At today's Oregon Leadership Conference, Governor Kitzhaber said that it's important for Oregon to allocate $450 million (another two Sellwoods) toward the Columbia River Crossing project by March 1. So reports Willamette Week, which also says that Governor Kitzhaber expects as soon as next month "to resolve the Coast Guard's concerns that the bridge designed will result in a bridge too low for marine traffic" (WW's words, not the Governor's).
As the proposed bridge is too low for existing federal and private marine traffic, there are only two ways to resolve the Coast Guard's concerns. One is to build a higher bridge, even if that makes light rail on the new bridge impracticable; the other is to scare away the businesses that send ships and equipment under thexisting bridges now. Put differently, one approach ticks off TriMet (but saves the region about $1 billion); the other costs jobs and blasts a hole in our maritime industry.
I await with great interest the Governor's choice between jobs and trains. A better choice, and one he's unfortunately just boxed himself out of, is to declare that no more public money should follow the $150 million already wasted on this project. The $450 million of state funds that Governor Kitzhaber wants to spend on the CRC would be better spent -- if it has to be spent on highways -- on improving the roads we already have.
The fact that $150 million has been spent pursuing the chimera of a perfect replacement bridge is not a reason to spend more. It's a reason to stop now.
It's time to kill the CRC.