Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

City and Port of Vancouver endorse staff plan for new Interstate 5 bridge

Vancouver Mayor Royce Pollard drew some headlines this week when he endorsed light rail and tolls for a new I-5 bridge. As regular readers know, the project goes by the somewhat cumbersome name Columbia River Crossing. A vote is likely next month by the 39-member task force on whether to move forward with the staff recommendations.

While the focus earlier this week in the media was on Pollard's forceful comments, equally important may have been a letter sent to the CRC by the City of Vancouver (PDF file.) It's worth a read if you are following the project, but briefly put it endorses the staff recommendations to build a new "mid-level" span that includes either light rail or "bus rapid transit." Among the reasons cited to reject other possible options, such as re-use of the existing structures or the construction of "arterial" bridges for local use are increased traffic downtown and the use of scarce land.

The Port of Vancouver also sent the CRC a letter (also presented in PDF format.) The port is likewise endorsing the staff recommendations, and the port presents a number of concerns about how best to ease mobility for port clients at specific intersections and interchanges. One issue the port raises is the possibility that aligning light rail or "bus rapid transit" along Mill Plain Boulevard could someday eat into capacity for use by the port.

One thing to note about the city of Vancouver: it's one of the members of the CRC's Project Sponsors Council. Which means this, according to the CRC web site:
The Project Sponsors Council will receive recommendations from the Task Force, public input, and advice from the Project Development Team and concur on whether to move forward based on those recommendations.
I'm certainly no expert, but it certainly seems like some very important "stake-holders," to use a term that is tossed around a lot, are lining up in favor of the staff proposal.

Over at Portland Transport, Chris Smith has been posting questions from the CRC open houses so people can discuss them. He seems to be posting a new one every day or so, which is great. It's like an internet open house. Kinda.

If you have time, it's interesting to get the opinions of people south of the river. There is a shocking lack of communication between residents north and south of the Columbia River, and maybe if you have time you can have a look. And be nice, for crying out loud. Portland Transport looks like a respectable place, not some flame war joint.

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