Opinion: ‘If elected officials insist on light rail as a component of the I-5 Bridge replacement, this latest project could be the same spectacular failure that the CRC was’

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first_imgI allow to create an accountWhen you login first time using a Social Login button, we collect your account public profile information shared by Social Login provider, based on your privacy settings. We also get your email address to automatically create an account for you in our website. Once your account is created, you’ll be logged-in to this account.DisagreeAgree 29 CommentsOldest Newest Most Voted Inline FeedbacksView all comments guestLabel Name*Email*Website Susan G Susan G 1 month ago I don’t understand the objection to light rail. Is it just the cost? Do you think no one would use it? Wouldn’t it reduce traffic, thereby gaining you more than one minute of reduced commute time? I’m new to the area, so would very much like to understand this issue. 10 Reply Pete Masterson Pete Masterson 1 month ago Reply to  Susan G I used to work in downtown San Francisco and lived in the east bay area. I rode BART to/from work much of the time. However, a friend would drive in from a further out suburb to the West Oakland BART station (avoiding the Bay Bridge). He’d offer me a ride back to “my” BART station in Orinda. Getting off the train in West Oakland and driving (in evening commute traffic) we ALWAYS got to the Orinda station significantly faster than the (over crowded, uncomfortable, standing-room only) train I normally took. Even paying for parking at West Oakland, it was cheaper to drive and park as well as faster. (Cheaper counting out of pocket cost, not counting the extra sales tax for BART or the property taxes paid to BART or the other tax subsidies BART received.) No, trains do not save any time. They have to stop at every station. They are unpleasant to ride at crowded times. The management typically doesn’t run the systems very well. And they certainly don’t save anybody any money. (I worked for a railroad 20+ years, so I have some understanding about how trains should be run.) -31 Reply Bruv Bruv 1 month ago Reply to  Pete Masterson I’m going to say what everyone else is thinking here. As a human being inhabiting this plane of existence, I’ve got to call BS. Unless by “evening commute traffic” you mean 11:00-11:30am in 1994, this is not possible. Bart is always faster during rush hour unless there’s an obstruction on the track. This is an incontrovertible truth. 22 Reply Pete Masterson Pete Masterson 16 days ago Reply to  Bruv I left One Market Plaza at 5:00 PM and entered BART at the Embarcadero Station every day. I rode BART trains from 1981 until 1987. In 1992-3 I had a job located near Mission and So. Van Ness with free parking. While that commute by automobile was much less pleasant then the One Market Plaza location, because I had free parking, it made driving the more cost-effective choice, though the traffic was terrible. Subsequently, I had a job at NASA Ames Research Center at Moffet Field (Mt. View). That commute was a miserable and I spend roughly 3+ hours on the freeway every day. (Public transit would have taken 5 hours one way.) I further note that BART has not kept a single promise made when it was being designed (e.g. “a seat for everyone”, “trains every 90 seconds”, “free parking at suburban stations”.) It is also a very expensive system both for riders and for taxpayers who never ride BART. In addition, the presence of BART has caused considerable lack of investment in improving highways in the Bay Area, in part because BART sucks up tax dollars, and in part due to the “anti-car” crowd that sues to block every highway improvement. 2 Reply Nicolas Clifford Nicolas Clifford 1 month ago Reply to  Pete Masterson Why were they so crowded? They sound awful. I would think that *no one* would be on board. 0 Reply RCxyz RCxyz 1 month ago Reply to  Pete Masterson When I lived in the east bay area, I actually liked the BART system. But, that was ‘heavy rail’. One cannot really compare that with the ‘light rail’ trolley system being proposed for the interstate bridge. All the interstate bridge rail system will accomplish is bringing crime and criminal rioters into downtown Vancouver. If I lived in downtown Vancouver, the prospect of that light rail system would scare me. 5 Reply Pete Masterson Pete Masterson 16 days ago Reply to  RCxyz Don’t fall for the “heavy rail” vs. “light rail” scam. The promoters of these wasteful 18th century transportation systems use “light rail” to make it somehow “sound cheaper.” What light rail means is that the trains are short (e.g. Tri-Met has trains with a maximum of two articulated rail cars (roughly equivalent to 3+ BART cars carrying capacity).) BART is “heavy rail” in that its trains are a maximum of 10 cars, offering standing room only capacity approaching 1200 to 1500 passengers (depending on how “cozy” they can stand it). This is significantly higher capacity than Tri-Met trains. The cost of the facilities per mile between light and heavy rail is the same. There is some savings in that light rail stations have shorter platforms, but lower train capacity would require more trains (and crews) to handle the same number of passengers per hour. The “heavy rail” nature of BART is one reason that it can get away with trains every 10 minutes (outside the stretch from SF to MacArther station) during peak times. 