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Which comes first? The forecast or the design?

You’d think that we might want to have a handle on the expected traffic before designing a new bridge (and interchanges, and transit, and active transportation…). But the IBR is making a recommendation on the Locally Preferred Alternative, and expecting local governments to endorse that recommendation, before releasing new traffic forecasts. The design work to date is being done using traffic projections from the former Columbia River Crossing project, circa 2007!

We now have the benefit of hindsight. How have those forecasts from the prior CRC project fared against history? Not well as it turns out…

The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) predicted a 1.7% annual growth in traffic. The actual growth rate from 2005 to 2019 before the pandemic) was 0.3%.

So shouldn’t local decision makers insist on a new (and believable) forecast before endorsing a Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA, i.e., the design)? We think so!