Yesterday I wondered whether Commissioner Randy Leonard might be preempting Mayor Sam Adams' decision on lanes for the Columbia River Crossing, by saying that if Adams chooses any less than the 12 lane option, he'll be doing so for the sake of "appearances" over "substance." Adams' spokesman, Roy Kaufmann, didn't call back. But Adams himself just did. And I asked him the following three questions:
1.Has Commissioner Leonard essentially preempted your decision on lane numbers for the CRC?
2.Is it right to suggest that your ability to deliver a sustainable bridge option is shot, now?
3.Are you prepared to go to the mat with Commissioner Leonard if you feel, as Metro Regional Council President David Bragdon does, that 8 or 10 lanes might be better in the long term?
You may be surprised to hear that I didn't get any direct answers. Although I think the subtext of what Adams said may have suggested the following:
"Randy has been consistent on the 12 lanes from the council to the Metro work session," says Adams. "My approach to the crossing is holistic. I want to see, if you review the tapes and the notes, active transportation management of not just the I5 but the 205. I want to realize what we have set forth in terms of council policy on quality of life and improving the environment, and I want the crossing actively managed based on some performance goals that we have set out."
"I'm trying to put together a holistic approach that is about more than just a decision on the number of lanes," Adams continues. "I'm going to propose what I think is best for both Oregon and Washington for both crossings. It's not just about lanes, it's about access to transit, potentially, lane dedication, because freight trips are different from single occupancy vehicles."
"My work on this project isn't about is my position the same or different than Randy," Adams insists. "I'm going to lay out what I think is best for the city now and in the future. We have to have buy in from Vancouver, but at the same time I'm going to stand up for the goals that I've set out, I I think there's common ground."
"Everyone is going to have to compromise a little," Adams concedes. "We have excelled in Portland in bicycling, transit, streetcars, and light rail, but where we've not been a model for the nation is active transportation vehicle management. And if you just circle round one item, whether it's transit, vehicles, or lanes, then you're missing the point."
Circling one item or not, Adams, whose recommendations are due to council by February 25th, wouldn't be drawn on lane numbers. Nor would he be drawn further into discussing whether Leonard's outspoken positions on the bridge are really messing with his shit. Instead, he said this is Portland's "single best opportunity to lead the nation in transportation management," again. "I realize this is geeky and wonky," he said.
Adams' rhetoric seems conciliatory, but also, appears to be attempting to stand firm in light of Leonard's criticism. The problem, perhaps, will be that if Adams suggests a bridge with active transportation management and all the other features he's suggesting, people are still going to be asking, "how many lanes?" And if he ends up saying 12, well, Leonard said it first. And that's what I believe they call a victory, in politics. Not that there are ever winners or losers in this game, except during, er, elections, of course. Second thought, just forget I mentioned it.