Category Archives: Media

We need new vehicle capacity & transportation corridors

It’s been 35 years since we added a new freeway lane

Since our last “new” bridge across the Columbia River, and the last new transportation corridor was built and opened in Dec. 1982, our “average daily crossings” of the Columbia River have risen from about 110,000 vehicles per day, to almost 300,000 vehicles per day.

 

Population has doubled from an estimated 1.3 million people in 1980 to 2.5 million today.

Yet regionally, we’ve added no new freeway lanes. We’ve added no new “capacity” for cars and trucks. We’ve created no new transportation corridors in 35 years. How sad and how frustrating. We now have the 12th worst traffic congestion in the nation, as a result of our refusal to add vehicle capacity and build new transportation corridors.

If you look at what I-205 did when it opened in Dec. 1982, it caused an immediate 18.5% drop in the number of vehicles on I-5. Now THAT is congestion relief! It took a decade before vehicle levels on I-5 reached 1981 levels.

We had a plan to build a “west side bypass“, similar to I-205. It only makes sense. Here’s the map.

We need more ways to cross the Columbia River. We need more transportation corridors.

And “yes”, we will at some point need to upgrade the I-5 bridge. But until Oregon truly “fixes” the Rose Quarter (and their current proposal offers no NEW through lanes to I-5), any money spent on the I-5 bridge will deliver negligible results when it comes to improving traffic congestion.

Vocal conservative, veteran declares candidacy for Pike’s seat

Pike offers her endorsement, will not seek reelection as she shifts her focus to her County Council campaign

  • Jonathan Haukaas /jonathan@thereflector.com

The Reflector news report.

Last week, vocal conservative John Ley announced he will be running for 18th District State Representative, Position 2, a seat currently held by Rep. Liz Pike, R-Camas. 

“I am running for State Representative because I want to help restore responsible, citizen-focused, state government,” Ley said in his announcement. “The people of the 18th District need the best possible team representing them. My life experiences lead me to want to continue serving the people.”

Ley has long been one of Pike’s staple supporters. He could often be spotted at town halls for local legislators, contributed a number of letters to The Reflector’s opinion pages and has been published by Clark County Today, an online media outlet owned by former County Councilor Dave Madore.

 

The Reflector spoke with Ley as he was boarding a plane to Seattle last Friday, and he said that Pike began discussing with him the possibility of pursuing another avenue a while back — her new endeavor turned out to be a run for Clark County Council, an announcement she made on Aug. 19. She told him he was the person people looked up to “as a fighter for the people” and encouraged him to run for a seat in Olympia.

Much like the message Pike has stumped on throughout her political career, Ley said in his announcement that fiscal conservatism with taxpayer dollars is of utmost importance.

“We must learn to live within our means, just like our citizens do. I pledge to manage the people’s money conservatively and faithfully,” he said. “Our citizens deserve a representative who will work diligently on their behalf from day one.”

Pike offered a glowing endorsement for Ley during a phone call with The Reflector last Friday, saying she would trust him with her tax dollars and couldn’t think of anyone better to fill her seat.

“He’s proven himself to be knowledgeable on really important issues,” she said. “He holds a lot of the same conservative values that I do on government’s role, and most importantly limited government.”

Through his announcement, Ley also addressed a few issues Clark County is currently grappling with: the Columbia River conundrum, creating jobs and education funding.

Columbia River crossing 

Ley offered strong words toward Oregon legislation.

“We must halt Oregon’s outrageous plan to toll both I-5 and I-205 at the Washington border. This plan will harm low wage workers the most, and will deliver negligible improvements in regional transportation,” he stated, and later added, “sadly, it reminds me of the former Oregon Governor’s demand: ‘no light rail, no bridge’ regarding the Columbia River Crossing. Issuing one sided demands is not a way to build trust or to find legitimate solutions.”

Ley said lawmakers from both states need to look at all options before moving forward and that light rail is not an option.

“We must begin a new dialog with all citizens on both sides of the Columbia River,” he stated. “All options must be on the table, including multiple ways to cross the river and upgrading the existing structures. Any solution must reduce traffic congestion, improve freight mobility, be cost effective, and not include tolls. Light rail is not a viable option at this time.”

Creating jobs 

Along with a competitive industrial insurance program and reducing regulations, Ley wants to reconstruct Washington’s Business and Occupation tax, believing it would be beneficial to local businesses.

“We must create an environment where private sector job growth can flourish. We must remove or reduce barriers to job creation,” he said.

Education funding 

Ley said he wants to allow local entities more autonomy in school-related decision making.

“We need to focus on improving the quality of our children’s education,” he said. “I believe local parents, school boards and administrators know what their children and schools need the most. Getting the proper resources into their hands the most efficiently, with the least restrictions should be paramount.”

Ley, who resides in Camas, spent over a decade in the Air Force and is now a captain for Delta Air Lines. He is also a real estate owner and played a role in the inception of Northwest Safe Retirements.

NO to being Oregon’s Piggy Bank

Letter: We’re not Oregon’s piggy bank

The Columbian published my letter fighting the outrageous Oregon plan to have SW Washington citizens pay for their transportation projects with TOLLS on both I-5 & I-205.

