Portland, Oregon has a reputation as one of the most sustainable and progressive cities in the US. We have an expanding network of light rail and a streetcar system, we commute by bike, and we are proud of our openly gay mayor (less proud now that he's admitted to an affair with an 18-year old in the lead up to the campaign, but still). Our regional Metro government structure has for years managed growth in the area by instituting an urban growth boundary. We've revitalized the downtown and inner neighborhoods such that a greater percentage of our working population lives "close-in" (as the local real estate term puts it). Our City Council passes laws like the banning of plastic shopping bags, and our state government is talking about turning Oregon into the center for green power industry.
Yet, all of that could be undone with one stroke, and it's called the Columbia River Crossing.
Interstate I-5 travels from Mexico on up to the Canadian border, connecting the major California population centers with the Northwest states. It passes through Portland, crossing the Columbia River into Vancouver, Washington. Because of the number of people who live in suburban Clark County surrounding Vancouver, and work in the Portland area, the bridge crossing can get quite backed up. Portland's solution to this problem is to tear down the 6-lane bridge and replace it with a 12-lane mega-bridge, at a cost of $4.2 billion. Our "green" mayor, our "green" city council, and our "green" Metro board all want to get this bridge built.
In the history of road-building in this country, we've tried again and again to build our way out of traffic problems by adding more and wider roads, and it never works. The reason is a concept called "induced demand", which says that traffic will grow to fill up added capacity. If this bridge gets built, more people will move to Clark County and travel in their single-occupancy vehicles across the bridge, resulting in the same traffic jams, but with more vehicles on more lanes, all emitting more CO2 and other pollution.
If you want to stop this monster bridge from getting built, and you live in the Portland/Vancouver area, please come to the Build Less Bridge rally, today at Waterfront Park, at noon. We'll have speakers tell us what the alternatives are, how this project can be stopped, and what we can do to stop it. The weather is beautiful today, and it's a great day for a protest rally. If you bike, you can hook up with rides starting from all over town here.
For more information, read this.
See you there!