Press Releases

Southwest Washington Lawmakers Urge Governor Inslee to Respect Clark County Voters’ Opposition to Light Rail, Consider Transit Alternatives

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Vancouver, December 19, 2018 | comments
In a joint letter sent today, eight federal and state Southwest Washington lawmakers urged Governor Inslee to consider alternatives to light rail in addressing the I-5 Columbia River bridge. Past light rail proposals have been soundly rejected by Clark County residents in multiple county-wide votes.
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In a joint letter sent today, eight federal and state Southwest Washington lawmakers urged Governor Inslee to consider alternatives to light rail in addressing the I-5 Columbia River bridge. Past light rail proposals have been soundly rejected by Clark County residents in multiple county-wide votes.

The letter was signed by U.S. Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler, Washington state Senators John Braun (LD 20), Ann Rivers (LD 18) and Lynda Wilson (LD 17), Washington state Representatives Richard DeBolt (LD 20), Paul Harris (LD 17), Ed Orcutt (LD 20) and Brandon Vick (LD 18). 
 
The letter follows the governor’s newly-released 2019-2021 budget which includes funding for an I-5 bridge replacement and language that the Washington Department of Transportation “… shall assume any plan for a new bridge will include light rail.” 
 
In their letter, the lawmakers state: “The Columbia River Crossing project failed in large part due to the insistence of politicians and bureaucrats that the new bridge bring Oregon’s light rail system into Clark County, despite the demonstrated lack of support from the County's voters. Those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
 
The full text of the letter follows and a PDF version is available here
 
Dear Governor Inslee:
 
We are writing to ask you to help keep mass transit alternatives to light rail on the table during negotiations on any I-5 bridge project over the Columbia River.
 
We all agree on the pressing need to address the congestion and safety issues at the current I-5 bridge, and it’s imperative that we all work together on a long-term solution that both sides of the river can support. While we are encouraged that your proposed FY 2019-2021 budget contains funding to restart the planning process for a Columbia River bridge project, we are dismayed to find that the proposal also contains a statement that any new bridge will include light rail, with no consideration of alternative transit options.
 
The voters of Clark County have had three opportunities to weigh in on light rail, most recently in 2013. Each time, the pro-light rail side of the issue was soundly defeated[1]. We owe it to those we serve to represent their preferences in negotiations over any future I-5 bridge project.
 
It's not just faithful representation that demands we remain open-minded to transit alternatives, it's also practical politics for those of us who actually want to solve the problems on the I-5 corridor. The Columbia River Crossing project failed in large part due to the insistence of politicians and bureaucrats that the new bridge bring Oregon’s light rail system into Clark County, despite the demonstrated lack of support from the County's voters. Those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

We were encouraged by your statement to The Columbian newspaper that you are "not foreclosing on other alternatives" and we hope you will further elaborate on your position to clarify that you are open-minded on the topic.
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[1] November 5, 2013: Clark County Advisory Vote No. 1; November 6, 2012: C-TRAN Proposition No.1; February 7, 1995
 
 
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