By John Ley, CAMAS
Published: August 15, 2017, 6:00 AM

In a letter to Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and the Oregon Department of Transportation, Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground wrote: “Oregon has no right to make Southwest Washington an unwilling piggy bank for Oregon’s infrastructure projects.” She’s right. I’d like to thank her for taking a public stand.

In July, the Oregon Legislature approved tolling “at the border” on both Interstate 5 and Interstate 205 to pay for three Portland transportation projects. None will deliver appreciable improvements in traffic congestion for Washington residents or businesses. More sadly, Oregon has proposed spending $450 million at I-5’s Rose Quarter, adding zero through lanes.

In 2016, over 72,000 Clark County citizens paid $204 million in Oregon income taxes. We’re already a “piggy bank” for Oregon, getting little in return.

Regional Transportation Board members were not consulted; no elected officials were advised. This reminds me of the Columbia River Crossing, where Gov. Kitzhaber demanded: “no light rail, no bridge.” The concerns of Southwest Washington citizens didn’t matter.

Washingtonians were paying $2 billion of the CRC’s $3.3 billion in tolls. The amount borrowed is similar, just over $1 billion in this deal. That’s $2 billion sucked out of our local economy, hurting low-wage workers the most.

“No” is what all our representatives should say. We will not be Oregon’s piggy bank.

No tolls or ‘congestion pricing’

Fighting Oregon’s plan to TOLL both I-5 & I-205

My letter published in the July 5th Columbian, the day the Oregon House passed HB 2017, and the day before the Oregon Senate passed it.

Oregon legislators thought Southwest Washington citizens should pay tolls on both I-5 and I-205 to fund their transportation package. But the word got out — citizens are outraged. The rumor is they’re backing away from this proposal.

What’s their new “revenue” scheme? Congestion pricing. You know, the disastrous policy the Washington State Department of Transportation enacted on Seattle’s I-405. Citizens pay up to $10 to drive in the HOV lane, avoiding the congestion nightmare WSDOT’s policy created for everyone else. Yet, Seattle has the 10th-worst congestion in the nation.

OPB reports: “The measure orders the Oregon Transportation Commission to move forward with implementing variable tolling in conjunction with major freeway projects on interstates 5 and 205. The idea is that higher prices to use roads can manage congestion.”

The first problem is that it negatively impacts the low-wage worker much more than it does wealthy drivers. Our “progressive” friends are usually sensitive to these alleged “regressive” taxes. Next is that those using the nontolled lanes found driving times significantly increased — a negative impact for the average citizen.

Southwest Washington citizens have repeatedly rejected tolls. But as The Columbian recently noted, it’s particularly outrageous especially when there is no benefit for Clark County drivers.

Just say “no” to tolls and to “congestion pricing” by Oregon!

TOLLS – Anywhere in Oregon

TOLLING could be more than I-5 & I-205

In a stunning admission in a KGW news report, the Oregon legislature’s HB2017 allows the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) to implement “value pricing” anywhere in Oregon.

From the news story:

“The bill, known as HB 2017, instructs state transportation officials to create a plan for something called “value pricing” to reduce traffic congestion.

So what is “value pricing?” It’s essentially a toll that varies in price depending on how much traffic is on the highway.”

One option includes changing the price depending on the time of day. For instance, drivers could end up paying a higher toll during rush hour compared to off-peak hours.

Another option: turn HOV lanes into tolled express lanes. That would give drivers the option to pay for a faster lane or drive in more congested lanes for free.

ODOT has until the end of 2018 to ask the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) for permission.

But most stunning, is what’s near the end of the report.

Pending approval from the feds, the legislation calls out two problem areas in Portland for immediate attention: I-5 and I-205 between the Washington border and their junction just north of Wilsonville.

Brouwer said those two areas are the most congested routes in the state and would generate significant revenue.

The bill also gives the Oregon Transportation Commission the power to implement value pricing anywhere else in the state if they see fit to do so.

This open ended authority could allow ODOT to implement their money grab in any location in the state.

Of course what is of greatest concern to SW Washington citizens, is the fact that HB2017 allows ODOT to TOLL both I-5 & I-205 “at the border” of Washington. This is an outrage! There is no way for SW Washington citizens to avoid paying the tolls if they need to cross the river.

We learned from the failed Columbia River Crossing (CRC) that in borrowing about $1 billion to fund the $3.5 Billion project, it would require $3.3 billion in TOLLS over a 30 year period to pay off that debt.

The Oregon transportation plan ties the initial TOLLS to 3 main transportation projects in the Portland area, whose total cost is just over $1 billion. Therefore it is not unreasonable to assume the cost to pay off the borrowed funds would be a similar amount — $3.3 billion.

Because of the amazing work done by a local forensic accountant, we learned that an estimated 60 – 64% of the CRC TOLLS would be paid by SW Washington citizens. That meant $2 billion or more would be taken out of our economy, and put into government and special interest coffers.

That is a HUGE negative economic impact on our community, most especially low wage earners and single parent families already hard pressed to make ends meet.

Furthermore, the state of Oregon reported that Clark County residents paid $204 million in Oregon income taxes in 2016. Specifically, 72,087 returns were filed. That was a 10% increase in the number of total income tax returns filed. The $204 million was an 18% increase in total dollars paid over the previous year. Additionally, another $88 million was paid by over 41,000 other Washington residents to Oregon.

We’re already paying more than our “fair share” to Oregon.