|Abstract or Summary
- The Columbia River Channel Improvement Project (CRCIP) was constructed along 166.6 km (103.5 miles) of Columbia River (from River Mile 3 to 106.5), which was from Interstate 5 Bridge (between Portland and Vancouver) to the river mouth, before emptying into the Pacific Ocean. It deepened the river by 0.9 m (3-feet), from 12.2 m to 13.1 m (40-foot to 43-foot) depth, in order to provide enough depth for the need of current transportation. The project obtained approval from US Congress after presenting the Benefit-Cost Ratio (BCR) of 1.66. In addition, it also anticipated continued sedimentation, enabling full capacity loads in cargo transportation, as well as providing a positive balance of environmental benefits.
Significant discrepancies in terms of volume, cost and duration in the CRCIP were found after the project completion in fall 2010. With such lingering open-ended questions, this research seeks to clarify these questions by looking into the activities during the project implementation.
Data were collected from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Feasibility Study and Environmental Impact Statement (FSEIS) in 2003 as well as Final Report Adaptive
Environmental Management (AEM) in 2011. The data were then contrasted with those from opposing parties, such as Northwest Environmental Advocates (NWEA), declaration of Ernie Niemi (an economist), and related news. Data analysis was made by evaluating the methods applied in the dredging work (bathymetric survey), cost breakdown, benefit-cost analysis, as well as time schedule. Post-implementation data/information obtained from the USACE Portland District Office were used as additional input in discussing different viewpoints in the scope of research.
Result showed additional dredging volume of about 32%, which was caused by the extra work of maintenance dredging. This compared to a 7% difference in calculation due to different methods between the dredging of material and its disposal. The difference in the project cost was referred to the point-in-time estimate between year of project initiation and year of its completion. The benefit-cost ratio was verified, despite different opinions from opposing parties about the factors to be included in the project’s benefits and costs. Extended project duration was analyzed by assessing the availability of funding for every year of implementation. Most of the funding came from US Congress, thus the amount of its annual disbursement significantly affected the progress of project implementation.
It is recommended to conduct continuing research of the CRCIP with regards to environmental issues. The maintenance phase, which will end this year, could provide some information about the extent of environmental benefits as claimed by the project.