0 Reply Rose Kowalski Rose Kowalski 5 days ago Reply to  RCxyz Oh, for heaven’s sale. I’ve been waiting for someone to resurrect that old, stupid – and completely ridiculous notion. Puleeze, find another reason to oppose light rail across the river, if you must, but don’t waste our time with this worthless (place epithet here). 1 Reply John Ley John Ley 1 month ago Reply to  Susan G Susan G: Thanks for asking the question — truly. #1 — you ask about the cost. The last completed MAX light rail line cost $200 million per mile to complete the Milwaukie line. Last November, Portland area voters rejected spending $240 million per mile for the proposed Tualatin light rail extension. #2 – MAX ridership has been in decline, in spite of the addition of two new light rail lines. The Green line opened in Sept 2009. MAX ridership increased for about 2 years, and has declined since the “Great Recession” was over. The Orange line opened in Sept 2015, but ridership has failed to increase. #3 – the Yellow MAX line is what would extend into Vancouver. It travels an average of 15 MPH because there is a stop about every mile as it travels down Interstate Avenue in north Portland. C-TRAN has multiple “Express” bus lines that travel an average of 30 MPH or better, depending on traffic. #4 – because of the short length of a downtown Portland city block, TriMet can only put 2 light rail cars in one train. Otherwise, when it stops in downtown, it will block intersections. That limits the capacity of any train. #5 – C-Tran offers the only cross-river mass transit service. Why? Because there is limited demand. Prior to the pandemic, C-Tran’s overall ridership has been in decline for 2 decades, after peaking in 1999. The “Express” bus lines into Portland has seen ridership decline for several years, even prior to the pandemic. It’s now down to less than 1,000 riders per day. #6 — It’s been 40 years since a new transportation corridor was built — I-205 opened in 1982. Regional population has doubled from about 1.3 million in 1980 to nearly 2.6 million today. One can assume the number of cars on the road has doubled. Of course when you double the people and the number of cars on the road without increasing vehicle capacity, we have the nation’s 8th to 12th worse traffic congestion. May I suggest you read this article for more. https://www.clarkcountytoday.com/news/what-is-the-need-for-transit-on-a-replacement-interstate-bridge/ 🙂 John 5 Reply Bread Boi Bread Boi 1 month ago Reply to  John Ley John, An increase in the regions Population doesn’t have to mean an increase in vehicle miles. City’s all across the world manage just fine with populations much greater than ours and with far fewer highway miles. The secret of course is to not keep building more suburban sprawl, and to build denser housing close to job centers and transit. We don’t need a western bypass, or a widened I5, or any other expansion of our freeways. What we need is to halt all further suburban sprawl, and focus future job and housing growth as infill in existing neighborhoods and centers. 0 Reply CarolL CarolL 1 month ago Reply to  Bread Boi A BIG problem is the lack of adequate family-wage jobs in Vancouver, WA. We build houses & apartments, but do not provide for businesses to start and flourish. Separately, the I-5 bridge continues to age and be quite inadequate to handle the flow of traffic that crosses it… traveling from Seattle to San Diego. Light rail is NOT the answer. Many of the issues have already been stated above. The Portland Metro area has continued to add light rail in all directions, but commuters are NOT riding it in great numbers. — Just the aspect of a lack of safety keeps me from even thinking about getting on the train! (Can we keep the conversation on our actual area? I really could care less about what people experienced in San Fran.) 2 Reply jim karlock jim karlock 23 days ago Reply to  Bread Boi Bread Boi–“The secret of course is to not keep building more suburban sprawl, and to build denser housing close to job centers and transit.” What UTTER & COMPLETE GARBAGE: Density INCREASES traffic congestion. DENSITY DOES NOT reduce person-miles of auto travel until the density gets about double ours, presumably because of gridlock. That included very low density – people still drive about the same up to about 2x Portland sort of