Category Archives: Media

Why light rail is wrong for Clark County

The Reflector published my letter here.

  • Feb 4, 2019

A while back The Reflector asked readers the following: “Gov. Jay Inslee earlier this month said that if a new Interstate 5 bridge is to be built, Southwest Washington needs to compromise with Oregon by allowing it to feature light rail — otherwise it won’t get done. Do you believe this is a fair compromise to finally get the project moving?”

Who will light rail serve? Will it reduce traffic congestion?

The CRC demonstrated the planned new bridge with light rail would reduce the morning southbound commute time by one minute. That was because Oregon refuses to add new through lanes to I-5 at the Rose Quarter. Furthermore, roughly $2,000 per year in tolls would be required to pay back borrowed money. Southwest Washington residents would pay up to 60 percent of those tolls.

Every past new light rail line saw a reduction in bus service by TriMet. They simply reduced or eliminated bus service to force people to use the more expensive light rail transit.

C-Tran currently offers seven separate “express” bus lines into Portland. They travel both the I-5 and the I-205 corridors. In 2017, only 1,437 people used these express buses on an average day. That’s a rounding error of the 310,000 vehicles WSDOT reports cross the Columbia River daily. Furthermore, since the light rail would only travel the I-5, it would attract a small, unknown portion of the 1,437 people.

John Charles of the Cascade Policy Institute reports TriMet’s light rail carries just under one percent of the region’s daily trips. Furthermore, all mass transit carries less than 5 percent of trips. As the recent PEMCO survey reported, 94 percent of people prefer to use their privately owned vehicles.

The MAX yellow line travels at an average speed of 18 mph. There are nine stops between Delta Park and the Rose Quarter in addition to congested downtown Portland streets. Current C-Tran express buses are faster for commuters than riding light rail.

The TriMet Milwaukie MAX extension cost $200 million per mile. The Tigard/Tualatin proposal will be $240 million per mile. Compare that with a $500,000 bus. A bus has “flexible” routing, when there are traffic accidents, weather, or other problems. Trains can’t divert.

Contrary to what Governor Inslee says, light rail is not required to get federal money. The CRC had $830 million federal “transit dollars” plus $400 million non-transit federal dollars. The “transit” could be buses. Our Congresswoman can fight for non-transit funds.

If we want to solve the nation’s 12th worst traffic congestion, we need more bridges and new transportation corridors. It’s been almost 40 years since the I-205 bridge and transportation corridor opened. Regional population has doubled. That’s the problem. In the words of citizen Steven Wallace (to the Bi-state Transportation Committee): “we need lanes, not trains.”

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REFERENCES

CTran staff provided me the 1,437 passengers riding any of the seven “Express” bus lines into Portland on an average day. Here a graphic from the Columbian of earlier years and the trend.

Historical data on vehicles crossing the Columbia River.

Here is historical CTran ridership numbers courtesy of the Washington Policy Center.

Here is a graphic from the Columbian, regarding the PEMCO survey showing 94% of people prefer their privately owned vehicle, and 74% found it to be the most convenient.

John Charles of the Cascade Policy Institute said the following about TriMet ridership in a Feb. 2018 post.

TriMet’s ridership is in a steady decline. It peaked in fiscal year 2012 and ridership has dropped in each of the last three years. Only 2.4% of total travel in the Portland region takes place on transit, making it irrelevant or even a nuisance to most taxpayers.

Light rail has lower ridership today than before the Orange line to Milwaukie was built. During FY 2017, boarding rides per-hour on MAX reached the lowest level since light rail opened in 1986.

The estimated to cost of TriMet’s proposed Tigard/Tualatin light rail extension is $2.6 billion to $2.9 billion according to this Oregonian news report. It will be a 12 mile extension with 13 proposed stops.

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For more information and perspective on the Dec. Bistate Bridge Replacement Committee meeting, read here.

Bi-State I-5 Bridge Replacement Committee

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The many, many flaws in the CRC, including the ONE MINUTE improvement in the morning, southbound commute and many of the financial flaws, is published in this excellent Willamette Week article — here.

A Bridge Too False

Turns out most of the case for the $3.6 billion Columbia River Crossing Isn’t true.

