April 1st, 2013

Good Omens


So Portland, Multnomah County, Clark County, the states of Oregon and Washington, and the federal government are all wrangling over whether or not we need a replacement bridge carrying I-5 across the Columbia River between Portland and Vancouver, WA. The Interstate Bridge, a lift bridge, is a pain to cross, is too narrow, and is a choke point for the entire region's traffic. The plan for the past few years has been to build the gigantic Columbia River Crossing (CRC), a toll bridge for cars, pedestrians, and MAX trains, with better and less death-defying use of on- and off-ramps. But there are problems: it can't be too high or it'd interfere with plane traffic from Pearson Field right next to it. It can't be too low or ships won't be able to pass under it. (And the Coast Guard has said that the current design is too low. Oops.) Too wide means a logistical nightmare when building it; too narrow makes the whole project pointless. And all this might accomplish is moving the traffic choke point a little bit south into Portland's Delta Park, where there'd be even more trouble widening the freeway.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand the project's projected to cost $3.4 billion. Or "over three thousand-millions," to paraphrase G. Gordon Liddy (yes, in the Nineties when I was less of a rhetorical wuss, I listened to Liddy's radio show, even though I disagree with the man on an almost molecular level). Could cost more. Even just the Environmental Impact Statement study cost $105 million.

It's big. (Some of you said "You think?") And I do think we need a better bridge. But maybe...just maybe...if we're going to spend that much...we need to think bigger.

A bridge from Portland to Vancouver, WA? How about a bridge from Portland to Vancouver, B.C.? No problem clearing the Columbia! Carries you over the notorious I-5 choke point in Tacoma! (The Space Needle may need to be used as a bridge support, but everyone and everything's gotta pull its weight for progress.) And imagine the views!

No, bigger. How about a bridge from Portland, OR to Portland, ME? See how THAT would soar. Clear the Rockies, finally be able to drive past, I mean over every single Great Lake without being blocked, try not to faint from lower oxygen. THIS IS ALL AWESOME. (And far, far above any possible zombie apocalypse.)

No: bigger. How about a bridge from Portland, OR...to Portland, OR? Just keep going....and going...and going...in a ring! Build it in any direction and just keep going! It's a Great Circle Route, demonstrated not with string on a globe but by A RING AROUND THE WORLD. Teach kids the science of the Earth's shape! Sean Combs, Biggie Smalls, and Mase's "Been Around the World" would play from speakers on every street lamp! Though that bridge would a) be a threat to all sorts of planes and b) break the rule that everything in Portland is 20 minutes away from everything else in Portland...but that'd be WORTH IT TO BE AWESOME.

I'm grateful that this blog does not require me to be realistic.

And you should be grateful I'm not in government.

Being for the Benefit of Reading Frenzy!

Once again, a "use money to possibly help people" thing:

Last week I pledged to the Kickstarter campaign for Reading Frenzy, a small press/zine-focused store and publishing imprint that, for 17 years, was half a block from the downtown Powell's Books. RF recently lost its lease due to a building remodel, and has not yet been able to finalize a new location. It's raising funds to do so, because frustratingly, the store was actually doing really well in its former location, but now not having a location is a hindrance, you can tell.

So they're trying to find a better location, which I hope Portland has somewhere. And funds will help. The store's just over a third of the way there.

Here's the widget keeping track of the fundraiser's progress:

This is also a relatively rare case of me and Cory Doctorow agreeing on something! (He's a backer and has covered the campaign on Boing Boing.)