Light Rail into Vancouver – Advocates are Reenergized

I-5 Bridge ©DougKerr

Southwest Washington dodged a bullet in 2013. A diligent grass roots effort helped empower Washington state politicians to successfully stop the funding of the old Columbia River Crossing (CRC) bridge project. Towards the end of the CRC project planning, it was fully taken over by special interests, incompetence, and politicians ingratiating themselves to those that would be handling billions of dollars. This CRC project would have:

  • Dropped a multi-billion dollar debt bomb on the regions
  • Forced bridge tolls for a decade or more
  • Devastated downtown Vancouver during a multi-year construction

All of this for an I-5 replacement bridge that would have no meaningful contribution to interstate traffic throughput in the region. It was a textbook case of a public works project gone badly.  Very badly.

Grassroots activists and politicians who put down the CRC knew the self-interest, incompetence, and transportation ideologues that drove this prior boondoggle would not go away. And they were right, as these illegitimate forces have now found a reason to stand up again. This is happening primarily because TriMet, the Portland area transit organization, is desperate for more money. Without a steady stream of money for capital projects, TriMet’s debt-heavy financial status starts to fail. Prior CRC advocates have new opportunities with the left-leaning and establishment-friendly new majority on the Clark County council, lending them hope for a successful renewed effort to bring this boondoggle back to Clark County.

In the Oregon legislature the arrogant and scheming masterminds are pushing SB-1510, which creates a number of new funding sources for TriMet and loosens rules for how the money can be used. In the words of Willamette Week, “A bill currently working its way through the Oregon Legislature could offer TriMet a means to fund light rail to Vancouver, Wash.”

The Clackamas County Board wrote an open letter about their concerns with SB-1510 that contained, “Should TriMet choose to expand operations into Vancouver, Washington, this bill would give the agency the authority to invest in non-transit transportation infrastructure outside the State of Oregon.” This letter was sent to Clark County Councilors asking them to voice a similar opinion.

TriMet executives and lobbyists are conducting their typical promotion effort full of misinformation and missing information. It was so bad that Oregon political consultant Lindsay Berschauer said in a letter to the Oregon State senators when describing TriMet’s SB-1510 Fact Sheet, “There is no other way to describe the level of deceit in this document, other than to say it is official malfeasance.”

Prior advocates of the highly incompetent and corrupt CRC project are stirring in Clark County. New politicians are in place on the Clark County Council who are quite sympathetic to the legacy Vancouver political establishment. It’s ironic and disappointing that all three of these politicians, Marc Boldt, Jeanne Stewart, and Julie Olson have reasonably conservative backgrounds. For Boldt, we acknowledge such conservatism is in his distant background. These three have made self-serving political calculations that have them firmly and repeatedly voting for big and arrogant local government. They are definitely being handled by the legacy Vancouver establishment as demonstrated by repeated votes supporting big and arrogant government—even in the face of growing push-back from citizens and organizations such as ClarkCounty.info who resist this sort of thinking.

In Oregon, activists who support wise and ethical government are fighting this new attempt for TriMet to gain access to rather unlimited citizen’s dollars. They are also fighting the Democrat majority that tends to rubberstamp transit-related legislation and those who expect to be properly rewarded for their support.

Since the Oregon Bill SB-1510 will probably pass, this puts increased pressure on the small and responsible government activists in Clark County to counter and contain the efforts of local politicians, transportation ideologues, and property/business owners who only support a CRC type project as they have a payoff.

Eternal vigilance is necessary to keep this self-interest and incompetence in check.

Background:

Willamette Week article

Columbian – CRC revived

Freedom Foundation interview on Columbia River Bridges

History of CRC by John Ley – Clark County activist