Bridge Expansion Plans Ignore Effects of Growth

<p>Plans to build a new bridge over the Columbia River in Portland ignored projections that said the newer, bigger bridge would contribute to outward expansion of development from the metropolitan core.</p>
July 4, 2008, 9am PDT | Nate Berg
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"The Columbia River Crossing, as the bridge project is known, is designed to relieve congestion on the six-lane bridge that now frustrates Oregonians, commuters from Vancouver, and round-the-clock truckers struggling to keep their schedules."

"But a paradox lies ahead: If a bigger bridge with more lanes is built, will it create demand for housing and jobs, and yet more congestion? And will the boosted congestion spew more greenhouse gas?"

"Transportation authorities say it could."

"The Oregonian has learned that traffic forecasters involved in planning a new bridge, projected to cost $4.2 billion, were told to assume a new 12-lane bridge would not trigger any more growth than if the current bridge were simply left in place. Yet a 12-lane bridge would handle 40 percent more cars during afternoon rush hour, according to the forecasters' calculations."

"Ignored is a finding by regional planners, in 2001, that eliminating the bridge's bottleneck threatened to push job and housing growth away from other parts of the metropolitan area and concentrate them in North Portland and across the river, in a rapidly expanding Clark County."

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Published on Wednesday, July 2, 2008 in The Oregonian
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