VANCOUVER — Rep. Liz Pike (R-Camas, 18th District) is continuing her efforts to hear from Clark County residents about their thoughts on the area’s transportation congestion issues.
Pike, who hosted a town hall in February that drew more than 150 citizens, has scheduled the second in a series of “Transportation Solutions’’ Town Hall meetings for Sat., May 20, 10:00 AM – 12:30 PM, in the Lecture Hall of the Dengerink Administration Building 110 on the campus of Washington State University Vancouver, located at 14204 N.E. Salmon Creek Ave., in Vancouver.
“The tough job of finding affordable transportation solutions to relieve traffic congestion and improve freight mobility cannot wait another day,” Pike said. “It is clear our citizens want to hear about new cross-river options and provide their feedback to elected officials. I’ve hosted more than 30 town halls over the past five years. My transportation forum in February drew the largest crowd ever.
“It is clear Clark County residents have pent up demand to hear about new corridors in our region, in addition to new, affordable cross-river solutions in the I-5 corridor to address both short-term fixes and a long-term transportation vision for the region,” Pike said.
Pike will be joined by other speakers, including Kevin Peterson, a transportation architect and planner based in the Pacific Northwest. Peterson has 35 years’ experience on transportation projects throughout the world. He will provide a brief presentation to set the stage for questions from the audience.
“This town hall will bring together transportation engineers and presenters to provide a lightning-round of potential bridge and tunnel options in several locations. One option, the Cascadia Commuter Express, would move 16,000 people per hour, with a trip time of about six minutes between Portland and Vancouver,” said Pike. “Another proposal, the West Express, would provide a connection from West Clark County to Hillsboro for freight haulers and commuters.”
“The main objective of this town hall is to hear directly from citizens and gain public support for a common-sense process that puts us on a path toward real solutions that would address our current and future transportation infrastructure needs,” she added.
A short question and answer period will follow each presentation. The last hour of the forum is reserved for public comment. Constituents who wish not to testify may submit their comments in writing.
Other presenters include David Nelson, a retired transportation engineer, Linda Figg of Figg Engineering Group, Clark County business owners Bill Wagner and Bill Huyette, and Brad Perkins with Cascadia High Speed Rail.
Figg, president and CEO of Figg Engineering Group, has previously proposed the construction of an east county bridge over the Columbia River at an estimated cost of $860 million. The proposed bridge would be east of the Glenn Jackson Bridge (I-205) and would provide four new 12-foot highway lanes — two northbound and two southbound — with wide safety shoulders and two protected pathways for pedestrian and bicycle experiences. Figg was not able to attend Pike’s February Town Hall meeting.
Pike believes strong leadership is required now to address traffic congestion hampering the region’s economy.
“The solution is two-fold,’’ said Pike, “create 50,000 new jobs in Clark County and identify new corridors to connect with Oregon. The former requires bold regulatory reform and a massive overhaul of Washington’s Growth Management Act. The latter requires a process whereby legislators from both sides of the river meet face-to-face to agree on a comprehensive plan that would address current and future transportation needs.’’
Earlier this year, Pike proposed a legislation (House Bill 1222) in the Washington state legislature that would have created a bi-state bridge legislative work group made up of eight Washington and eight Oregon legislators with an equal number of Democrats and Republicans. The proposed work group would have addressed the I-5 corridor, identified new corridors, developed a 10-year plan, 25-year plan and a 50-year plan, and report its recommendations to the Legislature. The measure didn’t make it out of the House Transportation Committee.
Instead, both the House (HB 2095) and the Senate (SB 5806) passed companion bills, targeting the replacement of the I-5 bridge as a priority. Pike sees that as a resurrection of the failed Columbia River Crossing.
“Three years ago, the Columbia River Crossing (CRC) project ripped our community apart,’’ Pike said. “Wounds are finally healed. Sadly, it appears special interests who would gain financial benefit are trying to resurrect this failed project. Transportation policymakers in Olympia have two choices; one is visionary, the other reactionary.’’
For more information about the forum, contact Rep. Pike’s legislative assistant, Shelby Pelon, in Olympia at (360) 786-7812 or via email at Shelby.Pelon@leg.wa.gov.