This Week in the Mercury


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Oregonian to CRC: Git 'er Done in 2012

Posted by Sarah Mirk on Tue, Jan 3, 2012 at 3:54 PM

Portlands New Years resolution? BUILD MORE FREEWAYS!
  • Portland's New Year's resolution? BUILD MORE FREEWAYS!
The Oregonian is kicking off the new year by coming out swinging for the planned $3.6 billion Columbia River Crossing (CRC). In an editorial yesterday, the paper says it will "push hard for a bridge groundbreaking and the creation of immediate and new construction-related jobs."

Look, no one's against jobs—especially the 1,900 new ones that the CRC vows to create each year. But it's not like the environmentalists who oppose the project want to drown jobs like sackfuls of kittens. Critics believe that the desperate full-steam-ahead mentality toward the bridge will actually wind up being worse for Oregon's economy down the road. As it is, the CRC's pricetag will eat up an enormous chunk of our federal transportation funding. If the CRC winds up with major cost overruns or toll proceeds are less than expected, the project could cripple the state budget. Even if funding all comes together at the last minute, environmental critics say the increased traffic caused by the freeway expansion will lead to worse air quality and health impacts on North Portland residents.

Critics of all political stripes want state leaders to reevaluate whether the project is spending its billions on the right project—or a boondoggle. So: Jobs. Yes. But jobs at any cost? Not a good way to start the new year.

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