May 23rd, 2008 | by NIGEL JAQUISS News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Politics

Critics Want More Time to Analyze $4.2 Billion Bridge Project

     
Tags: bicycling

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A group of local environmental organizations wants more time from the feds to scrutinize a document released by the Columbia River Crossing Project staff on May 2.


The document is what's called a draft Environmental Impact Statement and can be found here, along with troves of other information about the proposed project. The feds—who are being asked to contribute most of the project's $1 billion lightrail component—require an EIS for any project that gets federal funding or needs federal approval.


In what could be the first sign of legal saber-rattling, the group asking for an extension—the Northwest Environmental Defense Center (NEDC), 1000 Friends of Oregon, Association of Oregon Rail & Transit Advocates (AORTA), Bicycle Transportation Alliance, Cascadia Rising Tide, Coalition for a Livable Future, Community Choices, Community Health Partnership, Oregon League of Conservation Voters, Organizing People, Activating Leaders (OPAL), Portland Transport, and Upstream Public Health—got Tom Buchele, director of the Pacific Environmental Advocacy Center at Lewis & Clark Law School, to write the letter.


Buchele cited the complexity of the EIS and the size of the proposed $4.2 billion project in his request for a 60-day extension from the current July 1 deadline for public comment.


"Concerned citizens and implicated agencies cannot adequately participate in the NEPA process if they are only given 60 days to analyze and comment on a highly technical 5,000 page document," he wrote.


Local governments are also evaluating the draft environmental impact statement. The Metro Council will consider the project staff's preferred option on June 5; the Portland Planning Commission will vote on an option June 10 and the Portland City Council will take up the matter on June 12.


 
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