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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

CRoCk straining to get to "It's too late to turn back now"

It's how the Goldschmidt People roll. And thus, how business is done in Oregon. It truly is part of the shame of living here.

Comments (31)

"The Legislature is moving at the speed of light, for reasons only they can explain"

Ted, that's code for we don't want the taxpayers to know what's going on.

This is amazing how McCaig can have all the legislature twisting to her tune. No plan and $450M just like that. I guess they're gonna have to dig deeper into school funding to find this year's $1B PERS contribution.

God, this place is a pop stand.

We have no comprehensive drawings to evaluate. The bridge is too low for river traffic and too high for air traffic. The expanded capacity allows more traffic through Portland faster on I-5 than I-5 can handle it. The traffic projections themselves are baseless, so the toll revenue forecast (where, by the way, are the toll plazas in the artistic renderings?) is too high and all the resulting financial projections are hopelessly optimistic. The tolls will drive traffic to I-205. The project cost is exorbitant. The project penetrates SW Washington with light rail without consent. And it does nothing for long-distance passenger and freight rail that is funneled across a slow, narrow, antiquated swing-bridge downstream, itself a continuing navigation and safety hazard. So, what's not to like?

Get rid of the darn 3 mile northbound I-5 car poll lane, like Vancouver did when they saw it caused more congestion then before they tried it. The cost of removing the stupid experiment would be just a few cans of spray paint purchased in Gresham, no new bridge needed.

Duin and Wheeler's arrival is like Paul Revere taking his warning behind the marching British.

Thanks guys.

Meanwhile Democrat Sen. Jackie Dingflder is being cast a hero for her no vote.

How funny that is. Has four R senators not voted yes and made it a safe NO, Jackie would have rolled to a yes in a Sam Adams second.

They don't call her "Dingbat" Dingfelder for nothing.

Alan L. The toll plazas are one thing I have been thinking about; having traveled across country, using these things, they create some huge bottlenecks.

With the on/off ramps on both sides of the river being so close to the bridge, how is this all going to work in any sort of reasonable fashion.

I realize locals will have some sort of IR reading device or permit to "breeze" through BUT it still creates hazardous conditions for a large percentage of drivers.

Allan L, you surmised is well.

What is totally hypocrisy is the Goldschmidt Crowd claiming "we can't turn back now" when it was this same crowd (with a few newbies) that stopped the early 1970's Mt Hood freeway when it was totally designed, permitted and funded.

When you seemingly have the powers that this Crowd has, then anything can be argued no matter how convoluted or contrary it is.

it makes absolutely no sense. Too low for ships to pass under and too high for airplanes? Why are they so hell bent on this? Plus the tolls will drive folks to the 205 bridge.

It's hard to know where the true voice of reason and responsibility is on this thing. Clearly, these politicians and survey companies have acted like rabid swine feasting at a trough, and if there was some way to indict them on any of this, I say go for it.

On the other hand, we are staring at a 9.0 earthquake, and any discussion of traffic flow across the Columbia should include the likelihood that the Big One will drop the old bridge into a twisted pile of junk blocking the river for months. And we'd be left scrambling in a post-quake nightmare to fund a new bridge then. That seems irresponsible. Like we didn't do our part as a generation.

One of the wiser Oregon politicians I ever got to know was Governor Victor Atiyeh, who, in an earlier column by Steve Duin, said, "We're not in good shape and we're going to build another bridge? It's insane. And it's a fantasy that they think they're going to take care of the traffic."

Steve should have asked some follow-up questions: "Isn't it even more serious that we're not in good shape to deal with a 9.0 earthquake? Isn't the real fantasy that the 9.0 quake isn't going to happen?"

It would help us and future Oregonians get ready if we build a bridge now that could withstand or be repaired after the Big One. It's one of those cases where the responsible thing to do is the last thing most of us want right now.

Now, if the numbers from the Big One are wrong, then I apologize for being hoodwinked, but at some point you have to listen to the scientists. This isn't the fringe screaming about Planet X. These are the geologists who point to the last 19 or so events of this magnitude as proof that they'll be another. They say we're overdue for it, or at least in the window.

