Monday, August 9, 2010

crc bridge project, round two: the bigger picture

Here we go again:

Consider that Portland's metro area population is expected to double by 2030, and that a number of folks who work in Portland live across the Columbia River in Vancouver, WA (where there's more affordable housing, but also, unfortunately, more suburban sprawl). Consider that people are moving here in droves in spite of brutal unemployment (hovering near 12 per cent) and that, in spite of Portland's "bicycle chic", most of them are coming here in cars. Consider that freedom of movement and cheap cars and gas are the status quo, and that we don't like to have discussions about population control and rationing of resources in polite, or any other, company; and you have a connundrum of epic proportions.

It's clear that the present Interstate Bridge won't meet the needs of a region growing this quickly. It's old and needs repair or replacement. To simply repair it is to deny the growth that is happening right before our eyes. To replace it is to give in to the inevitability -- and unsustainability -- of unchecked growth.

While lots of folks want to think that this is just an argument about a really big bridge, it's really a discussion about population growth and our society's unchecked use of resources -- a discussion few people are willing to have in a serious and thoughtful manner.

Can this degree of growth in our region be sustainable?
If so, how?
If not, can we have an intelligent discussion of population and resource planning that won't make us look and sound like Fascists, or worse?
Good luck.

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