Saturday, March 2, 2013

Bizarro Bridge stumbles on

 Bizarro World has come to Cascadia:

In short, a region that is world redound for smart transportation will try to build itself out of a traffic jam.

How are we to measure the onslaught of colossal failure that is sure to come? Will we time the commute for a Vancouver resident? The cancer-carrying capacity of a child's lungs living near the I-5 bottleneck? The number of trees consumed by the shoddy environmental impact studies? The gigawatts of electricity used by bloggers decrying it as a waste? The number and variety of metrics for how much this is going to suck is mind-blowing!

But rather than looking ahead to the misery, let us focus the present. Our opponents would love for us to roll over and allow them to rape our future. I advocate we use our voice and tell them to stop. Now.

By Monday, March 4th you must call your Senator

Here is our simple 4 step plan:
1 - consider why it is that you hate this project. There is an impressive list of reasons below
2 - look up your legislator in the Oregon Senate
3 - Call your Senators office
4 - Make someone you care about repeat steps 1-3

This will take ~180 seconds of your life. That is probably less time than you spent reading this. 


You may hear a great number of reasons this bridge must be built. Lets examine them:

* Bridge Safety
Pro CRC folks will say the current bridge is old and should be replaced. They won't mention that the people whose job it is to keep an eye on this stuff, The Army Corps of Engineers, says the current I-5 Bridge has a higher safety rating than Portland’s Marquam Bridge, and 29 other bridges in the Oregon highway system. Also notable is that there are many more accidents occurring on the Marquam Bridge. If we want to improve safety, this would be a good place to start.

* Bridge Lifts
"A red light on an interstate?!?" Well it does sound like a bad idea, but ask how many times it happens during rush hour. For the 300+ lifts every year only a handful are during peak traffic. We wont lie, it sucks being stuck in traffic, but even according to the CRC's own website - "Bridge lifts cause vehicles to stop on I-5 for up to 20 minutes at a time to allow river traffic on the Columbia River to pass." Can you believe that? 20 Minutes! And yet we have among the shortest commutes of any west coast city. I guess the only reasonable thing to do is make sure we try and shave one minute off the commute to Vancouver, WA.

* Future Traffic
They say we have to plan for the future of traffic and we should expect traffic to get worse, but traffic is not getting worse. There have been fewer and fewer bridge crossings over the past five years. This trend means A) there would be less money from the tolls we would be collecting and B) we dont need to replace a working bridge.

* Freight Economy
Most everything gets put on a truck at some point in its life so it is pretty important. Strangely, the CRC proponents would have you believe that truck drivers are not smart enough to avoid traffic. Truckers should be offended! If the pro-CRC people were actually worried about freight they would be working on making the railroad bridge a few miles downriver. For 1/20th of the cost of the CRC we could fix the railroad crossing. Speaking of moving big boxes of stuff, our own Coast Guard says the current CRC design is too low, preventing some ships from sailing upriver. Sure enough maritime business upstream is fighting mad that our tax dollars are going towards this "solution" to the problem of moving stuff around. But dont worry we are make more jobs by moving the company to another location downstream.

* Wasting Funds
We are told that we should support it because we have spent millions on the plan. That if we dont spend billions than all those millions will be lost. Can you imagine a doctor talking about gang green in a similar fashion? "It has spread to your leg and is growing. We could amputate, but maybe we should wait." Only in this case the doctor caused the infection and will get money money if the patient dies.

* Jobs
For sure, we can spend a lot of money and employ a lot of people. But considering the epic scale of this freeway expansion project one would hope these jobs that we are creating will be around for a while. When the Pro-CRC camp talks about the 20,000 jobs they are creating they mean they are expecting 2,000 job increase over ten years. 2,000 x 10 years = 20,000. More accurate analysis showed that there will be an increase of about 1,150 temporary jobs.  We are all for making jobs but there are plenty of ways to make something better for cheaper. But this is Bizarro Cascadia. The workplace may soon be very, very different.

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