I have yet to hear any anti-CRC types argue that the old bridge would survive the Big One. Are you out there or not?

I believe the quake is coming. I think we're in denial if we think the bridge is about funding or traffic counts. The main issue is that we're going to get hit by a 9.0 quake and the old metal bridge, built on logs pounded into the river bottom, is not going to make it. Especially the part that's 96 years old. I think this is a classic case where the easy route is to ignore reality. This is more kicking the can down the road and putting off problems to the next generation.

But the quake isn't going to wait 'til a good, convenent time. I think we should get ready.

It's obvious this whole project has nothing to do with improving interstate commerce or traffic flow. It's just more make-work remodeling on a huge scale. Somebody's figured out how to make millions playing SimCity in a state full of dreamers and whose laws are riddled with anti-corruption loopholes. "The End is Near So We Need Strong People Smarter Than US To Do Something" works like a champ here.

The CRC political process is like watching a bad movie over and over again. Yes, I-5 North is a problem--a big problem. But the CRC will not solve the problem and certainly will not come in any where near budget. In 5-10 years, everyone who favored this boondoggle will be saying "it wasn't me."

If the bridge is too low for river traffic, too high for air traffic, has no more lanes than the current span, will feature gridlock due to tolling, and will cause traffic problems on I-205 (where cars will go to avoid tolling), it won't solve any problem, and will make some problems worse. And I'll bet anyone here a dinner at the restaurant of their choice that construction costs will be over budget.

And Bill MacDonald, if we have an earthquake bad enough to bring down the current I-5 bridge, we're going to have a lot worse transportation and other problems than how to get across the Columbia River on I-5 (like crushed dead people all over the place, no access to food and water after a few days, civil unrest and looting and the sorts of behaviors you saw with Katrina, only worse). By your logic, we should spend every dollar we can on earthquake preparedness, not roads, police and fire protection, schools, or anything else.

Fascinating priorities - someone working themselves up into insominia over an earthquake-induced bridge collapse but apparently is uninterested in instead spending the money on remediating Oregon public schools.

A few car deaths outweighs hundreds of dead students?


You probably forgot due to lack of sleep, but I posted a study showing the existing bridge can be remediated at significantly lower cost.

But, living in Oregon, what do you care if the bridge collapses? 205 will probably still work. In the meantime, why are you not concerned about school buildings?

I don't understand how it is possible to have a bridge that is too low for ship traffic and too high for airplane traffic, when the current bridge, located pretty much right where the new bridge is going to go, is obviously fine on both counts.

I'm with Teresa.

The toll booths, or "plazas" are guaranteed to make congestion WORSE, not better... but we all know that's the goal, right? And no artist rendering shows these bottlenecks.

And added to KW's comment, they keep trying to increase the height without a lift feature. But the toy train CANNOT get traction on even a minimal slope. 1/16" of sleet and they can't even make the minor slope near Lloyd Center and the entire system shuts down with a minor frost. TRI MET's solution: run trains every 10 minutes all night long !! And they have an overtime problem NOW?

Kill it before it grows!

I wouldn't say I'm losing sleep over this, but I have had nightmares about it.

P.S. I like the idea of having temporary floating bridges stashed along the river so we aren't cut off for too long if all the bridges get knocked out.

Dave, the current bridge has a draw. And while that part of the bridge is high, it is narrow; the rest is low. That's why it's manageable for both air and water navigation.

Bill MacDonald, this bridge project is like so many other policy issues: once the initial rationale is debunked, another one pops up. The latest makeweight argument has to do with earthquake protection. It didn't come up until the arguments about expanding capacity, and reducing time lost in bridge lifts were pretty much refuted. As a number of other readers here have suggested, if we want to spend $4 - 5 billion on earthquake protection, there are better places -- even including some bridges -- to start.

Boston had the Big Dig. We have the Rigged Pig.

Allan L,
I'm not speaking for policy makers. I'm appalled by the process. And I agree there are better places to start. That was what my temporary bridges idea is all about.

