Listen to an audio podcast of this Q&A here:


Attendees of the “Bridging the Gaps” event asked experts and officials questions based on their presentations.


Paul Guppy, Washington Policy Center
1:38 “If you’re an elected official and you don’t see a downside to supporting a light rail project or the spending that goes with it, you’re going to support it. If you see that there’s a movement against it and it will lead to trouble in your next re-election then you’ll tend to be against it. I think it’s how the public incentives are aligned when it comes to working on this project.”

John Charles, Cascade Policy Institute
4:15 “If you can’t kill this program, (Oregon spent $2 million on the campaign Drive Less/Save More) how are you as legislators ever going to kill anything, or how are you even going to act like legislators and take control of the bureaucracy? It’s sad. And I don’t think the Oregon legislature is unique in this regard.”

Ed Orcutt, Washington state representative
5:10 “Based on what I’ve heard today from Ms. Couch, this week I’m going to be calling the state auditor and perhaps even the state attorney general, to look into what’s going on with the CRC. I want to make sure that they are being audited on a regular basis.”

6:26 “The city of Hoakium, population 8,700, came to the legislature and they were saying that they needed a third bridge, 8,700 people needed a third bridge. I look at Cowlitz County and the Cowlitz River. In about 15 miles – if you travel up I-5 about 15 miles worth – you’ll find that there are five different crossings across the Cowlitz River for a county with the population of 100,000. Here we sit in Clark County with a population of over 400,000, a million and a half or so across the river, we’re looking at a metropolitan area of roughly two million people, and somehow people think this can be done with two bridges. It makes no sense to me whatsoever.”

7:14 “In a discussion with Don Wagner of the DOT a few years ago, I don’t think he realized, but he is the one who actually inadvertently convinced me that a third bridge was necessary. And he did so by talking about how so much traffic comes into the I-5 corridor at State Route 500, Fourth Plain, Mill Plain, and State Route 14. And he stated that the reason why we needed two of the lanes on the bridge was for that traffic to dump off at Jantzen Beach. So my question to him is, well, why don’t we just build a third bridge and not bring that traffic into the corridor in the first place? And that pretty much set it in stone as to what my position was. I think the 192nd Avenue is definitely a reasonable approach.”

9:10 They (Oregon) just expanded Delta Park from two lanes to three, and it seems to me if they had any intention whatsoever of expanding that to four, they would have already done it when they were expanding it to three. So it tells me that is a long, long, long way into the future and is highly unlikely to happen and would be extremely expensive for them to do. You also have choke points at Lombard with additional traffic coming in. You have choke points at the Rose Quarter. We’ve heard today about choke points at Highway 26, which is one of the reasons why you need to bypass and get people across the river before they ever get to the I-5 crossing. So, there’s a lot of evidence that clearly shows something different has to be done then what really in effect is a boondoggle. I can’t really call it anything else.”

10:10 “Light rail is – it just takes up space. We saw that today. It takes up space. It doesn’t provide lanes. And what I thought was really interesting, is we saw in that section of 205, we saw the backup of vehicles. It was a constant stream of vehicles and there wasn’t a light rail train anywhere on those tracks. And that just tells me that is wasted space that is not being used adequately. And more lane miles is what is going to solve a lot of our congestion problems.”

10:41 “Tolls? I grew up on the East Coast. I grew up with tolls, so I’m not opposed to tolls. My concern here with tolls is that Washington residents would pay a disproportionate share than what Oregon would. And in sitting in one of the meetings that I sat in, a lot of the infrastructure that is going to be built is going to be south of the bridge, and there are going to be a lot of Oregonians who are going to be able to use that infrastructure that Washingtonians are paying for and never have to pay a cent in tolls. And that is just absolutely unfair to the citizens of this state (Washington), and I will not stand by or sit by quietly and allow that to happen. I’m going to continue to speak out against it for that reason.”

12:37 “If C-Tran would just return the district to a countywide district rather than the sub-district they’ve created, then everybody’d get the chance to vote on it. It was gerrymandered in the first place and never should have been. And now we’re seeing in the news that C-Tran is looking at gerrymandering a sub-district of what I consider to already be a sub-district of Clark County. So, they’re very clearly trying to gerrymander this thing very simply for one reason and that’s to get it down to where they can get a 50 percent plus 1 vote in favor of light rail, despite what the majority of the county wants, and despite who the majority is that’ll actually be paying those taxes.”

13:23 “I’ll continue to work with all of you, and continue to try and make sure that we have – whatever project we have – actually solves congestion, does it in an affordable manner, and is paid for fairly on both sides of the river, not entirely by folks on this side.”

See our continuing coverage of the Columbia River Crossing Light Rail project.

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