Over 200 gathered at the Water Resource Center

“The state of your City for 2013 can be characterized as stable.” Said Mayor Tim Leavitt in his address “Our River. Our City. Our Future.”

Leavitt covered accomplishments ranging from adopting a balanced 2-year budget, exceptional parks & recreational service, and saving 4.1 million by refinancing, improving the city’s credit rating, and consolidating five city building into one city hall.

Looking to the future, Leavitt challenged the crowd of more than 200 people to complete several “very important projects”.

  • Complete the Vancouver Waterfront Project
  • Engage with developers in the Riverview Gateway at 192nd in East Vancouver
  • Rebuild Fire stations & improve public roadways
  • Implement bus rapid transit on Fourth Plain
  • Finalize a new sister city relationship with Dubrovnik, Croatia

Mayor Leavitt paused dramatically before his last point: “And then….there’s the Columbia River Crossing. Are there seat belts in those chairs? You’re going to need to buckle up.”

Mayor Tim Leavitt

“There is no more important opportunity for our city and our region than completion of the Columbia River Crossing.” Said the Mayor. “Southwest Washington deserves returned to our region $450 million of our hard earned tax dollars that sit in Olympia.”

“This is our River, Our City, and the bridge is the link to our future. The time to act is now!”

Leavitt went on to quote a New York Times Op-Ed columnist: “We are no longer the nation that used to amaze the world with its visionary projects. We have become instead, a nation whose politicians seem to compete over who can show the least vision, the least concern about the future and the greatest willingness to pander to short term, narrow minded selfishness.”

The Mayor’s overwhelming support of the I-5 replacement has been confusing to some citizens who remember Leavitt campaigning on the platform of no tolls.

Video: Leavitt: “I am not willing to support tolls under any circumstances”.

Video: Leavitt talks about the potential of $8 tolls

Video: Leavit opposing tolls during the 2009 election

Leavitt went on to name a few businesses and agencies that have endorsed the CRC project in its current form. He also acknowledged those who oppose the CRC, and in his opinion, their reason for opposition is “all fiction.

“Some would have you believe that light rail is not the least costly option for operational costs for mass transit.”

    Left to right, Council members Smith, Turlay, Harris, Burkman & Stewart

What the mayor forgot to factor in is the huge cost of the light rail infrastructure.

“Light rail over the Columbia River crossing will cost 321 million dollars per mile to build.” Said John Charles of Cascade Policy Institute. That initial cost for the light rail infrastructure vastly outweighs the miniscule operational savings.

“Anything light rail can do, busses can do better, cheaper and faster.” says Charles in a video about Portland’s light rail.

The current Milwaukie light rail extension is the closest comparison to the proposed Columbia River Crossing light rail extension to Vancouver, costing 204 million dollars per mile.

If you took the 1.5 billion dollars being spent on the Milwaukie light rail extension and applied to a Milwaukie bus-only transit system, it could buy:

  • 36 Luxury double decker busses running 24 hours a day, free to riders.
  • Those busses could have Direct TV on board, Wifi, and free Coffee & doughnuts.
  • Give every freshman in Portland public schools a new macbook air & iPad. All of this, for the next 150 years.
These facts come from a Cascade Policy Institute video.
Despite the flip-flop support from the mayor, the CRC’s future is still unknown. Funding from Washington State and the Federal government still need to be secured. Maintenance and operational funds for C-Tran and Light rail need to be locked down. The Coast Guard also needs to issue a permit to begin construction. Lastly, will Vancouver’s citizens get a chance to voice their opinion in the form of a public vote? It is our River. Our City. Our Future, and Our Bridge.