Eleven environmental groups sent a letter to Gov. John Kitzhaber today, pleading with the governor to abandon his plans for an Oregon-only Columbia River Crossing project.
The groups, including 1000 Friends of Oregon and the Coalition for a Livable Future, say the "scaled-down" $2.75 billion project—backed only by Oregon coffers—"remains bad public policy for Oregon and the Portland-Vancouver region."
Kitzhaber is expected to make his plan—to expand freeway interchanges in Oregon, build new Interstate 5 bridges and put light rail into Vancouver—part of a Sept. 30 special session.
The three page letter outlines three major points—including that if Kitzhaber presses forward with plans the state "alone would foot the bill, bear all the financial risks, and experience the reduction in funding for other transportation projects."
They also expressed concern that TriMet, already under intense budget pressures, may have to pay to run the light rail line into Clark County, which it worries would create service cuts for Oregon residents. (However, Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt told WW that he's going to try and find a way for the city to cover the $2.5 million annual operations and maintenance costs.)
Environmentalists also say the death of the project would create a new starting point for the congested corridor.
"Let’s not miss the real opportunity to find innovative ways to address safety, fix roads, cut climate pollution, provide bicycling and walking opportunities, create equal access to vibrant communities, and support a strong local economy," they write. "Oregonians—today and in the future—deserve a serious effort to find these solutions."
Along with 1000 Friends of Oregon and the Coalition for a Livable Future, organizations signing the letter include Audubon Society of Portland, Bicycle Transportation Alliance, Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods, Northwest Environmental Defense Center, OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, Oregon Chapter Sierra Club, Oregon Public Health Institute, Oregon Walks and Upstream Public Health.