Madore: Trump might give county toll-free bridges

toll-free-greatGet ready Clark County. Not one, but two, toll-free bridges across the Columbia River could be on their way thanks to soon-to-be President Donald Trump. At least that’s the optimistic take Clark County Councilor David Madore gave at a Wednesday afternoon council meeting.

What prompted Madore to offer this expectant outlook was a draft policy statement from a group called the Clark County Transportation Alliance that was presented to the council by County Manager Mark McCauley. For years, the alliance, a coalition of public and private organizations, has presented a wish list of county transportation projects to legislators in hopes of securing funding.

The alliance is again trying to drum up support for its list. But when it was presented to the council, Madore and Councilor Tom Mielke were unsympathetic because of the group’s past support for the Columbia River Crossing, a multibillion-dollar Interstate 5 Bridge replacement plan that died in the state Senate in 2014. According to the alliance’s new wish list “(a)ddressing the deficiencies in the I-5 corridor and outdated interstate bridges remains the region’s top priority.”

Madore, who opposed the CRC, said he was concerned that alliance’s efforts are an attempt to revive the controversial project and he didn’t want the county’s logo attached to the policy statement. He said the county should be careful in how it positions itself when it comes to prioritizing infrastructure projects.

“Especially now with the new administration, the Trump administration, they are making a commitment to spend $1 trillion on new federal transportation infrastructure,” he said. “If there ever was a time we wanted to make sure we’re ready to build new infrastructure that’s going to actually add lanes — a third and fourth toll-free bridge across the Columbia River, to widen the SR-14 to do the 179th Street interchange — this is the time. We’re going to miss the boat if we sign on with someone that’s trying to resurrect the same old projects that failed in the past.”

Trump has stated that he wants to dramatically increase infrastructure spending, but Republicans in Congress remain divided over the idea. One issue that’s been raised with Trump’s infrastructure plan is that the way it’s funded will likely involve tolls.  

Although Clark County did narrowly go for Hillary Clinton, Madore’s Facebook has consistently been full of pro-Trump posts. With the election being so unusual and unpredictable, who knows? Maybe Madore (who lost his reelection bid for county council) will get a job building all these new toll-free bridges.

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