I've got to admit I was stunned and amazed. The Columbian has provided, literally, millions of dollars worth of in-kind advertising in the form of fake polls and "articles" in support of ramming this despicable project down our collective throats.
Yet, yesterday's article (with the obvious title, answered "yes") "$4 billion: Too much for this?" provided any sane, unbiased individual with all of the facts needed to condemn the idea of replacing the I-5 Bridge for the purpose of getting light rail into Vancouver.What the article proved to me is that we don't need to replace the bridge. Period. And for that, I do have to thank Brancaccio for providing all the reasons needed to trash this project, even though it means we will have already wasted in excess of $140,000,000 in taxpayer money for the nonsensical stack of paper that failed to address what really needs to happen here... the development of a new bridge elsewhere.
Wagner on the current bridge:
Wagner said he has no doubts the existing crossings are safe, so much so that he drives and cycles across the spans without hesitation.First and foremost: Wagner tells us that the current bridge is SAFE. Get that? SAFE. That is a lack of SAFETY has no place in the replacement discussion.
"If we don't have an earthquake of any magnitude, those two bridges are going to stay there until something hits them," he said.
He expresses concern about earthquakes... but then says nothing about the easiest, simplest, fastest, cheapest solution: retrofit.
And, of course, the type of earthquake he envisions could well flatten a new bridge as well, since the new bridge provides no guarantees, meaning that all our $4 billion... or $5 billion or $6 billion (These projects ALWAYS cost MUCH more than they say, and the cost overruns are ALWAYS huge...) only gets us a CHANCE at a better earthquake response. I'm not willing to spend BILLIONS on a chance... especially when the real reason is to bring light rail into Vancouver.
Second: Wagner tells us, “The existing spans, opened in 1917 and 1958, are structurally sound.”
That is, the bridge isn't falling down any time real soon. Further, there was nothing here about retro-fitting the current bridge to make it more able to withstand the earthquakes light rail fans use to hide the real reason for this bridge.
Third: Wagner tells us that even when constructed,
“…during a 3 hour stretch of southbound morning commute, traffic would crawl along at 10mph or slower across the replacement bridge through Hayden Island and portions of north Portland.”So... we're going to spend an unknown number of BILLIONS of dollars for this?
Fourth: "We have a bridge that's functioning, maybe not as good as we would like, but it's there, it's safe, it's open, the freeway's moving,"
These are ALL reasons NOT to build this horrific waste of money.
What they are, are reasons to build an ADDITIONAL bridge SOME WHERE ELSE.
I am not concerned with the excuses or legalities of finding ways and reasons not to ask us if we want this proven-to-be-unneeded bridge.
Morally and ethically, if not any other way, the reason to get our permission FIRST is clear: this thing will suck as much as $100,000,000 per year out of our local economy and away from many families that simply will not be able to afford this massively unneeded project.
I get why this interview didn't take place with, say, a Pollard. No politician shilling this thing wants to eat their own words in the next election... and they will.
NOTHING provided in this interview even BEGINS to justify this massive expense. When Wagner says: "The two sides of the river have to come together on what's going to happen," he's lying. What he SHOULD say is that the 35 or 40 self-appointed people who want to ram this thing down our throats without a vote are agreeing on the execution... kind of like saying "we'll go with a hanging, instead of a firing squad."
When Wagner says: "And on the Clark County side, while there is growing support for light rail," he's lying AGAIN.
With each of the many stabbings, shootings, robberies and massive expenses of Max, if anything, support for light rail is completely down the toilet. And he offers nothing to back this assertion.
Unfortunately, reading these obvious falsities shows that Mr. Wagner is delusional. He's spun this as positively as he could because he personally stands to benefit from this project.
What he thinks about voting on this is completely irrelevant. As a bureaucrat, Wagner can feel free to ignore us as he marches forward doing everything he can to make this happen. But interviewing THIS guy?
Besides shooting this project in the foot... what more did that accomplish?
So, I do appreciate Mr. Brancaccio's article, although I'm mystified as to why he would print something that confirms the position of many bridge opponents while weakening the position of the loot rail scammers, including himself, that have, while simultaneously providing literally millions in in-kind coverage, including using fake polls, to support this massive, colossal, utter waste of taxpayer resources.
$4 billion: Too much for this?
Bridge official says discussions now under way to pare massive projectSaturday, May 16 3:03 p.m.BY JEFFREY MIZE
COLUMBIAN STAFF WRITERThere may not be enough money to build a bridge, freeway and transit project costing $4 billion or more, the top state transportation official in Southwest Washington told The Columbian.
Planners and engineers already are looking to slash costs on the multibillion-dollar Columbia River Crossing project, even while the community continues to haggle over bridge design and other sticking points, said Don Wagner, the Washington State Department of Transportation's regional administrator.
Possible cuts include delaying one or more of the interchange projects and slicing off a bridge lane in each direction, he said.
"Just like most of us in the real world, we dream about the car we want," Wagner said in a wide-ranging interview last week. "And at some point, stark reality says, 'Huh. I dream about it, but I don't have quite enough money to get it all today. Maybe I need to take off a few of the options off of this car.' And we are starting those conversations right now."
Wagner said he doesn't believe it's politically possible to replace the Interstate 5 Bridge without extending light rail into Vancouver and predicted the crossing project
would be on "life support" if voters shoot down a light-rail measure.
Despite those looming obstacles, there are benefits to replacing the I-5 Bridge, namely a 70 percent to 90 percent easing of congestion at one of the region's most notorious bottlenecks, Wagner said.
Money remains a constant consideration. Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski has suggested the region might be looking to build too much. Last month, Kulongoski used a similar car analogy, saying that "some of us like to go into the Maserati dealership" but "there is always the day of reckoning."
Wagner, however, declined to call the crossing project a Maserati or even a Cadillac.
"What we have out there is a good solid Chevy, with a few extra options on it right now," he said.
Removing a bridge lane — a significant revision given the heated battle that occurred earlier this year to get both sides of the river to back a bridge with six lanes in each direction — would save roughly $150 million, Wagner said.
Between $200 million to $300 million could be trimmed from the budget if overhauling the state Highway 500 interchange was delayed, and another $400 million to $500 million could be saved if the Marine Drive interchange in Oregon wasn't rebuilt, he said.
"There would be a lot of unhappy campers, people saying, 'But I thought I would get this?'" Wagner said. "But it would be a safe structure; it would be a functional approach. It would include proper tie-ins of all the interchanges. They just wouldn't have as many lanes on them. You might have to wait in line to get onto the freeway."
Saving another $750 million by killing light rail isn't going to happen, Wagner said.
"The two sides of the river have to come together on what's going to happen," he said. "And on the Clark County side, while there is growing support for light rail, I am going to stop way short of saying that everybody likes light rail because I've certainly had enough people tell me that they don't like light rail.
"But our side of the river seems to be one that says, 'Look, we have to have highway improvements out there or we don't have a project.' On the Oregon side of the river, it's really pretty close to just the opposite. If they don't have light rail, they have no reason to be at the table. And this project can't be built without money coming from both states."
Although there is no requirement for a public vote on either building a replacement bridge or imposing tolls that could cost commuters more than $1,000 a year, a vote will be needed on one or more aspects of light rail.Public vote