A Bridge to the
Twentieth Century: Megaproject Technocracy and the Columbia River Crossing
Who are the actors involved?
The Future of the CRC
References & Links
Comments & questions to:
A Bridge to the
Twentieth Century: Megaproject Technocracy and the Columbia River Crossing
Links, How to Get Involved, and Citations
a contemporary case study, this website can merely provide a snapshot
of where the Columbia River Crossing project stands, as of roughly May
2010. Even throughout the weeks leading up to the creation of this
website, the CRC story has continued to evolve, particularly as citizen
activists in opposition to the bridge begin to organize a coordinated
response to the Final Environment Impact Statement expected to be
released by the end of this year. I have no doubt that the project will
continue to loom over the region’s consciousness in the months ahead,
whether in the context of Oregon’s gubernatorial election, the
aforementioned of the EIS, or other unforeseen developments to the
story. I therefore provide a list of sources for readers of this
website to check out if they want to learn more about the state of the
project as it evolves past this to read more about the project as it
Jonathan Maus, editor of Portland’s bikeportland.org blog, has covered news of the CRC over the past few years.
His perspective is important because while his blog is largely
concerned with covering bicycle-related events and politics in the
city, the journalism of the blog has grown to cover the growing active
transportation movement in the city.
The Oregonian - The region's largest newspaper, The Oregonian
has played a substantial role in the history of the project by largely
supporting of the Columbia River Crossing (see my discussion about the
role of The Oregonian and local media here). It is interesting to see recent editorials, such as this editorial piece
published only days ago by Associate Editor Mike Francis, begin to ask
questions about the political process that brought about this bridge
and doubts that the project, as it stands, is either politically
feasible or objectively desirable for the region.
Citizen activist Christopher Smith
has been closely following the developments of the Columbia River
Crossing for years; he runs the popular portlandtransport.org blog and
serves on Portland’s Planning Commission (for which he provides weekly
updates.) Smith, a previous candidate for Portland’s City
Council, also gave a fantastic interview through local Portland
Podcast pdx.fm, which can be streamed, and is highly recommended listening in its entirety.
A panel of international architecture critics hosted by PDXplore, discussed the project (covered here) on their website and covered in the Portland Mercury’s Blogtown PDX, can be streamed here.
This event was particularly noteworthy in that it intentionally brought
in national transportation activists to review the current state of the
plans for the CRC. Because the project has been criticized for its lack
of independent oversight and from its insular review board, the two
hour symposium in which international design professionals, urbanists
and architects essentially slammed the project is an interesting listen.
you interested in getting involved with activism surrounding the
Columbia River Crossing? Here are a few sites to check out to see ways
in which citizens can challenge the current project.
- Coalition for a Livable Future has a petition you can sign if you are interested in supporting their proposal for a “Climate Smart Columbia River Crossing.”
- You could Join the Active Right of Way (AROW) Google Group,
organized by a group of grassroots citizen activists who coordinate
efforts to advocate for sustainable transportation and livability
projects across the city. They have an up-to-date calendar worth
checking up on if you are interested in attending meetings and events
about the project.
- As mentioned on the “local politicians” page, Metro Councilor Robert Liberty is asking citizens for their own one-page proposals of
different ways to tackle the issues surrounding this project. Some of
the responses have been pretty interesting, if not necessarily for
their depth of detail, but for the extent to which citizens have
imagined unconventional, unique ways of solving the region's problems
that a bureaucratic state-level transportation group like ODOT has been
unable to produce. If you have any suggestions, I’m sure he’d appreciate your response.
- Elections Matter.
As mentioned in the sections about local- and state-level governmental
agencies that are relevant to this project, some candidates have come
out in favor of the CRC as it currently stands (Republican
Gubernatorial candidates Chris Dudley, Allen Alley and John Lim; Metro President Candidate Tom Hughes), some have cautiously suggested minor revisions (Metro President Candidate Rex Burkholder, Gubernatorial John Kitzhaber), and some have outright called for criticial retooling of the CRC design process (Gubernatorial Democrat Candidate Bill Bradbury, Metro President Candidate Bob Stacey).