densities. Few area jobs are in the central city, so people in the suburbs seldom travel long distances to jobs – they are all over the area. Quit wasting you time reading eco-garbage, instead look at the real world. Might try DebunkingPortland . com 3 Reply Ron Ron 10 days ago Reply to  Susan G I object to it for one reason. I do not want to subsidize Portland’s light rail system with my tax dollars. I want my tax dollars to keep the infrastucture going where I live. 0 Reply Xavier Xavier 1 month ago There is no such thing as “traffic congestion reduction.” It doesn’t work that way: ask any engineer or read any planning book from the last 60 years. Added traffic lanes just congest the road to the extent it was before the addition, often time before the new lanes are even completed. This is called induced demand, and it’s just logic: if you make it easier and faster to drive, more people will drive, and thus the cycle repeats (the same dynamic works for transit). The idea that a wider I-5 bridge, or even another bridge across the river, will result in meaningful, long-term improvement in commutes times has been actively disproven by all transportation agencies involved. As even the writer of this column pointed out: despite the I-5 improvements and widening proposed as part of the CRC, there was no meaningful improvement. This is insanity! Stop it. If you want to move more people across the Columbia, particularly lower income residents who are disproportionately disadvantaged by longer commute times, you’re going to have to improve transit. That’s the way that works. The best way to improve transit is to increase its reliability, frequency, and speed. All of those required dedicated right-of-way, like the MAX light rail system has. That isn’t to say LRT is the only path forward for intercity transit in the metro area: dedicated bus lanes across any new bridge would have to be a must with or without light rail. Furthermore, the MAX Yellow Line was poorly engineered, and is thus very slow. As such, giving C-Tran buses right-of-way across a new structure and down I-5 may be the better the option, but crowding issues on buses will likely be the ultimate determining factor in which choice is selected. While Clark county may not want light rail, Portlanders do. Clark county depends on the Portland economy to exist, and thus, must sometimes bend to its liberal neighbor’s will. As a final note, it’s worth mentioning that in meetings where LRT is objected to, the objections often include something to the effect “I don’t want the type of people who ride the MAX to come into my community.” For Portlanders, it’s hard not to hear this as a thinly-veiled reference to people of color. 22 Reply Pete Masterson Pete Masterson 1 month ago Reply to  Xavier The “induced demand” argument is bogus. I’ve observed freeways built in the San Francisco Bay Area (where I was born) get built and eventually become crowded — but that was because the freeways “encouraged” development in the deep suburbs – mostly due to high housing prices due to California’s legendary “anti-growth” rules. (San Francisco, then stupidly created a “payroll tax” that caused major employers to move jobs to suburban office parks — eventually creating congestion, because money was being wasted on BART and there was little to no funding for freeway development (along with lawsuits that delayed adding a lanes to various freeways, for as much as a decade). Increased congestion was also caused by “HOV” lanes (3 passengers required in the SF Bay Area) — that remained underutilized while the “regular” lanes were more crowded. I invite you to visit Interstate 70 from where the freeway starts in Utah and enters Colorado. It has a stretch of 110 miles with “no services” … that is there is NOTHING there. It was completely opened in 1970. “Induced demand” has yet to increase the traffic there. (However, the scenery is incredible.) -20 Reply Jason Howard Jason Howard 1 month ago Reply to  Pete Masterson Induced demand doesn’t happen in places where there isn’t latent demand from a dense population. You can’t say a well-studied and widely accepted concept is bogus without providing any evidence or citation beyond “I lived in Sam Francisco, trust me.” 13 Reply Nicolas Clifford Nicolas Clifford 1 month ago Reply to  Pete Masterson Beg to differ: what you describe is the very definition of “induced demand.” As to highways where there is absolutely no population or demand, obviously they won’t pack ’em in in 10 years. But, questions, was building a road for no one really a good use of those funds? 