We've been talking for months about how much the Columbia River Crossing bridge is going to cost and how much traffic it will create, but what will our beloved megabridge actually look like? The group tasked with choosing the look of the CRC - the "Urban Design Advisory Group" - met Friday morning. This is what they saw:
"Are we going to have real honest bridge architecture or little things tacked on to generic bridge architecture?" asks Walter Valenta, a member of the committee and the Bridgeton Neighborhood Association. Valenta says that while he knows there will be some disagreement now that real decisions are being made about the physical look of the bridge, the CRC's design process has been a little backward. Highway planners and engineers began designing based on their needs and an architect was brought in later, to add design elements to the already chosen structure. In contrast, Valenta pointed to the elegant MAX hybrid suspension bridge planned across the Willamette. The process of designing that bridge has been guided from the beginning by an innovative architect.
"It's kind of like the engineers just wanted to be done," says Valenta. "The CRC, I think, were hoping that the work they've done today was a mature design, but it's not." That means these images are most likely just draft ideas, the final look of the bridge could be somewhat different, given the feedback of the Design Advisory Group.
Friday's meeting centered on "gateway" concepts for the CRC design and debate over whether the bike/pedestrian path will be on the top level of the bridge or underneath. One of the gateway ideas is seen above, the "contemporary" design is below.
The Bicycle Transportation Alliance and Mayor Adams are among the groups pushing for a top-level path. When the BTA came out against the 12-lane bridge, one of the big reasons was the unsavory likelihood that the 12-laner would have the under bridge bike path. "An under bridge facility will be dark, it will be invisible, it will be under concrete," worried BTA educator & advocate Michelle Poyourow. Here's what the CRC project committee thinks the under bridge path will look like: