Benton vs. I-5 bridge; Leavitt vs. Benton

State Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, hasn’t been shy about sharing his desire to kill the Columbia River Crossing project.

And last week surprised no one by sending a four-page letter to members of the Vancouver City Council asking for them to stand with him and the city of Woodland “by publicly opposing the Columbia River Crossing project in its present form, or at the very least, pass a resolution opposing the light rail option.”

In it, he calls himself an “avid, effective and involved crusader” for Clark County transportation, and says it’s “irresponsible” to claim that the CRC is the top transportation priority in the the county.

He says that installing a bridge that will only meet bottleneck further down I-5 is a poor solution, and also went after light rail. He also included a fact sheet with links to largely conservative D.C. think tanks.

Mayor Tim Leavitt didn’t mince words in his response to the senator.

“There is nothing substantive in the letter to counter the circumstances and facts specific to the CRC Project. The letter is replete with rhetoric, opinion and self-aggrandizing,” he wrote in an email to The Columbian.

He countered that no “credible” elected official “with the facts of CRC at their fingertips, would vote against a project that will immediately create some estimated 20k jobs, then set the stage for continued economic and jobs growth for the next 50 years+ for the residents and businesses of their community.”

Leavitt finished with a clear reference to Councilor Jeanne Stewart: “With exception of one pandering Council Member (who previously voted in support of a replacement bridge and light rail transit), I have no reason to believe that the Vancouver City Council has an inclination to reverse direction from its decision of 2.5 years ago.”

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