EPA Criticizes Oregon Bridge Planners for Ignoring Sprawl

Federal regulators have criticized planners of a bridge expansion for not considering how the new bridge would induce sprawl and increase pollution.

"The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finds that bridge planners did not adequately examine the potential for a bridge to induce sprawl, increase pollution and contaminate an aquifer that supplies Vancouver and Clark County's drinking water."

"The critique is drawn from EPA's review of the Columbia River Crossing's 5,850-page draft environmental impact statement, and it extends to other areas. Among those are whether doubling the congested I-5 bridge from six to 12 lanes will promote suburban sprawl; whether the combination of air toxics, noise and other pollution will punish North Portland communities living close to I-5; and whether massive pile-driving will stir up toxic sediments, compromising federally protected migrating salmon."

"The EPA makes clear in a cover letter to its 13-page account that it is "generally supportive" of replacing the I-5 bridge with new spans that include light rail. But its report is blunt in citing deficiencies in the study of how the I-5 bridge project would affect the region's traffic, growth and quality of life. The EPA is required by law to review such environmental impact statements, but its disapproval alone cannot stop the project."

"None of the findings were a surprise, said Heather Gundersen, environmental manager for the project."

"'We have heard most of that from the EPA throughout our coordination process,' Gundersen said. 'It's something we're going to work through with them. It's something we're going to address point by point.'"

Thanks to Dylan Rivera

Full Story: Federal EPA sees lapses in I-5 bridge study

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