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Pull plug on bad bridge

by: L.E. BASKOW, The $4.2 billion Columbia River Crossing project is coming up with an alternative to the aging, inadequate Interstate 5 bridge between Portland and Vancouver, Wash. Letter writers question whether the money is going for the best alternative.

The Portland Tribune attacks Metro Councilor Robert Liberty and economist Joe Cort-right for not offering specific alternatives to the $4.2 billion Columbia River Crossing project (Bridge project needs leaders, Editorial, April 11).

Responsible alternatives were, in fact, presented to the CRC. Project staff did a hatchet job on anything that was not a 12-lane replacement bridge.

Where is the leadership from CRC co-Chairman Henry Hewitt, or Oregon Transportation Commission Chairwoman Gail Achterman, who says on the Columbia River Crossing Web site that the project will reduce greenhouse gas emissions while CRC documents show that it fosters a 40 percent growth in travel on Interstate 5?

Metro (prodded by Liberty's leadership) asked for a lower-impact alternative, so staff developed 'Option A+' that met the project's defined purpose and need.

A subcommittee co-chaired by Hewitt threw it out in a March 2007 meeting that was not recorded on tape, so we can't even hear his reasoning.

True leadership would stand up to the 'groupthink' that has spent more than $50 million on this mess of a plan and pull the funding plug now.

Douglas R. Allen

Southeast Portland

Leadership means looking past PR

Regarding your editorial 'Bridge project needs leaders' (April 11), leadership is not joining the chorus line in support of a $50 million public relations campaign.

Robert Liberty and Joe Cort-right are doing all the hard work that the CRC committee has failed to do - look at real costs and real benefits and advocate for tough choices.

As real leaders - unlike your paper - they do present a lower-cost option that gets the results we need: tolling and high-occupancy vehicle lanes on the existing bridges, with transit and bike/pedestrian facilities on an arterial bridge.

The CRC committee's failure to include this option in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement is at best irresponsible and - in light of what's happening to our planet - almost criminal.

Lenny Anderson

I-5 Task Force member, 2000-02

Northeast Portland

Phone vs. drunken driver: no contest

After reading the contribution by John Porter on the dangers of cell phone use and driving (Cell phones are biggest threat, Letters, April 18), I was infuriated by his claim that cell phone use in automobiles is more dangerous than drunken driving.

Drunken-driving accidents result in 16,000 casualties every year - about 40 percent of all traffic accident deaths. Entire families are wiped out by the actions of a single drunken driver; cell phone-related automobile accidents are a difficult statistic to accurately calculate.

It is not in my character to bash another person for their opinions, but I was left with the impression that Porter almost crashes into anything on the road that is moving and that maybe he should pay more attention to what he is doing.

Yes, driving and cell phone use can be dangerous. But if a closer look was taken at cell phone studies, I would bet that the majority of those crashes are by young teen drivers (and the majority of them involving text-messaging) who do not have the experience of an older, mature driver.

To suggest that phones should be disabled upon motion is ridiculous and dangerous - cell phones save lives in emergencies.

The fact that Porter lives in Northwest Portland - where residential, commercial and retail businesses are contained in a street design that is small in block length and lane width, with many pedestrians, all in close proximity to the downtown core - is responsible for much of his frustration.

Larry J. Mullins II

Southeast Portland