All Politics is Local

Vicki Kraft shares her thoughts with the governor on replacing the I-5 bridge

Vicki Kraft doesn't want any mass transit on replacement I-5 bridge.

Vicki Kraft doesn’t want any mass transit on the replacement I-5 bridge.

Yesterday, U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, and seven Southwest Washington Republican lawmakers sent a letter to Gov. Jay Inslee asking him to soften his stance that light rail be included on a potential replacement of the Interstate 5 bridge.

The letter revives one of the major sources of disagreement that helped sink the Columbia River Crossing five years ago and shows that area Republicans remain deeply skeptical of extending light rail to Clark County.

But state Rep.Vicki Kraft, R-Vancouver, out Republicaned her fellow Republicans by sending a letter to Inslee asking that the Democratic governor not require “light rail, light rail capable, or mass transit on any transportation project” on the I-5 bridge replacement project.

In her letter, Kraft cited the 2017 annual financial report from C-Tran to show there is “no real demand for mass transit in Clark County.”

“Out of the total transit agency’s funding of $66,389,980 – only $6,857,096 was paid by riders,” reads Kraft’s letter. “That leaves 90% of the transit agency’s operations being subsidized and paid for mostly by the taxpayers in the form of sales tax, state and federal funds.”

In the letter, Kraft said that demand in Washington is for additional road infrastructure, not mass transit. She argued that it’s instead time for a third bridge or connector between Southwest Washington and Oregon.

In a follow-up text, Kraft said she didn’t sign on to her colleague’s letter “because the message was not clear enough that NO light rail/capable options should be on the table, nor should bus rapid transit (mass transit).”

“I hope my colleagues will work with me to make this a reality now for our community and region,” she said.

With the retirement of state Rep. Liz Pike, R-Camas, Kraft is now the only member of Clark County’s legislative delegation who favors pursuing a third bridge over replacing the I-5 bridge. The rest of the delegation has coalesced around reviving talks with Oregon to replace the I-5 bridge. The Republican members of the delegation have developed a consensus that bus rapid transit should be the mass transit component on the bridge. Clark County’s three legislative Democrats have shown more openness to light rail but have indicated they’ll agree to bus rapid transit.

Here is Kraft’s letter:

Dear Governor Inslee,
I am writing to request that you do not require light rail, light rail capable, or mass transit on any transportation project in Clark County, WA – including the proposed I-5 bridge replacement project.
The voters of Clark County have opposed mass transit on the ballot as recently as 2013. Elected officials must listen to and respond in accordance with the voters’ wishes.
There is no real demand for mass transit in Clark County as proven by the 2017 C-Tran (Transit Agency) Annual Financial Report, which shows only 10% of their funds come from ridership. Out of the total transit agency’s funding of $66,389,980 – only $6,857,096 was paid by riders. That leaves 90% of the transit agency’s operations being subsidized and paid for mostly by the taxpayers in the form of sales tax, state and federal funds.
Moreover, demand in Washington is still primarily for additional road infrastructure, not mass transit. In June 2018, Pemco Insurance Company had a survey conducted by FBK Research. They surveyed 600 Washington and 600 Oregon residents who were not Pemco Insurance customers. When asked what their preferred method of transportation was to commute to work, 94% said they prefer to drive. They noted it was faster and more convenient than other modes of transportation.
What is truly needed at this time to reduce traffic congestion on the I-5 corridor in Clark County and the Portland metro region is a 3rd bridge or connector between Southwest Washington and Oregon. I ask you to stop pressing mass transit on our citizens and instead support a 3rd bridge for the benefit of our commuters, freight community, and statewide commerce.
Sincerely,

Vicki Kraft

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