Bi-State Bridge Committee needs to address actual traffic congestion problems

Camas resident John Ley offers his latest thoughts on area’s transportation issues

John Ley
John Ley

John Ley
For ClarkCountyToday.com — online article here.

Date: 

The Bi-state Bridge Committee was created by the Washington legislature. Their first meeting was a year ago, but no Oregon representatives attended. The first meeting with Oregon leaders present was the Dec. 11 meeting.

This committee needs to answer one critical question. Is this simply a resurrection of the flawed Columbia River Crossing (CRC) and it’s “light rail project in search of a bridge?” Southwest Washington legislators said this was about “process” and there was “no specific project.” Sen. Ann Rivers said this wasn’t the CRC.

As ClarkCountyToday.com reported: Sen. Rivers wrapped up with a few comments for the gathered crowd, many of whom she said had sounded alarm bells that “the CRC is back! The CRC is back!”

“I hope that you will sound the alarm that you were wrong,” said Rivers. “I hope you will go to your blogs and say, ‘wow, they don’t even have a process yet. Maybe I should reserve judgement and see what they come up with.’”

But Oregon legislators at the meeting said nothing regarding light rail being included or excluded. Oregon Sen. Cliff Bentz stated there was no other way to pay for a project, other than tolling.

Several of the Southwest Washington legislators said this was about “a new process.” Is it? What’s in the public record?

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said “no light rail, no bridge” during her re-election campaign. Gov. Jay Inslee just remarked: “light rail must be included to get federal funding.” This was part of his budget request, setting aside $17.5 million to fund a bridge replacement project office for two years.

Light rail is not “required” in order to get federal funding. The CRC finance plan included $400 million federal dollars, not tied to transit. Additional federal “transit” dollars could have been obtained for Bus Rapid Transit over the bridge.

Portland Metro’s JPACT 2040 transportation plan spends $4.1 billion for a bridge and light rail transit into Vancouver. Our own RTC’s 2035 transportation plan includes a new bridge and light rail into Vancouver.

What’s not in either state’s public plans? A third bridge across the Columbia River and a new transportation corridor. That’s what’s truly needed. Especially since Oregon refuses to add new through lanes to I-5 at the Rose Quarter.

Here’s a comparison of the CRC and the current Bi-State Bridge Replacement Committee led by Senators Annette Cleveland and Ann Rivers.

At the Bi-state Bridge Replacement Committee hearing, both Rep. Ed Orcutt and Oregon’s Rep. Rich Vial stated there was a need to tie a replacement of the Interstate Bridge with building a new third bridge across the Columbia River. That was the one hint that this “could” be about additional crossings and addressing the need to add vehicle capacity.

Rep. Vial stated: “I ran for the legislature originally because our transportation challenges particularly in Washington County have begun to become critical.” He later added: “it’s not solely the I-5 bridge. There is a westside north-south solution that has been put off for roughly 38 years in Oregon.”

Rep. Orcutt commented:“I think what we need to be looking at is a replacement of the I-5 crossing and looking at additional crossings. I think we need to be working on it as a package. I don’t think we should leave this process without a plan for additional crossings.” He later added:The math says that there aren’t enough crossings; there aren’t enough lanes.”  

The sentiments of Representatives Vial and Orcutt were echoed by John Charles of the Cascade Policy Institute, during citizen comments.

I agree that the current I-5 bridge is perhaps functionally obsolete, but I don’t think replacing it or rehabbing it is a huge priority now. It is functional.  I think it needs be part of a package deal. I simply reiterate the comments Representative Ed Orcutt made and Representative Rich Vial — you need more capacity.  I would bump the I-5 replacement to maybe something you do after 2030 or 2035. No bridges are going to fall down.  

“You absolutely need a third, fourth, and fifth bridge. You should think bigger. The same reason that we have about a dozen bridges over the Willamette River in downtown Portland. The St John’s bridge is not the same as a Sellwood or the Markham or the Fremont or the Hawthorne (bridges). They all serve different travel markets and they’re all really important.” 

