Wednesday, August 19, 2009

NO to Tolls and YES to Equitable Funding

On the Oregonian's website today, Allan Brettman wrote about our tight Mayoral race here in Vancouver, and the issue of tolls that will likely be a crucial point for many voters in our town.

The Primary election results, and Pollard's commentary about the issues, show that he's simply not listening to the people that he is supposed to be representing.

Or, maybe he is listening and just doesn't care. After all, he has publicly admitted there is no reason for him to travel to Portland. So, paying a toll won't have any personal impact on him.

What he refuses to understand, however, is that a toll that charges Vancouver's working class for the "privilege" of crossing the river because the current administration has done next to nothing to grow jobs here in the last two decades, with the added burden of paying Oregon income tax without receiving representation, is unequitable, undemocratic, and discriminatory.

We need to think out of the box here.

For the umpteenth time, I will say this: that bridge is a federal asset. Yes, we all know that transportation funds aren't what they used to be. But frankly, neither are our savings accounts!

If the federal and state governments can't come up with money for this bridge, what makes Pollard think that Clark County commuters can pay for it?

We need to take a step back and try to collaborate with our federal and state delegations, rather than blindly follow the party line. And if $4 billion is more than we can afford right now, then we need to consider how to scale this project so that we "pay-as-we-go," building it with money we actually have, rather than taking out credit our children's children's children will have to pay back.

Pollard and his yes-men are starting to go around saying that I have some secret, nefarious plan to kill this project. That's a load of baloney, and they're saying it because it's their only hope of swaying public opinion back in their direction.

60% of voters showed last night what this community really thinks--Pollard doesn't get it, and he's not the candidate who's looking out for their interests.

It's time to move away from business as usual, and secure a funding model for this bridge that is equitable for ALL of the stakeholders.


Mikhail O. said...

Mr. Levitt. I live in district 370 and did not get to vote in the primaries. However, Vancouver became my home, so I do care a lot about its economic prosperity and its future. Light rail to Vancouver sounds exciting, but there is so much confusion over the bridge project, I don't know what to believe. What is your plan? How are you (suppose you win the race) going to resolve this issue? Do we need the bridge? Do we need the light rail? and finally.. if no toll, what can be done?

Notorius C-Tran Rider said...

"Or, maybe he is listening and just doesn't care. After all, he has publicly admitted there is no reason for him to travel to Portland. So, paying a toll won't have any personal impact on him."

This is the impression I've had of Mayor P. for many years now. He listens and doesnt' really care if his opinion is different from yours. I suspect that Mayor P. like a lot of the anti-bridge period folks, rarely travel to Portland.
We NEED a new bridge and it needs to be toll-free.

Notorius C-Tran Rider said...

Tim-as a C-Tran Board Member and as our future Mayor of Vancouver, I wish that whenever you discuss the new bridge that you would make sure that people realize the bridge is NOT just about light rail. There seems to be a perception that it's just about light rail and I fear that this notion will do as much damage as the idea of tolls, when it comes to whether voters approve any funding for a bridge. Thanks.

Tim Leavitt said...

Thank you for posting, Mikhail.

Yes, a new bridge and new interchanges are very much needed.

Yes, we can have light rail extended into Vancouver, as the federal government has told us they have money available to build it. The voters of Clark County will decide on whether or not to fund operations and maintenance of that light rail.

For funding, the process has been backwards.

I believe, given that this project is primarily a federal asset, they should be coming to the table with a majority of the funding. Then, the states of Oregon and Washington must participate. Lastly, we should look at a local share (if necessary).

Tolling is not acceptable to me as the primary funding source…as is being pushed by some, like Royce Pollard.

If federal and state funding for the proposed $4 billion project is not available, then the project must be scaled back! Plain and simple. Build what is affordable, but don't burden or penalize us local users with heavy tolling.

The bridge is a key component of an international corridor -- connecting Mexico to Canada, but folks like Pollard seem to believe Clark County citizens should bear the brunt of the cost of construction of the bridge. How reasonable is that?!? I'll continue to fight on behalf of Clark County citizens for more participation from the feds and the states.

Thanks again for reading and writing in on this issue!


strum40 said...

Hello Tim, I'm a Vancouver voter and was wondering what your thoughts on Oregon implementing a southbound HOV lane on I-5 are?

I personally think the Delta Park Widening Project will reduce congestion significantly. I am concerned however that we won't get to see the full effects of the project because Oregon doesn't want us to.

My theory is that Oregon only wants a southbound HOV lane to keep the bridge congested and make drivers think a new bridge is still necessary.

Thank you for listening to the voters.

Tim Leavitt said...

Hello Strum40 --

Thanks for posting.

I agree with you regarding the Delta Park Widening project -- it should improve traffic flow dramatically.

The only way I can support an HOV lane is if there is a new bridge and interchange project that continues to improve traffic flow…thus allowing for an HOV lane without detrimental impact to others who can't use the lane. Also, there would need to be a complete system of HOV lanes. For example, the HOV lane on northbound I-5 causes more problems than it helps because it is isolated and that stretch of freeway has inadequate lanes and interchanges.

I think HOV could be useful if the other improvements are made…

But, as you know, we are a long way from an I-5 improvement project!

Thanks again for contacting me.

Do keep in touch.