Take a harder look at crossing


Local governments are contemplating investing billions of dollars on the Columbia River Crossing bridge project without a clear idea of the consequences.

Will the bridge, as economist Joe Cortwright predicts, encourage more cars to flood across the river and onto Portland's inadequate streets? Does the CRC task force have it right, that traffic will decrease? And in either case, does the bridge project make any sense?

Spending $4.2 billion will deplete our local and regional transportation budget for years to come, making it difficult to meet other transportation needs. The purpose of the CRC project is to make the river crossing safer and more efficient. Building a bridge is not the goal of the project, but a way of realizing those objectives.

It is beginning to look like the CRC task force is hiding the true cost of the project and sweeping less expensive alternatives, such as tolling the current bridge and extending MAX, or building a reasonably sized new bridge, under the rug.

Taxpayers depend not only on their elected officials, but also on the news media to lift up that rug and bring the truth to light. I urge you to investigate the CRC task force's and critics' claims so we can make an informed decision on this issue of regional importance.

Jonathan Leiss

Southeast Portland

Trackless trolleys can trump streetcars

Why all the fuss about streetcars? During the '40s we were well-served by rubber-tired trolleys made by Kenworth. They were fast, nonpolluting and didn't require that streets be torn up to lay tracks.

Bicyclists also would benefit from not having to deal with the tracks. We need to step back and consider a much better, less expensive approach to public transport in our city than streetcars.

George F. Gornick

Northeast Portland

Is out with the old really the way to go?

I have been wondering if it is better to buy a new hybrid (i.e., consumption) versus keeping an existing auto well-tuned and maintained. I have heard both arguments (using great technology versus consumption/consumerism being the real problem), and they both make sense.

Which is the lesser evil?

DJ Phalen

San Diego, Calif.

PSU would make good use of coliseum

In response to Dwight Jaynes' On Sports column 'Upstart Vikings dare to play big' (March 14), I agree that the Stott Center is the last place the arena should be. Portland State University needs more than 1,500 seats - but not there.

Here is a proposal: The city should not have turned over the Memorial Coliseum for Paul Allen to manage. He has not maintained it as he agreed.

PSU should approach the city for a long-term lease on the Memorial Coliseum at a token amount and agree to maintain it properly. This is feasible because it would increase attendance at basketball games and the coliseum would compete favorably with the Rose Garden for other events.

Charles L. Sauvie

Northeast Portland

Earners underwrite others with their rent

As explained in your recent article about the Morrison (The Morrison mix, March 21), the Housing Authority's new apartment project on West Burnside Street has 45 units reserved for chronically homeless people and 95 units of 'work-force housing,' generally limited to people earning less than $28,500.

One critic in the article - Howard Husock of the Manhattan Institute - says the city would have been better off with a smaller building for just the 45 homeless people, using the 'extra money' to provide them with services.

What Husock apparently doesn't understand is that the work-force housing provides the debt financing and tax credit equity to underwrite the 45 units serving people with basically no income. Without the mix of housing types, a far larger public subsidy would have been needed to build and operate the 45 lowest-income units.

So while the social benefits of projects like the Morrison warrant ongoing discussion - and the Housing Authority may need to revisit its rules about tenant incomes and assets - those wanting to engage the debate will have more credibility if they first understand the economics.

Jeff Bachrach

Chairman, Housing Authority of Portland Board of Commissioners

Southwest Portland