When Twitter user ColumbiaBridge followed me two days ago, I thought the feed must be part of the Governor's new outreach effort to boost support of the controversial Columbia River Crossing (CRC) project. The user joined Twitter on January 11th and signed up to follow 670 people in three days, introducing a CRC-centric hashtag #i5bridge. That rapid ascent, attempt at cohesive messaging and tweets repeating pro-bridge arguments the Governor's office and CRC staff have been pushing for months made me think this was an official, state-funded outreach effort.
Nope. The Governor's office denies the feed is theirs. ODOT didn't know what I was talking about. CRC staffer Carley Francis said, "We’ve been talking here about ways to do outreach through new media, so we think it’s a super cool idea. But it’s not ours."
The mysterious Twitterer has some sass. The feed's sidebar reads, "Vancouverites and Portlanders, hipsters and neocons, truckers and bicyclists: stay up to date on how your $3-4 billion will be spent." I messaged the ColumbiaBridge account about who's running the feed and though they wouldn't cough up a name, the user responded, "Just a citizen feed. Not run thru CRC, ODOT, or WSDOT--though, wish they would tweet abt CRC. This is in response to them not being on twtr."
It's important to know that the feed isn't official because while it includes some info that's genuinely interesting (for example: the Oregon Dept of Transportation fires noise cannons annually at birds on the bridge), some of its tweets are completely wrong:
- Poyourow quit the CRC team in frustration last September
So what mysterious person who would go out of their way to create a Twitter account and follow over 600 people just to post links about CRC news? I just can't imagine someone would commit to such wonkery without getting paid. My guess: it's a rogue CRC staffer or ODOT employee who wants to break ground on the bridge and is annoyed that their agency can't figure out the Internets fast enough.