Dear Friends and Neighbors,
This will be my last e-newsletter update to you as your state representative. As you may know, I have announced that I will retire from public office when my term is completed at the end of this year. On Monday, election-year communication restrictions go into effect. Although I am not involved in an election campaign, the restrictions still cover all House members and prohibit me from using government resources to distribute e-newsletter communications.
I continue to work for you!
Although I will not be returning to office at the end of this year, seven months remain in my term. I plan to continue actively working for and representing you, and remain involved in the issues that affect you and your Clark County neighbors.
Transportation – Solutions still needed to southwest Washington's traffic congestion problem
One of the biggest issues affecting southwest Washington and the 18th District is the traffic congestion nightmare on I-5.
After the demise of the flawed Columbia River Crossing (CRC) project, I brought Washington and Oregon lawmakers together in June 2014 during a meeting in Vancouver to discuss new options to connect Clark County and Portland over the Columbia River. It became obvious from that meeting it was too soon and too sensitive for Oregon lawmakers, many of whom were still angry that Washington had pulled the plug on the CRC. They were still clinging to CRC and weren't ready to consider alternatives.
I never stopped reaching out to Oregon. Through phone calls and letters to its leaders and through legislation I proposed to create a Bi-State Bridge Coalition, I encouraged Oregon to join with us and work together for other solutions. During several town hall meetings I held over the past two years, I brought in experts in the field of transportation, congestion relief and bridge engineering to provide various solutions to our bottlenecks and freight congestion problem.
Unfortunately, Oregon apparently decided the bridge issue is no longer a priority. Instead, a proposal to toll Washington commuters on the north Portland side of I-5 and I-205 came to the forefront with the passage of a $5.3 billion transportation bill last July that included not one dime for a bi-state bridge solution. The bill created a 25-person Value Pricing Policy Advisory Committee tasked with offering recommendations to the Oregon Transportation Commission on how, whether, and if to toll I-5 and I-205.
Oregon seeks to cash in on Washington commuters
It's estimated that nearly 70,000 people from Clark County make two daily trips across the I-5 and I-205 bridge. Imagine the economic impact tolling would have on Washington commuters who work in Oregon!
That's why it is essential for every Southwest Washington citizen to make their voice heard!
Speak up at the tolling committee's next hearing, Monday, May 14!
The Value Pricing Policy Advisory Committee has already held four of six scheduled meetings before it makes recommendations to the Oregon Transportation Commission. The committee is looking at five concepts:
* Toll all I-5 and I-205 lanes in all directions, a total of 47 miles of freeway.
* Toll lanes in both directions between North Going Street and Southwest Multnomah Boulevard on I-5.
* Convert the existing carpool lane on I-5 northbound in North Portland to a toll lane while converting a southbound left lane to tolls in the same region.
* Add a toll on the Abernethy Bridge on I-205 in West Linn.
* Add a priced lane on I-205 under a plan to add a new travel lane in both directions between the Abernethy Bridge and Stafford Road.
The committee is scheduled to meet next Monday, May 14, 9 a.m. – 12 noon, at the Oregon Department of Transportation's Region 1 offices, 123 N.W. Flanders Street, in Portland. You can get more information here. I highly recommend you attend and speak up against these tolls.
It's time to refocus our energy on transportation solutions beneficial to both Oregon and Washington commuters, rather than punishing drivers who live in Washington, but work across the river in Oregon.
I invite you to learn more about those solutions by downloading and reading my issue paper here.
Contact my office for more information
If you would like more information about local transportation issues or other legislative matters, please contact my office in Olympia. My phone number and contact information is below.
It has been a privilege to serve you in the Washington State House of Representatives since 2012. I'm very grateful to my constituents for allowing me to represent them. It has been the highest honor of my professional life.
"Protecting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!"