Thursday, July 31, 2008

ALL but One

It was an interesting week of discussion and decision making on the Columbia River Crossing Project and the Locally Preferred Alternative. There were several key votes and amendments to language of the resultions that should be noted:

Vancouver City Council

On Monday, July 7th, the Vancouver City Council took up the issue and had much conversation. When it was all said and done, the votes were as follows:

A) 7-0 for a replacement bridge, with preference for the stacked transit option.

B) 5-2 for light rail, with council members Pat Campbell and Jeanne Stewart voting against that form of high-capacity transit.

C) 5-2 for ending the light-rail line at the former visitors center east of Interstate 5. Stewart and Councilwoman Jeanne Harris voted against the Clark College terminus.

Regarding the issue of tolling a new bridge, I again expressed my continued sentiments about tolling...that it is a last option and the Feds should be stepping up to pay for this project. Consequently, I requested a deletion of language in the resolution referring to tolls as a local match for the costs. ALL but One...the Mayor...supported and voted for my amendment.

It is baffeling to me that anybody would assume right from the start that tolling (on the backs of 60,000 Clark County residents) is necessary to reconstruct a federal asset. I believe the appropriate approach is to design a project that meets the budget provided by the Feds and State, then determine if our community is ready/willing to support anything more with tolls.

The feds and state bureaucrats are promoting tolls, with the support of some local elected officials, in order to reduce their costs...or in other words are telling us citizens that all the federal income tax, all the federal gas tax, all the other federal taxes that we pay aren't enough to rebuild federal infrastructure! Time to reprioritize federal spending...immediately.

On top of that, Clark County has long been a donating County to the State of Washington budget. We have for many years been contributing more to the State budget than we receive back in benefits from the State. Now is the time for the State to return the favor to Clark County and pony-up more funding for the bridge project.

C-TRAN Board of Directors

On Tuesday, July 8th, the C-TRAN Board of Directors also took up the issue and had extensive dialogue. When it was all said and done, the votes were as follows:

A) 8-1 in support of a replacement bridge and light rail transit to the Clark College terminus (Harris opposed).

The board is comprised of nine (9) elected officials, representing the entirety of Clark County.

More to come on this...