Sept. 30, 2013
CONTACT: John Sattgast, Broadcast Coordinator – (360) 786-7761
Pike statement on recent Columbia River Crossing developments
In the past two weeks, there have been several major developments regarding the proposed new I-5 Columbia River Crossing (CRC) bridge between Vancouver, Washington and Portland, Oregon that have drawn serious concerns from 18th District Rep. Liz Pike.
In a letter issued Sept. 19, an aide to Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said there are no legal barriers that could stop Oregon from solely financing and building the $2.6 billion bridge into Washington. On Sept. 26, the C-Tran Board of Directors approved a plan to finance and operate light rail in Vancouver as part of the Columbia River Crossing. Then on Sept. 27, the U.S. Coast Guard approved a permit to build the CRC bridge with river clearance of only 116 feet – much lower than the existing span and the upriver Glenn L. Jackson Memorial Bridge with a river clearance of 144 feet.
Earlier this year, the Washington State Legislature did not reach agreement on a financing plan of the CRC bridge in its current design. Washington lawmakers cited among their concerns the clearance of the proposed bridge is too low to allow upriver businesses to continue using the river for transport of products. They also cited repeated rejections at the ballot by citizens to bring light rail into Clark County and concerns that Vancouver-area citizens might end up paying for existing Tri-Met pension deficits. Tri-Met operates Portland’s light-rail system.
Today, Rep. Pike, R-Camas, said not only have those concerns still not been addressed, it appears CRC proponents are attempting to bypass the Washington Legislature and steamroll over the objections of local citizens in an attempt to move the project forward. Pike issued the following statement:
“The past few days have been a terrible time for citizens in Southwest Washington who rightfully want to have a say in their government. First, our own state attorney general releases a letter to the U.S. Coast Guard giving support for Oregon to proceed with the flawed, bi-state Columbia River Crossing (CRC) project, absent of any legislative authority from Washington. Then the Coast Guard capitulates under pressure from special interest groups to approve a substandard permit that would cost taxpayers as much as $86 million in mitigation costs, while violating its own navigational standards to severely impact current and future river commerce. Finally, to make matters worse, local officials have ignored the will of the people by rushing into an ill-conceived agreement that would marry our local C-Tran transit agency with financially-beleaguered Tri-Met to operate a prohibitively expensive light rail extension between Portland and Clark College.
“While I am disappointed by Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson and U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Robert Papp for their misguided actions, I strongly condemn the resolution approved by five members of the C-Tran Board of Directors. At an emergency meeting held last Thursday in a 5-4 vote, Clark County Commissioner Steve Stuart, Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt, City Council Members Bart Hansen and Larry Smith, and Ridgefield Mayor Ron Onslow approved a flimsy proposal that includes financial gaps and unidentified funding sources to pay for this light-rail boondoggle. Without disclosing important contractual details, these board members put Clark County tax dollars in financial peril and at great risk.
“In more egregious moves, C-Tran lawyers executed the agreement without any opportunity for C-Tran board members to make amendments. The hastily-signed contract requires C-Tran to pay Tri-Met millions of dollars in damages if C-Tran fails to support everything specified in the agreement. Even worse, C-Tran cedes eminent domain authority to condemn and transfer all properties demanded by Tri-Met. How can a local transit authority give away the sovereign rights of one state to another? From where do they gather this authority? Further, these reckless Clark County officials granted Tri-Met the right to unlimited breach-of-contract penalties against C-Tran and its taxpayers.
“This rogue behavior by five C-Tran board members violated several tenants of C-Tran bylaws and written policy. Most notably, C-Tran rushed ahead to enter into a light-rail agreement without a vote of the citizens of Clark County and violated bylaws by taking action, even though board members representing four cities voted against the faulty plan.
“It is actions such as these that foster a deep contempt for special-interest politicians and corrupt bureaucrats. It is no wonder so many of our citizens are unplugged and tuned out of local, state and national politics. I have never before in my life lost so much faith in those who have sworn to uphold the law and protect the rights of the citizens they serve.”
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For more information about Rep. Pike, visit: www.houserepublicans.wa.gov/pike.
455 John L. O’Brien Building
P.O. Box 40600
Olympia, WA 98504-0600