Letter to the editor: We should build a bridge for $1 billion with more lanes

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Re: “In order to be eligible for federal funding, a mass transit component is necessary. Light rail, alongside bus rapid transit, were under consideration for that requirement, though staff said the benefits of light rail are greater.”

That is not true. The bridge would receive federal funding with or without a mass transit component. The IBR team told Portland resident Jim Karlock transit was not required to get federal funding last fall. Furthermore, the Hood River bridge is seeking federal funds and has no mass transit component.

The IBR is ignoring the wishes of the people. Fully 78% of Southwest Washington citizens’ top priority is “reducing traffic congestion and saving time,” according to Greg Johnson’s IBR team. In Oregon, it’s 70%. Yet, the project they propose adds no new through lanes to Interstate 5 in the corridor. Travel times will double by 2045. Going from Salmon Creek to the Fremont Bridge takes 29 minutes today, and will take 60 minutes in 2045, according to Johnson’s team.

Furthermore, one quarter of rush hour traffic today is stuck in congestion traveling zero to 20 mph. That will double as well, as half of rush hour traffic will travel zero to 20 mph by 2045, according to the IBR.

TriMet is demanding they will not pay for any MAX light rail operations and maintenance in Clark County. They say “new revenue” aka new taxes, are needed to cover operation and maintenance costs associated with the light rail extension. C-Tran has not asked for any tax increases for either of its new Bus Rapid Transit lines in Clark County. Their BRT is infinitely more flexible and more cost effective. Yet sadly, all but one member of the C-Tran Board of Directors voted in favor of extending a $1.3 billion light rail line, instead of fighting for C-Tran BRT.

The reporter left out the most important quote of the meeting. Rep. Brandon Vick told the committee we are doing this project backwards. “But this is not our LPA. We’re the ones spending the money representing the constituents, and we’re going to have to answer for this at the end of the day.”



“But having spent my life in the business world, it just kind of seems like we’re doing things backwards. We’re gonna have to make a vote as to how much to spend and when to spend it.”

“I’m not confident I can go back to my constituents and tell them why we’re pursuing XY and Z. I don’t know why we’re pursuing light rail. I don’t know why we’re pursuing one auxiliary lane, we’re taking the vote, and then we’re going to study it.”

“If this were a perfect world, I would say we’d hire a couple of design build firms, give them our list of requirements and say, give us the science-based answers to these problems; give us a good, better, best. And we’ll pick the one that fits best for our constituents in our budget, but we’re not there.”

We could and should build a bridge for $1 billion with more lanes.

John Ley, 

Vancouver

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