Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Doorbelling, Respecting Your Thoughts on Tolls, and Keeping You Involved!

Doorbelling begins on the westside of Vancouver!

I visited the Hough Neighborhood late yesterday afternoon, and found a number of residents very interested in talking about the potential for light rail and a new bridge. For the most part, these folks were not interested in seeing mass transit coming into Vancouver. One family from Atlanta, Georgia described how they witnessed a new light rail extension bring gangs and drug activity into their neighborhood.

Indeed, the convenience that public and/or mass transit may bring honest commuters, also provides the same opportunity for a criminal element. If light rail does come to Vancouver, the public agencies must be well-prepared (and funded) to handle security and law enforcement. Working together, collaborating and sharing resources -- among CTRAN, The City of Vancouver Police Department and the Clark County Sheriff -- will be necessary to insure that our community and the honest users of public transit are protected.

Columbia River Crossing Tolling Listening Session

After doorbelling in Hough, I attended the CRC Tolling Listening Session, held at WSDOT Offices in Orchards. After a presentation of the early tolling analysis by CRC Staff, the microphone was made available for the public to ask questions and comment. I estimate there were some 40 citizens in the audience, with about 12-15 comments/questions.

There was quite a bit of commentary, much of it fresh and constructive. Although the purpose of the meeting was to discuss tolls, there were several comments aimed against light rail, several comments in opposition to the entire project, and a couple of remarks about the need for a third bridge crossing.

Regarding tolls, as you might imagine, nearly all of the remarks were in opposition. Citing inequitable impact on the poor, significant impacts to small business commerce, the existence of a gas tax, and the indebtedness the project would create, not to mention the fact that the Interstate 5 bridge is a federal asset in an interstate freeway system, stiff opposition to tolling was expressed.

One individual spoke of preparing for the future, building the project now since construction costs would only be more in the future, and the potential advantage of tolling in that it might persuade commuters toward public transit.

After the testimony, the members of the CRC Project Sponsors Council were offered the opportunity to respond. Following are the remarks I made:

Thank you for the good testimony this evening.

An improvement at the Interstate Bridge is necessary.

However, we must have a project that is affordable for the citizens & businesses of SW Washington.

Unfortunately, we in Clark County have yet to develop the job base necessary so that the 60-65,000 residents of our community who commute to Oregon actually have a choice to work in the community they live.

Saddling future generations with further debt is not of interest to me, and I'm hopeful the federal government will step up to better fund this federal project.

There will be ongoing conversations about the funding of this project, and I look forward to those.

Stay tuned and rest-assured….I will continue to fight for equity for our community and those of you that MUST travel to Oregon for your job.

No comments: