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Published 3/15/2013 2:23:41 PM
The I-5 Bridge Replacement Project will make improvements to the Interstate 5 corridor which serves as the primary trade route from Mexico to Canada. This five-mile area provides the main access to the Port of Portland, Port of Vancouver, downtown Vancouver and regionally significant industrial areas such as the Columbia Corridor. The Marine Drive interchange, which serves the Port of Portland’s marine terminals, is the most used freight interchange in Oregon.
Why trade matters to the regional economy:
Washington is the fifth largest exporter in the U.S.; two-in-five jobs in Washington are trade-related; In Clark County more than one-in-two jobs (~51 percent) are trade related.
Oregon is ranked eighth in the nation in trade per capita by export value. Oregon has the fifth largest export-supported job base in the U.S.; one in five Oregon jobs are trade-related.
The Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro export value topped $21.3 billion in 2010—nearly 20 percent of the Metro GDP (Brookings Institute)
Benefits of building the I-5 bridge replacement project:
A 2012 economic benefits analysis demonstrates that infrastructure improvements made through the CRC project will significantly benefit the Portland metro regional economy and Pacific Northwest region as a whole. These benefits include:
Saving travelers about 6.8 million hours per year in reduced auto and truck delays, and transit riders will have major time savings as well. By 2030, the estimated traveler savings will exceed $435 million per year.
Resulting in the creation of approximately 4,200 jobs and $231 million in additional wages in 2030 compared to the “no build” scenario.
Improving connectivity and market access for businesses, including increasing access to larger labor market from which to draw skilled workers
Reducing the risk of catastrophic loss of the existing bridges in an earthquake, which would cause economic hardship due to the inoperability of the West Coast’s main trade corridor.
The value of benefits of the CRC locally preferred alternative is $5.4- $7.9 billion, depending on assumptions, much higher than the costs of about $3 billion.
The CRC Economic Benefits Analysis is available online
Published 3/14/2013 10:54:53 AM
Federal judge Marco Hernandez issued an order March 13, 2013, dismissing Thompson Metal Fab, Inc.’s National Environmental Policy Act lawsuit and denying the motion of Greenberry Industrial, Inc. to intervene in lawsuits brought by environmental and community advocacy groups challenging the CRC. The rulings represent a step forward in the federal and state agencies’ coordinated defense of the project from legal challenges under NEPA.
Thompson Metal Fab et al v. Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration is part of three individual NEPA claims filed against the CRC project in 2012, which were all consolidated into one case in Oregon District Court. The federal attorneys representing FHWA and FTA filed a motion several months ago to dismiss Thompson Metal Fab’s claim on the basis that its complaint alleged only economic harm, and not the environmental harm that NEPA addresses. Both Thompson Metal Fab and Greenberry are Columbia River businesses that fabricate large industrial equipment along the Columbia River east of the Interstate 5 in Vancouver.
Other courts, including in the Ninth Circuit, have dismissed or upheld dismissals of plaintiffs who alleged only economic harm to their business interests, rather than impacts to the environment, finding they cannot sue under NEPA. The federal judge agreed with the federal agencies, and concluded that Thompson must be dismissed for lack of standing. Standing is a legal term referring to an individual’s personal stake in the outcome of the controversy or disagreement.
In addition, Judge Hernandez ruled that Greenberry’s attempt to intervene in the case came well beyond NEPA’s statute of limitations and was, therefore, denied. Greenberry did not sue prior to the July 2012 deadline, but instead moved to intervene several months after the other plaintiffs filed. The judge concluded that Greenberry’s claim is barred by the statute of limitations, and also noted that Greenberry’s claim suffered from the same flaw as Thompson’s – it alleges only economic and not environmental harm that is addressed under NEPA.
The hearing schedule for the remaining claims is expected to be announced shortly.
Published 3/12/2013 6:32:17 PM
The CRC has received the US Coast Guard’s preliminary completeness review of the bridge permit application submitted January 30, 2013, for the I-5 replacement bridge across the Columbia River. The Coast Guard finds “much of the application sufficient” and has identified “certain areas where more information is required” before commencing “the public notice and comment process.”
It is important for the Coast Guard, the project, and potentially impacted river users that we have the most complete and data driven set of analysis possible, so the Coast Guard can issue an informed decision by September 30, 2013. The Coast Guard has requested information about a section of the river navigation channel, the type and schedule for reaching mitigation agreements with the impacted businesses, the source data for the economic analysis, and technical and administrative modifications to the application.
Both the Coast Guard and project are jointly committed to meeting the schedule for a September 30 permit decision. Rear Admiral Taylor underscores this commitment in his letter: “The Coast Guard understands the importance of this project to the citizens of the region, and to the nation as a whole. My staff and I are fully committed to working with you to address these concerns…Upon receipt of this information, I will commence the public comment period, which is essential to inform my permit recommendation to the Commandant.”
We will begin compiling existing data and information for the Coast Guard immediately and will work with them over the next few weeks to address the questions that have been raised.
Published 3/1/2013 1:42:15 PM
The Columbia River Crossing project submitted its General Bridge Permit application to the U.S. Coast Guard Jan. 30, 2013. The application is for a replacement Interstate 5 bridge with 116 feet of navigational clearance.
Within 30 days USCG will finish its completion review and request additional information if needed. Before making a permit decision, there will be an opportunity for public review and comment. The project schedule relies on a permit decision by Sept. 30, 2013.
The application builds from previous studies and analyses, including the project’s Navigation Impact Analysis
and Economic Benefit Analysis
. The bridge height included in the application was selected because it balances the needs of surface, river and air traffic and the communities on either side of the river. The permit application identifies and outlines measures to avoid, minimize and mitigate for negative impacts.
The application includes findings from vessel and economic analysis of river data:
Almost 28,000 trips entered or exited the mouth of the Columbia River between 2002 and 2012. Of those, 18 could have been impacted by a 116 foot bridge.
Between 2002 and 2012, the total Columbia River marine related average annual direct employment was over 14,000 full time jobs. About 80 were associated with shipments that could have been affected by a 116 foot bridge.
About $213 billion in total value cargo was shipped on the river between 2002 and 2012. Of that total, the combined value of the potentially height impacted work identified was $179 million.
Under the protection of non-disclosure agreements, proprietary information from each of the fabricators also was used to understand their past work history and future work predictions.
To honor these disclosure agreements, the publicly-released permit application has redacted any proprietary information related to the business operations and individual mitigation discussions.
The application can be found online:
Published 3/1/2013 10:29:15 AM
Sequestration should not affect the CRC’s ability to secure $850 million in FTA funding, if the states move forward on the schedule that is before them. If we delay, there is more of a chance of being impacted.
The FTA program could be cut by about 6%, and this cut will not affect funds for CRC if we proceed with our Full Funding Grant Application timeline. Our current place in line for FTA New Starts funds puts us next in line for funding. Other projects that have not advanced as far in the New Starts application process are more likely to be affected.