For years now, government, business and community have been planning to make major changes to the Interstate 5 bridge spanning the Columbia River between Portland, OR and Vancouver, WA. Environmental Justice activists have been monitoring the situation from nearly the beginning. There has been some concern about the emphasis on adding more vehicle lanes, and efforts to make it the only alternative to "do nothing". Still, public officials continue to voice the expectation that the MAX Light Rail will cross. As a resident nearby, I certainly hope so!
There are 3 Options: #1 No Build – keep the same. #2 Expand with Rapid Bus. #3 Expand with Light Rail. My vote is for (they call them Alternatives) #3.
Anyway, the Draft Environmental Impact Statement has been released. Deadline to give feedback: July 1st, 2008. It is all available on the web. Highlights include:
- The affected area impacts "EJ Populations". This is a term I haven’t seen in policy documents before, but it refers to low income and communities of color. There is a chapter on "Neighborhoods and Environmental Justice". Most of the poverty is in Washington, racial minorities in Oregon (Kenton Neighborhood). Check out their maps.
- Condemnation or "taking" of private property will mostly occur on the Washington side, and some in Oregon’s Hayden Island. Appendix D outlines the "Potential Property Acquisitions". Always a hot issue that turns out folks.
- Long term they expect air quality to improve. Even without factors such as toll and mass transit. CO emissions have dropped steadily over the last 20 years. This was a major concern of EJ activists.