But to act like this earthquake thing is some kind of rationale that pops up when one is needed, is missing the point. Let's flashback to another post on Jack Bog's Blog.

The Sellwood Bridge will have to wait
We've got more important things to worry about. Speaking of which, a friend of mine and I were wondering the other night: How big an earthquake would it take to collapse the Sellwood Bridge? 4.0? 4.5? 5.0?

So what happened? The Sellwood Bridge was finally addressed. Aren't we supposed to cross a few things off the list for future generations?

If you accept the certainty of this I-5 bridge not surviving the Big One, then it's just a matter of building a new bridge before or after it. But you're going to be building a new bridge across the river. Pretending that there won't be a new bridge over the Columbia is not a realistic position. It's the same as pretending the earthquake won't happen. I believe it will.

For all the hand-wringing about I-5 bridge collapse one wonders why other Oregon bridges don't get the love:


Oddly, Washington state is able to retrofit other bridges:


Somehow, the I-5 bridge apparently slipped their mind when coming up with a list of structurally deficient bridges:


Perhaps an engineer (PE certified, please) can weigh in on where exactly the I-5 bridge was found to be at risk?

Bill, do you know what it would cost to do seismic upgrades on the current bridge?

If the goal was just to make it mega-earthquake proof we could knock about 90% off the price tag.

The earthquake argument is the sales equivalent of offering to throw in free extra vacation stays with the time share company if we can close the deal today.

So that's what we're doing now? Trash-talking the Cascadia Fault. January 26th, 1700 at 9 in the evening, was the last time the Cascadia Fault went off. We know that from when a 16-foot tsunami hit the coast of Japan.

You can pretend this is a time share company offering you a free stay, but it is a hell of a lot more serious than that.

By the way, how big was the tsunami that hit here after Japan's quake? Discover magazine says that when our tsunami had crossed the Pacific and hit Japan it was 16 feet tall. That's enough to ruin your vacation.

Bill M. , I used to argue this point, as you are, and got shot down a lot. You are totally right, but the other side just yells over the truth. The big earthquake will happen.
To those who say that we can do a retro-fit for less, I point out that the old bridge is on one hundred year old rotting wood posts buried [we don't know how far or well] in unstable soil/silt/mud. No matter how well you put band-aids on the old weak steel above the water-line, you still have nothing sound under it. Bill is right, we owe it to the next generation to suck it up and fix this.

All schemes and diversions are possible in a revenue stream. Plausibly:
An Urban Growth Boundary admission fee, a cover charge, to enter the UGB and see the show, because it's a circus of weird in here.

A toll to enter Portland town. With two exceptions:
1 - Intrastate entry. So crossing the UGB line Oregon-to-Oregon is toll free.
2 - Portland UGB entry by pedestrian, bike, boat, train, plane ... and 'thru trucking' whatever that is. Toll free.

Result: Southbound (only) toll charge on CRC and Henry Jackson bridges from WA. Entering Portland UGB.
Toll by municipal title of City, void of Federal 'interstate hiway' oversight.

I'm thinking fifty cents an axle.
Someone(s) else can figure what to spend it for. Maybe dizzyland rides and attractions?

So what could the Oregon Coast face in the Big One?

Every location is different, but just to get a feel for what we're talking about, here's the description of a 9.0 quake that caught my eye:

Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia, 1952 - Magnitude 9.0
The world's first recorded magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck off the east coast of Kamchatka in 1952. The quake generated a 43-foot tsunami (13 m) locally. The tsunami rocked Crescent City, Calif., which was also hit hard by the recent Japan earthquake.

A 43-foot tsunami?

I also read a description of the many small quakes off the Oregon Coast. I always thought of those as good because they could be releasing pressure incrementally. Then I read one article where the theory was that the small quakes are "loading" the big fault to fire. Yikes.

Bill is right, we owe it to the next generation to suck it up and fix this.

OK, so if earthquake is the big factor here, then why not consider a new bridge fitting earthquake criteria, without the light rail? That would cost less and then do whatever it takes to do the height properly.

I still am also concerned about the next generation and healthy river, remember leaking tanks at Hanford? That needs attention and money too?