Transportation architect Kevin Peterson scrutinized all the traffic projection numbers from the CRC. He informed us an Interstate Bridge would need six lanes in each direction, by 2030. He told us in 2060, an Interstate Bridge would require nine lanes in each direction.

Additionally, Peterson reported the new lanes across the Columbia River are “valuable only if three to four lanes are added into downtown Portland.  This is a 12-14 lane freeway passing thru the Rose Quarter” by 2060.

Knowing Oregon’s reluctance to expand the Rose Quarter, Peterson emphasizes the need for two new transportation corridors. One is needed west of I-5 and the other east of I-205. We saw an immediate 18 percent reduction of I-5 bridge traffic the year after I-205 opened. That’s real congestion relief.

ODOT reports the Rose Quarter has the highest accident rate of any road in Oregon and is the No. 2 bottleneck in the region. That bottleneck begins at Rosa Parks Way and continues south through the Rose Quarter. It does not include the Interstate Bridge.

Citizen Steve Wallace told the committee: “we need lanes, not trains.” He is exactly right —  mass transit won’t solve the traffic congestion problems.

There is minimal demand for mass transit between Clark County and Portland. C-TRAN has seven express bus routes traveling both I-5 and I-205. In 2017, only 1,437 people used C-TRAN’s express buses on an average day. Furthermore, light rail on I-5 would simply replace existing transit service for some of these people. Yet it would take them longer to get to downtown Portland, compared to present bus service.

The citizens of Clark County have repeatedly said “no” to light rail. It doesn’t solve their transportation needs. WSDOT recently reported there are 310,000 vehicles crossing the Columbia River on an average day. That’s almost three times the 109,000 vehicles using the Interstate Bridge in 1982, when the I-205 bridge and transportation corridor opened.

Clearly, Representatives Orcutt and Vial are right. New bridges and transportation corridors are needed. Will the rest of the elected officials on this committee agree and propose adding a third bridge and increased regional vehicle capacity? Or will they simply focus on replacing the functional Interstate Bridge with a platform for light rail, which both governors demand?

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REFERENCES

Here’s the complete video of the Bi-state Bridge Replacement Committee public hearing.

watch

Both ODOT and WSDOT say the Interstate Bridge is safe. Here’s an extensive Clark County Today piece on the safety issues surrounding the bridge.

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Historical traffic data crossing the Columbia River.

The numbers show the 18% drop in I-5 bridge traffic, when I-205 opened. It took a decade before population growth caused I-5 bridge traffic to return to the 1982 level. The current 310,000 vehicles crossing the Columbia River are almost 3 times the 109,000 vehicles crossing in 1981. Clearly, we need a 3rd and 4th bridge.

The #2 bottleneck for traffic congestion in the region is I-5 beginning at Rosa Parks Way and continuing south through the Rose Quarter. The Oregonian’s report is here.

There is a significant SAFETY issue at the Rose Quarter. It has the HIGHEST accident rate of any section of road in Oregon. This is from a City of Portland report.

Portland Metro’s JPACT has 3 separate projects in their 2028-2040 plans to replace the I-5 bridge ($3.17 billion), bring light rail into Vancouver ($850 million), and build a bridge connecting Delta Park to Hayden Island for the light rail extension. Here are the three separate items.

Here’s the “transit” or light rail piece for $850 million.

And here’s the new $80 million bridge connecting Delta Park to Hayden Island.

A graphic from the Columbian showing declining CTran express bus ridership. The 2017 number was 1,437 average daily riders. A continuing decline.

More bridges needed, not light rail

My View: More bridges needed, not light rail

What’s not in either state’s public plans? A third bridge across the Columbia River and a new transportation corridor. That’s what’s truly needed.

Published in the Portland Tribune here – Thursday, January 03, 2019

The Bi-State Bridge Committee held its first joint meeting Dec. 11.

Is this a resurrection of the Columbia River Crossing and its “light-rail project in search of a bridge”?

Washington legislators said this was about “process” — there was “no specific project.” Sen. Ann Rivers said this wasn’t the CRC.

Oregon legislators said nothing regarding light rail being included or excluded. Sen. Cliff Bentz stated there was no way to pay for a project, other than tolling.

Yet Gov. Kate Brown said “no light rail, no bridge” during her re-election campaign. Gov. Jay Inslee just remarked: “light rail must be included to get federal funding” in his budget request.

Light rail isn’t required for federal funding. The CRC finance plan included $400 million in federal money not tied to transit. Additional transit dollars can be obtained for Bus Rapid Transit.

Metro’s JPACT 2040 transportation plan spends $4.1 billion for a bridge and light rail into Vancouver, Washington. SW Washington RTC’s 2035 plan includes a new bridge and light rail.

What’s not in either state’s public plans? A third bridge across the Columbia River and a new transportation corridor. That’s what’s truly needed. Especially since Oregon refuses to add new through-lanes to I-5 at the Rose Quarter.

Both Rep. Rich Vial and Rep. Ed Orcutt emphasized the need to tie a replacement of the Interstate Bridge with building a new third bridge. That was one hint this could be about additional bridges and added vehicle capacity.

Rep. Vial stated: “I ran for the Legislature originally because our transportation challenges, particularly in Washington County, have begun to become critical.” He later added: “It’s not solely the I-5 bridge. There is a westside north-south solution that has been put off for roughly 38 years in Oregon.”

Rep. Orcutt commented: I think what we need to be looking at is a replacement of the I-5 crossing and looking at additional crossings. I think we need to be working on it as a package. I don’t think we should leave this process without a plan for additional crossings.” He later said: “The math says that there aren’t enough crossings; there aren’t enough lanes.”

The Cascade Policy Institute’s John Charles echoed those sentiments.

“I agree that the current I-5 bridge is perhaps functionally obsolete, but I don’t think replacing it or rehabbing it is a huge priority now. It is functional. I think it needs be part of a package deal. I simply reiterate the comments Rep. Ed Orcutt made and Rep. Rich Vial — you need more capacity. No bridges are going to fall down.

“You absolutely need a third, fourth and fifth bridge. You should think bigger. The same reason that we have about a dozen bridges over the Willamette River in downtown Portland. They all serve different travel markets and they’re all really important.”

The Rose Quarter has Oregon’s highest accident rate. It’s the region’s No. 2 bottleneck, beginning at Rosa Parks Way and continuing south through the Rose Quarter. It doesn’t include the Interstate Bridge.

Reps. Vial and Orcutt are right. New bridges and transportation corridors are needed. Will elected officials propose a third bridge and increased regional vehicle capacity? Or will they simply focus on replacing the functional Interstate Bridge with a platform for light rail, which both governors demand?

John Ley is a commercial airline pilot from Camas, Washington, who has been actively engaged in transportation, transit and toll issues in the Portland metro area. Contact him at pilotjpl@aol.com.

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REFERENCES

Here’s the video of the full Bistate Bridge Replacement Committee hearing.

watch

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The 1970’s regional transportation plan was to build a “ring road”, allowing traffic to bypass the crowded downtown Portland core. We built the eastern half of the “ring” — I-205 opened Dec. 1982. Politicians killed the construction of the western half of the “ring”. Rep. Rich Vial was referencing this plan when he said a westside bypass had been put off for 38 years. Here’s the map showing the full system, to be completed by 1990.

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Portland’s worst transportation bottlenecks do NOT include the Interstate Bridge. The #1 bottleneck is Hwy 26 from the Vista Ridge Tunnel to Hwy 217. The #2 bottleneck begins at Rosa Parks Way on I-5 and continues south through the Rose Quarter. The Oregonian reports it here.

The 3 miles from the Rosa Parks Way to the Rose Quarter mimics a parking lot much of the day, when you calculate for the morning and evening commute, for a grand total of 9 hours, 15 minutes. That means prime drive time has grown two full hours, or 27.5 percent, since 2013. 

Bi-State I-5 Bridge Replacement Committee

Is this resurrecting the flawed CRC? Or will they actually attempt to fix the real traffic congestion problems?

What’s truly needed to handle traffic on the I-5 corridor.

The Washington legislature established and funded a “Joint Oregon-Washington Legislative Action Committee”. The first meeting where Oregon elected representatives were present was held Dec. 12th in Portland’s Delta Park. They allege they are “promising to focus together on designing a sound process not a specific project”. (Senator Cleveland opening remarks.)

I hoped and planned to deliver 3 minutes of public comments. Over 20 citizens signed up to speak, so we were limited to just 2 minutes.

 

Members of the Bi-state Bridge replacement committee:

I would ask each member of this panel to be completely honest and candid with citizens and taxpayers. The question remains: Is this simply “a light rail project in search of a bridge?” That is how an Oregon Supreme Court Justice appropriately labeled the CRC.

There is minimal demand for mass transit between Clark County & Portland. CTran has 7 express bus routes that travel both I-5 and I-205. In 2017, only 1,437 people used CTran’s express buses on an average day. Furthermore, light rail on I-5 would simply replace existing transit service for SOME of these people, and it would take them LONGER to get to downtown Portland, compared to their bus service.

The citizens of Clark County have repeatedly said “no” to light rail. Where do each of you stand on the inclusion of light rail in this project?

Next – citizens need to know that both ODOT & WSDOT say the Interstate Bridge structures are safe.  Neither state lists the bridge as “structurally deficient”.

 

Are you committed to actually reducing traffic congestion and reducing commute times for motorists? If the answer is yes, then you cannot discuss a replacement bridge in isolation. The $3.5 Billion CRC offered an unacceptable ONE MINUTE improvement in the morning, southbound commute. It didn’t solve the I-5 traffic congestion problems.  Read the six Tiffany Couch reports on the pork-barrel spending & mismanagement of the CRC.

Transportation architect Kevin Peterson scrutinized ALL the traffic projection numbers from the CRC. He told us an Interstate Bridge would need SIX lanes in each direction, by 2030. Are you committed to building that much and more? He told us in 2060, an Interstate Bridge would require NINE lanes in each direction.

Additionally, Kevin Peterson told us the new lanes across the Columbia River are “valuable only if 3 to 4 lanes (are) added into downtown Portland.  This is a 12-14 lane freeway passing thru the Rose Quarter” by 2060.

Are you committed to this amount of I-5 freeway expansion?

Sadly, Oregon’s present plans add ZERO new through lanes to I-5 at the Rose Quarter. They waste HALF the $450 – $500 million to create real estate – building two new concrete lids over the top of I-5, which do nothing for traffic congestion.

If Oregon refuses to add through lanes to I-5 at the Rose Quarter, will you remove your support?

 

The other option is the HUGE need for a 3rd bridge and transportation corridor across the Columbia River. Our own RTC identified this need, and provided TWO options for a west side transportation corridor in their 2008 Visioning Study. Tie an Interstate Bridge replacement to a 3rd bridge. You’ll get much more support and actually solve traffic congestion problems!

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As a legislator participating in the hearing, Oregon’s Representative Rich Vial echo’d the need for a new western bypass or alternative “north-south corridor” for Washington County. Here are part of his remarks, courtesy of TVW here.

I’m Rich Vial. I represent at least for another couple of weeks, the House District 26 which happens to be the fastest growing area in the metropolitan area. All five of the urban growth boundary expansions happen to be in House District 26.

I ran for the legislature originally because our transportation challenges particularly in Washington County have begun to become critical, and the I-5 bridge is a very significant part of that challenge. The safety and continuing ability of us to get folks and freight up and down I-5 is absolutely tied to the I-5 bridge. But it’s not solely the I-5 bridge. There is a West Side north-south solution that has been put off for roughly thirty eight years in Oregon.”

Furthermore:

“I (want) to make sure that this conversation about the I-5 bridge includes a larger conversation about a true solution that deals with the Portland area congestion. We can build that bridge, but then what happens when you go across it to the south? You run into the Rose Quarter. You run into the Terwilliger curves. Eventually you run into Wilsonville and the Boone bridge. We have not really solved that North-South congestion unless we include that as part of this conversation.” 

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Representative Ed Orcutt made the following remarks:

The people: “They didn’t like the process they didn’t like the product.  

They wanted something that they could support, something that would work, something that would solve the problems that they were facing on a daily basis. I think what we need to be looking at is a replacement of the I-5 crossing and looking at additional crossings. I think we need to be working on it as a package. I don’t think we should leave this process without a plan for additional crossings.

