving across the desert one day and I saw a line of hundreds of men all with pickaxes and shovels. True, half of them were doing nothing, but still I wondered what was up. It turns out the King was coming and one of the local officials had been told that if the road project wasn't done by his arrival, the local guy would be put in prison.
That's another way to move a project along.

The bridge collapse in Minneapolis is a better comparison to this than the failed nuclear power project you mentioned. So we can wait and if our bridge - that has been found to be vulnerable in an earthquake - does come tumbling down, I'm sure we'll jump in to build the new one as fast as possible and it will cost less than this ridiculous process we're in now.

Of course, we'll be overwhelmed by projects after a 9.0. The coast alone is going to be like the Japanese coast after the tsunami hit it - probably a lot worse. In fact the reason we know when the last one went off in 1700 was because of the tsunamis that hit Japan after crossing from just offshore of Oregon. These things are pretty big.

So the damage done will be cataclysmic. It will be a bad time to build a gigantic bridge - that is for sure. We'll have enough to do already.

But the fact that they rebuilt so quickly in Minneapolis is nice. Too bad all the people who fell to their deaths in the collapse didn't get a chance to appreciate it. And if you're on our I-5 bridge during the 5-minute quake and those 700-ton counterweights start swinging around, I bet you'll wish we had already taken care of this one, too.

And if you're on our I-5 bridge during the 5-minute quake and those 700-ton counterweights start swinging around, I bet you'll wish we had already taken care of this one, too.

How is this more dangerous than bicycling?

To Bill M,
I admire a man who graciously admits defeat.

If at any given time an average of 500 people (taken over 24 hours) are on the Interstate Bridges and are thus at risk of being killed in a 9.0 earthquake if the bridges fail, then the $500 million portion of the CRC cost that is to replace the bridges, treated purely as an earthquake safety measure, might save each life at a capital cost of $1 million. The average number of people in old local school buildings is somewhere around 20,000 (80,000 students, teachers, and visitors, but occupying the schools only 1/4 of the time), and doing $500 million of seismic upgrades to schools is thus 40 times more cost-effective, purely as an earthquake safety measure, than is replacing the Interstate Bridges.

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