No Tolls on The Bridge!
Willamette Week: the_$25_billion_bribe
Legal Ruling: Judge States CRC is really a Light Rail Project.
Metro found -- and petitioners do not dispute -- that the political necessity
9 of new highway bridges over the Columbia was demonstrated early on, and it was
10 entirely beyond the control of Metro. Washington State approval is necessary because
11 the project extends into Vancouver, but the voters of Clark County, Washington,
12 at the ballot box a light-rail-only bridge across the Columbia. As Metro explained,
13 was clear from this action that a stand-alone light rail project was not politically
14 acceptable to the voters of Clark County."5 Afterward, a bistate group called
1 Transportation and Trade Partnership was formed to examine the question. In its
2 published conclusions, the Partnership explained that the area transportation problems
3 required a comprehensive solution. As Metro later summarized the Partnership's
4 conclusions, Oregon and Washington had different interests: Although "Oregon interests
5 required emphasis on a multi-modal solution * * * because of the difficulty of
6 accommodating [traffic] demand through a highway-only expansion of I-5," Clark
7 County interests "needed a highway element because the land use patterns of Clark
8 County require a system with greater dependence on auto access."
9 For those reasons, it was politically impossible for the light rail project to
10 proceed without also building new interstate bridges across the Columbia River:
11 "The Council finds that the Project reflects negotiation and compromise
12 among governmental bodies and that for all practical purposes, the light rail
13 component could not have gone forward without the highway component
14 and the highway component could not have gone forward without the light
15 rail component."
16 Or as Metro later summarized it: "There is no light rail without the freeway
17 being replaced." Thus, Metro found, "the highway improvements are necessitated
1 light rail improvements."
2 Although political realities may have made the new bridges necessary, the
3 bridges themselves made additional highway improvements necessary, including
4 alterations to the North Marine Drive interchanges specifically mentioned by petitioners.6
5 The light rail construction itself also made necessary other changes to North Marine
6 Drive.7 Petitioners do not attempt to refute those findings by Metro.
5 More specifically, Metro explained in its findings of fact that the original
project proposal would have crossed the Columbia River
"via a proposed new bridge for light rail transit purposes only west of the
existing I-5/Interstate Bridge. TriMet successfully obtained voter support
of General Obligation Bonds for one-third of the local match in November
1994 by a wide margin. That ballot measure was predicated on a state
legislative contribution of another one-third and a Washington State/Clark
County contribution of the final one-third. In early 1995 the voters of Clark
Co. turned down a ballot measure for their local match contribution[.] It
was clear from this action that a stand-alone light rail project was not
politically acceptable to the voters of Clark County."
6 The findings of fact by Metro state:
"The Council further finds that construction of these new bridge
structures will necessitate improvements to the I-5 highway and
interchanges, including the Hayden Island and Marine Drive Interchanges,
and to the local street network that connects those interchanges including
realignments, widening or extensions of or new connections between N
Marine Drive [and other listed streets] * * *. [Metro Council] also finds
that additional highway improvements are needed to integrate the transit
corridor extension into the existing transportation network and to facilitate
multimodal access to and from the existing light rail station at the Expo
Center and a new light rail station at Hayden Island."
Elsewhere in the findings, Metro explained:
"[T]he associated highway improvements directly and indirectly serve the
light rail improvements by accommodating the alignment (e.g., new I-5
bridges, new arterial bridge over the North Portland Harbor) or providing
regional and local access to the Expo Center and Hayden Island light rail
stations (e.g., I-5 interchange improvements, access and circulation
improvements and roadway modifications on Hayden Island and in the
vicinity of the Marine Drive interchange). The Council further finds that
some of the highway improvements are needed for engineering purposes to
accommodate the new bridge containing the light rail alignment and the
modifications to the I-5 interchanges and their approaches."
7 Because the light rail tracks required "grade-separated crossings" with
existing roads, those crossings "necessitate modifications to the I-5/Marine Drive
Interchange and connecting roadways including the realignments of N Vancouver Way