Over the weekend, local media swooned with joy over the news that Barky was “jump-starting” the long-stalled “Columbia River Crossing” (the proposed new I-5 bridge). Governor Retread and Governor (“Look! We found some more ballots!”) Gregoire issued a joint press release, breathlessly touting the President’s pre-election support while repeating classic mythology:
The Interstate 5 bridge structures between Oregon and Washington were built in 1917 and 1958 and do not meet current safety or geometric standards. Their wooden pilings are set in liquefiable soil and are at risk in the event of an earthquake. The bridge is a critical link for freight between Canada and Mexico and one of the worst freight bottlenecks in the United States. Today, I-5 carries more than $40 billion in freight each year and is expected to carry $71 billion in 2030.
In point of fact, the current bridges are not “bottlenecks”; the problem lies with ODOT’s road and ramp layouts between Hayden Island and the I-84 freeway. Their poor design and implementation has nothing to do with the integrity of the bridges. Moreover, studies have shown that the two bridges in question have greater seismic stability than do most of the bridges in the Portland metropolitan area.
No, the underlying “reason” for this multi-billion-dollar turkey (which if built would carry three lanes of vehicular traffic in each direction – precisely the same as the current bridges) is Ecotopian politics: the idiots in Portland and the half-baked Metro government agencies want bigger and better bike and pedestrian paths – because we all know how often (particularly in winter) cyclists and pedestrians get all jammed up while trying to cross the Columbia River.
And they really want to keep feeding their contractor friends with your tax dollars, which is where the Portland Development Agency known as Tri-Met comes in: they insist that the bridge – if built – must ram light rail into Vancouver, Washington for at least half a dozen blocks. Presumably, the reasoning behind this, aside from lining their buddies’ pockets, involves siphoning some of the denizens on the Portland Crime Trains off into downtown Vancouver.
Yet, lost amongst all the hoopla and back-slapping and chortling associated with Barky’s latest royal decree was one glaring little fact, which the good Democrats in the governors’ offices and their cohorts in the media conveniently failed to mention – it’s all been done before.
In fact, almost exactly four years ago, another president did exactly what Obama did on Friday. Here’s the statement the federal Department of Transportation issued in August 2008:
“President Bush Issues Order to Expedite Columbia River Crossing On August 5, 2008,
President Bush designated the Columbia River Crossing, also known as the Interstate 5 Bridge between Portland, OR, and Vancouver, WA, as a priority project under E.O. 13274. This designation was requested jointly by the Oregon and Washington Departments of Transportation. For more information, visit the Priority Project section of this website or view the U.S. DOT press release.”