2 Reply John Ley John Ley 1 month ago Reply to  Xavier Xavier – We have our own, local example of actual traffic congestion reduction. When I-205 was created and opened, the number of vehicles using the I-5 bridge declined by 18%. There was a DECADE of traffic congestion relief. The original plan was to finish building a “ring road” around the Portland Metro area. If the politicians had actually moved forward and actually built the planned western bypass, we would have gotten even more, longer traffic congestion relief. Right now, it’s estimated by ODOT that there are 80,000 vehicles diverting on to side roads, because our major highways and freeways are over crowded. So “if” we were to build new capacity, preferable new transportation corridors, we would see drivers stop driving in our neighborhoods and the overloaded arterials, and get back on to the highways and freeways. That would be a good thing for people living in the neighborhoods, and businesses on the arterials. The “induced demand” is in the Portland metro area, actually “pent up demand” because of the 40-year refusal to build new transportation corridors. 4 Reply Rose Kowalski Rose Kowalski 5 days ago Reply to  Xavier Thank you for this. It’s the first truly thoughtful reply I’ve seen here. 0 Reply Pete Masterson Pete Masterson 1 month ago Light Rail across the I-5 bridge is a total waste of money. Light rail projects (including the one built in Portland) tend to cost double the estimate and carry half the number of riders as estimates in the proposals. The worst aspect is that light rail projects “steal” funding from roads and streets. 25 years ago, Portland had some of the best street and road ratings in the U.S. today, the under-investment in road maintenance and improvements has left Portland with a lot of terrible streets but with a bunch of trains that are wearing out. (Oh, yeah, the never tell you that you have to completely rebuild the light rail infrastructure every thirty years or so. That cost comes just as the initial construction bonds are paid off.) Bottom line, light rail systems (and almost all rail commuter systems in the U.S.) are over priced and underutilized per the taxpayer funds used. If that’s not enough, BUS systems are badly cannibalized by light rail, causing further harm to the low income people who depend on busses to get to work. Meanwhile, middle and upper income workers commute to work on overly expensive train systems. That’s “equity”? -19 Reply Annie Wentland Annie Wentland 1 month ago Portland and Vancouver are connected in so many ways. Light rail across the bridge would make that connection just a little bit easier. I don’t understand the resistance at all. 10 Reply John Ley John Ley 1 month ago Reply to  Annie Wentland Annie — We already have a “connection”. C-TRAN offers the only transit service across the river because there is limited demand. TriMet has no interest in offering cross-river bus service. C-Tran offered SEVEN “Express” bus lines across the river, prior to the pandemic. Ridership on those seven express bus lines had been in decline for several years prior to the pandemic. Finally, most people don’t want to travel 15 MPH, which is how fast the Yellow MAX light rail line travels. People’s most valuable commodity is their time. That’s why for the forseeable future, people will drive their cars (94% according to PEMCO) or take the C-TRAN express buses that travel an average of 30 MPH or better. People’s cars allow them to run multiple errands — offering greater flexibility and time savings to people. https://mynorthwest.com/1123591/northwest-drivers-traffic-seattle-cars/? 2 Reply Rose Kowalski Rose Kowalski 5 days ago Reply to  John Ley I wish I could get behind your argument here for C-Tran’s “Express” service, but, as a former rider, I think it bears some clarification. First, there was only one location, in downtown Vancouver, for boarding, and no free, or reduced rate parking within walking distance of it I didn’t live near enough to walk to the stop, so my only option was to drive several miles north, to the park-and-ride at 99th street transit center, race to claim one of the limited parking spots, then race to catch the Express bus that, of the 7 you mentioned, was the only one that could get me to work anywhere near on time. Next, you should mention that the Express service dumped us out at Portland State Univ. – ok if you worked downtown, but my office was in the Pearl, so I had to race five blocks to catch the streetcar, and ride that up to the Pearl. Coming home was even tougher: the single stop I could catch the return bus was at 2nd and Alder, which meant a sprint of four blocks to catch a bus, then a 20-min ride to get down to the stop, in time to not miss that bus, because the last bus to Vancouver left at 5:30 sharp. It was always teeth/grinding, wondering if I’d have to hire a cab to drive me back up to the park-and-ride. That was every single workday. Oh, and without a dedicated bus-only lane, it routinely took 45 minutes to an hour, just to get to the stop. In fact, there were days when the driver was routed over Hwy 14 to I205 to I84 to a southbound street, then through Portland traffic to PSU, because it was quicker than sitting on I5. And, the ride back always took longer- never could figure out why. And, this was in 2008-9. I hate to think what it would be like today. 