A group of Northeast Portland neighbors teamed up with longtime Columbia River Crossing (CRC) critics Coalition for a Livable Future this morning to appeal a key land use decision on the $3.6 billion bridge project.
As I reported this week in the news section, the CRC is entering the final hour for public comment. But even after the plan for the 10-lane bridge is finalized and submitted to the feds for funding, critics will continue working to scale down the project, likely via lawsuits. No group has so far come out and said they're planning to sue over the freeway expansion's environmental impact, but Coalition for a Livable Future Policy Director Mara Gross hasn't ruled the idea out, either.
So in the future, anti-CRC activism will look less like raucous sign-waving outside meetings and more like what happened today, where Gross, members of the Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods, and a groups of businesses including Plaid Pantry traveled into the hellish depths of transportation politics wonkery to appeal a CRC land use decision in front of the state's Land Use Board of Appeals. BlueOregon and the Oregonian (woop!) have a lengthy write-ups on this, but here's the deal:
In August, Metro voted to fast-track the CRC's land use plans. But the law they used to fast-track the project is one that was originally intended to be used for light rail projects. The neighbors and Coalition for a Livable Future argue that while it includes a light rail element, the CRC is primarily a freeway expansion. In a press release, Gross noted, “This project is very risky. We shouldn’t gamble by skipping the steps provided by Oregon’s land use process."