The City of Portland has been a minor player in the proposed $3.5 billion Columbia River Crossing—with its wide freeway bridges and light rail to Vancouver, Wash. But the mega-project will probably need city approval for permits and final planning (due in part to snafus by Metro). Three City Council votes could freeze the project—if the mayor were willing to fight a bridge many see as ill-conceived. We asked the mayoral candidates: Would you vote to allow the CRC to go forward?
State Rep. Jefferson Smith (D-East Portland):
No. "Not only will I not vote for permitting the current project, I will ask for a significantly different project that is not focused nearly as much on local commuting to Clark County but is focused on seismic safety and on freight mobility. That recognizes that this is one of the biggest regional planning mistakes that we have made. That has defined a huge portion of political power in the region. The legislative delegation from Portland needs to have some political backing to do what is very, very hard, which is to say to construction trades [unions and] a meaningful set of the business lobby who have named this the No. 1 priority, âThis has been a mistake for years.ââ
No. "There are several problems that need to be solved, which is why these engineers have been spending a gazillion dollars in the last 10 years working on this. We want to get light rail to Clark County. We want to have a bridge that doesn't have to open when the barges go under it. So I do believe there are some elements of this project that make sense—a better pedestrian and bicycle crossing. Do we have to do it the way the two state DOTs have designed this project? No, and I don't think we will.... Not this CRC, not the one they've spent all this money designing."