1 Reply Nicolas Clifford Nicolas Clifford 1 month ago “Four to $5 billion could conceivably build several bridges across the Columbia River.” Enough to bring tens of thousands more cars to Portland! I wonder why, exactly, Oregon is not a fan? OK, Vancouver doesn’t want street cars. As congestion worsens, their attitude may evolve. Let’s hope so. -3 Reply Wayne M Myhre Wayne M Myhre 1 month ago We need another bridge. period. (& vast majority of people here use cars not light rail) 0 Reply Dude Dude 1 month ago If you think light rail is such a good idea ride yourself from the expo center to downtown PDX. It smells like p1ss. Homeless people take up 2 seats to sleep. I’ve seen heroin shot up while on the train. Begged for money then spat on when I looked away. Look outside and all you see is garbage and filth. Homeless people everywhere. I stopped riding for work due to the pandemic and will never ride again. Furthermore, ask if Tri-met has EVER operated in the black for the last 30 years. Nope, 3 Reply Pete Masterson Pete Masterson 16 days ago Reply to  Dude Even on BART, I noticed that many women, as the train pulled out of MacArthur station, they’d turn their wedding rings so that the diamond(s) would be visible. (They’d wear them with the diamond toward their palm as the train passed through downtown Oakland, etc.) I was surprised when I saw that, mentioned it to my wife (who rarely rode BART), she said, “Oh, yes, I do that too.” 0 Reply Jim Luce Jim Luce 13 days ago Ken – We can argue light rail or BRT forever. I am tired of it. The vocal minority opposing light rail on I-5 may succeed. Success would be a Pyrrhic victory as it likely means no new Bridge replacement here or to the East. Designing a new Bridge is a democratic exercise. Those States and the Federal government will make the decisions. In the meantime, the process rolls on – faster than a slug looking for my hosta but not designed for a decision in the foreseeable future. Jim . 1 Reply Old Timer Old Timer 7 days ago I remember years ago at the up to ten designs for the bridge. They were down to the last few, and I looked at them. Dear Lord, they were NOT elevated for ships to go under them. The Columbia River is part of a national navigable waterway. It must be maintained for national security and shipping. The earlier designers didn’t even take that into consideration until the end when people started to complain. THAT was years ago and millions down the designing rat hole. NOW, I would NEVER take light rail into Portland. They are absolutely DANGEROUS. They would have homeless, druggies, thieves, and other groups just loiter on it. Right now there is a radical Antifa/BLM group that is mounting a campaign to Recall Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler for NOT being far enough to the left. Last month antifa terrorists issued a direct threat to Wheeler, demanding he resign or there will be blood and mass destruction of the city. Only in Portland, where gangs of far left antifa thugs have free reign to riot, tax after tax after tax is passed, major roads are narrowed to make way for bike and pedestrian paths, and gender neutral bathrooms seem to be the highest priority, can one of the nations furthest-left mayors not be far enough to the left to satisfy the far left activists. If the recall campaign is successful, no one is quite sure what would happen until a new mayor is elected, as Portland doesn’t have a Deputy Mayor position. It would practically be anarchy in the streets! The people of Vancouver do NOT want to have anything to do with Portland. They are becoming DANGEROUS. Any new bridge MUST allow for ships to navigate freely up river. 1 Reply Opinion: ‘If elected officials insist on light rail as a component of the I-5 Bridge replacement, this latest project could be the same spectacular failure that the CRC was’Posted by Ken Vance, EditorDate: Wednesday, April 21, 2021in: Opinion, Staff Opinionsshare 0 center_img Subscribe Connect with LoginI allow to create an accountWhen you login first time using a Social Login button, we collect your account public profile information shared by Social Login provider, based on your privacy settings. We also get your email address to automatically create an account for you in our website. Once your account is created, you’ll be logged-in to this account.DisagreeAgreeNotify of new follow-up comments new replies to my comments I allow to use my email address and send notification about new comments and replies (you can unsubscribe at any time). Name*Email*Website Clark County Today Editor Ken Vance offers his latest thoughts on the I-5 Bridge Replacement ProjectWhenever Clark County residents have been given a say on whether they support light rail as part of an I-5 