Readers' Letters
by: Courtesy of ODOT, An artist’s rendering (looking south) shows a plan to replace the current Interstate 5 Bridge with a larger bridge that includes transit, pedestrian and bicycle options. Letter writers argue over whether the bridge plan would be beneficial for the Portland region.

Tim Leavitt's essay, 'Funding must be fair for new I-5 bridge' (Dec. 3), advocating for a big new freeway bridge to 'solve' congestion stands in stark contrast with Portland's new Climate Action Plan. This plan calls for reducing the amount of driving and the encouragement of transportation alternatives (Changes in the wind, Nov. 26).

As anyone who drives on Interstate 5 or listens to the traffic reports knows, I-5 and most of the Portland freeway system is already congested at peak hours and there is no room for more traffic south of the bridge. There are numerous choke points and frequent incidents delaying traffic throughout the region that will not be solved by a 12-lane bridge.

Contrary to Tim Leavitt's essay, a surge of new traffic from a new bridge could actually worsen congestion throughout the Portland region, increasing delays and costs for everyone. It seems a cruel hoax is about to be perpetrated on the drivers of Clark County - and the taxpayers of Oregon and Washington.

There are already 14 freeway lanes across the Columbia, and no alternative transportation such as light rail or attractive bike facilities. High speed rail is now planned for the I-5 corridor.

In the Banfield and Sunset corridors, light rail is now carrying over 25 percent of peak-hour trips and growing. Wouldn't it make more sense to put in alternative transportation first before committing to even more freeway lanes to compete? $4.2 billion is a lot of money to spend on a wide spot on I-5.

Gerald Fox

Southwest Portland

Northwest passage route necessary

Having only two bridges between Clark County and the Portland metropolitan region is simply inadequate in light of projected growth in our area (It's crunch time for I-5 bridge plan, Nov. 19). It doesn't matter what is done to the Interstate Bridge - Interstate 5 is at capacity and is carrying not only long-distance interstate traffic, but also the north-south traffic commuting to employment opportunities in the Silicon Forest growth area. Our transportation planning needs to adjust to this reality that has been going on since the late 1980s.

Three fourths of the metropolitan area has adequate transportation infrastructure, including mass transit options. The Northwest section does not. That is why we need a third interstate bridge and a 'Northwest Passage' route.

Ron Swaren

Southeast Portland

Hayden Island residents left behind

Your article, 'It's crunch time for I-5 bridge plan' (Nov. 19), made no mention of the impact the Columbia River Crossing project - and the cost-cutting 'refinement' package - will have on Hayden Island residents.

What's most upsetting is that this refinement package is a total reversal of the much-publicized plan for the island, one that was supposed to enhance the quality of life here by replacing the strip mall with attractive stores and cafes, building condos and apartments for high-, middle- and low-income folks, building more bike paths and sidewalks, and constructing a MAX station near Jantzen Beach Mall.

Instead, 'Berlin Wall' type barriers will bisect the island and require pumps operating 24-7 to keep water out of a tunnel that's going to be built 22 feet below Tomahawk Drive. In the process of lowering this road, the most basic of all services - a Safeway grocery and pharmacy - will be destroyed and there is no plan to replace or relocate it.

This is a shocking disregard for the quality of life for Hayden Islanders, people who already shoulder more than their fair share of stress and inconvenience from 24-7 PDX airplane noise and long waits to enter and exit the island from I-5.

There are many elderly people and middle- to low-income people here who have few, if any, other housing alternatives. We are the ones who will have an extremely compromised quality of life for the next six years (and beyond). What is being done to 'refine' such impact to the lives of more than 2,000 Hayden Island residents?

Linda Caso

Hayden Island

Bikes, light rail must pay tolls, too

At this point, it appears as if all the cuts on the Columbia River Crossing project are only being targeted at the highway portion, while at the same time the only tolling proposals on the table are to charge cars and trucks (Funding must be fair for new I-5 bridge, Dec. 3). Any cuts made need to be across the board and apply to all modes of transport.

To provide balance and equity to the project, all the unnecessary recreational bicycle trails that have hitched a ride to this project need to be eliminated along with any lavish frills such as costly viewpoint turnouts so bicyclists can stop and view Mount Hood. The bicycle infrastructure on the crossing is also excessively wide and needs to be narrowed for an additional cost savings.

Likewise, there are undoubtedly some light rail design features and artsy add-ons that can be eliminated.

Finally, there must be financial justice related to any bridge funding package. Either the users of all modes of transport are charged a fee to cross the bridge or there should be no tolling at all. If transit fares don't help pay for the light rail portion of the bridge and bicyclists are not tolled to pay for the bicycle infrastructure, then those (should be) the parts of the project that are first in line to be cut.

Terry Parker

Northeast Portland

Bridge will help local businesses

We support the new Columbia River Crossing because it will benefit the local businesses in our area by reducing congestion, enhancing safety and increasing mobility throughout the Portland-Vancouver region. We live in a transportation-dependent region, and we need infrastructure that supports our businesses by keeping goods and services moving consistently.

In addition to congestion improvements, the project will support the environment by reducing the carbon footprint of car traffic and encouraging people to use light rail. This project will help reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions because cars will idle in traffic less and transit ridership will dramatically increase. This is one of the most sustainable bridge projects in the country and something that we can all support.

Jim Helser

President, Helser Bros. Transfer Co.

North Portland

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