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Law Pacific Environmental Advocacy Center (PEAC)

Proposed Downsizing of CRC Not Necessarily Good News for the Environment

February 06, 2012

The Oregonian reported on January 19th that “officials of the Columbia River Crossing unveiled plans…for a significantly downsized first-phase of the controversial bridge and freeway expansion that would pare the price tag by about $650 million.” Some commentators assumed that a smaller project would translate to lesser impacts on the environment.

However, PEAC staff attorney Tom Buchele explains: “Although it would be easy to just assume that this ‘downsizing’ would have lower impacts, the CRC’s proponents have always argued that they needed a mega-bridge and all of the sprawling new interchanges to reduce traffic congestion. Using the CRC proponents’ own logic, eliminating or delaying new interchanges would actually increase the project’s adverse impacts.

“But more importantly, this ‘downsized project’ really is a new proposal that has not been subject to environmental review or public comment. If this turns out to be a serious proposal, it is just one more reason why the Federal Highway Administration needs to prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement.”