Washington legislators ask Oregon Legislature to scrap existing CRC project, start from scratch


Feb. 24, 2014

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Washington legislators ask Oregon Legislature to scrap existing CRC project, start from scratch
Oregon lawmakers appear to be ready to mothball the plan

Ten Southwest Washington legislators have sent a signed letter to the Oregon Legislature’s Joint Ways and Means Committee asking it to reject a measure that could revive the proposed Columbia River Crossing (CRC) project with light rail. The letter was authored by Rep. Liz Pike, R-Camas, a staunch opponent of the light-rail component of the proposed interstate bridge project between Vancouver and Portland.

In the letter, Pike and the other Southwest Washington legislators write: “Clark County citizens have voted against light rail numerous times, most recently on Nov. 5, 2013. In this last election, voters passed Clark County Advisory Vote No. 1 by an overwhelming 68 percent. With this election, Clark County voters demanded they have a say in any future light-rail project.”

The letter, which was sent Feb. 18, urges the committee to reject House Bill 4113, a measure that would revive the CRC as an Oregon-alone $2.8 billion project without the financial support of Washington state.

In addition to the troublesome light-rail component, the letter noted the Southwest Washington legislators’ other concerns of an Oregon-alone project, including tolls against Southwest Washington residents, overestimates of traffic and revenue forecasts, a “Mobility Council” of Oregon residents to provide bridge input while leaving out input from Washington residents and legislators, traffic citations from Oregon-operated highway cameras of up to $1,000 per infraction, and the ability of the Oregon Department of Transportation to begin collecting tolls prior to construction.

“We believe attempts to build an Oregon-only bridge may face legal hurdles, delaying the process far more than if we spent time working together between Washington and Oregon to redesign the bridge to meet actual regional transportation needs – and not the needs of special interests,” said the Southwest Washington legislators.

Pike, who serves on Washington’s House Transportation Committee, said the current design is flawed because it also proposes clearance too low for river movement of products currently being manufactured upstream from the bridge. In a guest opinion to The Portland Tribune, Pike made a case that the current design should be scrapped and re-started from the beginning.

“The framework of this reset button is in place in Washington through a measure I authored that would direct the Washington State Department of Transportation to prepare a new CRC design with a higher clearance and without light rail,” she writes in the article. Pike says her measure, House Bill 2025, remains a viable alternative toward moving forward with a new Columbia River Crossing design that could gain the support of both Washington and Oregon.

Meanwhile, The Oregonian reported Friday that the co-chair of the Oregon Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Peter Buckley, D-Ashland, said there are no plans to have hearings or to provide an opportunity for a vote on Oregon’s House Bill 4113. The paper says Oregon’s lawmakers are unlikely to revive the CRC project this month, all but ensuring the project’s death when the Oregon Legislature adjourns March 9.

“We understand how important a new crossing is for the economic well-being of both our states. But the current design won’t cut it,” said Pike.

“Light rail is not a transportation solution, but a political ideology designed to change people’s behaviors, reduce freedom of movement and expand the size of government. If we take this off the table, it would give us the opportunity to move forward – both Washington and Oregon – with a new design with higher clearance and more lane capacity for traffic and busses,” she added. “Any new bridge project must be redesigned without light rail. We’re ready to do that now.”

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Download the letter here.


For more information about Rep. Pike, visit: www.representativelizpike.com

Rep. Pike’s media:
official portrait  silent b-roll  photos on Flickr  podcast

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