For Immediate Release: 2 May 2022
Media Contact: Brett Morgan, 1000 Friends of Oregon, Member of JCA
Brett@friends.org – 503.497.1000 x122
Just Crossing Comments on IBR Scenarios and Limiting Scenarios
Portland OR / Vancouver WA:
Members of the newly-formed Just Crossing Alliance issued a statement expressing disappointment at the LPA scenarios proposed last week by the Interstate Bridge Replacement (IBR) Program. This Thursday these scenarios will be limited to a single one, which will become the project “Locally Preferred Alternative” or LPA, which will need approval from all 9 project partners, and defines the general design decisions, such as the number and length of lanes expanded, how large interchanges are, and how light rail expansion can assist bridge operations.
“The Columbia Bridge replacement is an opportunity to undo the past harm our transportation decisions have brought to underserved communities. Unfortunately, neither bridge alternative takes this opportunity seriously. Four areas with the highest Environmental Health Disparities in Washington state are impacted by the project, yet both alternatives propose to increase pollution including greenhouse gases from current levels,” says Paulo Nunes-Ueno transportation and land-use policy lead with Front and Centered. Front and Centered is a Washington-based coalition of community groups of color working toward Environmental and Climate Justice.
“We would like to see an approach to the bridge replacement that takes a much broader view of the needs of our communities. Light Rail needs to connect to Clark College and the School for the Blind,” says Abby Griffith of the Disability Mobility Initiative.
“A more inclusive approach to the transportation needs of the Vancouver and Portland area should take a hard look at the investments needed to provide the level of transit frequency we will need to meet our growing population and our climate targets. The Steel Bridge is a bottleneck for all the region’s light rail trains. Supersizing the number of car lanes across the Columbia River is solving the wrong problem,” says Nunes-Ueno.
Sarah Iannarone, Executive Director of from The Street Trust, also a member of the Just Crossing Alliance, agreed. “While we are excited that the IBR team is supporting light rail, we’re concerned that the additional freeway capacity in the form of ‘auxiliary’ lanes (some of which could be as long as 5 miles long) will add as much as 1.3 million metric tons of carbon over their lifetime, equivalent to the annual emissions of 250,000 homes. The designs we’re seeing expand this project to 8 or 10 lanes – that’s double the width of the I-5 Marquam Bridge through downtown.” They continue, “These lanes aren’t a good investment, adding to construction costs without reducing congestion in the long-term.”
These additional freeway lanes will have a dramatic impact on the livability of Hayden Island, and the folks who call the island home will be directly impacted:
“There remain deep concerns from residents of Hayden island on the physical footprint from the proposed bridge and the impacts it would have on our community. Interchanges and auxiliary lanes would have a direct impact on the livability of Hayden Island, and on the South Vancouver Waterfront.” Jan Roxburgh, a resident of Hayden Island. “We should be ensuring that we are considering all options, including extensively studying the impacts of a no, a partial, and a full interchange on the island. We need to do much more for the people who call Hayden Island home and not let this be a land grab. The island is much more to the people who live or work at the businesses here than somewhere for people to drive across in order to get from Portland to Vancouver, and it is more than just a tax-free shopping destination.”
For those interested in weighing in and contacting members of the Bridge Executive Steering Committee, the folks guiding the LPA decision, please go to the Just Crossing Alliance’s organizing page.
“Decisions on the locally preferred alternative, or LPA, are all happening in the months of April, May, and June. Ensuring the LPA addresses all concerns, such as Metro’s Values, Actions, and Outcomes resolution, prior to asking for partner approval is critical to ensure local elected and government officials don’t feel constrained to vote yes due to the fear of losing funding opportunities.” Brett Morgan of 1000 Friends, a JCA member added. “The Just Crossing Alliance wants to ensure leaders don’t run into the same issues they did 10 years ago with the Columbia River Crossing.”
To learn more about the Just Crossing Alliance, please visit justcrossing.org