02-19-2017  3:27 pm      •     

The Metro Council voted Feb. 5 to approve a resolution that required traffic reducing devices – such as tolls — be applied to any final bridge design, which has yet to be decided.
Councilors – as well as many supporters and critics – have said they don't want the bridge to attract additional congestion, which would make the $4 billion investment nearly moot.
An environmental impact study released in 2008 said not building a new bridge would result in more air pollutants than any of the alternatives.
However some traffic experts remain skeptical about what benefits a larger bridge will bring.
The multi-agency Columbia River bridge project has presided over a sharply divided community over the years. While multiple agencies have approved a plan to replace the two aging spans currently providing access to Oregon and Washington, there are many details yet to be resolved – the number of lanes, final design, toll configuration, and financing, among others.
During the meeting, longtime Environmental Justice advocate Sylvia Evans raised the issue of public health compensation. She and other opponents stood in contrast to the legion of supporters for the 12-lane option that testified at the beginning of the meeting.
Marcia Ward, of the Community and Environmental Justice Group, said the members of that workgroup had voted unanimously to support a 12-lane option.
"The 12-lane option will result in the least amount of pollution," Ward said. "Keeping traffic off local North Portland streets for the longest amount of time … The 12-lane option will allow for future flexibility."
She said the 12 lanes would only last for a short distance and provide a safer environment to get on and off the freeway. Many 12-lane proponents say the name is a misnomer because most of the extra lanes are access routes.
Evans had a different point of view on the environmental impact of more lanes.
"You can have as many lanes as you want," Evans said. "What we've been asking for all along is 7 percent of toll revenue … to go towards health care for our neighbors who live, work and play by the freeway. … Regardless of how many lanes … how much the toll is, it means more traffic, not less."
Although the Draft Environmental Impact Statement says there will be less air pollution with more lanes, studies across the country indicate that adding more lanes to an existing freeway do nothing to alleviate congestion – and thus, would not reduce pollution. Metro Councilor Rex Burkhart, a supporter of the project, said this expansion was different. It was not a freeway connecting undeveloped plots of land, and tolls and public transportation options would discourage the use of automobiles.
Jeri Williams, a longtime Environmental Justice activist who says she is one of the foremost experts in the state on the subject, said she wasn't going to tell the Metro Council how many lanes they should consider. She wanted them to consider one of the most basic tenants of Environmental Justice – accessibility.
"Look around you and see how many people of color are here today," she said.
Holding meetings in the middle of the day is a near guarantee to restrict the ability of working people – people of color – from attending a meeting. Ward says that her group does hold meetings in the evening and members of the public are welcome to attend and give their input. Meetings are held the third Thursday of the month at 6 p.m. at the Kenton Firehouse.
But the discussion of pollution, the uncertainty of future demand and its impact on the health of the freeway community is far from over – despite cheery environmental projections.
Ward says the Community Environmental Justice Group has not yet discussed any health compensation for which some Environmental Justice activists have long advocated. Similar programs were financed during previous I-5 expansion through the Community Enhancement Fund which included tree plantings, and bike and pedestrian improvements for side streets. That fund did not include any funding for the adverse health impacts brought by increased freeway activity.
Ward says she wants her group to discuss a community health fund before a final design is approved. She says there are questions that remain to be discussed about the project's impact on air and water quality. Even the issue of tolling – which Metro Councilor Burkholder, among others, used to dispel worries about future congestion – is unclear.
"No one has enough information to have a discussion (on tolling)," Ward said. A current tolling plan would include electronic tolls, but little has been said about how infrequent highway drivers would be easily accommodated.
Researcher Clark Williams-Derry said congestion pricing is a controversial idea that generally creates a regressive tax on the poor. Williams-Derry is the programs director for the Sightline Institute, a think tank dedicated to sustainable practices in the Pacific Northwest.
Plus, he said, implementing a toll in an already congested, dense urban area would have to be incredibly pricey to work. Could the project keep enough commuters off the road to make traffic flow smoothly?
"That seems unlikely unless tolls are going to be extremely high," he said. "Let's say they didn't manage for congestion well. You now have 10 lanes of vehicles (stuck in traffic). Once that happens, it's very hard to reverse directions. It can create long run pressures for the region to solve."
To see a graphic represenation of the 12-lane option for the Columbia River Crossing project, visit www.theskanner.com.

