This article was originally published on Mismanaging Perception.
In the last several months since Oregon governor John Kitzhaber declared that “now is the time” to build the 12 lane, 5 mile long Columbia River Crossing freeway mega-expansion, most of the myths proponents have been pushing have been debunked by the press. Even more, accusations of ethics violations and the corrupt politics that have fast-tracked the CRC are coming to light every other day. Despite the Oregon state house and senate both voting to approve bonds for the freeway expansion, no actual funding source has been located, despite 14 years of planning the project.
Much has been made of this fact, along with several others: The CRC will increase toxic pollutants and carbon emissions in the air by 35%. It will not ease congestion, it will increase it, as more lanes incentivize more traffic that will then bottleneck at the Rose Quarter. It will greatly limit commercial ship traffic on the Columbia river, as the bridge portion of the expansion is 70 feet shorter than the current lift span. The 17 lane, 400 foot wide interchange on Hayden Island will demolish over 900 permanent jobs. It’s bloated $4 billion price tag has been predicted to overrun to an alarming $10 billion as the CRC robs desperately needed funds from other job-providing projects for decades to come.
While all these facts were present during the public testimony against the CRC in Salem in February, very little mention was made of the impact the freeway expansion itself will impose upon the surrounding physical environment.