I look at the county that I live in, Cowlitz County,  It has a population of 100,000 people, it has five crossings across Cowlitz River, and has a total of eight lanes in each direction. So why seven lanes in each direction getting across the Columbia River from Clark County into Oregon, for a population five times the size? The math says that there aren’t enough crossings; there aren’t enough lanes.  

 “I am committed to working with our partners in Oregon but it’s got to be something that works for both sides of the river not just one.”

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John Charles of the Cascade Policy Institute made the following remarks during citizen comments:

“I agree that the current I-5 bridge is perhaps functionally obsolete, but I don’t think replacing it or rehabing it is a huge priority now. It is functional.  I think it needs be part of a package deal. I simply reiterate the comments of Representative Ed Orcutt made and Representative Rich Vial – you need more capacity.  I would bump the I-5 replacement to maybe something you do after 2030 or 2035. No bridges are going to fall down . . . . .

You absolutely need a 3rd, 4th, and 5th bridge. You should think bigger. The same reason that we have about a dozen bridges over the Willamette River in downtown Portland. The St John’s bridge is not the same as a Sellwood or the Markham or the Fremont or the Hawthorne (bridges). They all serve different travel markets and they’re all really important.” 

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References.

How “safe” is the Interstate Bridge? Click here for a detailed report in Clark County Today.

Transportation architect Kevin Peterson’s graphic, showing the need for SIX lanes on I-5 in each direction in 2030, and NINE lanes by 2060. Furthermore, the 3-4 additional lanes at the Rose Quarter in the footnote.

Here is an updated graphic by ODOT for their planned two concrete lids (the “cover”) over I-5 at the Rose Quarter. (There’s also a bike/pedestrian bridge). It will consume up to HALF the proposed $450 million to $500 million allocated.

The SW Washington Regional Transportation Council identified the need for TWO new transportation corridors across the Columbia River a decade ago. Their 2008 “Visioning Study” offered two options for each crossing, one west of I-5 and one east of I-205. Here’s their map.

CTran reports that in 2017, only 1,437 people use their “express” buses into Portland on an average day. Here is a Columbian graphic showing a decline from previous years.

When I-205 opened in Dec. 1982, there was an immediate 18% reduction in traffic on the Interstate Bridge. It took a decade before traffic levels returned to pre-I-205 opening levels.

Acuity Forensics provided citizens seven excellent reports on the flaws in the Columbia River Crossing. View the reports on the “Press & News” page here. They also link to the Washington State Auditor’s report on the CRC.

Bridge talks take hit; no light rail, no way!

TWO great columns on Oregon’s tolling & light rail demands

The Columbian published two great pieces on the same day. Their editorial and a letter from citizen Phil Haggerty. I sent the following letter to highlight this great “one-two punch”.

Oregon insults us

The Columbian published my letter here.

By John Ley, Camas

Published: November 8, 2018

The Oct. 21 Columbian had a wonderful 1-2 punch regarding Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s light-rail demands (“In Our View — Bridge Talks Take a Hit” and “No light rail, no bridge, no way”).

The $3.5 billion Columbia River Crossing required Washingtonians to pay for a Steel Bridge upgrade, a new TriMet headquarters, an upgrade to their Gresham maintenance facility, and something in Hood River. Up to $2,000 in annual tolls to pay for borrowed funds was outrageous.

Forensic accountant Tiffany Couch issued reports laying out millions of dollars in questionable charges by contractors, misallocated costs and questions regarding the funding plan. Questions she raised led to a state audit raising multiple red flags and a state Legislature refusing to fund the project.

Citizens David Madore, Sharon Nasset and hundreds more spoke out. Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, earned the moniker “bridge killer.”

TriMet has an unfunded ($900 million) employee pension and retiree benefit obligation that we want no part of. They disrespect us, refusing to rescind the horrible C-Tran agreement that ceded eminent domain authority to TriMet and contained a $5 million penalty clause.

Oregon wants to pick our pockets with tolls. Demanding we accept light rail is an additional insult.

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The Columbian editorial.

