Leavitt, Pike face off in Portland op-eds

I suppose the Columbia River Crossing is still technically alive, which explains why the Portland Tribune published guest columns today from Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt and state Rep. Liz Pike, R-Camas, about what has been called Zombie CRC.

A sample from Leavitt’s piece: “Some in our community continue a campaign of misleading and manipulating the public about the facts, in order to justify their opinions as legitimate. The few, loud minority do not represent the majority of our residents. This statement is reaffirmed by the results of our recent local elections that positioned four Vancouver City Council members who all agree with this important investment.

Gov. John Kitzhaber and leadership in both Oregon legislative houses are to be commended for their continued advocacy and determination to see that this important investment in our region — jobs, mobility and connectivity, safety and commerce — comes to fruition.

As a reminder, each and every body of elected officials (representing hundreds of thousands of citizens) in Southwest Washington that have a direct stake in this project has voted and taken action in the affirmative: The city of Vancouver, the C-TRAN board, the Regional Transportation Council, the Columbia River Economic Development Council, leadership from the local high-tech industry, and many, many other business and community leaders.”

Pike argues it is time to ditch light rail: “Light rail is a political ideology, not a transportation solution, designed to change people’s behaviors, reduce freedom of movement and expand the size of government. Clark County voters have repeatedly rejected Portland’s light-rail extension. They don’t want it, and they don’t want to be tied to the financial debts of TriMet. If the CRC project is to have any chance of moving forward, the light-rail component must be removed.

Once light rail is off the table, we can move forward with a new CRC design that would expand general lane capacity to accommodate future traffic, provide for transit through expanded bus services, and be constructed high enough to allow sufficient clearance for river transport of economic goods.

Pressing the reset button would eliminate years of potential legal entanglements between the two states so that Oregon taxpayers don’t get left holding the bag and Clark County citizens are not encumbered with TriMet’s debt. It would allow both states to rebuild trust, not only between themselves, but with all who would rely on this critical link between Washington and Oregon.”

The framework of this reset button is in place in Washington through a measure I authored that would direct the Washington State Department of Transportation to prepare a new CRC design with a higher clearance and without light rail.”

Stephanie Rice

Stephanie Rice

I cover Vancouver city government. Reach me at stephanie.rice@columbian.com or 360-735-4508.

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