Rep. Pike appointed to House Transportation Committee


Sept. 17, 2013

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Rep. Pike appointed to House Transportation Committee

Rep. Liz Pike, R-Camas, has been appointed by House Speaker Frank Chopp to serve on the House Transportation Committee. The 31-member committee considers the transportation budget, revenue sources for transportation funding, and issues relating to transportation policy and agencies, including the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and the Washington State Patrol.

Pike said the appointment comes at an opportune time to provide a greater voice on issues important to Southwest Washington.

“The governor is exerting a tremendous amount of pressure on the Legislature to increase the state gas tax by more than 10-cents a gallon, and he’s talking about calling a special session in November to boost taxes for transportation. The Senate is holding listening tours across the state to hear what people have to say about it. Most Washington citizens have told me they’re already paying enough at the gas pumps. They can’t afford another dime a gallon. And people are frustrated with how their money is spent while they sit in traffic,” said Pike, R-Camas.

“We need to reset our state transportation department, reform how money is spent, and re-prioritize the types of projects built in Washington. More than 85 percent of commuters travel by car as compared to the other 15 percent who use buses, light rail, and bicycles, or who walk to work. If we’re putting more money into transit for that 15 percent than expanding general purpose lanes to accommodate the other 85 percent, our highways will remain clogged. That’s the wrong direction for Washington,“ noted Pike. “Traffic relief must be the highest priority of any transportation policy. That will be my primary goal as a member of this committee.”

Pike is a vocal opponent of a light-rail component on the proposed Columbia River Crossing (CRC) between Vancouver and Portland. To accommodate light rail, the CRC was designed at between 95 – 116 feet above water level – much lower than the current bridges’ clearing of 140 – 210 feet to accommodate river users. Pike believes the lower clearance would threaten jobs that depend on river transport. During the 2013 legislative session, she introduced House Bill 2025 that would direct WSDOT to prepare a new CRC design with a higher clearance and without light rail.

“A majority of Clark County citizens have rejected Portland’s light rail four times on the ballot. They don’t want it – and they certainly don’t want it forced on them at the expense of local jobs,” said Pike. “Light rail is a political ideology, not a transportation solution. It’s a political agenda designed to change people’s behaviors, reduce freedom of movement and expand the size of government. Instead, we need to adopt realistic transportation policies that fix chokepoints and increase road capacities — to get traffic moving and improve freight mobility.”

The 18th District lawmaker said reforms are also needed to hold WSDOT accountable for taxpayer dollars that have been wasted on mistakes, such as constructing a ramp in the wrong place, leaky pontoons and a listing ferry.

“We either need to change the way WSDOT does business or find better and more efficient ways of delivering to the taxpayers, such as privatization, starting with engineering functions and road maintenance. The advantage is that we reduce state costs, increase private-sector jobs, and if there are costly engineering mistakes, the private sector companies would be accountable so that taxpayers are not on the hook for those mistakes,” added Pike. “It’s time we begin thinking outside of the box, finding more efficient ways to deliver services, and reducing traffic congestion by expanding capacity – not transit. And let’s quit dinging motorists at the pumps for more money when they’re not getting the best mileage for the dollars they pay to the state right now.”

Pike’s appointment to the committee became effective earlier this month.

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