By Aaron Corvin and Cami Joner, July 7, 2013, The Columbian
The Columbia River Crossing’s spectacular flameout came just in time for Vancouver’s July 4 fireworks extravaganza, when bursts of bright light disappear into the black night sky.
And, as in a fireworks display, the CRC’s disappearance has left the city’s business leaders, economic development officials, property and shop owners wondering: “Is there anything else?”
In this early stage of reflection on the end of a project that consumed more than $170 million and a decade of planning, business leaders are not expecting big transportation improvement anytime soon. The twin towers of the Interstate 5 Bridge are likely to dominate the city skyline far into the future.
“Every individual and business that was waiting for a decision on the new bridge now knows their fate. They should sit back, take a deep breath and plan accordingly to resume their lives,” said Craig Angelo of the Al Angelo Co., a dominant downtown property owner.
Reactions to the project’s demise are deeply divided, just as they were to the massive $3.4 billion bridge and light-rail project itself. Matt Brislawn, owner of a small downtown guitar shop, is relieved that his lower Washington Street building will not be swamped by a light-rail onramp. Other downtown property owners welcome the certainty of the status quo, even if they supported a new bridge and rail transit.
But Lisa Nisenfeld, president of the Columbia River Economic Development Council, a jobs-promoting nonprofit, believes the failure of the CRC will make it harder to attract jobs. Prospective employers often inquired about the CRC, she said. “The sentence usually goes, ‘They are going to build the bridge aren’t they?’ ” Nisenfeld said.
Todd Coleman, the Port of Vancouver’s executive director, favored the project but now believes the region will find a new path. “I think this community will coalesce around economic development,” he said. “I think you will see people come up with new ideas.”
Below are two stories that offer business perspectives on a post-CRC future.
CRC and Downtown: Merchants can proceed with planning
CRC and Industry: Failure seen as opportunity lost for county