Monday, April 25, 2011

No go for fancy bridge

Governors Kitzhaber and Gregoire announced today that the Columbia River Crossing will be a composite truss bridge, like the Glen Jackson (the I-205 bridge across the Willamette).  Critics favored a more iconic cable stay bridge, which would have added about $80 million to the price tag for the project, which is already highly questionable, and would have added time to the construction of the bridge.  But, now both states have to sell the bridge politically in order for the project to go forward.

This could be difficult, because, as the O's Steve Duin point out, it is highly unclear as to how Oregon will pay its share of the project without a major tax hike.  Additionally, the design aspect could be problematic.  The City of Portland strongly favored the cable stay design.  PORT's Jeff Jahn has already come out in support of nixing the whole project on design grounds (both aesthetically, and due to the composite truss design's alleged deficiencies in standing up to an earthquake).

There was no "right" decision on this issue, in the sense that any decision would have angered one contingency or the other, but picking the truss bridge over the cable stay makes it a tougher sell in Portland.  This is because the people who are going to be upset about the cost of the bridge are basically going against the project no matter what, as the design of the bridge is not a huge part of the cost, while other Portlanders who don't mind the cost do not want another ugly bridge.

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