Bridge replacement project, they’ve rejected it. File photoWhenever Clark County residents have been given a say on whether they support light rail as part of an I-5 Bridge replacement project, they’ve rejected it. File photoFor as long as I can remember, elected officials and community leaders in Washington and Oregon have been attempting to address transportation congestion issues between the states. Those discussions have centered around additional crossings over the Columbia River and the replacement of the existing Interstate 5 Bridge.Recently, those discussions have centered around replacing the Interstate 5 Bridge. I’m on the record as saying we need a third corridor and crossing over the Columbia River first and a replacement of the I-5 Bridge second. The latter is done largely out of safety concerns about an aging bridge and its ability to withstand a significant seismic event and not about relieving us of any portion of our traffic congestion issues. I want traffic congestion relief first. I believe that’s what the people want also. Remember, estimates of the failed Columbia River Crossing project would only reduce commute times one minute in just one of the two directions for Southwest Washington residents traveling to and from Oregon for work each day.blankEditor Ken VanceBut, there’s been absolutely no traction on discussions for a third bridge. Instead, the governors of both states — Washington’s Jay Inslee and Oregon’s Kate Brown — entered into a bi-state Memorandum of Intent in November 2019 to restart work to replace the Interstate 5 Bridge. That document can be found here. I have watched this process closely and Clark County Today reporter John Ley has done the best work of any journalist in the Portland Metropolitan area informing citizens about those efforts to replace the I-5 Bridge. Even though I strongly disagree, I’ve reluctantly accepted the fact that the governors and other elected officials have decided the first bite of the improving-transportation apple will be the I-5 Bridge replacement. As I observe the process, my greatest concern is that those involved are making the same mistakes that were made in the failed CRC process and that means that it could reach the same conclusion, or fate.Recently, Ley shared with me a Willamette Week story in which U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (Democrat, Oregon) addressed the issue of light rail being included in an I-5 Bridge replacement project.“If I have anything to say about it, {the Columbia River Bridge} will never be built unless it does,’’ said Blumenauer about the light rail component. The Willamette Week (WW) story also included this context:“Oregon and Washington burned through more than $175 million designing the Columbia River Crossing between 2010 and 2013. Costs ballooned, critics revealed the bridge wasn’t high enough for ships to pass under it, and WW’s reporting showed Oregon’s plan to pay for it was flawed. But the death knell for the CRC was opposition to light rail from public officials in Vancouver, Wash.’’In the WW story, Blumenauer called his inability to land the Columbia River Crossing “one of the great frustrations of my career.” The story also reported that Blumenauer once again threatened that if the I-5 Bridge Replacement Project had any chance of receiving federal funding, light rail would have to be a component.“It’s a deal breaker unless it’s there. Talk to Jay Inslee, talk to Kate Brown, talk to their transportation commissions, talk to the Biden administration,” Blumenauer says. “I don’t think there will be any hint from the Biden administration that they’re interested in it otherwise, and I think that’s where Jay and Kate are.”Congresswoman Jaime Herrera BeutlerCongresswoman Jaime Herrera BeutlerI reached out to U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (Republican, Washington’s Third District) for comment on Blumenauer’s statement. I didn’t realize, but should not have been surprised, the Congresswoman was well aware of Blumenauer’s words.“This same stubborn, top-down attitude effectively killed the last I-5 bridge replacement effort,’’ Herrera Beutler stated on Facebook. “We need agreement on both sides of the river for this project to succeed and truly serve our region.”Herrera Beutler’s Communications Director Craig Wheeler also reminded me that “whenever Clark County residents have been given a say on whether they support light rail as part of the project – they’ve rejected it.’’Here’s a breakdown of those votes:• 2012 (Prop 1): Clark County rejected a 0.1 percent sales tax increase to pay for light rail, the only opportunity they’d had to date to weigh in on the concept (57 percent-43 percent).