Recently Published by The Skanner News

  • Default
  • Title
  • Date
  • Random
  • WASHINGTON (AP) — One month after the inauguration, the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of Donald Trump's White House still is a hard-hat zone. Skeletal remains of the inaugural reviewing stands poke skyward. Random piles of plywood and cables are heaped on the ground inside crooked lines of metal fencing. The disarray outside the president's front door, though not his fault, serves as a metaphor for the tumult still unfolding inside. Four weeks in, the man who says he inherited "a mess" at home and abroad is presiding over a White House that is widely described as itself being a mess. At a stunning pace, Trump has riled world leaders and frustrated allies. He was dealt a bruising legal blow on one of his signature policies. He lost his national security adviser and his pick for labor secretary to scandal. He's seen forces within his government push back against his policies and leak confidential information. All of this has played out amid a steady drip of revelations about an FBI investigation into his campaign's contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Trump says his administration is running like a "fine-tuned machine." He points to the rising stock market and the devotion of his still-loyal supporters as evidence that all is well, although his job approval rating is much lower than that for prior presidents in their first weeks in office. Stung by the unrelenting criticism coming his way, Trump dismisses much of it as "fake news" delivered by "the enemy of the people" — aka the press. Daily denunciations of the media are just one of the new White House fixtures Americans are adjusting to. Most days start (and end) with presidential tweets riffing off of whatever's on TV talk shows or teasing coming events or hurling insults at the media. At some point in the day, count on Trump to cast back to the marvels of his upset of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election and quite possibly overstate his margins of support. Expect more denunciations of the "dishonest" press and its "fake news." From there, things can veer in unexpected directions as Trump offers up policy pronouncements or offhand remarks that leave even White House aides struggling to interpret them. The long-standing U.S. policy of seeking a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Trump this past week offered this cryptic pronouncement: "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one." His U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, the next day insisted, "We absolutely support a two-state solution." Trump's days are busy. Outside groups troop in for "listening sessions." Foreign leaders call or come to visit. (Or, in the case of Mexico's president, cancel out in pique over Trump's talk about the planned border wall.) After the president signed two dozen executive actions, the White House was awaiting a rush order of more of the gold-plated Cross pens that Trump prefers to the chrome-plated ones used by his predecessor. Trump hands them out as souvenirs at the signing ceremonies that he points to as evidence of his ambitious pace. "This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country," Trump said at a Thursday news conference. "Again, I say it. There has never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time." That's all music to the ears of his followers, who sent him to Washington to upend the established order and play the role of disrupter. "I can't believe there's actually a politician doing what he says he would do," says an approving Scott Hiltgen, a 66-year-old office furniture sales broker from River Falls, Wisconsin. "That never happens." Disrupt Trump has. But there may be more sound and fury than substance to many of his early actions. Trump did select Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, a nomination that has drawn strong reviews from conservatives. But the president is regrouping on immigration after federal judges blocked his order to suspend the United States' refugee program and ban visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries, which had caused chaos for travelers around the globe. Some other orders on issues such as the U.S.-Mexico border wall and former President Barack Obama's health care law are of limited effect. Trump says his early actions show he means to deliver on the promises he made during the campaign. "A lot of people say, 'Oh, oh, Trump was only kidding with the wall,'" the president told a group of police chiefs recently. "I wasn't kidding. I don't kid." But the Republican-led Congress is still waiting to see specifics on how Trump wants to proceed legislatively on top initiatives such as replacing the health care law, enacting tax cuts and revising trade deals. The messy rollout of the travel ban and tumult over the ouster of national security adviser Michael Flynn for misrepresenting his contacts with Russia are part of a broader state of disarray as different figures in Trump's White House jockey for power and leaks reveal internal discord in the machinations of the presidency. "I thought by now you'd at least hear the outlines of domestic legislation like tax cuts," says Princeton historian Julian Zelizer. "But a lot of that has slowed. Trump shouldn't mistake the fact that some of his supporters like his style with the fact that a lot of Republicans just want the policies he promised them. He has to deliver that." Put Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the camp of those more interested in substance than style. "I'm not a great fan of daily tweets," McConnell said Friday, referring to the "extra discussion" that Trump likes to engage in. But McConnell was quick to add: "What I am a fan of is what he's been actually doing." He credits Trump with assembling a conservative Cabinet and taking steps to reduce government regulation, and promised: "We like his positions and we're going to pursue them as vigorously as we can." The challenge may be to tease out exactly what Trump wants in the way of a health care plan, tax changes and trade policy. At his long and defiant news conference on Thursday, Trump tried to dispel the impression of a White House in crisis, squarely blaming the press for keeping him from moving forward more decisively on his agenda. Pointing to his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, Trump said, "You take a look at Reince, he's working so hard just putting out fires that are fake fires. I mean, they're fake. They're not true. And isn't that a shame because he'd rather be working on health care, he'd rather be working on tax reform." For all the frustrations of his early days as president, Trump still seems tickled by the trappings of his office. When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie visited the White House last week to discuss the national opioid epidemic over lunch, the governor said Trump informed him: "Chris, you and I are going to have the meatloaf.'" Trump added: "I'm telling you, the meatloaf is fabulous." ___Follow Nancy Benac on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nbenac
    Read More
  • FDR executive order sent 120,000 Japanese immigrants and citizens into camps
    Read More
  • Pruitt's nomination was strongly opposed by environmental groups and hundreds of former EPA employees
    Read More
load morehold SHIFT key to load allload all
Oregon Lottery
Carpentry Professionals
Calendar

PHOTO GALLERY

Reed College Jobs
His Eye is on the Sparrow