Look there has been a lot of money flowing around but not where desperately needed.

Bill is also discussing some type of floating bridges available for such an emergency.

I have also in the past brought up the concept of water ferries.
The bicyclists might even like that idea.

Many options here, someday a separate light rail bridge if needed, but doesn't have to be now. This bridge decision should not be made with the light rail component as the priority. . . looks to me like that is the problem and the expense. At this point, from what I gather the people in SW Washington don't even want the light rail.

Replacement tanks at Hanford run 150 to 500 million each, and you know the number will come in at the top end or beyond.

So you could take what the state of Oregon is throwing at the CRC and maybe buy 1.

Meanwhile there are 177 tanks, with 6 confirmed leaking and another 14 suspected of leaking.

It's misleading to think we could put much of a dent into Hanford with the Oregon money for the bridge.

But I want to start off cheerful this morning and here's all I've got: It does sound like after the Big One, the Pacific Northwest will be in the clear for centuries from these Cascadia Mega-Quakes. One site calls the fault, "nine months pregnant and overdue." At least when this baby hits, we won't be pregnant again for a long time. That's the good news.

Bill, this project was not driven by earthquake concerns.

That's the tail wagging the dog. It's a convenient excuse to convince a subset of the population to look the other way while they designed a light rail bridge that costs 4x what it should.

There is no logistical reason it couldn't be built without LR, on the same schedule, for much less. We just needed more people with the intestinal fortitude to call B.S. on it.

And before you bring it up...yes, I did question the rationale for invading Iraq long before it was fashionable to do so.

That's exactly what I'm talking about. You're looking at this from the motives of the people behind it. Since they didn't do it for earthquakes, that means the earthquake argument is discounted. Just don't forget to tell the earthquake about it.

What I'm trying to do is look at reality. To see issues in a real world context. I also believe in my own instinct and when that happens I don't care what the popular point of view is. I look at the current bridge and I see a century old piece of crap. A drawbridge half built in 1917? A bridge with moving parts built on river mud in a quake zone? It doesn't seem like a wise thing. Nobody has said this is a wise thing. Seismic upgrades? I bet that would still mean tearing this thing down after the Big One. I read the stories about the coming earthquake. Some predict intense shaking for 5 minutes. Look at those towers with the counterweights. Now add that they're not even resting on bedrock. I think people are in denial here.

See, I don't believe we really - in our hearts - think it's going to happen. It's very difficult to accept. Like the idea of a volcano erupting every 300 years. Of course, Mt. St. Helens did erupt and every now and then our tiny timelines intersect with geologic time. It takes some real focus to see this as inevitable.

After the quake every city from Vancouver, BC down to California is going to be extremely busy rebuilding. I think it would be smart to tap into whatever momentum there is for this project, and cross it off the list.

Somebody's going to figure out my agenda here sooner or later too but that doesn't discount the next earthquake. Incidentally, what I'm doing is pretty obvious: I have no stake in the bridge but I see the Pacific Northwest rolling into some big trouble, and we're not talking about it enough.

I hear your concerns about earthquakes and yes people do have a stick head in sand attitude about this and other matters.

People might be more accepting of a new bridge without the light rail but built to deal with earthquakes and the proper height, etc. What would that be in terms of costs?

People are upset about all the money spent thus far and failure to even address basic elements, wrong height, not taking into consideration the costs to river commerce, and so forth. People may not want to face the subject regarding earthquakes, but they do "get" what is going on with light rail and do not want it or the housing agenda/smart growth that comes along with it. They "get" what this bridge is about for the benefit of a few at an enormous cost for everyone else.

Tis a sad but glorius day today. Today is the 177th anniversary of the fall of the Alamo. The capite censi of PDX should take encouragement from the HEROS in Texas many years ago.

Lt. Col. William Barret Travis Victory or Death letter should be required reading for our chilren as it is in Texas.

Oregon is just so dysfunctional anymore. So very sad.

I do NOT agree with alot of Rand Pauls positions However I totally support his convictions on killing Americans with drones with no oversite. Please respect him .


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