Officials running the project to build a new Interstate 5 bridge over the Columbia River say they see this week's ruling by a state land use review board as a victory for the project.
The Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) turned back 11 out of 12 challenges brought by opponents of the project, but sent the project back to Metro, the area's regional government. The reason: Metro granted land use approval for the project when a big piece of it -- the bridge portion itself -- was outside the area's urban growth boundary. Opponents had said Metro was shoehorning the project through land use reviews using a little-used 1996 law intended to speed siting of light rail lines, not freeway projects.
The Columbia River Crossing project does include a light rail line between Portland and Vancouver, but the line represents about 35 percent of the overall project's construction costs.
Here's what the Columbia River Crossing said in its announcement regarding the LUBA decision:
The Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals has validated Metro’s work on the land use approvals to build the Columbia River Crossing project in Oregon through an opinion released Oct. 26, 2011.
This summer, TriMet sought an amendment to the Land Use Final Order adopted by Metro for light rail development between Milwaukie and the Oregon-Washington state line. Metro adopted the amendment Aug. 11, 2011, to include the highway, local roadway and light rail system improvements of the CRC project.
The LUFO provides the local authorization under state land use laws to build the project. Under Oregon state law, the LUFO process applies within the urban growth boundary. The boundary stops at the Oregon shoreline of the Columbia River and does not include the Interstate Bridge. Projects outside the UGB must be written into Metro’s Regional Transportation Plan and the City of Portland’s Transportation System Plan.
Both the RTP and TSP already include the CRC project, which provides local approval for construction. The CRC project meets this requirement.
Metro’s adoption of the LUFO amendment was challenged by four groups. LUBA’s opinion validated Metro’s work on all but one of the dozen issues raised. The one remaining issue relates to the Columbia River bridge, which is outside of the urban growth boundary. Future conversations between TriMet and Metro will determine the path forward