In Our View: Bridge Talks Take a Hit

Gov. Brown’s requirement for light rail moves discussion backward

The Columbian

Published: October 21, 2018, 6:03 AM

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With multiple government entities calling for a new Interstate 5 Bridge, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has provided a reminder of just how daunting such a task will be.

“Before we move forward on the Columbia River crossing,” Brown, a Democrat, said recently during a debate with Republican Knute Buehler, her challenger in this year’s gubernatorial election, “I want to see Washington meet two criteria: That they are really serious about fixing the bridge and investing in that bridge; and secondly, that (the plan) includes public transit, particularly light rail.”

While Brown’s entire response to a question about the bridge took 60 seconds, it might have caused lasting damage. Rather than emphasize the importance of working with Washington residents and heeding the concerns of people who will pay for half the span, she drew a metaphorical line in the sand by insisting on the inclusion of light rail.

In case Gov. Brown requires a reminder, opposition to light rail was one of the reasons for the demise of the proposed Columbia River Crossing in 2013. After years of work by multiple government agencies, widespread input from the public and the expenditure of some $200 million on planning, the Washington Legislature scuttled the proposal. Clark County’s Don Benton, then a state senator, led the way in killing the plan, and lawmakers who stood in opposition often cited this region’s hostility to Oregon’s light rail system as the reason for their actions.

In various forms, Clark County residents have expressed opposition to light rail several times at the ballot box.

All of which leaves the two states at a standstill. Oregon officials are understandably gun-shy after having Washington back out at the last minute; Washington residents are reluctant to be bullied by their neighbors into welcoming light rail. Oregon’s recent plan for tolling along I-5 and Interstate 205, which would inequitably target Clark County residents, has only increased the divide. And yet that divide must be crossed.

That is the conclusion of the C-Tran Board of Directors, who last week passed a resolution urging Washington leaders to pursue solutions to congestion across the I-5 bridge. The board joined the city of Vancouver, the Clark County Council and all local port districts in supporting a replacement bridge. C-Tran’s board also specified bus rapid transit as its preferred form of mass transit across a new span.

Clark County Council members have supported bus rapid transit out of a dislike for light rail. C-Tran leaders did so out of a desire to provide bus service across the bridge. But regardless of the reason, bus rapid transit appears to be the more palatable solution for many local taxpayers. The Columbian editorially has recommended that the bridge be capable of carrying light rail in the future, but that the system is untenable for now.

Oregon leaders should pay attention to the recent resolutions, recognize Washington’s newfound willingness to engage in discussions about the bridge, and be willing to enter negotiations without preconceived notions or demands. Washington leaders should, well, be leaders. It is long past time for Gov. Jay Inslee to lead the discussion, and it is long past time for legislators to leave behind Benton’s confrontational style of representation.

This will require a willingness to compromise and a conciliatory approach from both sides. When one of the governors delivers a demand that is a deal-breaker for the other side, the process moves backward.

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Phil Haggerty’s letter.

Letter: No light rail, no bridge, no way

By Phil Haggerty, Battle Ground

Published: October 21, 2018, 6:00 AM

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Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, in a debate, echoed former Gov. John Kitzhaber’s famous words once again — “no light rail, no bridge” — when it comes to considering a replacement Interstate 5 Bridge. Her insensitivity to concerns of Southwest Washington residents is outrageous.

We know it was “a light-rail project in search of a bridge.” An Oregon Supreme Court justice declared it so in a 2012 opinion.

Willamette Week reported the following: “Last summer, the governors’ review panel said that failing to address the Rose Quarter congestion would be like hooking a garden hose to a fire hydrant. Questions about the reasonableness of investment in the CRC bridge because of unresolved issues to the south (the Rose Quarter) threaten the viability of the project,” the panel wrote in July 2010.

Oregon refuses to add new capacity, new through lanes at the Rose Quarter. Oregon’s No. 2 bottleneck begins at Rosa Parks Way, continuing to the Rose Quarter.

The residents of Clark County have spoken on this issue, loud and clear: no light rail, no bridge — we say “no way.” Light rail does not serve us well, is too expensive and pushes Portland into our county. Stop the proliferation of Portland’s bad ideas up here.