Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As the interim progresses, I am staying busy working for you – the citizens of our district. Your needs are my priority and my focus year-round. This e-newsletter will give you a quick update on some district transportation issues and a great opportunity for our female high school students. I hope you find this information useful. As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have.
Columbia River Crossing
While out in our community many people have asked me, “What is next for the CRC?” Concerned citizens across Washington and Oregon have attended meetings, contacted their elected officials and written letters to local newspapers voicing their opposition to the flawed CRC project. It is a victory for the people of Washington that the Legislature did not pass a new transportation gas tax to fund the ill-conceived project. In a sampling, more than 70 percent of surveyed Washington residents said they are not interested in a gas tax increase at this time. It's the Legislature's job to listen to the people.
Subsequent to the session ending, both governors in Oregon and Washington halted the project due to a lack of funding. The project was costing approximately $3 million per month in salaries and overhead – totaling $170 million in tax-payer dollars for a flawed design. As you know, since taking office last August, I've remained strongly opposed to the project (as proposed – which included new light rail to Vancouver) for several reasons, including:
- a bridge designed too low that would severely restrict river traffic;
- a lack of oversight by the project sponsors; and
- a lack of support from local residents (64 percent of you voted against a sales tax to finance a light rail line between Portland and Vancouver).
I also opposed this project because light rail is a political ideology, not a transportation solution. You can click here to read a guest editorial I wrote for more details about why I could not support the project. I will continue to remain adamantly opposed to light rail and a gas tax increase. However, I am eager to work with state and federal officials on a long-tern solution that will upgrade and modernize the I-5 corridor through our region. I will support a new project that:
- adds additional crossing lanes;
- protects current and future river commerce; and
- does not include light rail.
As federal officials have stated repeatedly, this project is of national significance and therefore, I shall insist that adequate national transportation dollars be allocated to any new project.
Bridge safety and congestion relief
Regarding the safety of the current I-5 bridge, I have joined Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler and other legislators to ask the Washington Secretary of Transportation, Lynn Peterson, for an assessment of the safety level and potential hazards of the bridge. As this information is made available, I will pass it on to you.
I am joining other state elected officials, including Senator Ann Rivers, to seek positive solutions to relieve traffic congestion. Several options have been proposed. According to engineers, construction of additional crossings and realignment of the BNSF Railway swing span, so it matches the high point of the current I-5 bridge, would eliminate 95 percent of bridge lifts. This would go a long way toward relieving traffic congestion at a significantly reduced cost to taxpayers.
We have already begun discussions with BNSF officials. I would like to hear your ideas for positive ways to relieve traffic congestion in this important corridor. Please send me your thoughts on your preferred alternative on a crossing project over the Columbia River between Portland and Clark County. Let me know if you prefer a new tunnel, a new crossing at a third location and/or retrofitting our current bridge to make it safer and increase lane capacity.
Opportunity for female high school students
Attention high school women! The National Foundation for Women Legislators (NFWL) is pleased to announce the 16th Annual NFWL/NRA Bill of Rights Essay Scholarship Contest! The deadline is September 15, so if you are interested please don't delay! The application can be found here.
Each year, the NFWL and NRA join forces to award six female high school juniors or seniors a $3,000 college scholarship and an all-expense-paid trip to NFWL's Annual Conference. The conference will take place November 20-22 at The Ritz-Carlton in Washington, D.C.
I invite and encourage young women in the 18th District to take advantage of this opportunity. If you are interested in entering the Bill of Rights essay scholarship contest, please contact my legislative district office at email@example.com or call (360) 210-4117. We will provide you with the necessary details including the scholarship application and guidelines and information on the NFWL's Annual Conference.
Thank you for the honor to serve as your state representative.
"Protecting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!"