Kitzhaber inflates I-5 bridge jobs potential


Gov. John Kitzhaber wants Oregonians to believe he’s creating jobs, and he backs up that claim by promoting his support for the $3.6 billion Interstate 5 bridge project called the Columbia River Crossing. Except it’s not true—not even close.

Share this article!

Gov. John Kitzhaber wants Oregonians to believe he’s creating jobs, and he backs up that claim by promoting his support for the $3.6 billion Interstate 5 bridge project called the Columbia River Crossing.

On May 17, Kitzhaber sent a letter to the state’s most powerful business groups and the AFL-CIO, the umbrella group for trade unions, boasting about his effort to boost Oregon’s economy after helping unveil a new design for the bridge. “We took a major step forward on the Columbia River Crossing and the 20,000 new jobs its construction and long term improvements will create,” Kitzhaber wrote. (He got that figure from project sponsors’ modeling. See their memo here.)

Just think of it—20,000 jobs. That’s three times the number of people Nike employs in Oregon, and more than Intel, the state’s biggest private employer. In a state where unemployment is well above the national average at 9.6 percent, that claim sounds like manna from heaven.

Except it’s not true—not even close.

Kitzhaber is exaggerating by 10 times the number of jobs potentially created by project, known as the CRC. That’s according to the project’s own reports, as well as the state’s methods for tallying jobs.

It’s not the first time that leaders from Oregon and Washington have made shaky claims to justify the project. The major reasons backers cite for building the CRC are disproved by the project’s own documents.

Read more in today’s Willamette Week.




Latest from Oregon Business Team