If you live within the State of Oregon, you should have already
received your ballot in the mail; ballots must be received by the state
by May 18th. Vote! In Vancouver, Washington, it's likely that
opposition to any tolling whatsoever on the future CRC helped propel
current Mayor Tim Leavitt to victory, despite the fact that even the current plans include congestion prices to help mitigate traffic.
this website is meant to inform an interested, politically engaged
audience about the history of the Columbia River Crossing, I’ve
attempted to limit my citations to journalism, blogs and other sources
located online for all to see, and generally avoided the citation of
academic literature about the history of highway megaprojects, the
technocracy of transportation planning or the history of transportation
movements in the Portland region. However, all of these documents are
helpful for putting the CRC project in a larger context, and have been
used to inform the content on this website. Below are a handful of
sources not directly
linked in the paper for those interested in academic literature and
other important, longer-form journalistic inquiries into the project.
Sam, David Bragdon, Tim Leavitt, and Steve Stuart. Letter to Gov
Christine Gregoire, Gov. Ted Kulongoski. 19 Jan. 2010. Oregon Live. The
Oregonian, 20 Jan. 2010. Web. 6 Apr. 2010.
- Baeten, G. "The Tragedy of the Highway: Empowerment, Disempowerment
and the Politics of Sustainability Discourses and Practices." EUROPEAN
PLANNING STUDIES 8 (2000): 69-86.
- Citizens Opposition and Alternatives to the CRC. Web. 06 Apr. 2010.
- Columbia River Crossing (Project), Oregon, & Washington (State).
(2008). CRC and climate change. Vancouver, WA: Columbia River Crossing.
- Duin, Steve. "Columbia River Crossing -- $100 Million Spent on Planning
without Reaching 10 Cents of Consensus." Oregon Live. The Oregonian, 24
Feb. 2010. Web. 06 Apr. 2010.
- Emmelin, Lars. "Evaluating Environmental Impact Assessment Systems -
Part 1: Theoretical and Methodological Considerations." Housing, Theory
and Society 15.3 (1998): 129-48.
- Faldo, Nick. "Columbia River Crossing : Alternatives on Vimeo." Vimeo.
Web. 06 Apr. 2010. <http://www.vimeo.com/5419575>.
- Feldman, Elliot J., and Jerome
Milch . Technocracy Versus Democracy : The Comparative Politics of
International Airports. Boston, Mass.: Auburn House Pub. Co., 1982.
J. D., and D. Owen. "Technocracy and Democracy: Conflicts between
Models and Participation in Environmental Law and Planning." HASTINGS
LAW JOURNAL 56.5 (2005): 901-82.
- Interstate Highways: Replace the Columbia River Crossing bridge? (2008). Site Selection. 53, 34-34.
John and Harvey Molotch. Urban Fortunes: The Political Economy of
Place. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. (1987)
- Maus, Jonathan. "Activists in New CRC Video: 'We've Been Rolled: It's
Time to Push Back." BikePortland.org. 16 Mar. 2010. Web. 06 Apr. 2010. Accessed here.
- "OEC’s Comments on the Columbia River Crossing Draft Environmental
Impact Statement." Oregon Environmental Council. Web. 06 Apr. 2010.
- Portland (Or.). Bureau of Transportation; Portland (Or.). (2009).
Portland : Columbia River crossing (2008); Columbia River crossing : A
bridge, transit and highway improvement project.
- Roberts, Nancy. "Public Deliberation in an Age of Direct Citizen
Participation." The American Review of Public Administration 34.4
- Ruiz, Amy J. "Bridge to Disaster." Portland Mercury. 13 Mar. 2008. Web.
06 Apr. 2010.
- "State Strategic Planning: Suggestions from the Oregon Experience."
PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION REVIEW -WASHINGTON DC- 58.4 (1998): 353-60.
- United States. (2008). Interstate-5 Columbia
River Crossing project Vancouver, Washington and Portland, Oregon:
Draft environmental impact statement. Vancouver, WA: Columbia River
The Columbia River Crossing with Mt. Hood Behind.
-Photo Credit to Devlyn
12 Lanes?! Insane!
Photo Credit Jonathan Maus
Last updated: 3rd May 2010