• 2013 (Advisory vote No. 1): Clark County told county commissioners to reject light rail unless first approved by a county-wide vote (68 percent-32 percent).The Willamette Week story also pointed out that President Biden’s proposed infrastructure plan is currently priced at $2 trillion. Under the plan, $12.3 billion would be allocated annually for transit improvements. U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio (Democrat, Oregon) chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and is well positioned to steer some of those dollars toward our issues here getting cars back and forth across the Columbia River.Blumenauer reportedly speaks with DeFazio several times a week and he says no bridge will be built without light rail.“I’ve been talking and, in fact, working for a rail across the Columbia River for 30 years,’’ Blumenauer told Willamette Week. “We came close but not quite. To have a major investment that does not tie into this multibillion-dollar regional system would be lunacy. It will not be approved without it. It’s not just me. The federal government won’t do that.”Sen. Lynda WilsonSen. Lynda WilsonWashington state Senators Lynda Wilson (Republican, 17th District) and Ann Rivers (Republican, 18th District) were also kind enough to respond to my request for comment about Blumenauer’s thoughts on light rail and the I-5 Bridge replacement.Wilson said Blumenauer’s claim to have DeFazio in his pocket might not be the case.“No offense to Rep. Blumenauer, but I haven’t heard his colleague, Rep. DeFazio, make the same claim – or demand – about light rail, and I also haven’t heard it explicitly from Governor Inslee, or our state transportation commission,’’ Wilson stated in an email response to me. “I agree that light rail can be a deal breaker, but not in the way Rep. Blumenauer means it – we know what happened the last time there was an effort to force light rail across the Columbia to Clark County. That’s why Washington and Oregon created a joint Interstate Bridge committee in 2017, so legislators from both states are involved at the ground floor.“Not once have I heard from my Oregon counterparts on the bi-state committee that it’s a no-go without light rail,’’ Wilson said. “I wonder what they would think of what the congressman said. Maybe Rep. Blumenauer should reach out to those legislators directly to see how this process has been working. We’ve worked in good faith these past several years and for someone from outside the committee to insist on light rail now risks blowing up the entire process. “I also noticed Rep. Blumenauer didn’t talk about the obvious traffic congestion issues on his side of the river, meaning I-5 from Jantzen Beach or Delta Park through downtown and the Rose Quarter, and how those contribute to carbon emissions,’’ Wilson said. “Does he think light rail across the Columbia will fix that?’’Sen. Ann RiversSen. Ann RiversIn her response to my request for comment on Blumenauer’s statements, Sen. Rivers offered similar thoughts to my comment above. If elected officials insist on light rail as a component of the I-5 Bridge replacement, this latest project could be the same spectacular failure that the CRC was.“This is a flashback to 2013, when the prospect of federal funding was used like a carrot – or a stick – to push for light rail, even though light rail didn’t make sense for Clark County,’’ Rivers said. “Congressman Blumenauer is entitled to his view, but as someone who opposed the failed Columbia River Crossing project because it became more about extending light rail and less about reducing freeway congestion and increasing freight mobility, I believe it would be foolish to go down that road again.“A replacement I-5 bridge needs to be about safety, increased freight mobility by both road and river, and convenient and affordable travel for Clark County residents going to and from downtown Portland,’’ Rivers said. “No one should be making ultimatums involving light rail.’’At the end of the failed CRC, Clark County citizens felt their issues and concerns were ignored. It would appear Rep. Blumenauer is setting a course to ignore the concerns of Clark County and Southwest Washington citizens, once again. Investing $3.5 billion in the failed CRC for a one-minute improvement in the morning (southbound) commute was a horrible value for taxpayers. Today, we have Interstate Bridge Replacement officials talking about spending $4 to $5 billion, with no mention of how much improvement there might be in people’s commute times.The taxpayers want value for their money. Is there any value whatsoever in extending Portland’s light rail into downtown Vancouver at this time? Four to $5 billion could conceivably build several bridges across the Columbia River.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textTags:Ann RiversClark CountyClark County TodayClark County WashingtonColumbia River CrossingCongresswoman Jaime Herrera BeutlerEditor Ken VanceI-5 Bridge Replacement ProjectLatestlight raillocal newsSen.Sen. Lynda Wilsontransportation congestionU.S. Rep. 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